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Buying a Digital Camera - Quick Checklist

An easy digital camera buyer's guide...

Here is a quick list for buying a digital camera for general photography.

  • A digital camera with at least 8 megapixels. This will produce an excellent 8 x 10 photo. More megapixels will allow you to crop and still maintain good picture quality.

  • A minimum 3x optical zoom. This is a decent amount for every day zooming. If a zoom feature is something you think you need or might enjoy, you can get cameras with optical zooms as high as 24x.

  • Large LCD screen. This is for convenience, if this is how you like to view your images prior to taking the picture. The larger the LCD and the more pixels, the better.

  • Good range of shutter speeds and ISO. When buying a digital camera, choose a camera with a high shutter speed if you like sports photography or like to shoot fast moving objects. A high ISO will be an advantage in dark places. The camera, however, should produce little noise at these higher settings.

  • High quality lens

  • AF assist mode or AF Illuminator. This will help flash shots in dim light.

  • Scene Modes, including Face Detection. Scene modes make for quick and easy settings in a variety of situations.

  • For an expanded explanation of camera features, please visit my page choosing a digital camera.

    What Size Memory Card Should I Buy?

    Digital cameras record photos on something called a memory card. The camera you choose may use an SD, Memory Stick, Compact Flash or xD Picture card. However, the card that comes with the camera may not hold the amount of pictures you would like. In this case, you will have to take pictures off the card before you can do more shooting as the card will be full.

    How Many Images Will Your Card Hold?

    JPEG Images 1GB 2GB 4GB 8GB
    6 Megapixels 318 636 1273 2546
    8 Megapixels 290 580 1160 2320
    10 Megapixels 208 417 833 1667
    12 Megapixels 200 400 800 1599
    16 Megapixels 182 364 727 1455

    In the above chart, if you had a 10 Megapixel camera, a 2GB card would hold 417 pictures.

    Buying a Digital Camera for Landscape Photography

    What makes landscape photography different than other types of photography? Often wide expanses of scenery are captured. In addition, panoramas, where the width of the image is extremely wide, may be desired. It is not always this way, as you may choose to photograph a more compact scene.

    So…when buying a digital camera with this type of photography in mind, what should you look for, and what is less important?

    Recommended Camera Features For Landscape Photography
  • 10 or More Megapixels - This will be to capture detail for large prints ( 8 x 10 and larger). In addition, you will be able to crop and still retain the landscape details in a large image.
  • Lens range starts at 28mm minimum - You will want a lens with a wider angle than typical, which is 35mm.
  • Scenes - Landscape (optional) - Set it to landscape and you do not have to adjust any settings yourself.

  • Less Important Camera Features
  • ISO - Unless you are shooting in low light, there is no need to choose a high ISO.
  • Extreme range of shutter speeds - Typically the subject is still, so high shutter speeds are not necessary.
  • Optical zoom - Only important if you like to zoom in on features in the landscape.
  • White balance - Usually shooting is done in the day time. Although sun and cloud options are sometimes offered, there is no need for lots of different lighting condition options.
  • Strong flash - Only if you are shooting in low light.
  • LCD screen - LCD screen typically do not let you see the entire scene, so you are better off looking through a viewfinder.

  • Buying Cameras for Low Light Situations

    Many people purchase a digital camera for general purposes, while others have specific situations in mind. One of those situations might being taking photographs in low light situations. Low light situations can be challenging. However, there are certain camera features to look for when buying a digital camera that can be advantageous for this type of photography.

    Recommended Camera Features For Low Light Photography
  • Higher ISO - using a higher ISO means less light is needed, so this is good to use when shooting in low light. Depending on how high you go, however, more noise can appear in the photo, along with less photo detail. This is where a camera excelling in this area is important.
  • Good auto focus in low light - Many times I read reviews where the camera has a difficult time and seems to be "searching" when focusing in low light.
  • Long Shutter Speeds - This will allow the lens to stay open longer to let in more light.
  • Good White Balance in incandescent lighting.
  • A good automatic flash or hot shoe for dedicated flash.
  • Night Scene mode
  • A good lens

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