Cut Through the Hype and Make the Right Digital Camera Comparisons

There are soooo many choices. With all the styles and features, and prices are all over the map, digital camera comparisons can be mind-boggling. Pixels, memory, optical and digital zoom, camera size and cost are all factors to compare. So how do we sift through all the hype and find the best digital camera?

First step: Identify your primary prerequisites. A camera is normally something we will own and use for several years. To find the best camera for your needs, certain basic decisions need to be made before you start comparing features. These include:

  • Suitability ? do you want a camera for candid snapshots or serious photography?
  • Quality ? compare quality of both the camera and the photos it takes.
  • Size ? models to compare include miniature, compact and full-sized cameras.
  • Price ? compare cameras in a price range set by your needs and budget.

Second step: Compare specific features?

Compare Pixel Quantity and Quality

In general, more is better. Each pixel is a tiny square of light and color. Digital photos can be compared to mosaics ? more pixels mean smaller squares and sharper pictures. But comparing pixel quality is just as important.

Tiny photodiodes in an image sensor is the technology that creates the pixels. The sensor functions as the camera's eye and some digital camera sensors measure only a few millimeters. Other cameras with larger sensors usually have better quality diodes, resulting in sharper, clearer pictures.

Don't Skimp on Memory

A single digital photograph can require several megabytes, though file type, compression rate and subject matter all affect file size. Most digital cameras don't have nearly enough built-in memory, so when doing a digital camera comparison plan on buying more. A general rule of thumb is to have at least 256-512MB of memory ? more if taking high resolution or a lot of photographs.

Check memory compatibility when you compare digital cameras. Compact flash is the most universal and cost effective. MultiMedia cards are smaller and also work with other devices. Secure Digital are MultiMedia cards with an added write-protect switch. xD Picture cards are small and adaptable to most compact flash applications. Others such as Memory Sticks, SmartMedia and MicroDrives have limited applications, but may be best for the camera you want.

CCD Compared to CMOS

Charged Coupled Devices (CCD) and Complementary Metal-Oxide Semiconductors (CMOS) are digital camera image sensors. They can be compared to the shutter and film in a traditional camera.

Developed in the mid 1970's, the CCD is the heart of most digital cameras. With millions of light collecting cells, its image perception can be compared to the human eye. The CCD sensor's quality makes it the preferred choice for high-end digital cameras.

CMOS sensors were developed in 1998 with technology comparable to processor chips. Advantages are lower cost, less power required and multi-tasking ability. Disadvantages include signal noise and resolution issues. As the technology improves, CMOS sensors will make digital cameras more affordable and be the best choice for entry level cameras.

Beware the Zoom-Zoom

In your comparison of best digital cameras, be aware of the zoom issue. Digital zoom isn't much more than a marketing gimmick. It crops the image on the sensor, reducing total pixels and degrading resolution. Optical zoom magnifies the image before the sensor reads it, retaining full resolution.

Other important features?

  • Shutter lag ? how quickly can you take another picture? Should be a second or less.
  • Start up time ? when turned on, the camera should be ready within a couple of seconds.
  • Manual override ? allows you to adjust exposure and focus settings.
  • Auto-focus ? should be nearly instantaneous in most lighting conditions.

Digital camera ratings often discuss other features, but getting these right will enhance the enjoyment of your digital camera experience for years to come. Find more detailed comparisons at our Digital Camera Technology page.

Digital cameras information from A to Z: camera types & features, how they work, accessories, photo printers, comparisons and more - plus digital photo processing tips and info at A-Z Digital, Your Complete A-Z Resource for Digital Cameras, Accessories and Information.

This article may be re-printed in its entirety, with no changes and this resource box included. © 2005 A-Z Digital Cameras All rights reserved

In The News:

Four Years in Startups  The New Yorker
My Algorithm Makeover  The New York Times

A Beginners Guide to Avoiding Viruses

"Aaaaaahhhhhh! I've been invaded by a virus!" Getting a virus... Read More

HTML Explained: Part 1

Want to save money while promoting your web-based business? Of... Read More

Use Your Computer For Your Entertainment Needs

By using your computer today you can find a lot... Read More

How to Set Up Simple File Sharing WinXP

The first step is: Start > My DocumentsSo you have... Read More

What Does That Error Message Really Mean?

Surf the 'Net for about 10 minutes and chances rate... Read More

CCNA 640-801 Certification Primer

The Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) Certification is meant for... Read More

Lives With Games Tradition and Industry

The United States Of America citizen feels that games is... Read More

SOBIG.F Virus Promises Ill Be Back

On 21 August 2003 Symantec Security Response upgraded the W32.SOBIG.F... Read More

A Peek Into the Near Future of Electronics Technology

How long do you think DVDs have around? 20 years?... Read More

Why Get a Microsoft MCSE Certification?

In the years of the dot com boom and bust,... Read More

Basic Computer Thermodynamics

That desk in front of you and everything else around... Read More

iPod users get the picture

iPod users start to get the picture and it's turning... Read More

Digital Cameras + Photo Printers = Quality Instant Photographs

In the 1950's and 1960's Polaroid's instant cameras were all... Read More

Flash Your nVidia Video Cards BIOS

You will need the following:1. 1.44MB FDD (floppy)2. NVFLASH utility... Read More

Compile .BAT Files into Native Windows Applications (.EXE)

Since the DOS days, batch files have been one of... Read More

Selecting a Personal Digital Assistant

A Computer in Your HandCarrying around an address book and... Read More

Cisco Certification: Building Your Home Lab, Part II

In the first part of this home lab tutorial, CCNA... Read More

Smart Apple iPod Tips and Techniques

Are you thinking of buying an Apple iPod? Or have... Read More

Palm PC critique

I met an entrepreneur who hole heartedly disagree with an... Read More

5 Minute Guide to Video Editing for Beginners

Getting started with video editing is very simple you only... Read More

More Cool Web Tricks

If you ask most people what frustrates them most about... Read More

Help, I Need a New HDTV! (Part 4 of 5)

Feeling overwhelmed in selecting a new TV? With all the... Read More

Got Virus?

GOT VIRUS? Your Data is NOT lost forever!In the wake... Read More

Your Affiliate Business - Peripherals, Software, Computers

I have always been interested in computers, but in the... Read More

Why Build Your Own Gaming Computer?

The best way to get the gaming computer that you... Read More