The most important part of your camera is the 12 inches behind it! (Alfred Eisenstadt, 1945)
Nowhere is the above quote more telling than in choosing a camera. Current digital cameras produce such high quality photos that it’s impossible to look at a good photo and tell what kind of camera took the picture. To choose a digital camera, consider three things: Your budget, the kind of photos you take, and how far you want to go with your photography.
If you take pictures of the children, family events, travel, and special occasions, a pocket-sized “compact” digital camera will do an excellent job. Look for one that has a removable photo card so you can take the card to have photos printed without taking in the whole camera. Buy several additional cards so you can take a lot of pictures and have a replacement card for when you fill one up. With a compact digital camera you can just point the camera and shoot the picture. Compact digital cameras start at about $100.
If you want to take a variety of pictures of people, scenery, and closeups, consider buying a “bridge” camera. These cameras look like the more expensive “SLR” (single lens reflex) cameras but are less expensive, lighter, more compact, and easier to use. A good example of this kind of camera is the Canon SX-40. You can use these cameras to simply point and shoot, like compacts, or learn how to use advanced features to get excellent photos in poor lighting or long distance situations. Most bridge cameras feature excellent lenses and powerful zoom capability at a cost that starts below $400.
The single lens reflex camera, or SLR, is a more complex camera and is the choice of more experienced photographers. You can simply point and shoot, as with all digital cameras, but you can also change lenses to match a particular need for wide area or long distance photography. Even in an SLR camera, cost and special features are far less important than you would think. The difference in quality of a photo taken by a $500 SLR versus a $10,000 SLR is far more dependent on the photographer than on the camera. If you want to study and go further with your photography, consider buying a low-priced SLR so the camera will keep up with your learning progress.
Many people are reluctant to start using a digital camera because of a perceived need to be a techie to understand this new kind of camera. The fact is that these cameras are not as different from film cameras as you think. You don’t even need a computer, although there are far more things you can do with your photos if you do use one. You can simply take your photo cards to any of a variety of local stores and have your pictures printed if you wish, just like you did with film.
You can overcome your concerns by visiting a camera store and talking with the sales people. Consider taking a short class on understanding digital cameras in an adult education school. Even the simplest and least expensive digital camera will do an excellent job of recording the important events and people in your life. Try it, you’ll like it!
My email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. I am available any time to answer questions or help solve photo problems.