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Purchasing a Digital Camera for Beginners

 Determine what you need

A mistake I see some digital camera buyers making is that they get sucked into buying cameras that are beyond what they really need. Some questions to ask yourself before you go shopping:

  • What do you need the camera for?
  • What type of photography will you be doing? (portraits, landscapes, macro, sports)
  • What conditions will you be largely photographing in? (indoors, outdoors, low light, bright light)
  • Will you largely stay in auto mode or do you want to learn the art of photography?
  • What experience level do you have with cameras?
  • How important is size and portability to you?
  • What is your budget?

Ask yourself these questions before you go to buy a camera and you’ll be in a much better position to make a decision when you see what’s on offer. You’ll probably find the sales person asks you this question anyway – so to have thought about it before hand will help them help you get the right digital camera.

Top 10 Compact Point-and-Shoot Cameras

Pocketable cameras are easy to use, and a great choice for the casual photographer. From ultracompact point-and-shoots to slightly larger models with manual controls, here are the top pocket-size cameras we’ve tested this year.

Edited by Tim Moynihan    Dec 23, 2011 3:00 am

Rating & Price

Products


1

Buying a Digital Camera for Beginners

 
PCWorld Rating

Prices from $400

Canon PowerShot S100

The Canon PowerShot S100 is just about the most capable compact camera we’ve seen, and it’s packed with features that will please both novices and advanced shooters.

Full Review | Specs – Rated: December 23, 2011
2

Buying a Digital Camera for Beginners

 
PCWorld Rating

Prices from $389

Canon PowerShot S95

The PowerShot S95 is a perfect camera to grow with, thanks to its pocketable size and its compelling blend of automated and manual controls.

Full Review | Specs – Rated: January 20, 2011
 
PCWorld Rating

Prices from $199

Nikon Coolpix S9100

The Nikon Coolpix S9100 is the rare beast that will please both novices and experienced shooters, even with its lack of manual controls. Thanks to its great image quality and creative controls, practically anyone will find this camera a pleasure to use.

Full Review | Video Review | Specs – Rated: May 13, 2011
4

Buying a Digital Camera for Beginners

 
PCWorld Rating

Prices from $283

Nikon Coolpix P300

The Nikon Coolpix P300 offers great hardware and performance for its price, with an F1.8 lens, manual controls, and a very easy-to-use interface.

Full Review | Specs – Rated: July 27, 2011
5

Buying a Digital Camera for Beginners

 
PCWorld Rating

Canon PowerShot SD4000 IS

The PowerShot SD4000 IS is one of the most impressive compact cameras we’ve tested, offering image quality and lens capabilities we’re used to seeing on professional cameras.

Full Review | Video Review | Specs – Rated: August 16, 2010
 
6

Buying a Digital Camera for Beginners

 
PCWorld Rating

Prices from $239

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-WX10

The ultracompact Cyber-shot WX10 packs a big punch–including a 7X zoom lens, 3D shooting, and smooth 1080i video–into a small package. Image quality could be better, but you’ll still find a lot to like.

Full Review | Specs – Rated: May 06, 2011
7

Buying a Digital Camera for Beginners

 
PCWorld Rating

Prices from $226

Canon PowerShot Elph 500 HS

We love the touchscreen-controlled Elph 500 HS’s image quality, ultrawide-angle-lens, and range of shooting modes. We’re less fond of its battery life and its user interface for manual controls.

Full Review | Specs – Rated: May 26, 2011
8

Buying a Digital Camera for Beginners

 
PCWorld Rating

Prices from $129

Fujifilm FinePix Z800EXR

The Fujifilm FinePix Z800EXR offers a great touchscreen interface, fast autofocus, and excellent image stabilization. Battery life, video quality, and image sharpness are weak spots.

Full Review | Specs – Rated: November 05, 2010
 
PCWorld Rating

Prices from $200

Casio Tryx Digital Camera (Black)

The shape-shifting Tryx offers good performance. It’s a hard gadget to classify, but it works best when you make use of its twistable frame to overcome awkward lens placement and controls while employing it as a normal camera.

Full Review | Specs – Rated: July 20, 2011
10

Buying a Digital Camera for Beginners

 
PCWorld Rating

Prices from $217

Canon PowerShot A3300 IS Digital Camera

With good image quality, optical stabilization, and creative filters, the PowerShot A3300 IS offers quite a bit more than your average sub-$200 camera.

Full Review | Specs

 

Most casual users of digital cameras will only ever use it for point and shoot occasions, rarely ever experimenting with all the different functions.

 If you were to buy a digital camera tomorrow, what functions would you want to see it have as standard?

What would you use it for?  Just to help with the confusion that you may be feeling, some information on what to look out for is discussed below. The most important question you need to ask yourself is: what sort of photography are you interested in?

Think about and determine what kind of pictures you want to take with it.  If you are excited about becoming a digital photography enthusiast give it some thought.  Not  just any model will do. The financial outlay is always an important consideration – even if  you only want a basic model. Some people like to manipulate the images on their computer but this is only possible with more modern home computers. Some computer outlets can supply complete computer systems that include a digital camera, printer, software and other accessories, so you can be ‘up and running’ very quickly. Manufacturers usually do a deal with an image manipulation software company and supply it when you buy a digital camera, however, items such as printers and special paper will need to be purchased separately.

Another, sometimes under-used test is just holding it to see how it feels. Knowing how to hold a camera properly might help here too. Look at where all the controls are and see how easy they are to find and use. Before you buy a digital camera, check to see if it is supplied with batteries that are rechargeable,these can last for many hundreds of shots and will save a great deal of money. Some people buy their digital camera purely on the size of the screen,large screens make taking the picture so much easier.

Of course many are doing away with the viewfinder altogether as it saves space but it means it is relying on the LCD screen which is a drain on the batteries. This will be the most useful function you have. Despite the huge digital zoom power that many cameras boast, the images are never that clear. Remote controls and diopter adjustment are still quite rare but handy if you have them fitted although I would prefer to have a tripod socket if there were a choice. With this information, you can now figure out what you really need and want before you buy a digital camera.

I hope the above information was helpful – go out and buy a digital camera!

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