The Average User's Guide To Camera Shopping

A short but concise insight into the primary types of cameras available to the average, every-day consumer. By Ron Morris.
By Digital Admin, Last updated on: 6/10/2014

The massive leaps and bounds in digital camera technology over the last 5 years have finally resulted in decent and high quality merchandise that is readily available to even an entry level user. Though the phrase “you get what you pay for” still rings true with some items, even a budget conscious consumer can manage to find an affordable camera that offers decent performance and produces great quality images. This also has an inverse effect on more advanced models, such as long zoom cameras (long range zoom in a compact size) and SLR (single lens reflex, as close to analog as you can get) cameras.

These once exorbitantly expensive camera types are now much more affordable and offer features and mechanics that were once only accessible to consumers that could afford the expense and have the patience and ability to learn how the camera works, due to the bevy of additional features and controls. Today, we are going to cover the three primary types of digital camera available for consumers and offer guidance on what camera would be ideal for certain end-users.

The most commonly used camera today (aside from the increasingly unavoidable camera phone) is the classic point and shoot. These models are often built to offer decent to high quality shots, packing in as many features as possible while keeping the overall package very compact. Point and shoot cameras are perfect for any user, from the casual user that wants to have pictures of their activities to even a seasoned pro that wishes to not carry around a large, heavy long zoom or SLR camera.

As far as core features such as zoom and megapixels, most models offer at least a 4x zoom, which can go as high as 12x or 15x, with some models starting at an average of 12 megapixels. While the common thought is the more megapixels the better, keep in mind that the average eye cannot distinguish the difference after 10 megapixels, unless the image is enlarged. If you do not plan on resizing your images, a high megapixel count often becomes trivial.

The next step from a point and shoot are the fairly new long range zoom cameras. Think of them as a way-point between a point and shoot and an SLR. You manage to get much more features and versatility, a zoom range that often triples that of what is typically found on its younger brother and it still comes in a much more manageable size. It also retains a similar ease of use compared to point and shoot cameras, but you still have to thumb through the manual to see how to utilize the camera to the fullest.

As intimidating as they can be, an SLR camera is a very sound investment as long as you put the time and effort into learning how to use it properly and invest in expanding upon its use, as SLR cameras are very much customizable out of the box. Typical SLR cameras are packaged with a basic 18-55mm lens, which will not seem like much given the size, but most models have several lenses available, each with different features, specifications and ranges, upwards to 300mm at a consumer level. Though these cameras are considered “advanced”, any user that applies themselves and puts in the time to learn the intricate nature of the device will have no problem taking great photos.

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