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Shutterbug Central: Selecting the right digital camera

Tuesday, 16 October 2012 - 10:15am IST | Agency: dna

We’ve put together some guidelines which we feel you should ponder over before even heading out to the store and forking over the cash.

Buying a digital camera is a very personal affair, whether it is for the family or for your personal use, no two people’s needs are ever the same. Smartphones these days have somewhat made entry-level cameras redundant, but for those special moments or even low-light photography, you really can’t beat the performance of a good digicam. Narrowing down on the perfect one is never easy since the variety you see in shops is quite overwhelming and if you don’t do your homework, you could end up with a lemon or pay for features you’ll never end up using.

We’ve put together some guidelines which we feel you should ponder over before even heading out to the store and forking over the cash.

What do you need the camera for and how often will you use it?
If you’ll only be using it for occasions like birthdays, outings then a simple point-and-shoot will suffice. You also won’t have to spend too much on them. If you travel frequently in a year and want to experiment with photography, then spending a little more and getting a cam with manual adjustments makes more sense. Manual mode lets you play around with the aperture, ISO levels, etc to get the best possible picture. These cameras are generally more expensive than the standard point-and-shoots.

What types of features are you looking for?
The next step would be to figure out what feature you don’t want to compromise on. Some may want a long zoom, large LCD display, 1080p video recording or simply a small form factor. Make a list of the features you want most in the camera as those will be the ones you’ll be using the most. If possible, try to figure out if you’ll be doing most of the shooting in daylight or at night. If it’s the latter, then you should look for cameras with a low aperture value of f2 and below for the best results at night.

Point-and-shoot or DSLR?
You’ll face this decision when shopping in the high-end segment. It ultimately depends on what you’re looking for. If a compact body and portability is what you’re after, then you’ll have to stick with the point-and-shoot. The cameras in this range offer near DSLR-like performance, but without sacrificing portability. You’ll get digicams with high ISO levels, low aperture values for better night photography, interchangeable lens, etc. Mirrorless DSLRs are another growing segment which is hugely popular these days. If you want to learn the art of photography and don’t mind bulkiness, then hands down, DSLRs are the way to go.

What’s your budget?
Once you’ve got the first two points down, it’s now time to decide how much you’re willing to spend. If you’ll be using the camera a lot, then it makes sense to spend more and get a good one. Else, a simple one under 10K should suffice.

Armed with this knowledge, you’re a little closer in narrowing down your search. Next, Google around for reviews and suggestions for cameras in your price range. A simple search like ‘best budget point-and-shoot’ will give you a whole bunch of results. Once you think you’ve found the camera you want, read up reviews of it online or even videos on YouTube. Also, don’t forget to compare prices online and look out for deals and discounts. Before you actually take the plunge, it’s a good idea to head over to the nearest store of mall and have a feel of the camera and test it out. See if you’re comfortable with it and test the features you’ll be using the most till you’re satisfied.

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