As of 2011, there are at least 14 companies that manufacture digital cameras throughout the world, providing consumers with a variety of styles and features to choose from. Learning about digital cameras and their capabilities is best done, by becoming familiar with the basics of digital cameras and photography.
Types of Digital Cameras
Digital cameras fit into two categories: basic and advanced. Basic digital cameras, or point-and-shoot cameras, are equipped with just enough features for basic photography. Advanced digital cameras contain sophisticated features designed to appeal to photography professionals and enthusiasts.
For most consumers, basic digital cameras will suffice. Basic cameras fall into three subcategories: subcompact, compact and super zoom. Subcompacts are so small, they fit in a pocket; however, they offer few manual controls. Compact cameras are a bit larger and provide users with more manual controls and higher zoom capabilities. Super zoom cameras provide the highest zoom capabilities and offer more manual controls.
One of the first bits of information you'll come across when shopping for a digital camera is the camera's megapixel, or MP, capability. Every digital photograph consists of tiny dots, or pixels, that make up the photo's image. A megapixel is a collection of one million pixels, or dots. A digital camera's megapixel capability refers to how many pixels the camera will use to capture a photograph. For instance, a camera that is capable of eight-megapixel (8MP) photography will capture eight million pixels, or dots, in each picture it takes.
Simply put, the larger the camera's megapixel capability, the larger the photo's file size will be. Digital cameras with smaller megapixel capabilities will usually suffice for snapshot photography. Yet, if you plan to print poster size photos, go with an eight-megapixel or higher camera.
Another feature digital camera makers and retailers love to advertise is the camera's zoom capabilities. Digital cameras are equipped with two types of zooms: digital and optical. Optical zoom uses the camera's lens to bring the subject closer, like the old school 35mm cameras did. Digital zoom, however, was born with the advent of the digital camera, and it isn't really a zoom at all. Digital zooming simply enlarges a portion of the image, simulating optical zoom, by cropping the image and then resizing it. Using digital zoom compromises the quality of the image, but it's good to use if you do not plan to manipulate the photo using image editing software.
Consult the Experts
Once you've decided what type of digital camera you're looking for and the features you'll need, it's wise to consult the experts regarding the best brands and models to buy. Many computing and consumer report magazines and Websites regularly publish lists and reviews of the best brands and models on the market at the time. When you're ready to purchase, consider buying from a retailer with staff that is knowledgeable about digital cameras. Don't assume that stores with good prices always know the nitty and gritty about digital cameras.
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