Models for Choosing Digital Camera

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Digital Camera

Basic Models (Special & Fun Cameras)

Features:

  • VGA up to 1-megapixel resolution
  • Fixed focal-length lens
  • Either an LCD or optical viewfinder, but not both
  • A small amount of built-in memory or a very small removable card

Ease Of Use: Simple design with minimal buttons and menu options

Best For:

  • Infrequent photographers who are considering digital, but aren’t ready to invest in more expensive gear
  • Photographers who want images for use on the Web

Price Range: Up to about $250

Examples: Sony Cyber-shot DSC-P20, Kodak DX3200, SiPix SP1300

Intermediate Models (Point and Shoot Cameras)

Features:

  • 2- to 3-megapixel resolution
  • 2x or 3x zoom lenses
  • LCD and an optical viewfinder
  • Some exposure controls, probably more automatic settings than manual

Ease Of Use: Emphasis on automatic exposures, plus some manual overrides in the menus

Best For:

  • First-time digital buyers who photograph often, but want a minimal learning curve
  • Snapshooters who want to make bigger prints than possible with the entry-level cameras

Price Range: $200-$600

Examples: Nikon Coolpix 775, Canon PowerShot A20, Olympus Brio D-150

Advanced Models (Compact Cameras)

Features:

  • 3- to 5-megapixel resolution
  • 3x or greater zoom lenses
  • LCD and an optical viewfinder
  • Automatic and manual exposure controls, including old favorites like shutter- or aperture-priority and exposure compensation
  • Advanced noise-reduction technologies, better battery performance and perhaps a TIFF or RAW file mode

Ease Of Use: Generally more sophisticated, and therefore more complicated than less expensive models

Best For:

  • Serious amateur photographers who want maximum image quality and control
  • Professional photographers who want a compact digital alternative to their film equipment

Price Range: $400-$1,300

Examples: Canon PowerShot Pro90 IS, Epson PhotoPC 3100Z, Sony DSC-707

Professional Models (SLR & Pro Cameras)

Features:

  • 2- to 6-megapixel resolution
  • SLR design allowing interchangeable lenses
  • Pro-level metering and exposure controls
  • Fast frame rates for continuous action shooting
  • TIFF or RAW files in addition to JPEG

Ease Of Use: 35mm SLR photographers will feel right at home with many of the controls, but the on-screen menus can be complicated; have your manual handy until you learn the ropes

Best For:

  • Professional photographers who need the best digital performance possible
  • Serious amateurs who have compatible 35mm lenses, want maximum control and don’t mind the high price tag

Price Range: $3,000-$6,000

Examples: Canon EOS D30, Nikon D1x and D1h, Fujifilm Finepix S1, Sony FD-97

(Digital cameras info. Digital Camera Review, Rating and Price Comparison [on-line]; Dcviews [on-line])