Guide to Purchasing Your First Digital Camera

Digital camera is a must have accessory for each and every person out there. Not because it’s a camera, but because it’s the only device that helps you keep and cherish the captured beautiful moments forever. There are a zillion types of digital cameras out there in the market to choose from.


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I often see people getting confused about which one to buy and what to look for in a camera while purchasing. So I decided to write a guide on what should one be expecting and taking note when purchasing his/her first digital camera.

Camera Sensor

Sensor is one of main organ that keeps a camera functioning and to put it metaphorically, its like a heart to our bodies. That’s correct; a digital camera is a camera because it has got a light sensitive sensor. Remove that sensor, and you can no longer call that a “camera”.


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In older times, when technology wasn’t this advanced and the idea of digital camera haven’t been introduced, light sensitive films were used in cameras. These films were exposed to light and the image was formed. However, the drawback of that technique was that it was permanent and once a piece of film is exposed to light, you can no longer re-use it for taking other sets of photographs. However, in this era of digital cameras, the rules have changed. Now those permanent, photo sensitive film has been completely replaced by sensors. Sensors also act exactly like the photo sensitive films (and they are light sensitive too) but with the advantage of giving us re-usable form of light sensitive films.

So that leaves us with a conclusion that while purchasing your first digital camera, do a research about the sensor being used by different camera companies in manufacturing the type of camera you’re going to purchase.

A detailed explanation of camera sensors would be way beyond this article, but if you want to have a detailed look about camera sensors, their types and qualities, following are the further reading resources:

Optical Zoom is King, Digital is Crap

Very often I notice people getting confused between optical and digital zooms. Let me clarify what they are exactly and what makes them different. Optical zoom is the *real* zoom that digital cameras are having. They are a property of camera lens rather than being the property of camera body. With optical zoom, the motors inside the camera lens actually move in and out to provide you the required magnification.

Digital zoom on the other hand is a function that are not necessary to any camera user. Digital zoom is a property of camera rather than being the property of a camera lens. What digital zoom does is, it simply expands the pixels of the photograph you are viewing through your camera LCD panel. It does not actually do any zoom. But it just makes you feel that you are closer to the subject. But you get a pixelated and low quality photograph if you use digital zoom while taking them.

Having said, while purchasing your first digital camera, always check how much Optical Zoom it is offering. Forget about the digital zoom. That doesn’t even matter. As I have mentioned, Optical Zoom actually requires addition of precise motors in the lens, the camera giving higher optical zoom is bound to be more expensive. Take your pick according to your needs here.

The Megapixel myth


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“I’ve got more megapixels than you, I’m more powerful” right? Wrong. The megapixel myth (unfortunately) has been prevailing for ages in the digital camera market. And indeed, the camera manufacturers have exploited this myth among people in selling and marketing their cameras. People fall in the high megapixel means better camera myth very easily due to lack of awareness on what exactly the megapixel count do to the quality of photographs you take does. Here’s the painful truth:

  • First of all, higher megapixels does not mean that your camera is better. If I have an EOS SLR camera of 8 megapixels, it is capable of taking far superior photographs than your 12 megapixels point and shoot camera. Why? Because it all depends on the sensor that’s inside the camera and not the megapixel count.
  • Megapixel count matters only when you are planning to take prints of your photographs. If you are a casual photographer who uses a camera just for taking the photographs and viewing/uploading them on a computer, a 4 megapixel is more than enough for you. Megapixels in no way define the quality of photographs. The megapixel count can only determine how big you can print your pictures.

If you want to dive deep into megapixel details, here are some great further reading resources:

The Camera Build Quality


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The next and important thing to have in your checklist while selecting your first digital camera is the camera builds quality. Since there are zillions of digital camera manufacturers out there with each one introducing their cameras, one should really look upon the camera build quality before making the final decision. After all, you don’t want your camera to break into pieces if it accidentally falls from your pocket. There are no set rules in this regard but you should definitely compare the camera build quality between different available models before purchasing.

Camera Accessories

While purchasing your camera, do not forget about the camera accessories that you’ll definitely need to exploit your camera. Camera accessories include memory card, camera cleaning kit, camera carry bag, tri-pods etc. Many times, these accessories come with the camera box as a promotional offer or something. So make sure you keep yourself updated about the possibilities of any camera accessories you can get with your camera purchase.

Conclusion

So, in this article we do not only discuss the important things that you should keep in your mind while hunting for you first digital camera but we also busted some very common digital camera myths and misunderstandings. We would like to see what you think about our efforts and on the same front, if you have anything to add which we might have forgotten to list. Drop in your valuable comments below and let us know.

Author:

Rishabh is an Engineering student from India. He's also a passionate photographer and a web designer. He writes about technology on his blog, TechyLabs, and about photography on ShutterSkills. Follow him on Twitter.

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