When we choose a camera, whether a digital or film one, you need to look carefully at all the options. Even though cameras have become increasingly cheap over the last few years, there is still a massive variety of choice and options which you need to decide on to make your choice of camera a good one. This article should help you answer the question “how to choose a camera?”.

Picture of a Canon cameraCredit: http://morguefile.com/archive/display/3287

I'm going to assume that most of you want a digital camera. If you want a conventional film type camera then most of these tips apply but you should particularly get a hands-on with the camera. You may even be to try the camera out, especially if you're buying a film camera second-hand.

Choosing your camera

To choose a camera for photography you're going to have to go through several stages to work out what you really need to buy. I'm going to say now that if you're buying a digital SLR camera or even a compact digital camera, that you're going to have to use it in a shop to get the perfect piece of kit.

Before we go into the shop you need to do several things. This may include doing research on the internet for camera reviews, look at example photographs, what additional features are available and perhaps most importantly whether there are any special offers or rebates available. Camera manufacturers such as Nikon and Canon often offer rebates trying to get people to buy their equipment. These rebates may need you to send off a receipt and proof of purchase such as a token off the box.

Questions to ask yourself

Also before you go into the shop need to ask yourself what kind of camera you need. The kind of questions when you are choosing a camera includes:

  • Where am I going to use the camera (does it need to waterproof/splash proof)?
  • Does it need advanced options such as using the RAW format?
  • Do you want interchangeable lenses?
  • What size you want the camera to be?
  • Do you want to take high-definition video as well as photographs?

How to choose between a digital SLR and point-and-shoot

Deciding between a digital SLR and a compact point-and-shoot camera is an important one. A digital SLR is usually quite bulky and you may need a special bag to carry it on long trips. A point-and-shoot camera may fit into your top pocket and be easier to use.

The main difference between a point-and-shoot and a digital SLR include the sizes of the sensor, having swappable lenses and higher optical zoom levels. The digital SLR has the size to allow for a bigger sensor which means that there is less noise in the pictures as more light is captured. The swappable lenses allow you to use higher optical zooms and lenses such as fish eye and wide-angle.

Recently new cameras such as the Olympus PEN range offer a hybrid between digital SLR and point-and-shoot cameras. They are much more compact but offer features such as switchable lenses. These should be considered as a hybrid but they tend to be extremely expensive.

Camera accessories

Once you have answered these questions either on paper or in your mind and carried out some research you're ready to go into the shop. Some more points for you to think about other are that megapixels are no longer as important as they once were, anything over 8 megapixels will be fine for most people. Also what type of memory card the camera uses, whether it is SD or compact flash card.

Once you are in the shop, they may try to sell you additional extras, and if they don't then you need to ask for them. They will usually offer special deals such as free cases or even half price additional lenses for digital SLR cameras. They may also give you a free memory card, spare batteries and tripod. Camera insurance may also be mentioned. Buying camera insurance can be a good piece of mind, but I would only consider it if I was investing thousands on a digital SLR camera.

Nikon cameraCredit: http://morguefile.com/archive/display/208871

You should now know how to choose your camera. As a photographer, and having bought many cameras, I feel that the most important step is to handle the camera yourself and take a couple of pictures with it. In thirty seconds of handling a camera, your first impression will be able to tell you whether it will work for you or not.

What are your tips for buying a camera? Do you only buy a certain make or model? Write any buying hints or tips in the comments below.