How To Buy A Digital Camera

by The Smarter Wallet on March 15, 2010

So you’ve saved enough in your online savings account to finally afford that digital camera. Well here are some things to consider before making your purchase!

I was way behind the curve when I bought a digital camera. I had put off buying one for too long and had done absolutely no research, but ended up needing one in a hurry right before going on a cruise. I logged on to eBay and found a cute little used lavender Fuji camera that fit my budget and met the requirements for some of my mystery shopping assignments as well. So I made it mine. Only after I was on the cruise did I realize that I had gotten a bonus: the camera takes movies too!

how to buy a digital camera

Although I am happy with my camera, I realize that I did not go about buying it the right way. It is important to know exactly what you are buying before you purchase. There are scads of cameras out there in different price ranges and with various bells and whistles. So how do you make a decision? Price will always be a factor of course, and so will be intended use. Also, it’s important to comparison shop, so visiting stores and sites where you can buy electronics on discount can help you find the products you need at great prices. You may also want to consider online auction sites for affordable merchandise; just make sure you do your due diligence when you order online.

Tip: If you’re interested in a technical or analytical approach to choosing the right camera, then check out BestInClass.com, which offers a really clever tool to help you narrow down your choices.


If you are a professional photographer, you probably already know everything I’m going to mention below. But if you are just starting out, then here are some helpful hints and terms to be familiar with when you do your camera shopping:

How To Buy A Digital Camera: Know These Terms!

  • Megapixels: Refers to the camera’s resolution. The higher the megapixel number, the better, larger prints you can make.
  • Aperture and shutter modes: Available on most cameras; these enable you to override the automatic settings and allow you to customize for low light, depth of field, and movement shots.
  • Focal range and manual focus override: Cameras with a large focal range can zoom far out to capture more of the environment, or zoom in to focus tightly on the subject. If you want to use a powerful zoom, it can make photos blurry, so you might want to get a camera with optical image stabilization. Some cameras have a focus ring that allows you a wide range of manual focus, but compact point-and-shoot cameras may have a button that only lets you adjust the focus manually to a few settings.
  • Speaking of focus, if you are going to take a lot of indoor photos, you might want a camera that has a low light focusing aid. Trust me on this one.
  • Digital zoom: Does not produce the same quality of photos as does optical zoom, so don’t buy a particular model based on claims of high digital zoom.

So do your research. Read up on cameras that interest you and know what features are important to you. Go to a brick and mortar store to try out a camera before buying one online. You might find that certain features on some cameras are easier or harder to use than you thought. Give it a test run.

Most importantly, have fun! Photography is a great hobby that you can enjoy and develop in so many ways. You might even find a new career!

So what are you waiting for? Let’s go shopping!

 
Contributing Writer: BEM

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