How to Choose a Right Camera

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How to Choose a "Right" Camera


Since I have always been asked on how to choose a "right camera" (usually point-and-shoot ones), therefore I put this up on my blog and on eBay as well, hopefully to help you in purchasing a camera. May not be gospel truth but at least it serves as a guide in helping you selecting an ideal camera.

Budget: Have a rough value on how much do you want to spend on a camera, or at least a range you are willing to spend. This will help you avoid unwanted salesmen persuasions to psycho you into buying something expensive, or on the other hand, helping them to help you to point out which are the range of camera available in their store. This will be easier for you to shortlist which models are affordable to you. Remember that cheap does not mean it is good.

Use: Do consider what do you usually enjoy or want to photograph with your camera. Some cameras are designed to have special functions to meet certain challenging scenarios, this helps to limit your choices too. For example, you want to shoot something in the dark but you do not like using your flash (frequent question), you might want to consider something that has a function called VR (vibration reduction) or IS (image stabilizer) or a cheaper alternative camera that has a higher ISO, reason being that the higher the ISO, the more sensitive your camera is (usually ISO 800 and above). Or best, having both!

Lens: Will you be shooting a lot of close-ups or frequently taking photos from a distance? Find a camera with a powerful optical zoom, certainly at least 3x optically. Digital zoom is an electronic enlargement of part of the image, making it appear to be closer and bigger, simulating an optical zoom lens at a telephoto setting, which is why they are usually low in quality. In layman explanation, it is like printing something in a dimension of 1cmx1cm with your printer and enlarging it to 10cmx10cm on your scanner, therefore try not to take digital zoom into account. Bear in mind that the lens is one of the most important part of your camera, usually the bigger the lens, the more light can enter the camera for the image sensor to capture, resulting in better and more detailed pictures. You may want to consider the several well-known pioneer lenses too such as Carls Zeiss (Sony), Leica (Panasonic & Leica), Nikkor ED (Nikon), L (Canon) and to name a few.

Complexity: If you are just buying a camera for simple photographing, look for models that are easy to use (less buttons and more automated functions). If you want to have more control over your camera to unleash the creative side of you and worried you might not handle it, get a semi-professional one that has both custom (M, AV, TV, P) and preset modes (Auto, Night, Portrait, Sports).

Prints: If you print 4x6 sized photos, a basic 2-megapixel camera is enough. The greater the megapixel (MP) on the camera does not determine the quality of your picture. It just simple means you are able to make larger prints. Larger MP means you need to have larger memory card too, which we will be covering later.

Storage: If you do not own a CD burner or much hard disk space in your computer. You might want to consider something with lesser than 6MP to reduce the pain of archiving your pictures later on.

Memory Card: You might want a larger memory card if you have a large MP camera. If you previously already own a camera and has a storage media too, you might want to take that into consideration by choosing a camera that uses the same memory card too. But if it is an ancient or a puny one just forget about it (usually less than 512MB). It comes with different speed too so please check with shopkeeper or your manual.

Battery: If you did not know, this is another important factor that you should consider too. Normally camera manufacturer designed their cameras to support AA or AAA size batteries to cut cost, tricking you into their cheap camera prices, which in the end you will be spending heaps on Alkaline batteries that does not last long. You MUST add the cost of good rechargeable batteries with a decent charger (of course) to your camera if you decide to get one that runs on conventional batteries. I personally prefer batteries designed by the camera manufacturer even though they can be rather expensive because they normally come in Ni-MH or the newer ones, Li-Ion that last MUCH longer!

LCD Display: After all you will want something that can be easily used by your dad who is long-sighted, or a passerby who happens to be a middle-aged long-sighted man to help take a picture of you. Get something with bigger display (2.5" and above) with big wordings. Not only that, bigger LCD has more details too. Also note that it consumes more battery power too. You might want to find a model with a viewfinder (a hole that allows you to look through to take pictures) to help save battery consumption at critical moments when you are having a low battery and have nowhere to charge.

Research: Do your homework on the Internet! You will find plenty of camera reviews on the web as well as other users’ recommendations and opinion on certain camera. Most review sites offer very good side-by-side comparisons where you can compare the specifications on several cameras at ones!

Good recommended site I personally use are:
DPreview
CNET: Digital Camera Reviews

…and many many more… Google it to find the sites!


If you decided to purchase it at a shop, to squeeze the best price out of the seller, do not show any interests in any camera even if you have made up your mind. Make sure you spend at least 40 minutes looking through all the cameras! You will see how the seller bundles along the amount of free gifts to you to buy your interest! They might sometimes include more additional free gifts if you open your mouth to ask.

Generally if you get four or more good points above that meet your needs or requirements, you are good to go! Don’t forget to keep your camera receipt or warranty card when you have purchased it because they are like gold when you are in between paying heaps to repair it when you can get it free under the warranty period! Some shop keepers do not offer warranty card because their receipt serves the same purpose, some even offer extended warranty with a minimum fee, and therefore it is important that you find out more from the seller!

Hope the above information helps.

Cheers!
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