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How to Buy a Digital Camera - Establishing the Basics: A Digital Camera Buying Guide

written by: •edited by: Rhonda Callow•updated: 5/12/2009

The perfect camera for one person could be the worst for another. Choosing a camera is as individual as choosing a vehicle. You may have some cameras already in mind, or you may just be starting to look at available options. This digital camera buying guide will help you decide what’s important.

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    At the time of writing this article, searching “How to buy a digital camera" produced almost 10 million hits and searching “How to purchase a digital camera" produced about 12 million. Of course in those millions, you’re fed links to camera companies, retail stores, etc., etc. So, how to weed through all those biased pages and find a page that actually gives you a truthful walk-through digital camera buying guide? I don’t have an answer for that, but if you’re reading this, then you’ve somehow managed to do just that!

    The technology behind digital cameras and photography is constantly advancing. Spend too much time researching and the camera you decide on will be outdated before you buy it. Spend too little time researching and you’ll end up buying something less than ideal. So, what we need to find is a happy medium. This 3 part digital camera buying guide will tell you what you need to know in order to be able to make an educated and informed purchasing decision.

    Below are some questions you need to ask yourself. Once you know the answers to these, you’ll be better equipped to move on to the next sections.

    • What type of pictures do you plan on taking? I’ve seen this question asked many times, and although it is obviously important to determine which features you require, I also find it a little restrictive. Most amateur photographers are probably going to want to play around with all sorts of elements and not stick strictly to one area. That said, I suppose it is important to establish a home ground for the sake of choosing a camera, addressing any specific needs you may have. For example, if your main focus is going to be shooting wildlife, you’ll want a camera that has a quiet shutter.
    • What is your budget? There can be many hidden costs that buyers don’t think about before purchasing a digital camera. It’s important to factor in these costs so you don’t end up spending way more than you initially planned.
    • What do you plan on doing with the photos? Do you simply want a camera to snap some shots to email to family and friends and occasionally print some 4x6’s? Or do you plan to resize, enlarge, crop, print poster-sized copies, etc., etc.?
    • Are you interested in playing around with functions and features, or would you rather stay in auto mode, where you can simply point-and-shoot?

    Now that you’ve thought about what you want or need from a digital camera, let’s move on to the other aspects, possibly adding or eliminating other elements that could be important for you to take great photos.

    This article is the first part of a series which discusses how to buy a digital camera. To move on to the next article, please see:

    Digital Camera Buying Guide Part Two: Hidden Costs To Consider Digital Camera Buying Guide Part Three: Additional Aspects Including Megapixels, Shutter Noise & More