How To Choose A Point And Shoot Digital Camera

I don’t consider myself an expert when it comes to photography but as a consumer, I scour the web when it comes to buying big purchases such as a digital camera. As with most subjects I research online, I found that everyone has their own opinion. Many of the articles I found came from people who knew much more on the subject than me, and wrote like it. In this post, I’ll tell you what I found and what worked for me as a novice photographer.

The first thing to determine before you buy a camera is what you want to use it for. At first, I wasn’t sure whether or not to splurge and learn to use a digital SLR camera or just choose a nice point and shoot (PAS). For me, this camera would be my primary camera. I wanted to be able to use it to take my artistic-like pictures, but I also wanted to take it to concerts and out with my friends — something that I could easily carry around and not have to deal with equipment. Although I eventually want to purchase a DSLR, that isn’t what I needed at this point in time. This choice ultimately led to me to not choosing one of the point and shoot DSLR look-a-likes because it’s too big to carry around in my purse. Now, there are cameras on the market called compact system digital cameras, which are supposed to be the in-between choice of PAS and DSLR cameras. These are new to the market and expensive but seem a like a great concept. When I was buying my camera, there was only one on the market and it wasn’t the right choice, but I’d definitely consider it for my next camera.

Once you determine you want to buy a PAS, you have to look at the features. Keep in mind that the better the features, the more expensive they will be, but it’s worth it. How often do you buy a camera?

Features:

Zoom: The zoom amount was important to me because I noticed that I take a lot of pictures that are from far away — like at concerts or wide nature shots. Zoom is tricky because there is optical zoom and digital zoom. Optical zoom is what’s important. The better the optical zoom, the better the zoom on the camera will be. Digital zoom usually ends up making the pictures a bit blurry and pixelated. The camera I ended up buying, a Nikon Coolpix S8000 (not a client or connected to Nikon in anyway, just the best camera on the market at the time of purchase – nearly a year ago), has 10x optical zoom and 4x digital. The zoom is amazing, and I would never get anything less again. You also have to keep in mind, the more zoom, the better image stabilizer you need because a shakey camera with a long zoom can equal a blurry image.

The image below was at a Carrie Underwood concert. I was very pleased with how the pictures turned out!

Megapixel: Megapixels aren’t extremely important. First of all, most cameras have a high megapixel now-a-days. Mine has 12.1. Second, if most of the pictures you are going to use are going to be printed in 4×6 size, then megapixel isn’t even an issue. The only thing you’d have to worry about is if you wanted to print a lot of large sizes and even then, most PAS are above 10 megapixels (and the most I’ve seen is 16-18).

Image Stabilizer: As I mentioned earlier, the image stabilizer is something to do some research on. I find it best to just go into a store and mess around with all the cameras they have. Zoom all the way out and take pictures. Shake the camera a little and take pictures. See how they turn out. Read reviews of the camera. People will tell it like it is. It’s more valuable to read the reviews of people who have used the camera than the wording of the manufacturer (Amazon and Best Buy have good reviews to read). I’m satisfied with my camera’s image stabilizer. I find that sometimes in low lighting, far zoomed images, the pictures can turn out a little blurry, but that situation is a little extreme (not regular photo situation).

Flash: I never looked at the flash range when I was purchasing my camera because generally the PAS flash is sufficient for most pictures. Something to keep in mind though is the location of the flash/how it turns on. My flash pops-up, which I like because it saves room on the front of the camera and seems extremely bright. However, when reading reviews, other people I noticed don’t like this feature because they end up blocking the flash with their finger. This just proves as another good reason to read reviews, but an even better reason to try out the camera many times before you buy it.

Special Features: This is different for every photographer and every camera, but I wanted a camera with a macro mode because I love taking macro photography. Find what you love, see if it’s available and don’t settle for less.

I love the macro mode on my camera. It focuses the zoom and takes awesome photos.

Have questions? Anything else you’d look for in buying a point and shoot camera? Let me know in the comments.

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