By Christina VanGinkel
Shopping for a new digital camera does not have to be as difficult a task as some might think. Depending on what you wish to use the camera for, and what sizes photos you want to be able to print, will largely determine which features you need to look for when shopping. Take into consideration the price of any cameras that you find that you feel fit your needs, and break down the comparison from there.
Be careful of shopping by price alone though, as many retail outlets still offer very low-end digital cameras for nearly the same (and sometimes even more!) price as cameras with many more features. Be prepared to do a line-by-line comparison when shopping, and if there is a term you do not understand, find out if it will be of major relevance to the product.
For example, a zoom is not always a zoom. Digital and optic zoom are two very different features. Digital zoom is a term that means nothing more than a fancy way to say it crops the photo. Optic zoom uses the lens to in effect, bring the subjects in the viewfinder closer. A picture printed from an optic zoom will be clearer than the same picture zoomed in with a digital zoom.
Consider how big of a memory card is bundled with the camera. Two cameras, each with the same features, except one has a 16MB card and the other comes packaged with a 256MB card is a drastically different value. The 16MB card is only going to hold a couple of pictures at best, and you will soon be doling out extra dollars for a bigger card.
What type of batteries does each camera need? Can they be recharged, or do you need to buy the battery separate? A battery, depending on the type, can be a significant additional cost. Some digital cameras use regular alkaline batteries, which may need to be replaced quite often, while others may use lithium, or other type of rechargeable. Consider the additional cost when factoring in whether one camera is a good buy over another.
If you will be using your camera extensively in conjunction with your computer, consider what software is included with different brands. Are the programs offered full version or SE? Are all the cables for the camera to work with your computer included, and is it compatible with your computer? Does the camera come bundled with special options, such as a printer? If it does, is this something you really need or want?
Not as important, but still to be given thought, is if the camera comes with a case or tripod. While neither of these additions will break the bank, especially if you purchase basic, cost saving ones, some camera retailers may offer add-ons like these free just for ordering, so be sure to check with more than one outlet or store once you have decided on an actual camera.
Remember that comparison-shopping when purchasing your next digital camera will assure you the best deal for the least dollars, and that an informed shopper is a happy shopper.