I remember the first camera I ever picked up weighed as much as a brick. Sure it took great photographs, but it was large and cumbersome. But today, I can find a digital camera as small as the head of a pencil and it probably weighs as much as that too!
The digital revolution has had some great benefits in photography. Big is out and small is in. And small doesn’t necessarily mean sacrificing quality and speed. These days, a compact digital camera can be as small and a deck of playing cards and pack as many features as their bigger and more awkward brothers.
There are many other benefits to a compact digital camera besides just a small size. Price for one. Many good cameras can now be purchased for well under $500. I have even seen some for under $100, but would be skeptical about purchasing one of those if good, quality prints is your aim. Primarily, one should be looking to spend about $300 for something that would rate as decent for snapshots by the “professionals”.
Digital cameras do not use film to capture an image, they use a digital sensor. And sensor resolution seems to be the big selling point with manufacturers these days. Some camera manufacturers are now touting resolution of 21 megapixels . Sound good? Sure, the additional resolutions will make for crisper images, but at what cost. How about file size! You see, the larger the number of pixels in an image the larger the file size. And the larger the file size, the less pictures that you can take on any given memory card as compared to what you can take on that card with smaller file sizes.
Another consideration in digital cameras is their ability to shoot in low light. Some cameras have an ISO factor of 100, which is great to shoot at in daylight, but not at night. ISO 400 is better for lower light situations. There are some cameras that have a range of ISO from 100 to 1600 or more, but at the higher ISO’s something called something called digital noise can be introduced into your photographs (noise can be analogous to grain in film). Noisy photographs can be very distracting.
Zoom features is another feature that many consumers look at. But before you throw down your hard earned money on a camera with a zoom factor of 40x, check to see if that is digital zoom or optical zoom. An optical zoom will actually move the glass to bring you in closer to your subject whereas digital zoom just makes the pixels bigger. The result of digital zoom is an image with a lot of pixelation, and the result is one ugly picture. My recommendation is to compare optical zooms only and if you have a camera with digital zoom turn that feature off.
Best wishes finding that perfect compact digital camera.