I have really enjoyed my point and shoot digital camera and now that Christmas is coming and the goose is getting fat, I’m pleased to
put a penny in the old man’s hat give you a simple guide for buying your first point and shoot digital camera.
I’ll start with some bold, quick statements that are based on my opinion, research, and experience. I’ll then make another list below with defenses to my suggestions. But I want to make a quick and easy guide first. So here goes…
- BRAND: Only consider cameras from Sony, Cannon, or Nikon. Ignore all other brands.
- MEGAPIXEL: Decide how big you want to print your photos. If you can live with 6×10 photo, get a 5 Meg camera. A 6 Meg camera will print a 7×10. Full chart is below.
- ZOOM: Buy a camera with the most amount of OPTICAL zoom you can afford. Ignore DIGITAL zoom. 3x Optical is most common.
That’s it. That’s the list. Following that should help make it easier for you to make a more educated purchase.
Now to defend and go into this a bit more…
- BRAND: Well, I don’t have any experience with anything that isn’t a Cannon, Sony, or Nikon. Mine is Nikon and I love it. I have always heard these are the top three. Everyone I talk to or read from seem to like these the best. Other brands are often cheaper, but I just don’t know. I’d rather stick with a solid company.
- MEGAPIXEL: This is probably the item that confuses most people. Should you get more or less? Megapixels are dots of information. The more you have, the bigger your photo. Here’s a rough estimate chart of how big photos are at each megapixel:
1 Meg = 2×3 print = 1280×960 px
2 Meg = 4×5 print = 1600×1200 px
3 Meg = 5×7 print = 2048×1536 px
4 Meg = 6×7 print = 2272×1704 px
5 Meg = 6×10 print = 3008×1960 px
6 Meg = 7×10 print = 3088×2056 px
7 Meg = 8×10 print = 3072×2304 px
8 Meg = 8×11 print = 3264×2448 px
9 Meg = 9×11 print = 3488×2616 px
10 Meg = 9×13 print = 3872×2592 px
11 Meg = 9×13 print = 4064×2704 px
12 Meg = 9×14 print = 4290×2800 px
13 Meg = 10×15 print = 4368×2912 px
14 Meg = 11×15 print = 4536×3024 px
15 Meg = 11×16 print = 4750×3150 px
16 Meg = 11×16 print = 4920×3264 px
* all conversions are estimates and assume a printer set to 300dpi (dots per inch) or 300ppi (pixels per inch).
Most people look at photos either on their computer or print them. If they are on your own computer (not online), then you only need about 1 or 2 Meg because your monitor is probably at least 1200 pixels wide. If you email them, they can be even smaller.
But most people are concerned about printing photos. This is why I say just decide how big you want to print them. For example, weigh the cost of a 5 Meg camera vs a 6 Meg. It might be $50 more for the extra meg. Is that worth going from a 6×10 to a 7×10 print? Only you can decide how much that is worth to you.
- ZOOM: Well, I said it earlier. The more zoom you can get, the better. It means you can take a quality photo from further away. But digital zoom is worthless. Don’t let anyone sell you on it. And if they say it has x-zoom, find out what portion of that is optical!
- BATTERY and MEMORY: I purposefully left these off the quick list because, let’s face it, if you find a camera that is a good price for the amount of zoom and megapixel you want, the type of memory stick and battery won’t matter much. However, if it comes down to it, ask yourself if you’ll travel much with it. If so, my advice is get a point and shoot that uses regular AA batteries (rechargeable). They don’t last as long as others, but they are cheap and easy to find pretty much anywhere in the world.
- FEEL: This is often overlooked; how does the camera feel in your hands? Let’s face it, if you don’t like the size and feel of it, you will be less motivated to use it. Go to your local stores and just pick up and hold the cameras.
Hopefully this is enough for you to run on. If this has been helpful to you, or you want to comment on my thoughts, please feel free.
BTW, ff you want to change your printer resolution or megapixels and want to know how big you can print, check this calculator (it’s in Spanish, but even Greengos can figure this one out). If you know the pixel dimensions but want to know the file and print size then try this site.
Can you digg it?
UPDATE: Found this little Megapixel test so caveat emptor.