A lot of newbie photographers want to buy a digital camera but usually, they don’t know about all of the factors they should keep in mind when making this type of purchase. Even though there are many articles that focus on different features of a digital camera or give suggestions on which models you should focus on, there are also a few questions and basic factors to keep in mind when deciding which camera is best suited for you.

Let’s get onto some important tips when buying a digital camera:

How to Buy a Digital Camera

1. Determine what you need exactly

The most common mistake most first-time digital camera buyers make is that they get stuck into buying cameras which are beyond their actual needs. Before buying, there are some questions you need to ask yourself:

  • Why do you need the camera for?
  • What kind of photography will you be doing? (portraits, landscapes, macro, sports)
  • What conditions will you be mostly photographing in? (indoors, outdoors, low light, bright light)
  • Will you stay in auto mode or do you wish to learn the art of photography?
  • What experience level do you have with cameras?
  • What type of features are you looking for? (long zoom, image stabilization, large LCD display etc)
  • How important is size and portability to you?
  • What is your budget?

These questions will put you in a much better position when making the decision to buy a pro camera. In many ways, you will find the salesperson asking you the same questions – so, having answered them beforehand will help you and them as well.

2. Megapixels aren’t everything

These days, one of the most prominent features that you will find while selling digital cameras or phone camera’s is how many megapixels a digital camera has.

A few years back, the megapixel rating of cameras was an important feature as most cameras were at the lower end as compared to today’s modern day range and having 1-megapixel increase was quite significant.

However, these days, with most new cameras come with at least 5 megapixels, this feature is not so crucial. In fact, having an upper end of the range can actually be a disadvantage to have images as it occupies an enormous amount of space on memory cards and computers.

So, one important question you need to ask yourself when it comes to megapixels is– ‘Will you print those shots’? If so, then how large they are going to be? If you are printing images at a normal size then anything above 4 megapixels is fine. If you are going to start blowing your images up then you will have to pay the extra money for something at the upper end of what’s on offer today.

3. Keep in mind the ‘extras’

While buying, keep in mind that the price quoted is not the final outlay that you have to make as there are a variety of other extras that you may  need or want to fork out, including:

  • Camera Case
  • Memory Cards
  • Spare Batteries/Recharger
  • Lenses (if you are getting a DSLR)
  • Filters (and other lens attachments)
  • Tripods/Monopods
  • External Flashes
  • Reflectors

Some retailers bundle the above-listed extras with cameras or at least give a discount when purchasing more than one item at once. Know that though what they offer in bundles may not meet your needs. For instance, it’s common to get a 16 or 32-megabyte memory card with cameras but these days you may probably want something at least of 500 megabytes if not a gigabyte or two.

4. Do you already own any potentially compatible gear?

One way to save some cash is to see if you have accessories from your previous digital cameras that are compatible with your new one.

For instance, batteries, memory cards, lenses (keep in mind that most film camera lenses are actually compatible with the digital SLRs from the same manufacturers), flashes, filters etc.

5. DSLR or Point and Shoot?

Even though these days DSLRs are getting more affordable, they are not for everyone. Keep in mind that they are usually heavier, bigger, harder to keep clean and are quite complicated to operate than point and shoot. However, there are also some upsides too.

If you are trying to make a decision, you can consult with this guide: Should you buy a DSLR or a Point and Shoot Digital Camera?

6. Optical Zooms are the King

Keep in mind that not all ‘zooms’ are created equally.

When you look at different models of digital cameras you may often hear their zooms talked about in two different ways. First is the ‘optical zoom’ and the other is ‘digital zoom’.

Experts recommend that you take into consideration the ‘optical zoom’ when deciding which camera to buy. Digital zooms only enlarges the pixels in your shot which makes your subject look bigger, however, it also makes it look more pixelated making your picture ‘noisier’.

And if you are looking for zoom lens, then, make sure it’s an optical zoom ( modern cameras have at least 3x in length – ie they will make your subject three times as big – with an increasing array of ‘super zooms’ coming into the market at up to 12x Optical Zoom).

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7. Read reviews

Before purchasing a digital camera take your time to do a little research. Don’t just rely on the advice of the salesperson.

Get some reviews from the digital camera magazines or online to help you narrow down the area. There are some good websites that give expert and user reviews on every camera available on the market. Make sure to use these free resources while you’re still in time to make the right decision.

8. Hands-On Experience

Now that you have narrowed down your search with the handful of cameras,  you can consider yourself to be well-prepared to head into your local digital camera shop. There is nothing like having a camera in your hands to work out if it suits your needs.

9. Negotiate

After you have selected the best suited digital camera, it’s time to find the best price.

Once again, do some research to find the most competitive prices on the models you are interested in. With these in hand, you will be in a good position to negotiate in person with local stores or with online stores. In general, retail stores negotiate on price and often throw in freebies. Online stores are quite difficult – most bigger ones don’t give you the facility to negotiate however smaller ones does if you email them.

Don’t forget to ask for discounted bonuses including memory cards, camera cases,  extra batteries, filters, free prints, cases etc. Do negotiate from the phone and only then go into a store to pick up the camera once the price is settled.

Read digital camera buying guides if you want to get the right one.

What’s Your Best Suggestion to Give When Buying a Digital Camera?  

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