How To Choose A Camera - 8 Must-Know Tips

These days, you are spoilt for choice when it comes to getting your next point-and-shoot compact camera. Follow these simple tips to find one that suits your needs and your budget. Point-and-shoot cameras are designed mainly to point and shoot. Press the shutter button, and let the magic happen.

They are by definition compact, hassle-free, easy to use and capture great photos and videos, no matter if it is your grandma or your children using it. You would probably be spending more effort selecting a point-and-shoot camera than actually operating one. So, how do you start?

   

1. Megapixels Don’t Really Matter

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I’m not sure what started it but there was a time when people believed that if they had more megapixels, it translates to better photos. That’s not entirely incorrect. Megapixels do matter when you decide to blow up your wedding photos to a life-size dimension. More point-and-shoot cameras are commonly available now in the 10-megapixel range and climbing as high as 16 megapixels. But seriously, very few of us are going to make prints large enough to take advantage of all those extra pixels. Instead, you should look at the specs for sensor size. Sensor size is important for a camera’s performance under low light conditions. The bigger the sensor size, the better it will perform in low light conditions. Bigger sensors allows for a shallower depth of field, creating beautifully blurred backgrounds of the subject.    

2. It’s More About the Lens Focal Length Than The Zoom Factor

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Photo Credit:Werner Kunz

The focal length range (e.g 24-120mm) tells you more about the field of view that the camera can cover. If you have two cameras, one with 24-120mm and the other with a 28-140mm, both would have a zoom factor of 5x. But, the 24-120mm is better suited for wide-angled shots like landscapes and architecture. The 28-140mm gives you better telescopic ability to get close ups of your subjects, say if you’re chasing your favourite celebrities down the red carpet.    

3. Use The Ambient Light Even Under Low Light Conditions.

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Photo Credit:karmajello.com

ISO is a measure of the camera's sensitivity to light. The higher the setting, the more light the sensor collects and the better your photo. Aren’t you frustrated when you’re at a party and you just keep getting blurry shots of your friends? Getting a camera that performs well at higher ISO settings will make it possible to snap blur-free photos in lower light, especially at the parties.    

4. Size Versus Features

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In this day and age, great things do come in small packages. But consider the trade-offs. You can get a capable point-and-shoot camera that's pocket friendly, but it will likely lack a long zoom lens. You will enjoy more advanced features and better optics in a bigger sized camera, but it is likely that you will be lugging it around in its own camera bag.    

5. LCD Displays Are Better With Higher Resolutions

camera3 The LCD display of the camera is your window to the world. Because you'll be using your camera's rear LCD to frame and review photos and videos, its quality is paramount. More importantly, it will add the extra wow factor when you show off your vacation photos to your family and friends. You should look for a camera with at least a 2.5-inch display. Bigger is better. You'll be able to see fine details in your shots under bright sunlight with a bright 460k or 921k LCD. You can also get a camera with a touch-screen interface. These models allow you to adjust camera settings and fire the shutter by tapping the rear screen, eliminating traditional physical control buttons. But be warned that the battery life might suffer with such features, so consider first if it is a feature that you will appreciate over time.    

6. Image Stabilization Helps You Get A Better Photo.

camera7 Don’t you just hate lugging around a tripod? Well, optical image stabilization helps when you just can’t keep your camera stable. For example, if you’re on a rocking boat trying to get shots of whales or dolphins. Nowadays, this feature is a given and it is almost in every midrange and high-end point-and-shoot camera.  

7. You Don’t Really Have To Chase After The Latest Models.

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Paul McCartney taking a selfie before it was cool...

Let’s face it, there are new models released every year or perhaps even every few months. And the improvements within the point-and-shoot camera segment are usually incremental rather than dramatic. Technology introduced in high-end professional cameras takes years to trickle down to the consumer level, as the technology needs to get affordable and easier to manufacture.

So, unless you want to be the guy constantly sporting the latest gadgets on the block, save yourself a bundle of cash and go for last year’s model. Functionality and feature-wise, you are not going to miss out on a whole lot, so you can rest assured.

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John - HGS Team
This shopper is a person of few words ;)
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