5 Tips for Buying a Digital Camera

How to choose a digital camera

Are you thinking of buying a digital camera, but are feeling a bit overwhelmed by all the choices out there?  Well, don't fret—here are five tips meant to make this process a snap!

1. Know Your Needs

We're often asked, “What is the best digital camera?”  The truth is, there's no one, be-all end-all digital camera—there is only the digital camera that is best for you.  Think about why you need a camera.  

  • What are the typical scenarios you'll be using it for? 
  • Do you need a lightweight, compact camera to carry around everyday in your purse, pocket or backpack? 

It all comes down to your specific needs. Another important (maybe the most important!) consideration is...

  • Your budget when buying a digital camera.  

Once you've decided what you'll be using your camera for, you should set a budget and start searching for cameras that are within your price range.  With the multitude of options out there these days, everyone can find a good digital camera that won't break the bank.

2. Understand the Types of Digital Cameras

If you've been thinking about a new camera for a while, you may have noticed there are a lot of options out there.  It can be tough to understand all the different types of digital cameras on the market.  Don't worry—there are really only three types of cameras:  DSLR, mirrorless, and compact.  We break down each kind for you in our companion article, Understanding the Types of Digital Cameras.

3. Do Your Research

Once you've thought about what you want to use your camera for, and what kind of camera suits your needs, it's time to learn more about what models are on the market.  For example, you've decided you want the control, quality, and portability of a mirrorless camera—so it's time to look into all the different brands and models.  

Start by doing a digital camera comparison online. You can start at the different manufacturers' websites, or try the site of a camera or electronics store. Alternatively, you could use your favorite online search engine to get you started.  You could include your budget within your search parameters, to help narrow down your results—for example, “compact cameras less than $300.”  

Use keywords such as “entry-level DSLR,” or, if your budget isn't a priority, you could use a phrase like “best mirrorless camera.”

4. Read Reviews

Once you've narrowed it down to a handful of digital cameras, search the web for digital camera reviews of the specific camera models you're interested in.  This is definitely an important step.  It's a great way to find out how the camera handles, how easy it is to navigate its controls, and how it performs in various real-life scenarios.  Many reviewers will include sample images taken by the camera in a variety of situations (e.g. portraits, indoor situations, close-up shots, action shots, etc.).  You may also find photographs of the camera body itself—helpful for understanding where the controls are located and how various menus look. 

After you've done some reading, you'll most likely have narrowed down your selection to two or three cameras.  It's important to remember that no amount of reading is a true substitute for the real thing, which brings us to our final tip.

5. Try out the cameras!

You've done your research and read a bunch of rave reviews, but you still can't decide between one brand or the other.  That's normal!  Even if you think you've made up your mind about which camera you want, it's always a good idea to test it out yourself.  

The only way to really know which digital camera is for you is to get yourself to a camera or electronics store and try it out.  (It's always better to try on clothes or shoes before you buy them, right?  Same idea with camera shopping.)  It may seem unnecessary, but trust us, once you get your hands on the cameras, you'll just know. The way the camera feels in your hand, where the buttons are located and how easy they are to use, and the experience of navigating the menus and settings are the main things you should consider when visiting the camera store.

If you follow these tips on how to choose a digital camera, you'll be buying a camera that will suit your needs and serve you well for several years.  Now, all you'll need is to learn how to use all those fancy features—luckily, that's where we at PhotoUno come into the picture!


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