Selecting a Digital Camera

Today someone asked me to help them select a Digital Camera.

These are the questions I asked him?

Q: How much do you plan to spend?
A: He said, “Less than $300”.

Q: What will you be doing with this camera?
A: He said, “Take pictures of vacations, my work, family”

Q: Do you know anyone with a camera you really like (or dislike)?
A: He said, “Yep. I know someone with a little Olympus. Looks nice, mostly takes good pictures, but seems to be prone for the shutter to jam”.

Q: Anything else you’ve been thinking about regarding this new camera?
A: He said, “Well … my hands are larger and I don’t like using really small cameras”.

Q: Do you want to buy it today, or do you want to wait and watch for just the right deal?
A: He said, “I want to get one today pretty much”.

Then I suggested a few points that I consider priorities when selecting a camera, in order of importance.

1) It’s got to have a built-in, rechargeable Lithium Ion battery. Otherwise you’ll spend lots of money filling the local landfill with spent batteries.

2) I recommend about 5-6 Mega Pixels for these sorts of pictures. Plenty of pixels for good clear pictures, but not wasting time, space & money on larger picture files than you really need. For years I’ve advised people that if you buy more Hard Disk space or more RAM (for a computer) than you are using, you’ve wasted money … because RAM and Disks are constantly getting cheaper. These days, I add Mega Pixels to that advice. More Mega Pixels cost more money, take more space to store, longer to transfer, longer to print and longer to edit.

3) I recommended that he not worry about if the camera is ‘compatible’ with his computer. Now I could rant here about WHY this is EVER an issue, but that’s for a different day. Bottom line in today’s advice is that a good cheap card reader works GREAT, will read cards from today’s cameras and many others to come or owned by friends without having to worry about ‘computer or software compatibility’.

4) I like Secure Digital Memory cards. This is not a BIG deal, but for various reasons I’d rather use an SD Memory card over a Sony Memory Stick (I hate Sony) or say a Compact Flash (larger and slower than SD).

5) When you need some Photo Prints, go to Walmart, Walgreens or Sam’s. I’ve seen great prints from each of these places.

6) When you go to buy Photo Prints, copy (drag) the picture files you want printed back to an erased memory card and take the card to the store. This is MUCH less trouble than burning a CD (even though burning a CD is easy enough).

7) Did I mention I hate Sony. I’m not going to defend this (today) but I just can’t recommend their cameras, computers, TVs or digital stuff these days. Too expensive and too closed for me.

8) My sons, both excellent photographers, are pretty much Canon Camera bigots. I don’t mean that offensively, just mean to express that they are very fond of Canon Cameras and I respect that.

9) I kind of like the Casio Exlim series because they are good enough, take good pictures and movies, easy to use, small and inexpensive for the features. Jo Ann and Abbi both have a love Casio digital cameras (that I gave them) and they are quite happy with them.

10) If you’re NOT in a hurry, then watch Brad’s Deals for the next few days or weeks. If the camera you want doesn’t appear there, at least you’ll see a few great examples at excellent prices for perspective.

In my opinion,

dws.

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One Comment on “Selecting a Digital Camera”


  1. Mostly in response (and support) of your mention that Conner and I are bigots for Canon, I will almost always recommend their cameras to others. I happened to have just posted (prior to reading this) about a photo excursion that may at least be able to show anyone you’re talking to that I do know at least a little about photography and I can assure you, Conner is also very good at what he does.

    With regards to the Sony thing: Don’t take the hate for Sony as an unreasonable bias, especially in digital cameras. It’s my firm belief that it’s simply ridiculous to spend money on a product that uses a proprietary memory device. Sony memory sticks are drastically more expensive than the other options and have no real benefit (if any).

    Now, a website I would suggest to anyone looking to buy a new digital camera is http://www.dpreview.com It is an excellent resource for most any question you can have.


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