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Choosing a Digital Camera

When choosing a digital camera, you can go for either a point and shoot camera or a D-SLR.

The main differences between them is that the D-SLR has interchangeable lenses and lets you view subjects directly through the lens. Typically they are higher end and more expensive, although there are point and shoot cameras which are pretty up there also.

When buying a camera, the first thing you should decide is what you want the camera for. I say this due to the fact that cameras have different features, and you will want one that fits your needs.

Your interests may be in any of the following: Landscapes, People, Sports/Fast Moving Subjects, Dark Areas, All Purpose, or any other type of photography.

Here are features that you should have some knowledge about prior to choosing a digital camera lChoosing a digital camera begins with your needs and budget.along with some digital camera buying tips. Certain features are better suited for certain types of photography than others. Keep this in mind when choosing a digital camera.

Look for a camera with a minimum of 8 to 10 megapixels for printing and cropping photos. What are megapixels?

Optical Zoom
Minimum optical zoom I would recommend would be 3x. If you like to zoom in on subjects, go higher. Cameras in the 20x to 24x are available.

Most cameras have an Automatic mode. Just set the camera to "Auto", frame your subject, and click. The camera will make all the decision as to what settings are best for that shot. No thinking on your part and very simple. You don't have to worry about focus, shutter speeds, aperture settings, light, etc.

Auto Focus
When you have framed your subject, press the shutter button halfway down. The camera will automatically focus on the subject in the center of the picture. Going up the scale, cameras may offer:

1. Multi point focus where many of areas of the entire picture are part of the focusing system.
2. Off center focus where you can focus on a subject no matter where it is in the frame. You can then move your camera so that the subject is in a different will still stay in focus.

Shutter Speed
Cameras offer a range of shutter speeds. Faster shutter speeds, such as 1/2000, are good for taking photos of fast moving objects. Longer camera shutter speeds are used for shooting at night and situations where you need to let a lot of light in. Look for a wide range, or higher speeds if you shoot sports, etc.

White Balance
These settings help with various light sources, such as sunshine, incandescent or fluorescent bulbs. Auto white balance does this automatically.

ISO Settings
A range of ISO settings are always offered. This lets you adjust for different lighting conditions A higher ISO is used for darker situations. Look for the widest range. However, the higher the number is, the more grain will appear in the photo. This is one of the places where camera quality comes in to play because the better cameras allow you to shoot at higher ISO's with better quality. If you are taking pictures in bright sunlight most of the time, this will be a less important feature when you are choosing a digital camera.

Camera Flashes/Lighting
Point and shoot cameras have built in flashes, while D-SLR cameras may or may not. Built in flashes usually have a range in distance that the flash will work, and it is not the same for all cameras. This becomes a more important consideration if you will often be shooting dimly lit subjects.

Some other related features you might look for when choosing a digital camera are red-eye reduction, fill-flash (adds light to the foreground), slow synch flash (goes off with slower shutter speeds), hot shoe (let's you add a separate flash that is more powerful), AF Illuminator or AF Assist ( a pre-flash goes off briefly to light the scene).

Scene Modes
Scene Modes may be such things as Sports, Landscape, Portrait, Night, and so on. These are settings that have been pre-set by the camera. Just choose the one that relates to what you are shooting and that's it. A very popular one is Face Detection, where faces are optimized.

Aperture and Shutter Priority
Instead of letting the camera choose these settings in Auto or Scene Mode, you can choose them yourself. This allows for more user control and creativity, although it is a little more complicated until you get the hang of it. Choose either aperture or shutter priority. Make your selection and the other will be made by the camera.

LCD Screen
This is a larger view finder to frame your subject with. Sometimes the regular electronic view finder is offered also, and sometimes it is not. LCD's with more pixels are clearer. Larger LCD's are more desirable. Sizes typically range from 2.5 inches (the most common) up to 3 or 3.5 inches. See how the LCD screen of the camera you are considering works in bright light, as this can be a problem.

Buy the best quality lens that ou can to get the best pictures. In addition, focus on zoom ranges for close-up photos and wide angles for landscape photography.

Last camera advice...when choosing a digital camera, pick it up in your hands to hold it. See how you like the feel of it. Is it too large, too small, too heavy, and how does it feel in general?

I also recommend Digital Photography Tricks, another website for some more helpful information on choosing a digital camera.

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