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Buyers’ guide: digital cameras

If you’re on the lookout for the best deals and offers on digital cameras there’s a whole array of options open to you, from cheap point-and-shoot models through to high-end cameras with powerful specifications - but higher prices. The best way to be sure you’ve selected the right model is to carry out an online comparison first.

Nikon G4Digital camera reviews provide a great way of comparing models and help you bag the best digital camera in your price range. But while reviews will help point you in the right direction, there’s nothing like word of mouth too; ask around with your friends - or ask the crowd.

Digital camera options

The best place to find the most competitive digital camera deals and offers is online. But with so much choice, where to start?

Low-end snappers can be picked up for less than £20. They tend to be children's devices, budget models and oddities but - despite having very few options - you'll probably still get a reasonable picture out of them in perfect light conditions. 

Spend a little and you'll start to get beefier control options, including a decent zoom, a few manual settings alongside a range of auto controls - and maybe GPS and Wi-Fi functionality.

Next you move into the realms of the extra and super zoom models, along with Compact System Digital cameras. The latter route takes you into whole new world, combining many of the better simplistic compact digital camera features with inspiration from the DSLR models right at the top of the digital camera tree.

DSLR options are also many and varied, but all come with a pretty high price tag. These models are also highly flexible, giving you free reign to add separate flash units and additional lenses. These, of course, are aimed largely at professionals but the results speak for themselves.

The key digital camera features

When it comes to features, many people may think to look for megapixels first; but the higher the figure doesn’t always match the quality of the pictures you’ll get so this can be misleading.

After a certain picture quality, when looking at photo or even screen sized images, megapixels essentially become irrelevant to the naked eye. Essentially they affect the printable quality size of a photo, so the larger the number then the bigger the billboard you could potentially put it on - not everyone's go-to requirement for a holiday snap. 

If you're going to be looking at your pictures on anything up to television size, you should be looking in the three to eight-megapixel range. Anything beyond that and you're unlikely to see the difference (although of course it won't do any harm!). Other aspects are far more important to a quality picture - and as such a quality digital camera.

What you'll usually be paying the extra for is a top quality camera lens. Sony, Panasonic, Cannon and Fujifilm have all received rave reviews in the past year for their lens quality on digital compacts, but as always the more you pay the higher quality lens you're likely to end up with.

It is also worth spending some time comparing zoom options, ISO settings, LCD screen size, touchscreen functionality, RAW file recording and high-definition video recording; and will your new digital camera plug straight into your HDTV? Just be sure to compare all the things that are important to you. 

Some of the better digital cameras, including most DSLR models, will also have the ability to attach a variety of different lenses, whereas those at the lower end of the spectrum will merely have one lens built inside the body of the compact camera. If you’re looking for the best digital camera, don’t forget to factor in the additional cost of lenses (zoom, wide-angle, macro, telephoto, pancake etc).

Other digital camera considerations

Nikon AW100

As if that wasn’t enough, it’s also now possible to get numerous digital camera models that are ‘everything proof’, that is to say they have been made waterproof, shockproof, freeze proof and just about everything else proof. 

Adding a little fun to proceedings is that many of the cheaper digital cameras also come with funky styling and are also available in a variety of colours, from traditional black or white through to electric pink and camouflage finishes. 

Needless to say, buying digital cameras in the current packaged marketplace is fun, but it takes a little bit of careful comparison and reading of reviews before you make a final decision.