Carolyn Almennigen | almennigen

How to Select the Best Digital Camera

Oct 14th 2010 at 3:45 PM

When you go shopping for a digital camera, remember that in the fast-changing digital world, what is the best thing since sliced bread today is old hat tomorrow. One thing I've noticed, though, is when the new and improved versions slow down, the prices start to drop, or the improvements aren't all that big, it's almost time for a real breakthrough. That's when I would wait.

You can buy online, but when I selected digital cameras for work, I found out that the specs of most aren't worth the paper they're printed on. Different testing conditions for each company. The only thing you can't fudge is the number of pixels in the camera sensor. The more the better. But, with the same size chip, the more pixels, the smaller each pixel is. This means that you need more light for a good picture. Still, more pixel count is better.

Also, the more zoom you use, the more light you need. Ignore digital zoom specs. That only means the pixels are getting bigger. Optical zoom is the important one. The lens itself is changing, making the picture hitting the chip is larger. The more zoom the better.

I would suggest going into a store that has several lines and physically testing them. Take something with large print and small print with some of it sideways. Some lenses, when mounted incorrectly, focus vertical lines and horizontal lines differently. It's called astigmatism, just like in your eyes. You can also look for boxes stored up high where you can see them for far away. Warehouse stores are great for that. Find the smallest print you can see with one camera, then try another camera. Stand in the same place, so the print is the same size.

Check for differences between letters. Can you tell the difference between a lower case c and e? How about an upper case B and E? How about the number 8 and the upper case B? Number 6 and lower case b? This will give you an idea of the resolution of the camera. The more light you have, the better you can see as well. If you go to multiple stores, notice the light level near the boxes you're looking at.

Minimum illumination level is important if you plan on taking inside pictures, especially those important ones with the birthday cake and only the candles making light. If you don't have a light meter, which most people don't, take the camera somewhere dark and illuminate something (the test object) with only your cell phone. See what you can see, and compare it with the other cameras. You might not be able to take a camera into a dressing room or closet, but you can usually get under the counter where the garbage can is.

If you want a nice portable test object, look in Edmund Scientific's catalog for "resolution targets." Otherwise, as long as you use the same thing each time, you should be in good shape.

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Please to comment
Nov 10th 2011 at 8:30 AM by yanger4
Thank U so much for all the useful information, dear!

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