By nature, people are different and use their cameras for taking different kinds of pictures. So the best digital camera for one person may be different than another’s best. But overall, most people who use a camera have similar requirements. With that in mind we can determine what the best digital camera is for most casual to serious digital photographers.
Picking a digital camera can be easy if you think about what you want in one. If you don’t think about it first, you may at some point feel a huge lack of love for your new camera. A little knowledge, a little research, and wallah! “I love my camera.”
OK, let’s get serious. Consider the following when buying a camera. These features are more important than all the rest of the functions or options you can get on a digital camera:
- Optical Zoom
Let's discuss each of these necessary features briefly.
Optical Zoom -- Most of the smaller digital cameras today are really lacking when it comes to zooming in on a target. Zoom gets you closer to your subject, without you having to actually move closer. For instance, if you are at the zoo and want a closeup of the White Tiger (but don’t want to get closer!), a 2 times or 3 times optical zoom will not close the gap very much. The tiger will still seem far away. The camera may have a digital zoom feature as well and you try that, but when you get back home and look at your tiger closeup you won’t be happy. Digital zoom uses the camera’s software to “zoom in” on something artificially. The result can be a blurry, pixelated (grainy) mess. A telescoping lens is used in optical zoom, and the result is a clean and clear closeup of your target.
Optical zoom should be as high as you can afford. If you want to see the eyelashes of the White Tiger, then 10 or 15 times optical zoom is perfect. But this will make the camera a little bit bulkier and more costly. A good optical zoom lens though is something you’ll put to use every time you turn on the camera, and it is a critical component if you want what is the best digital camera for your needs.
Resolution -- You'll see a camera’s resolution referred to as MP or megapixels. Besides military police, MP stands for millions of pixels. This number is the quality and size of the picture that a camera can take. It is always better to get a camera with the highest number of megapixels you can. At least 5 megapixels will be enough take professional-looking shots, and since you are going to use your camera to take pictures that are important, often memory-making events, you will be happy you chose a camera that gave you clear, non-pixelated (ungrainy) pictures.
Size – Cameras can be very small these days, and many of the cameras sold are credit card sized. These small cameras are perfect for fitting in your pocket or purse, but you'll often find them not worth the 60 or 80 dollars that you paid for them due to their lack of functionality when you need them. The optical zoom is usually very poor on these smaller cameras, though sometimes the resolution is okay.
Price – The best digital camera for your needs doesn’t have to be expensive, but it is something you will hopefully use for many years to come. If you think about the features you want and need and make sure your camera meets some of the requirements that we’ve discussed here, you won’t have to buy a camera every three years. You’ll also save money in the long run. But even in the short-run, a camera with these features shouldn’t be too expensive. As a general rule though, stay away from the cameras that you see on sale at drug stores, Target, Wal-mart, and Kmart.