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Digital cameras buying guide


Whether it’s a perfect sunset over that alpine lake or an action shot of your troop drenching the Scoutmaster with a bucket of icy river water, capturing the moment lets your memories live on in vibrant color.

Not so long ago, you had to carry lots of film and have plenty of cash to get your pictures developed. But things have changed. Just plug the digital camera into your computer. It’s like your own home photo lab.

“Digital makes photography easier and cheaper than ever before,” says professional adventure photographer Corey Rich. “Your ability to grow as a photographer is much greater now because you can see the photos instantly and there’s no limit to how many you can shoot.”

Sounds simple enough. First, though, you need a camera. Digital technology is changing so quickly these days it can be tough to keep it all straight. So we asked Rich to give us tips on how to shop for a new digital camera. Here’s what you need to know.


“The idea behind making great pictures is having the camera with you all the time,” Rich says. “If a camera is big and cumbersome, more often than not it’ll get left behind.”

Stick with pocket-size cameras, also known as point-and-shoots. Look for a camera that’s compact but still packed with plenty of features and a quality lens.


Digital images are made up of millions of tiny dots or pixels. In general, the more megapixels, the better the image quality. So that’s one common way to compare digital cameras. If you’re looking for quality prints from your images — especially those larger than 8 inches by 10 inches — avoid cameras with just 1 to 3 megapixels.

“Bottom line: you shouldn’t even consider a camera with less than 4 megapixels,” Rich says.


If you plan on taking photos of wildlife, consider getting a camera with an adjustable zoom lens. Look for one with a minimum optical zoom of 3x. Some cameras boast of having “digital zooms,” but that just means the camera can crop the image down — not actually zoom in closer to the subject. For shooting close-ups, make sure your camera also has a macro focus mode.


One of the most frustrating problems with some digital cameras is a thing called lagtime, or the amount of time the camera takes to shoot the picture once you’ve pressed the button. It might not seem like a big deal, but even a second of lagtime is a big bummer when shooting action shots.

“If you’re really out there trying to capture moments, you don’t want lag time,” Rich says.

Pick a camera with a burst mode that lets you shoot multiple pictures in a row.


“Look for the most automated camera you can find,” Rich says. “It just makes your life easier.”

There’s nothing glorious about fiddling with manual controls, and fortunately many cameras let you choose from preprogrammed functions that will provide quality photos from most any environment or situation.


If you plan to bring your camera on outings, look for one that is dust- and shock-resistant — maybe even waterproof if you’re around water a lot. If the camera says it’s weatherproof it should be able to handle rainstorms but not underwater photography. Also, some cameras can be paired with protective sleeves or cases for added durability.

“Most point-and-shoots are really designed to handle abuse,” he says.


Prices continue to drop on digital cameras, so you should be able to find a quality one for less than $200. Look for better deals online but stay away from used cameras, like some you will find on eBay.

Digital cameras store images on memory cards (also known as flashcards). Your camera will probably come with one, but you’ll want to buy at least one or two extras so you can shoot lots of photos without always having to delete or download shots to empty your card. Rich recommends sticking with name-brand cards such as those made by Lexar and stick with flashcards with one gigabyte of memory or less.

“Don’t get lured into buying gigantic flash cards,” Rich warns. “It’s better to buy two. That way if one card breaks or gets wet, your pictures on the other card will be safe.”

27 Comments on Digital cameras buying guide

  1. Hockeyking 14 is right (I have one of the Finepix cameras from Fujifilm)

  2. FldaGatrfreak // December 20, 2008 at 6:41 pm // Reply

    Nikkons rock

  3. Yeah I’m the one that wants to make videos and this helps with what kind to get.

  4. I got a sony camera i don’t know what model it was 200 bucks but its awesome and its from four years ago its so compact compared to today’s its got 8 mega pixels and dropped it a good amount of times it only takes the regular memory stick not the pro but i have an adapter so i’m covered

  5. i got a FUJIFILM FINEPIX and is great and cheap

  6. The Canon PowerShot A610 is great!

  7. I have a Nikon L11 its only worth $100 but to me it worth $1,000,000,000,000.

  8. Pictureperfect // August 13, 2008 at 8:18 am // Reply

    I have a Kodak EasyShare and it’s worth over $200 to me, but I bought it at Wal-Mart for only $100 with the memory card and I’ve had it for about 2 1/2 years now. But where can I get a cheap camera stand at?

  9. philmont 09 75 // August 5, 2008 at 5:56 pm // Reply

    I have the olypus fe-340 it great for hiking it ways close to nothing, great battery life, very small, i got it to bring to philmont and camping trips i suggest it look into it.

  10. im ganna us my phone i will have to get a memory card its ok for taking pics of fish

  11. I have a Kodak Easy Share and it is a good camera.

  12. Is their any camcorders because I am looking for a cheap good quality camcorder.

  13. I bought a Canon PowerShot A710 and I really like it.

  14. How much is the Olympus????

  15. I realy like the olympus ultra zoom but it cost way to much. Do you have any other ones like that one but cheaper?

  16. I want the canon powershot!

  17. Brown Bison // August 1, 2007 at 11:52 am // Reply

    You know nice things don’t just get handed to you. If you want a good digital camera you’re going to have to pay at least $200 and probably more, so get over it! Also to camera guy I’m going to have to say that from my limited experience with these features I would go with the Cannon Powershot because I’ve always found that zoom power and water proofing are more useful than megapixels and video modes. That’s just my opinion though.

  18. i’m gonna have to save a lot

  19. Way Too Expensive!!!!!!!

  20. cameraguy // July 8, 2007 at 7:16 am // Reply

    which do u think is a better deal the sony cybershot or the cannon power shot

    they cost the same and im not sure which one is better

  21. That wrist camera looks really cool. Good piece of technollogy!

  22. any cheaper waterproof ones????????

  23. Invisible Dragon // May 5, 2007 at 8:46 am // Reply

    I want the Sony Cyber-shot

  24. cameras can be $100-$200

  25. to expensive!!!!!!!!

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