Shopping Digital Camera Buying Tips - Know yourself and why you need a camera. Consider your capabilities and interest in photography, and how a digital camera fits into your lifestyle. Different models are better suited for different situations. See if you might fit into one of the three photographer-types listed below:
New Digital Camera User: Are you new to the world of digital photography? Many low-cost point-and-shoot digital cameras include a range of standard features that are simple to learn and operate, making them an ideal choice for the beginning or casual photographer.
Intermediate Digital Camera Photographer: If you take a wider array of photographs -- from quick snapshots to vacation photos to sporting events -- you'll need a versatile, full-featured camera that can handle a range of zoom scenarios, photo subjects, lighting conditions, and so on.
Serious Digital Camera User: Are you an experienced photographer that is prepared to pay a higher price for the features, flexibility, and control available only with a DSLR (digital single lens reflex) camera with interchangeable lenses?
Determine your ideal camera type. Make sure you understand the relative strengths and limitations of point-and-shoot and DSLR cameras, and which is best suited for the photos you want to take. Although there are areas where the lines between point-and-shoots and DSLRs are blurring, the two classes of camera still have their own distinctive features that make them well-suited for different situations. Which camera is best for you can be as simple as needing the image quality of a DSLR or the convenience of a point-and-shoot, or it can be a more involved decision based on your experience level, the type of photos you take, and your desire to use manual settings. Here are some quick features of each camera type to help you decide.
Get a feel for the camera. Hold the camera and take a few photos with it. You'll get more enjoyment from a camera and use it more often if it fits comfortably in your hand and the controls are easy to use.
Look beyond the megapixels. For high-quality photos, consider the size and type of the camera's image sensor.
Check out the zoom and focus features. Higher power zoom lets you get closer to the action, and optical zoom is more important than digital zoom because it doesn't reduce image quality. Auto focus features also are important, but a camera with manual focus features can give you greater flexibility.
Help reduce the risks of blurry photos. Image stabilization is important for helping to reduce shaking and blurriness. Electronic image stabilization is a good start, while optical image stabilization is even better.
Low-light capabilities matter. How well your camera performs in low light matters as much as how well it takes photos in bright sunlight. Cameras that have high ISO sensitivity (ISO ratings 800 or higher) will be better able to capture properly exposed images with reduced blur in dimly lit situations.
Consider advanced features. Think about what additional technology features you want in your camera -- such as face detection or in-camera retouching -- to help you achieve better results and enhance your overall photography experience.
Accessorize in style. Know what accessories you would like to use and what other devices you want to connect to your camera, such as an HDTV to view your photos, in order to make sure it has the right inputs and outputs.
Be sure to comparison shop. Before deciding on a specific model, look at the models above and below it. Sometimes you can get amazing features for only a small price difference.
After you have decided which camera is the best one for you, further your education and love of photography by learning more about photo restoration basics or how to use Adobe Photoshop CS2, and much more at Sony’s Digital Imaging 101.