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Photography: Buyer's Guide to Digital Cameras



Welcome to the Buyer's Guide for Digital Cameras. There are lots of great digital cameras to choose from. Choose a camera that will be able to capture your artwork well, both now and in the future. Let's go over a few basic digital camera features.

  • Pick a camera made by a major camera manufacturer. These companies will give you better technical support and better customer service.
  • Make sure that your camera has "optical zoom," not "digital zoom." With optical zoom the lens zooms in and out from the camera body. With digital zoom the camera internally crops and magnifies the image area without your control.
  • Other nice features to have are discussed in more depth in Buyer's Guide to Digital Camers-Basic Features. They are:
    • aperture priority mode
    • shutter priority mode
    • info playback
    • histogram playback
    • highlight preview
    • and playback zoom.
  • Look for a battery that is removable and rechargeable. Buy a second battery. This ensures you'll always have enough power while you're shooting out in the field.
  • Buy a practical working-size camera. Don't be persuaded buy something that is the size of your iPod. You don't need the smallest camera in the world.


Other Features

Three other features that are nice for art students are:

  • manual exposure
  • manual focus
  • and the ability to capture in raw format.

However, these three features are usually only be available on a digital SLR camera. Keep an eye out for these features as you're doing your comparison shopping, but don't feel pressured make sure that you have them. They're nice, but not necessary.



Cameras are rated by megapixel value. This number describes how large an image can be made. Although this is not an important factor when you're posting your work online, it is a factor when you make larger prints. A three-megapixel camera can easily generate a nice 8"x10" print. A six-megapixel camera can easily enlarge up to 16"x24". Therefore, anything larger than six megapixels is normally marketing hype and probably overkill for you.