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Your Guide to Buying a Digital Camera

If you're in the market for a digital camera, you know that it's difficult to figure out the differences between the models that are available. When it comes to buying a digital camera, the first thing you should do is think about what you want to use your camera for. Different camera types are optimized for different uses, so knowing what you want to shoot will help you narrow down your search. Let's take a quick look at the basic categories.

Digital Camera Types

If you're looking for something that's easy to use, not too expensive, lightweight and easily portable, that takes pretty good shots without a lot of fiddling or knowledge on your part, then chances are you want to look at point and shoot cameras.

Most point and shoot cameras on the market today have digital zoom lenses, HD video, and good response times. Prices can range from $100- $500. Point and shoots also have two sub-categories.

Children's Cameras

As a class, these are all safe, easy and fun to use, and are typically inexpensive. Be aware that most children's cameras are low resolution, so they won't be suitable for any serious photography or large prints, and don't have digital video camera capability. If your child wants to do more than just have a little fun, you might want to take a look at some of the budget point and shoots instead. Children's cameras are typically priced at less than $50.

Tough Cameras

These are for people who need to take pictures in more extreme conditions. They handle a wide range of environmental conditions, temperature fluctuations, and some water submersion. Great for sports enthusiasts, tough camera prices typically range from $150- $400.

Large Zoom

Maybe you're looking for something that's a little more... artistic. If you don't want to have to take a photography course at your local college, but want to be able to get up and close and personal on detailed shots, go for a large zoom digital camera.

Also known as fixed lens cameras, these give photographers an extra boost of optical zoom, a must for nature and wildlife enthusiasts. Purchase a tripod, or you'll waste all of that zoom on an image blurred from camera shake, which becomes exponentially worse the farther in you zoom. Large zooms are commonly priced somewhere between $300- $500.


If you know what you're doing and want to do it your way, high megapixel digital cameras are for serious photographers. Until the advent of the DIL, DSLR were the industry favorite for serious digital photographers- and it's easy to see why. Digital Single-Lens Reflex (DSLR) cameras offer interchangeable lens, external flash, and specialized viewfinders. Known as the closest thing in the digital realm to a true 35mm film camera, these give photographers both manual and automatic versatility. You can find them in the $400- $1000 price range.

Digital Interchangeable Lens (DIL) cameras are the latest and greatest invention in the industry. Like the former golden boy, the DSLR, they offer interchangeable lenses, but the size and weight mimics that of a point and shoot digital camera. Prices range from $500- $1000.

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