Choosing the Right Digital Camera

With no film to process -- and potentially damage -- and the ability to quickly delete images that don't come out right, digital cameras have quickly become the norm, replacing film cameras. Although film cameras do have some advantages over digital -- such as increased responsiveness -- chances are that unless you're a professional or serious enthusiast, a digital camera is going to be the best option. But with so many options available, choosing the right digital camera can be overwhelming.

Point-and-shoot

If you're a technophobe and all you want is to be able to take reasonable family snapshots, then a point-and-shoot is ideal. Point-and-shoot cameras have few buttons and few options. It's like having a more advanced camera with the options permanently set to auto. This means that most of the time, you will get pictures of reasonable quality.

Single lens reflex

If you want complete control over your images, and you want to use filters to enhance them, you may eventually find you need a single lens reflex digital camera. This type of camera is one in which the viewfinder uses a mirror positioned behind the aperture to ensure that what you see through the viewfinder is the shot the camera takes.

Somewhere in between

There are a whole slew of digital cameras available with options in between these two extremes. A good option is a camera that allows you to alter the settings manually but also has a range of pre-sets suitable for close-ups, landscapes, action shots, and settings for use in various types of lighting. You might not need to go beyond switching between these pre-set settings, or you might find you enjoy tinkering with them to create just the right effect.

Megapixels

The quality of the image a digital camera takes is measured in megapixels (Mpx), or how many million pixels are in the image. The more pixels, the bigger the size of the image files, and more importantly, the bigger the image can be printed without loss of quality. If you're only going to upload images to social networks, or look at them on a screen, then even a relatively small 5Mpx camera will produce images of a quality to be viewed full screen. That's because a screen resolution is generally either 72 or 96 dots per inch (dpi). To get quality photographs, however, images need to be printed at 300dpi, meaning a 5Mpx image will probably print out at 5 x 9 inches, but will lose quality if blown up beyond that. Take a look at this chart to see maximum print sizes for cameras of different Mpx capacity.

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