Digital Camera Purchase Advice (for beginners)


June 17, 2007   •   Fact checked by Dumb Little Man

One of the things that has preventing me from upgrading my (2004) decent Canon digital camera is that I haven’t kept up with the technology. As camera’s have advanced and the megapixels have increased, my appetite for studying the dozens of models hasn’t. So last month I did a fair amount of homework and I finally made a purchase.

Listen, I am no photo-pro or a wannabe that wants to submit photos to anyone hoping for a paycheck. My needs were simple – I needed something for pictures of the kids, their sports practice, etc. Regardless of your intentions, here are a few tips that really stood out to me and helped. Know that most of these came from simply talking to people that knew more than me.

    • The love will end: This one is obvious, but before you even begin looking for a camera, you have to come to terms with yourself regarding WHAT you will do with the camera. I always believed that owning a great camera would lead me to taking more pictures. Trust me, after the infatuation stage, the love dies and your sweet camera will sit in the closet. Don’t overbuy believing you will change. If you don’t have a love for photography, you don’t need the Mercedes of cameras! 
  • Bigger may be better, but..:This was easily the toughest thing for me to comprehend. While you could indeed by an SLR (Single Lens Reflect) you have to understand that while the picture quality is great, the convenience is not because they are a bit larger. If your SLR is not always with you, you are most likely stuck taking pictures from your mobile phone (which are generally pretty bad). Again, know the goal here. If you want to carry a camera 24×7, consider the size and the likelihood that you are going to haul something with you. 
  • Megapixels: More is simply not better. Oddly, I spoke to dozens of store clerks at Best Buy and stores similar and I was told 100% of the time that more megapixels = better pictures. I think a better equation would be more megapixels = higher price! Based on my unofficial research, this is a myth and my findings are supplemented here and here. As someone that was a rookie camera buyer, this was an interesting and irritating piece of info. By the way, if you haven’t already, I would highly recommend you read the links withing this point. 
  • Digital Zoom: Ignore it and focus (not a pun) on Optical Zoom. To explain this in a sentence, Digital Zoom is the camera doing guesswork as you zoom whereas Optical Zoom gives you a true representation of what you’re pointed at. Digital will result in fuzzy prints, especially as you blow up pictures. 

As I said, I am still not an expert. I am just a guy that did some homework. Here are a handful of links that I found buried on the internet that you should add to the list of recommended reading before dropping a paycheck on a camera.

How to Buy a Digital Camera – A 9 Step Guide

25 things you must know before buying digital camera
Digital Cameras: The Top 10 Things You Need to Know
Buying a Digital Camera Help and Tips

Through all of this, the item that killed me is that Megapixels and Digital Zoom are labeled in bold on brilliantly designed decals on a ton of cameras. In fact, I would challenge you to ask the Best Buy guy what these really mean. I’d bet you result will be the same – -” the more the better”. Based on my study, that’s absolutely false.


Getting Started with Forex

Other Dating Guide

Individual Reviews