Buying a Digital Camera? Avoid a Mistake With 7 Insider Tips

So, you’re ready to buy a digital camera, huh? Maybe it’s your first, maybe it’s your fourth. It can still be an overwhelming and confusing venture. With so many digital cameras on the market today ranging in price from under $100 to over $7,000, it may feel like there are TOO MANY CHOICES!

Many people begin the buying process by investigating all the features and functions of 10 – 20 cameras in “their price range,” however that is determined. Some people find that process too frustrating and buy the first digital camera that “looks” right.

Personally, I’m an analyzer. As a professional photographer, when I start analyzing digital cameras, it’s like unleashing a sumo wrestler at an all-you-can-eat buffet… there’s no stopping me.

But, for the typical consumer, knowing the digital camera’s features and functions alone just doesn’t cut it. People want to know WHAT THE FEATURE DOES FOR ME!

Whether you go the feature/function route or not, there are 7 insider tips that can help save you money and avoid buying the wrong digital camera for your purposes.

Tip #1: How to Get the Best Prices on Digital Cameras

Wherever you are in the investigation/buying process, eventually you get to this step. If you want to buy a digital camera, the best prices are on the internet. Whether you’ve purchased anything on the internet or not, there are certain INTERNET BUYING STRATEGIES that will save you money, time, and aggravation.

  • When purchasing ANYTHING through the internet, only consider the ENTIRE cost of the “digital camera + tax + shipping,” NOT just the price of the digital camera. This is the only way to compare “apples to apples.”
  • Once you find the best ENTIRE cost, do not immediately buy it from that vendor! There are key INTERNET questions to answer:
  • Is the digital camera in stock? There is often a mysterious correlation between the cheapest digital camera prices and cameras being OUT OF STOCK. You don’t want to order your digital camera and then have it sit on backorder for 3 months, do you?
  • Does your Nikon (Minolta, Canon, etc.) come with a USA warranty or is it what’s called “grey goods?” You want to verify it’s a USA warranty, unless you don’t mind having to service it internationally. If it’s grey goods, you WILL NOT be able to service it in the US.
  • When ordering your digital baby, beware of costly add-on accessories that may be needed eventually, but are suggested during this “special order promotion time” at 200% of the normal price.

Tip #2: Professional or Prosumer… Which is Right For You?

Let’s begin by clarifying our terms. A professional digital camera is a digital SLR, while a prosumer is basically everything else. In that context, as of the end of 2005, digital SLRs could be purchased for $600 – $8,000 (Canon and Nikon, at least). The key points to consider are:

  1. If you plan on shooting night photos or other pictures in low-light situations, many prosumer digital cameras take good quality photographs at ISO 100 or 200. However, to take good pictures in lower light at ISO 400 or 800 will typically require a digital SLR. Otherwise, digital “noise” will probably have too large an impact on picture quality.
  2. If you plan on taking flash photographs at distances greater than 10-12 feet from your subject, an external flash unit needs to be used. And the only way an external flash unit can be used with your digital camera is to attach it to your camera’s hot shoe. Every professional digital camera has a hot shoe. Many prosumers also do, but NOT ALL OF THEM.
  3. Salespeople often try to sway consumers away from professional digital cameras into prosumer models, saying that the digital SLRs have so many complicated features that they are difficult to use. That is only half correct. Digital SLRs are typically designed to allow consumers to take pictures easily using the more automatic settings OR to use the advanced features when they are comfortable doing so.

Tip #3: What Exactly IS an Affordable Digital Camera?

“Affordable” digital cameras have a tendency of making your budget happy, but disappointing the photographer in you.

  1. Don’t overlook the ergonomics of the camera. Are the controls easy? Comfortable? How many buttons or levers need to be simultaneously set before getting the result you want?
  2. If you’re upgrading from a less expensive digital camera, don’t assume that spending more or having more features will automatically make you happy. Always test out the camera. An affordable digital camera isn’t affordable if you wind up not using it!
  3. The new digital camera is more than likely to operate differently than your older model. Does the new camera have controls that are counter-intuitive? Things like that can frustrate a person enough to not use their digital camera. Better to find out details like these before rather than after the purchase.

Tip #4: Don’t be Tricked by Digital and Optical Zoom. Only One Matters.

Here’s the bottom line: Optical Zoom is the only thing that’s important. Although some salespeople might argue with this, when buying a digital camera, my suggestion is to COMPLETELY IGNORE ALL DIGITAL ZOOM FIGURES. Digital zoom has absolutely no impact on being able to take a photograph of a distant subject by zooming in on it.

The main reason salespeople like to include optical zoom in the equation is because advertising loves to give you the digital camera’s “zoom factor.” Multiply a 3X Digital Zoom by a 5X Optical Zoom, and you have a 15X Zoom factor… a completely worthless and MISLEADING number!!

Tip #5: Is the Discount Digital Camera a Good or Bad Idea?

The most important consideration when considering a discount digital camera (or any other electronic device, for that matter) is to ask yourself: “WHAT IS MY GOAL?”
Many consumers start by first falling in love with a digital camera and then become pleased or disappointed with its capabilities (usually after they buy it).

I’m proposing something outlandishly radical… go through the process the OPPOSITE WAY. First, ask yourself some basic questions:

  1. What do I plan to do with the digital camera (and don’t say “take pictures”)? What are you most interested in – the occasional family snapshot, landscapes, macro work, heavy flash use, all of the above?
  2. How much use will it get? (Twice a year, or once a week?)
  3. What is most important to me: picture quality, camera size, camera weight, durability, telephotos/wide angle lens, etc.?

Based on your responses to these questions, a discount digital camera can be your best choice or a complete waste of money.

A “no-name” discount digital camera can be a logical choice, based on what your photographic goals are. But don’t think a $49.95 Brand X camera is going to cost you $49.95! You also have to add in the cost for at least some accessories, such as memory, batteries, bag, and lens protector.

Tip #6: When are Small Digital Cameras the Perfect Choice?

Despite impressions to the contrary, small digital cameras (also referred to as compact digital cameras) are quite popular. They’re easy to carry, usually loaded with features, and take respectable photographs.

We need to remember that SMALL DOESN’T MEAN UNDERPOWERED. Some advantages of going tiny are: less bulky, easier to transport, less conspicuous (less likely to “walk off”), and they often compare favorably with larger cameras in the feature and price categories.

Some of the pitfalls of going small include: possible trouble physically operating some of the camera’s controls, less likely to support an external flash, and the physical size can limit some of the available features, such as image manipulation.

Tip #7: Megapixels – What’s Fact; What’s Fiction?

Megapixels is one of the most talked about (and misunderstood) terms in the world of digital cameras. Let’s sort through some facts and misperceptions, so you can make a more informed buying decision.

Taking better digital photography involves more than just having a camera with a bunch of megapixels, although you wouldn’t know that listening to digital camera salespeople.

Megapixels is just one factor in creating better digital photography. And, you can’t look at it alone. You should consider other digital camera features.

How fast or slow the camera’s shutter speed can be set is key. Using a tripod, being able to manually set the white-balance control, and having pre-programmed modes to aid in tricky lighting situations are all important factors in achieving better digital photography.

Don’t get the idea that megapixels are bad, or irrelevant. This is NOT TRUE. There is one specific area where more megapixels will create better digital photography results. If everything else is the same, more megapixels will provide GREATER FLEXIBILITY TO CROP A PHOTOGRAPH and still wind up with a sharp clear photo. And, cropping photographs can make a world of difference. Cropping is the eraser on your digital pencil.


People can make buying a digital camera a snap decision or a life-long project. Because there are so many models, brands, and features; it can get pretty confusing. You will never know ALL THE FACTS to make the “best decision.” But, by using these 7 tips, you will know what really matters to YOU.

For the unabridged tips, go to

Getting Used Digital Cameras Repaired

Digital cameras are built compactly and include electronic components, making them hard to disassemble and repair. This is why repair costs are so high. Only the action of diagnosing and finding the problem is expensive because of the special testing equipments used in this process. And the repair of the camera requires other tools and special calibration equipment.

Common problems that occur with digital cameras

Probably the most common problem that can occur with a digital camera is when the zoom lens won’t work anymore. It’s impossible to focus or fire and the LCD screen will read some error message. This is most of the due to the knocking out of alignment of the lens.

Other problems that users experience are broken battery covers, broken hinges on memory card doors or cracked LCD screens. Moreover, if you repeatedly insert a memory card the wrong way, you risk damaging the contacts inside the camera.

Before you send your camera to be repaired, be sure to check the following

Battery level: cameras don’t function properly if batteries are low. Try recharging them or using a new set of batteries and see if there’s a difference.

Camera controls: be sure to know what every function does. You can easily activate an option or even press a button by accident. Check the settings and consult the manual if you’re not sure about something.

Full memory card: transfer your photos to a PC or some other electronic support. If your card is full it’s possible the camera won’t turn on.

Reset the camera: use this from the camera menu or by keeping the batteries out of the camera for a day.

If the camera really is broken.

If you didn’t succeed in improving anything using the advices listed above it’s time to call an authorized repair service center. Be sure you’re accurate in describing what’s wrong with your device and ask for minimum repair and shipping costs and in how many days you’ll get your camera back. Don’t forget to ask for a warranty for the repair service. If your problem is not so serious, like a broken hinge, a local repair shop may be a good idea as most likely it will be cheaper.

Be sure to read service advisories of the manufacturer.

The malfunction may be caused by the manufacturer. When so, published service advisories list the affected devices. If it’s your case, then your camera will be repaired by the manufacturer free of charge even if its warranty is no longer available.

Are camera repairs worth it?

It costs you between 30 and 50% to repair your digital camera. So it’s best to think well if it’s really worth a repair or the best investment would be to buy a new one.

Digital Photography – Understanding Your Digital Camera

Photography is a beautiful art… simple in all its complexities and breathtaking in the results it produces. From preserving those priceless moments with your loved ones to creating exquisite works of art, the applications of photography are many. Once confined to bulky, expensive cameras and yards of film, photography has seen a new dawn with the advent of digital cameras. Swifter, a lot easier to use, and growing ever more compact with every passing day, digital cameras have indeed opened several avenues to the casual photographer as well as the seasoned expert. And now that you’ve decided to take the plunge with the digital brigade, your very first concern is choosing the best camera to suit your needs.

The multitude of models and makes that swarm the marketplace definitely don’t make your choice any easier so how do you decide which camera is the best for you? To start with, you first need to understand that every make of digital cameras is developed to cater to a certain set of needs. Hence, in order to determine which camera you need to buy, you first need to establish the purpose you’re going to use it for. A high speed camera which is developed in keeping with the interests of sports photographers will certainly not be a viable option for you, if all you’re going to use it for is the odd vacation photograph. Also, if you’re looking for more minute detailing in your photographs as well as a higher resolution, then the sleeker options that you find may not completely cater to your needs. This is because a majority of these models have been developed to ensure portability, and many include little more than the basic features.

Your second step would be to understand the world of digital photography. This would include familiarizing yourself with the most commonly used photography terms. For instance, you would need to know that an LCD is a screen attached to most cameras in addition to the viewfinder. This screen allows you to view your image before and immediately after you capture it, allowing to fine tune your focus and even re-capture the image if need be. However, several cameras are equipped only with the viewfinder, thus compelling you to hold the camera at an arm’s length while capturing the photograph. As one of the key requirements to a clear photograph is a steady and sure hand, without your face to rest the camera on, your image is at a higher risk of being distorted.

You must also learn to distinguish between an optical zoom and a digital zoom. An optical zoom functions like traditional cameras, magnifying the image you are shooting. A digital zoom enlarges the final image by doubling the size of the pixels, which may also lead to fuzzier images. Digital images are comprised of mega pixels which in turn determine the quality of the image. The higher the number of mega pixels, the clearer the image. You may also want to check if your camera comes along with a stand which is invaluable in ensuring a steady and clear picture.

Once you gather this basic information, you can then start looking around for models which catch your eye. Start making a shortlist, comparing and contrasting the different makes and strike those off that do not meet your budget or requirements or both! At this stage, you can also start referring to photography journals and magazines for expert reviews and advice, which will also enable you to learn about first hand experiences with some of the relatively unknown models, you may come across.

If you aren’t too comfortable with the notion of parting with your reliable old bulky camera, expense of film notwithstanding, but would still like the clarity that digital images offer, you can scan digital versions of your existing photographs and have them retouched with editing software or opt for an online photo service which will convert your film into digital reality. You can even use photo services to edit your photographs for minor glitches like red eye removal and adjusting the brightness and color.

Digital photography is a great way to explore your creativity, without worrying about how much you’re spending on developing the film you’ve shot and printing charges. You can easily transfer your images from the memory card or stick onto your laptop or computer and then email them to friends or even upload them onto online albums. The key to mastering your digital photography skills is to keep practicing whenever possible and soon, you’ll develop a style which is intrinsic to you and the envy of others!

Film Camera or Digital Camera – Celebrate the Difference

Are you picturing yourself with a new film camera or digital camera?

It’s almost certain that photography is in your life one way or another. If you are like most people, you want to preserve your memories of family occasions, special events, precious moments and even the humdrum days of our lives. When it comes time to choose a new camera, we’re faced with an incredible array of choices – each with a special pro or con.

Film cameras are the traditional approach, and always a good choice. However, the digital cameras available today are worth considering for their special features and flexibility.

In terms of how they work, a film camera and a digital camera are hugely different. When you push the shutter button on a film camera, the light passes through the lens where it burns an image onto a film. With a digital camera, the light reaches through the lens in much the same way, but once inside the camera, it records the light as computer data, also known as binary data. Then, the same as a computer, it stores this binary data in memory and ultimately on a media card.

While some of us find these differences fascinating, others show no interest in the cameras’ inner working and merely want to know what these differences mean in terms of picture taking ability. In other words, they want to know what they can do with a digital camera that they can’t do with a film camera, and vice versa.

A digital camera’s versatility is something to consider. In addition to taking still images, many digital cameras can also capture video clips and audio files. Most film cameras do not do this. Additionally, a typical film camera is a specialized equipment item. A digital camera, on the other hand, is likely to be bundled with a cellular phone, smart phone or MP3 player. When you buy a digital camera, you may well be acquiring several technological devices in one – a compact item that fits easily n the palm of your hand.

When it comes to printing, digital cameras and film cameras require a much different approach. Film photographers may develop films in their own darkroom, or may take them to a printing service for developing. People using a digital camera have the option of uploading their electronic pictures to a computer where they can be printed, or of sending them directly to a printer for printing. They might also opt to upload the pictures to an online printing service, or take them to a service to be printed.

Regardless of whether you are using a film camera or a digital camera, you can choose between doing your own printing or developing or taking your pictures to a service where others will do the printing for you.

The third thing to consider is that digital cameras make it easy for you to correct and edit photos in your computer, using digital photo editing software. Since they are electronic data, you can upload them directly from your camera to the computer. If you are using a film camera, you can still edit the pictures in the computer, but you have the added step of scanning each one into your computer, or of having a photo printing service do this for you.

Your choice between a film camera and a digital camera represents an individual preference. The brave new world of digital cameras has much to attract the technology buff, but traditionalists will doubtless prefer the excellent film cameras. Both types are here to stay.