If you are looking for a digital camera for yourself or as a holiday gift – here are the 5 things you must know before making that digital camera purchase:
1. Megapixels and pixels. You are looking at cameras that tout 5MP, 6MP or more, what does that mean? A digital image is made up of thousands of tiny, tile-like, colored squares called pixels and one million of these pixels equal one megapixel Your digital camera’s resolution is measured in megapixels (MP). The more megapixels/pixels you have, the higher your image resolution. Image resolution determines how much detail you’ll see in your images and how large a print you can successfully make.
2. Take a test drive. Purchasing online can save time and money but there is nothing like checking things out in person. Go to a retail store and pick up a demo. How does it feel? Is it well made? Are the buttons easy to press? Is the LCD screen easily viewable? Do some homework while you’re at it and read online reviews, Epinions, DPreview, CNET, and Amazon are just a few.
3. Zoom. How much zoom do you need and what’s the difference?
Think of zoom on your digital camera like the focal length on your old film camera. Compact point and shoot cameras typically offer a maximum of 4X optical zoom, which is fine if you only need to zoom in from about 4 feet away. If you need to zoom farther than that, try getting a camera with 10x or more optical zoom.
Digital cameras feature two types of zoom: digital and optical. Optical zoom is better because it gets you closer to your subject without sacrificing quality. Digital zoom will get you closer but at the expense of clarity and detail.
The term total zoom is marketing hype. It’s the manufacturer multiplying the optical and digital zoom.
4. Memory cards. This is where your digital images are stored once you take a picture. The actual amount of images your card will hold depends on your camera’s megapixel size and which image resolution you have your camera set to. For example, a 512MB media card used in a 5MP camera set to the highest resolution would hold about 280 images. Most new digital cameras are sold with a small capacity memory card that will only hold a few images. To make sure you don’t miss that shot, buy a larger capacity memory card, 1 GB (gigabyte) or more. This way you can shoot as many pictures as you like!
5. Batteries. You don’t want to miss out on that once-in-a-lifetime shot because your battery died. Find out what kind of batteries your camera uses, buy an extra one, keep it charged and bring it with you.