Guide to Buying Digital Camera
and Other Equipment

"Which is the best camera for my purpose and budget?"

Our guide to buying digital camera or other equipment is here to lend a helping hand during this process which many find very confusing. The confusion is generally coming from the fact that there are so many camera and other photographic equipment variations available in the market so making a choice can be a daunting task.

If you are asking yourself "Which is the best digital camera out there?" , you should really be asking "Which is the best camera for my purpose and budget out there?".

Here are the key areas you should think about and do further research on before you decide on which new camera to buy:

    1. Decide on Your Budget :

    When deciding on your budget take into account the type and frequency of use for the new camera or equipment.

    Buying a £3,000 digital camera to take the occasional snapshot makes no sense. You get the idea...

    2. Think About Intended Camera Use :

    Before looking at specific camera features and details, you should get clear in your mind on how you want to use the camera and the created images.

    Here are some example scenarios and how each will affect your buying decision:

    Type of Use Effect on Buying Decision
    Type of Subject
  • Whether you will be photographing
    wide angle scenes such as landscapes, telephoto scenes such as portraits, or close-ups such as flowers, will determine the focal length and type of the lens , and whether you need a macro mode.

  • Type of Shooting
  • If you will be shooting indoors for
    example, you will need to think about the quality of the flash you need.

  • Whether you will be shooting static
    scenes or action shots such as sports will determine the viewfinder and camera lens you need.

  • Type of Use
  • Identifying whether you will be using
    the camera for the occasional snap, or as a serious amateur or professional photographer, will help you decide on
    how many manual controls you need.

  • Type of Printing
  • Identifying whether you will be
    printing the taken images as snapshots or enlargements, or whether you will publish them on the Web or send via e-mail. This will determine the best resolution for each situation.

  • dptip

    No ultimate camera exists for everyone. In the end, you must choose the camera that you like best and that does what you want it to do.

    3. Decide on Camera Size :

    The digital cameras can really be divided into those that you can fit into your pocket and those that you cannot and have to carry around your neck instead. A pocketable camera is lightweight and small, thus it is easy to carry and quick to bring to use.

    Generally digital cameras split the difference between size and features. So the decision here is between more features/larger size and less features/smaller size. Again, your decision on which way to go will depend on how you intend to use the camera.

    4. Evaluate Camera Features :

    By now you should be coming to the natural conclusion that choosing a camera is always a compromise. When looking at camera features, our advice is to choose the feature set that addresses most of your needs or those you anticipate to have.

    To help you decide, here is a brief summary for the key camera modes and their use :

    Feature/Mode Main Function Comments
  • Both aperture and shutter speed are set automatically

  • Automatic Landscape/

  • Automatically presets
    the camera for landscape/
    portrait/sport shots

  • Exposure Compensation
  • A dial that allows you to increase or decrease the exposureby number of stops

  • Used to lighten or darken an image
    Shutter Priority
  • The shutter speed is set manually and the camera automatically sets the aperture setting

  • Good for action and sport scenes
    Aperture Priority
  • The aperture is set
    manually and the camera automatically sets the shutter speed settings

  • Good for close-ups where you want to have control over the depth of field
    Fixed Focus
  • Simple camera lenses
    that can't be manually or automatically focused

  • Found on the least expensive cameras, almost all camera phones, and one-time-use cameras
    Automatic Focus
  • The camera adjusts the
    focus automatically

  • Found on all but the least expensive cameras
    Manual Focus
  • You manually focus the camera allowing you to have complete control

  • Found on most single-lens reflex (SLR) cameras
    Focus and Exposure Lock
  • The camera automatically
    sets the focus and exposure
    when you hold down the shutter button while
    pointing to the subject

  • White Balance
  • The camera adjusts the
    image to compensate for difference in light

  • Maintains colour accuracy in daylight, fluorescent and incandescent lighting conditions
    Burst Mode
  • Shoots a'burst' or group
    of images rapidly and automatically

  • Manual
  • Allows you to set all the controls manually

  • 5. Decide on Camera Resolution :

    People often agonize over how many megapixels they should buy, even though other factors, such as ease of use and the kind and quality of lenses available for a particular dSLR, can be considerably more important decisions in the long run.

    So our advice is do not spend too much time pondering on the camera resolution as generally majority of the camera vendors settle on a basic benchmark number for resolution which is more than enough for general use.

    Just remember the number of pixels you actually need depends on several factors:

      1. How you will be using the image : An image placed on a Web site  does not need to have the same resolution as one that is used professionally, say, as a product advertisement.

      2. How much manipulating and cropping you plan to do : Higher resolution images can withstand more extensive editing without losing quality.

      3. How much you plan to enlarge the image : You will need more pixels if you are planning to make a poster out of an image.

      4. The resolution of your printer : Printers work best with images that more closely match their own ability to print detail.

    6. Decide About Lens :

    Most digital cameras come with a built-in zoom lens  that cannot be changed. If you think you may want more flexibility or have special requirements, look for a camera with interchangeable lenses .

    If you want a good quality image, plan on shooting with optical rather than digital zoom. Images taken with digital zoom are very much inferior to those taken only with optical zoom.

    7. Check for New Model Releases :

    Knowing when the next upgrade to a digital camera is expected can be very useful as prices on the current model usually drop just before a new model comes out. You might find this a good time to pick up some bargains as shops clear out inventory.

    News on new camera model releases can be found on camera company Web sites, digital camera review sites as well as digital camera news sites. Be sure to check our own Digital Camera News  section.

    8. Check Discussion Forums & Camera Review Sites :

    There are a number of very good discussion forums and review sites on the Internet and the following are some of the most popular ones:  has been around for many years and is offering equipment reviews and photography forums on many topics

    Digital Photography Review   is a popular site offering reviews on the latest digital cameras and discussion forums on a wide variety of topics

    Steve's DigiCams   is another popular camera review site.

    9. Shop at Reputable Dealers

    Our recommendation is to never go for the one exceptionally low price you can find for any camera or equipment you are buying. There is a reason why it is so low and it is never a good one.

    Usually the prices of all reputable re-sellers are at a very narrow price range. The reason for this is as margins are so low, they are selling at just above cost to be competitive.

    Here are a few recommendations:

    Calumet  is the dealer where many of the professionals go to buy their equipment. They are a leading international re-seller of professional photographic and AV equipment and take their reputation seriously.

    What is great about buying at Amazon is the way you can see the user reviews and rank sales of all camera equipment.

    Jessops   is one of the largest photographic retailers in the UK, offering a huge range of cameras, photographic equipment, camcorders, camera phones and accessories.

    Do not forget to check the dealer's return policy !

    10. Explore Web Auctions

    You may want to explore Web auctions, specifically eBay, to check for price deals. Generally, though you might get a good deal on a used camera but rarely on a new camera model . For buying a new camera stick with established dealers.

    Here are a few key points to using eBay successfully:

    - Check the seller's feedback

    - Pay for your items by using your credit card through a service like PayPal for added protection

    - When purchasing used equipment, see whether you can get a moneyback guarantee or an inspection period

    We hope you have found our Guide to Buying Digital Camera and Other Equipment useful and happy shopping !

Have you found this guide useful? Do you have a buying tip of your own or horror story to share?
Do not keep it to yourself, use the form below to post comments or share your tips with us :

Buying Digital Camera and Other Equipment

Submit your comments or tips for Buying Digital Camera and Other Equipment...

[ ? ]

Upload A Picture[ ? ]


Click here to upload more images (optional)

Author Information (optional)

To receive credit as the author, enter your information below.

(first or full name)

(e.g., City, State, Country)

Submit Your Contribution

  •  submission guidelines.

(You can preview and edit on the next page)

Guide to Buying Digital Camera

| Homepage | Masters of Photography |Digital Photography Basics |
|Basic Composition Techniques |Digital Camera Basics |Careers in Photography |Stock Photography |Infrared Photography |

Digital Photography Tips by and for photographers
Return to top