Digital Camera Reviews

Tips: Today's challenge: Buying a bad camera.

Don’t be seduced by hype – feel good about your camera purchase.

In truth, it’s hard to buy a bad camera these days. Such has been the overwhelming consumer demand for digital cameras and peripherals that R&D departments are working around the clock on new improved models. The major brands are releasing new models every month or so, each with improved core features and capabilities as well as with overall cost reduction. Fence-sitting purchasers waiting for the next wave of cameras are saving real money, yet some are still waiting to take the plunge.

It’s a buyers’ market. Only a few years ago, a modestly equipped 2MP camera was the best part of a grand – plus batteries! Now the same figure will even get you 6MPs and zoom lenses over 3x magnification.

Almost all cameras will now direct print using technologies like PictBridge, and the silliness with removable media standards seems to be settling – with relative prices tumbling.

In short, if you’ve been furrowing your brow about digital cameras and deferring your purchase, now is as good a time as ever to leap into the technological deep end.

From a buyers perspective you’d need a good reason to purchase more than 5 megapixels and most cameras come with more features than you’ll ever need, so don’t be duped into paying too much for surplus wizardry. We all know there’s a huge ‘feel good’ factor to gadget purchases, so apply this anti-logic carefully. Sure, it needs to feel good in your hand and you must to be comfortable with access to switches and features. If a camera seems complicated, then it probably is, so compare it with another more suited to your level of understanding and needs.

On reviewing the current crop of cameras, one of the most useful set of features is the so-called ‘scene settings’. Here you can dial up a shooting situation and the camera pre-sets certain features like aperture, shutter speed and exposure to fully realise your “Kodak moment’. Even for accomplished photographers – or ones with fat fingers – it is helpful to be able to punch in a situation using a built-in short-cut. Sure, this concept has been around a while, but now with cameras giving instant review and even feedback, the ability to get just the effect you want is right at hand. For example; portraits against cityscapes at night, fireworks, snow and ice, action and even ‘museum mode’ where flash and beeping is suppressed. Cameras with this convenience are at a definite advantage.

Despite the plethora of clever features built-in to cameras, it is still incumbent upon the consumer to refine their expectations. There’s no point buying a 10x zoom with 8MP if all you’re going to do is take pics of your friends at parties. Conversely, don’t go on your expensive African safari with a $200 point and shoot. And whatever camera you buy, for heavens sake, learn how to use it.

Back to Reviews Index