How to Choose a Digital Camera

There are so many kinds of digital cameras out there that when you're ready to buy a new one, it's hard to know where to start. Here are some things to look at when choosing a digital camera.

  • Number of megapixelsAn image on a digital camera is made of thousands of tiny dots. A megapixel is a million pixels. The more megapixels your camera has, the better the resolution of your photographs will be. Most people don't need a camera with more than 6 megapixels [source: Consumer Reports, Taylor].
  • Type of camera There are different types of cameras on the market, from basic point-and-shoot cameras for taking pictures of family and friends to advanced cameras with lots of features for real photography buffs. A basic camera may cost between $70 and $500. An advanced camera will run you anywhere from $350 to $2000 [source: Consumer Reports].
  • Features Consider what features you want in a camera. These may include manual exposure settings and focus, zoom lens range, shooting, focus and flash modes, video and even 3-dimensional capability. Look at the lens quality, battery power and type of memory cards the different cameras use. Some "smart cameras" can set the exposure, focus and color balance, and can even detect smiles or warn you when a photo subject blinked in the shot [source: Consumer Reports, Taylor].
  • Brand Do some research to find out what brands and models consumers recommend. Different brands are known for selling cameras with different characteristics, so keep this in mind if you already know what type of camera you're looking for [source: Consumer Reports, Taylor].
  • Where to shop Consider shopping online, where you can find both a wide selection and low prices. Most stores only have one or the other. You may want to go into a store and try the cameras out before purchasing it over the Internet, though. Cameras have different idiosyncrasies that you wouldn't necessarily notice by just looking at a picture on a Web site [source: Consumer Reports].
  • Price Of course you don't want to pay a small fortune for your camera, but beware of prices that seem extraordinarily low. This may be because the camera is refurbished or being sold on the gray market [Sources: Consumer Reports, Taylor].