- Casual digital photos (snapshots) of your family, friends and vacations that will be shared via the Internet (e-mail, Web site, social networking, etc.), plus some small prints.
- A digital camera with more versatility, such as greater resolution, longer zoom lens and better image quality, so you can make larger prints.
- You’re very serious about learning digital photography at the highest level, so you want a professional-quality digital camera. You want to capture spectacular sunsets and landscapes, close-ups of wildlife, etc.; make the largest prints possible; and frame your digital photos to give as gifts, or even sell at a flea market or community arts festival.
When you decide to buy a digital camera, start first by making a list of the kind of digital photos you want to shoot and how you will use your digital photography. To help you with this first step, identify which of these three general categories of digital camera users best describes you.
Now, you’re ready to shop for a digital camera. There are three primary categories of digital cameras: compact or point-and-shoot, bridge and DSLR.
If you see yourself as a member of the first category of digital camera users above, then a compact type will be best for you. The primary benefit of a compact digital camera is its small size and weight, so it’s easy to take everywhere you go. That size and lower price means some limitations, such as a fixed lens and how much it will zoom; image quality, as measured in megapixels; and the size of prints you can make. The number of megapixels of digital cameras may be a good way to compare them, but other factors, such as the optical zoom range and image stabilization are also important. Three to four megapixels will provide you with average to above average picture quality, so you can expect to spend several hundred dollars.
Bridge digital cameras were developed to be a “bridge” between the limited capabilities of a compact and a professional-quality DSLR camera. There is some indication that the bridge type of digital camera may disappear. It could be the best digital camera for you, however, if you identify with the second category above. Bridge digital cameras range in price from approximately $500 to as much as $1,000.
DSLR is digital single-lens reflex. This simply means you see the image you want to shoot from the same angle as the picture is taken. In most cases, you’ll want to consider a DSLR digital camera, if you think you’re a member of the third category of digital camera users. This professional-level equipment will provide you with the highest number of megapixels, interchangeable lens and all the bells and whistles the pros use. Purchasing a DSLR digital camera is a serious commitment, since a good model will cost several thousand dollars (The best are nearly $10,000).
Digital photography is an exciting hobby, and you’ll enjoy it the most when you carefully match the kind of digital photos you plan to take with the right digital camera to buy.