Digital Camera Buyers Guide

Choosing a digital camera can be an overwhelming task with the wide number of choices available in today’s market place. When shopping for a digital camera many people make the mistake of trying to find “the best digital camera”. However that’s a moving target because digital camera’s get better and new features are introduced with each new model. 

We have compiled this guide to help you find not “the best digital camera” but choose the digital camera that is “best for you” – one with meets your needs and budget.

Each person has a different set of needs and different photographic knowledge and aptitude. The best digital camera for your friend might not be the best option for you. This buyers guide will help you sort through the wide variety of digital camera choices available to a manageable selection which matches your needs and budget.  

What type of photographer are you?

In order to choose the right camera–one with the right set of features at the right price–you’ll need to figure out what you’ll be doing with it. Match your needs to one of these categories.

Point-and-Shoot
You want a digital camera that automates everything. You ‘point’ and ‘shoot’ the picture — the camera does the rest. Point-and-shoot digital cameras tend to be compact and ultra compact, and can therefore be easily carried anywhere. If you desire a digital camera strictly for snapshots and have no desire to fiddle with any of the settings (besides selecting an appropriate Scene Mode), then you fall into the Point-and-Shoot category

Beginner
If you are new to photography and want to take it up as a hobby, then you fall into the Beginner Amateur Photographer category. Camera manufacturers target this market segment with digital cameras that are P&S easy to use, but that also provide some exposure flexibility, allowing you to try a few things without getting overwhelmed. This type of camera will have Auto mode, plus a few controls to allow some learning and experimentation.

Serious Amateur
You have reached the limits of a beginners camera and want a digital camera that will allow you to explore and experiment more. Digital cameras in this category are similar to those in the Beginner category, but the difference is usually in the range of flexibility provided. The serious amateur photographer does not want the camera to be a limiting factor in obtaining the picture. The camera will typically have a larger image sensor for better image quality; better lens optics are used that eliminate chromatic aberrations; there might be more zoom power; the range of shutter speeds and apertures are extended; there is a better ISO range with less noise at higher ISOs; there are different metering options

Entry Level DSLR
As easy to use as a P&S but with the image quality, speed of operation and flexibility you would expect from a dSLR. An entry level dSLR is as full-featured as any digital SLR and will take you as far as you want to go. It is Point-and-Shoot simple in use — not in features. These dSLR camera usually used APS sized (cropped) sensors and therefore can be offered at affordable prices – typically below $1000.

Advanced / Prosumer
You have been taking photos for many years, know your own photographic strengths and weaknesses, and know what you want in a digital camera. Your digital camera should give you total creative control as well as the best image quality possible.

Pro
You are a professional photography and need only the best camera money can buy. You know what you need and don’t need to be even reading this.

Once you’ve found your appropriate category, read up on the features, specification and reviews of the digital cameras listed in the table below to familiarise yourself with the models available and find the digital camera which best suits your requirements and budget.

Category P&S Beginner

Serious

Amateur

Entry Level

dSLR

Advanced /

Prosumer

Pro
 Canon SD770 IS
SD790 IS
SD870 IS
SD890 IS
SD 950 IS
SD1100 IS
A470
A580
A590 IS
A650 IS
A720 IS
SX100 IS
G9
XTi/400D
XSi/450D
40D 1Ds Mark III
5D
 Casio EX-S10
EX-Z80
EX-Z100
EX-Z200
EX-Z9
  EX-F1      
 Fujifilm F100fd
J10
J50
Z20fd
F100fd S100fs
S8100fd
S1000fd
     
 Nikon S210
S520
S550
S600
L16
L18
 P60 D40
D40x
D60
D80
D300
D300
D3
 Olympus 1030SW
1010
1020
840
850SW
FE-310
FE-340
FE-350
 SP-570  E-420    E-3
 Panasonic FX35
FS20
FS5
FS3
LZ10
LZ8
TZ5
TZ4
LS80
FX500
         
 Pentax S12
M50
E50
V20
     K200D K200D K20D
 Ricoh   R8        
 Samsung i8
NV4
NV30
NV40
L100
L110
L210
S760
S860
      GX20
 Sony W120
W130
W150
W170
W300
T2
T200
T300
S730
S750
S780
H3
H10
H50
A300
A350
  A300
A350