Best Digital Camera | How to Choose One

Which is the best digital Camera and how to choose the best digital camera? Let us get started on this topic and learn how to choose the best digital camera.

Common Practice

When it comes to choosing a Camera, the common tendency is to compare cameras based on their mega-pixel count, higher being better.

However, a higher mega-pixel count does not necessarily translate into a good quality image. In-fact, a higher mega-pixel digital camera can end up producing poor quality images if it does not have a matching higher capacity image sensor.

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Best Digital Camera | Optical vs Digital Zoom

Digital camera ‘Ads’ often boast about zoom figures. However, it is important to understand the type of Zoom the ‘Ads’ are trying to impress you with.

Are the ‘Ads’ talking about Digital Zoom or Optical Zoom ? There is a major difference between the two.

Digital zoom does not really take you closer to the subject. Instead, the camera crops the image of the subject, and then digitally enlarges it to match the viewfinder based on your zoom settings and the point you are focusing on.

You can experiment this on your current camera and you will notice that the image quality tends to suffers while taking pictures with higher digital zoom settings.

Optical Zoom on the other hand gets you closer to the subject and hence there is no loss of quality. The higher the optical rating on your camera, the better you can photograph distant objects/subjects.

Bottom Line – Look for an optical zoom of 5X or higher and make sure that you are focusing on ‘Optical Zoom’ and not ‘Digital Zoom’.

Camera Lens

There are so many variables when it comes to lenses in a camera. However, in general it can be said that a camera with a bigger lens can produce sharper and better quality images due to longer exposure that a bigger lens offers.

Hence, for the purpose of this discussion, a camera with 20mm lens is definitely better than one with only a 5mm lens.

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Another thing to look for in a lens is whether or not it offers Wide angle views. A Wide angle lens is helpful in taking group shots & shooting pictures in landscape mode

Bottom Line – Make sure that you are opting for a camera with a bigger lens & wide angle views

Image Stabilization

It is not really easy to have steady hands all the time, specially when you are tired or distracted.

Modern digital cameras come loaded with image stabilization software that help in taking steady shots and eliminates blurring associated with Camera movements during exposure.

Make sure that the camera that you are choosing is loaded with image stabilization software.

Best Digital Camera | Mega Pixels ?

As mentioned in the beginning of this post, a higher mega-pixel does not necessarily translate into better pictures.

A camera needs to have matching and high capacity image sensor in order to make use of the mega-pixel count that your camera boasts off.

Bottom Line – Guard against the tendency to be swayed by high mega-pixel numbers.

CCD vs CMOS Sensors

Digital cameras come with either CCD or CMOS type image sensors. Without going into details, CCD sensors create high-quality, low-noise images while CMOS sensors are more susceptible to producing image noise.

It is also worth noting that CCD (Charge-Coupled Device) sensors consume more power and are more expensive to produce.

Bottom Line – Look for CCD sensor in case you are interested in high quality images and do not mind the trade-off in terms of battery life.

LCD Screen & Video Mode

Most digital cameras these days offer shooting in video mode. Hence, it makes sense to go for a camera that offers at-least 1280 x 720 HD shooting mode.

LCD Screen – Make sure the image on the LCD screen is sharp and is not jerky and delayed. You can check this by panning the camera.

Best Digital Camera | Which Type

In order to be in a position to select the best digital camera that suits your requirements, it is necessary to know about different types of digital cameras, their strengths, weakness, suitability and applications.

Hence, let us now take a look at different types of digital cameras that are available in the market. This will provide you with the basic knowledge of different camera types, their pros, cons and help you in deciding which camera type suits your requirements.

Compact Digital Camera

Compact digital cameras are also known as point and shoot digital cameras. These are the most common, the most popular and the highest selling cameras in the market, due to their affordability and ease of use.

  • Small, light and slim – Nicely slip into your pocket or a purse
  • Affordable – the cheapest in digital cameras
  • Operation – Easy to use, operate the best in Auto-mode, other controls are few and simple compared to digital SLR cameras.
  • Image quality- Good enough for normal use.

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Compact Digital Camera | Limitations

  • Image Quality – Due to smaller image sensors point & shoot cameras cannot match the image quality of a DSLR Camera.
  • Speed – Point and shoot cameras are slow to start up, take time to focus and generally suffer from ‘shutter lag’.
  • Flexibility/Adaptability – Point & shoot cameras cannot match the flexibility and adaptability of DSLR cameras which can be fitted with various types of lenses and attachments to match different shooting conditions.
  • LCD View – The LCD screen of a point and shoot camera does not really convey the actual image that will be shot by the camera.
  • Lighting Conditions – Point-and-shoot cameras are not designed for night photography or shooting in poor lighting conditions
  • Applications – Point and shoots are not designed for sports and action photography.

Advanced Point-and-Shoot Camera

These are point and shoot cameras that offer a good range of manual controls and better performance compared to regular point and shoot cameras.

With improvements in technology, these cameras are getting so good that experienced photographers are able to get incredible shots using advanced point & Shoot cameras.

Mega-zoom Camera

These are fixed lens cameras that come with large optical zoom capacity – up to 18x in pocket mega zooms and as much as 40x in large size mega zoom cameras.

  • Mega zooms offer DSLR like manual controls
  • High end image stabilization technology that helps in shooting full-zoom shots
  • Impressive wide angle and Tele-photo reach
  • Versatile enough to shoot scenery, sporting events, wildlife, faraway shots, and also portraits

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Mega Zoom Camera | Limitations

  • Mega Zooms which are not in the pocket mega-zoom category are bulky
  • Limited to a fixed lens, cannot change lenses to suit shooting conditions

Digital SLR Camera

In case you did not know, the abbreviation SLR stands for Single Lens Reflex. Since SLR’s have gone digital they are also referred to as DSLR Cameras. The term ‘reflex’ comes from the use of automatic reflex mirrors used in these cameras.

For the purpose of this review it is sufficient to know that the reflex mirror used in an SLR, allows the photographer to see exactly what is being captured by the imaging system of the camera.

To make this clear, what you see on the LCD view of a point and shoot cameras is not exactly what the camera will ultimately capture on its imaging system. The mirror system in a DSLR makes this possible by reflecting light from cameras lens into the view finder.

DSLR cameras are preferred by professional photographers due to their large image sensors, flexibility to change lenses and the ability to provide an accurate view of what is being captured by the camera.

  • Image Quality – Digital SLRs have large image sensors that can produce high-quality photos
  • Flexibility – Can be fitted with various types of lenses, filters and lights to practically suit almost all shooting conditions
  • Speed – Fast start up, shutter speed and focusing. Professional DSLR cameras can shoot up to 10 frames per second.
  • Manual Controls – DSLR cameras have rich manual control features, these are built in such a way that a photographer is able to use them naturally as he is shooting.
  • You See what the camera is seeing – As mentioned above, the reflex mirror system in a DSLR allows the photographer to see exactly what is being captured by the camera.
  • Resale Value – DSLRs are known to have a better resale value compared to a point & shoot camera.
  • Build Quality – Professional DSLRs are made of abuse resistant alloy-metals and are generally made to last for a long time.best-digital-camera-dslr

Digital SLR Camera | Limitations

  • Size and Weight – DSLRs are less handy and portable due to their large size and weight. In addition you may have to carry various lenses and attachments – Things are getting better with the arrival of new generation DSLRs
  • Ease of use – Extensive manual controls in a DSLR can be overwhelming for first time users
  • Maintenance – DSLRs are susceptible to letting dust onto the image sensor while changing lenses. This can be minimized by going for a DSLR with self cleaning sensors.
  • Expensive Lenses – Good quality lenses can be expensive in case you want to add more lenses
  • Price – DSLR Cameras are generally more expensive than point and shoot digital cameras.  However, the prices are coming down drastically, making them more affordable.

Conclusion

The best digital camera is not necessarily the most expensive or the best selling camera in the market. Rather, the best digital camera is the one that suits your unique requirements and your budget.

Related Links

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  • Best Selling Compact Mega Zoom – Nikon COOLPIX L810