How to choose a digital camera

6 Aug 2009
Digital cameras

Buying a digital camera is a minefield of high numbers and fancy but pointless features, but don't be swayed by the marketing.

There’s a bewildering choice of cameras on the market, but if you follow some simple guidelines you can narrow down the choice.

If you’re considering spending a couple of hundred pounds or more on a camera, we’d always recommend heading to a physical shop to try your prospective purchase rather than just ordering from the internet.

Many shops can come within £10 or £20 of the online price, and it’s well worth it to be able to handle the camera before you buy.

Image quality is more difficult to scrutinise, but there are plenty of ways to find out whether a particular camera takes great pictures or not. Magazine and internet reviews, forums and photo-sharing websites such as Flickr can offer both advice and proof of a camera’s quality. Some manufacturers also have sample photos on their websites.

However, before thinking about specific models, you need to decide what type of camera is going to suit you best. The choice can be broken down into three main groups: compacts, superzooms and DSLRs.

To find out more about each of these categories, click on the link below:

Digital compacts

Superzooms

Digital SLRs

What about megapixels?

You’ll notice that we haven’t made a big deal of the megapixel rating in your choice of camera.

That’s because these days it’s basically irrelevant. There are very few cameras on the market with a rating of below 6 megapixels – that is, 6 million individual dots making up each picture. Most cameras are now 8 megapixels or higher.

Salesmen and adverts may try to convince you otherwise, but unless you’re planning on printing your pictures at poster size, anything over 6 megapixels is plenty.