Who uses a real digital camera these days? Our fancy iPhone and Android cells have literally taken over and the option for a personal camera is becoming less appealing. But even the fancy cells have their limitations. They require good lighting, a steady hand and their ability for depth of field leaves a desire for a real camera to do the job. And have you tried to print those images? I’ve done 4x6’s and they look alright. How about making a photo book, or an enlargement for your walls. You may notice there that your cell phone is lacking quality. Maybe having a good digital camera isn’t a terrible idea after all.
I have some advice, please note this is all matter of MY opinion. I have spent several years, operating and running a digital photo lab and selling cameras, studying their features and trying to help my customers get the best camera for their budget. I educated them on features and specs so they had an idea what they are purchasing.
I still get lots of request from family and friends about what kind of camera should they buy. Well honestly, you need to decide what features are most important to you. Some people love the big zoom. Some want a quality megapixel. Some want something that will do a better job than their cell phone. They want to capture their children and special family occasions and preserve them longer then the life of their cell phone. Let’s be honest, some of us go through cellphones way too much and we don’t always get to save all those precious moments we captured on it. So, if I were to sell you a camera today, this is how I would start with specs.
1. Battery power. To me this is most important. I will not allow my family to buy a camera that runs on double AA’s. I don’t care if they have rechargeable lithium ion’s and a charger. No. Not an option. Look for a camera that comes with a rechargeable lithium battery pack. Digital cameras eat through double AA’s at an enormous speed. The night before an event I will charge my camera’s battery throughout the night and be good to shoot all day. Honestly, it’s no fun having a camera that won’t stay charged because of the lack of battery power.
2. Manual Mode. This mode scares a lot of people. “Just put it on auto,” I hear that a lot. But if you are going to invest in a camera, it would be nice to know how to use it. Auto will give you a ‘nice’ image based on what the camera thinks. But you can do so much more and improve your images by knowing how to set your manual settings yourself. Knowing you really took that image yourself will give you a confidence boost. Get your first free digital photography lesson here!
3. Zoom. Almost everyone wants a lot of zoom. How far does it reach? My brother called me recently concerning this matter. He bought an inexpensive ‘video’ camera off Amazon. It had great reviews and had great zoom. But he informed me that his cell phone does a better job. So, I had to inquire, what kind of zoom did it say? You see there are two kinds of zoom on cameras. Optical, which is the good zoom and digital which is a waste of your time and money. The optical allows you to zoom in capture the image like a normal zoom lens. You still need the extra light and a steady hand but it does a good job. Digital zoom starts after the optical zoom is all used up. It keeps cropping inside the already zoomed out image. As a result, you get a super shaky, low light and pixilated image. And that is what happened to my brother. Fun fact, he sent the camera back and bought the same video camera I have off eBay ( 9 years old now) because he liked the quality of my 40x optical zoom. I will never suggest or promote a purchase based on a digital zoom.
4. Video. I believe every digital camera comes with this feature. But don’t buy a digital camera based on the quality of its video feature. If that’s what you want, buy a video camera. The quality will be better.
I didn’t include megapixel on this blog post because it really isn’t an issue. Camera’s mega pixels are so high that you really can’t go wrong with them. Megapixels matter when it is time to blow up poster size prints. I started (2005) with an Easy Share Kodak with 6.1 megapixel and make 20x30 poster prints from it.
It is good to check in your settings where your camera megapixel is set. Many times, it will be on the lowest setting to save you space on your memory card. Bump it up to the highest pixel so you can get the best quality image. Take a moment and think about what you plan to do with your camera to decide what features you want to invest in. And subscribe for more great tips on using your new camera.
BONUS! When to buy! Camera's update very frequently. I would reset my camera bar about every 6 months. This normally occurred at the start of both Spring and Fall. With the new line of camera's the older models went on clearance. So if you don't need the latest and greatest you can't go wrong buying one at a discount!
Shelayna Snow is a newborn and family photographer in the Central NY area. Along with being a homeschool mom, Shelayna also teaches photography to homeschooled high schooled students are the local Oswego County LEAH Co-Op.