Big lens camera

The DO’s and DON’T’s of Digital Camera Shopping

Big lens camera

Editor’s note: This is a guest post by Syed Rafie. In this article, he explains the do’s and don’t’s when buying a digital camera: megapixel count, image quality and get the right camera for yourselves.  If you would like to contribute too, please contact me.

Buying a digital camera nowadays isn’t as risky as it used to be. They’ve come down in value far enough that most of them represent a risk-free purchase, considering the payoffs that you are supposed to be get in return. As technology gets progressively cheaper, consumers experience the upshot of having more choice to spend their hard-earned coin on. The caveat to this somewhat sunny depiction of the situation is that the potential for confusion has also increased.

It can be a minefield to navigate, as we are about to see. But fear not! Even with choices galore and various advertising catchphrases being thrown at you from multiple angles, there are certain hard truths that you need to consider (which are easy enough to discern) when deciding which camera is going to be your next one.

Let’s start with a very simple, and important, DON’T.

DON’T : Be swayed by that megapixel count.

This is by far one of the biggest weapons that companies use when trying to advertise the worthiness of their products over any others.

First of all, let’s properly explain what megapixels actually represent. Megapixels do not account for the quality of the image. Megapixels are actually how LARGE the pictures that the camera can take are. This is not to say that the picture size is not important.

The bigger the megapixel count, the bigger the image. This means, in theory, that the picture would have more detail. This again, in theory, would mean that the picture is a ‘better’ one, compared to a picture that was taken at a lower megapixel setting. Of course, the theoretical aspect of this discussion can be borne out by simple logic. You can see more on a 1366 x 768 laptop screen than you can on an old 640 x 480 CRT monitor, correct?

This holds true for megapixel counts as well. Another relatable example would be the difference in detail between standard definition TV, and high definition TV (like Astro B.YOND). TV3 would not have the same amount of detail as HBO HD, for example. But this leads to another consideration we have to make.

However, due to megapixel counts on consumer digital cameras already hitting 8 megapixels and above (enough for you to print out pictures that are A3 in size), more megapixels would be putting you in the land of diminishing returns.

After all, who wants to pay for pixels that they aren’t actually going to use?

DO : Consider Image quality!

Now, to stretch the HDTV example a bit further, let’s discuss picture quality. Plenty of HDTVs nowadays can display in Full HD (1920 x 1080 pixels), i.e have the same megapixel count. But as you would know, no two TVs have the same level of colour reproduction, contrast levels, smoothness of motion and customizability for their settings (which all influence image quality).

By the same token, no two digital cameras with the same megapixel counts would have the same level of image quality. As we all know, image quality is relative. What looks great to some people would look rather horrible to others.

Our advice? Test the cameras themselves to see what works for you and what doesn’t. And if that isn’t possible, canvass as many opinions and reviews from the Internet as you can find, or look for test shots of the cameras in question.

Take into account how you feel about the levels of colour reproduction; consider the richness of the photos and how adjustable the settings are when it comes to tweaking them. If you’re happy with the images you’re seeing, that’s already half the battle won.

DON’T : Forget what you need to use your camera for.

DSLR Cameraman

It’s no use buying a pseudo-DSLR if all you’re going to do is take pictures of your cat to put up on a personal blog.

It’s also rather pointless buying a cheap point’n’shoot device when you need to come up with detailed shots that are related with business or professional concerns.

Remember why you’re buying one!

Don’t be stingy with the budget when the purpose of the camera is clearly one that requires significant financial investment to be made. Buying a cheap camera just as a ‘stop-gap’ is never going to be a cost effective solution, even in the long run.

After all, who continues using something when it does not offer any acceptable offerings in return? Save yourself the hassle and heartache by making sure you spend what is necessary for what you need.

Technology can get old very very quickly.

DO : Find a camera that you’re comfortable with.

User-friendliness is king when it comes to consumer products. If you’re not sure how it works, if you’re unclear as to how the functions are manipulated, and if you’re vague on the idea of changing settings, then move on and find a camera that you can get along with.

Some degree of education is always necessary when it comes to technology, so don’t expect to find something that you’ll be 100% okay with straight away. However, if you can find something that’s easy to live with, by all means, go for it!

In conclusion

So there you have it, some simple dos and don’ts for buying a digital camera. It’s a simple enough choice if you follow the above-mentioned guidelines, and should stand you in good stead, regardless of which price bracket you’re aiming for. Ultimately, this is about your experience with your new digital toy, so make sure it’s a lasting and enjoyable one.

Happy shopping!

Guest post: This article is written is by Syed Rafie who is working as a writer and editor at Malaysia’s largest online shopping mall, Lazada Malaysia. Follow him on Twitter at @origamiblade.

Image Credits: USACE Europe District and potzuyoko.

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