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Nov 10

A shot at an age old question II: camera boogaloo

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Finally, a camera for everyone.

After hours of painstaking research, sleepless nights, and reading through blog posts you’ve made your decision.

You’re getting a digital camera.

Of course, now that you’ve made your decision, there’s another one: which camera do you get? Do you go for the amazingly cool dSLR camera with the interchangeable lens and the fast shutter speed? Or that point-and-shoot camera that has the really long zoom and ultra-thin body? What brand? Do I need OIS or EIS or TIS? What’s the difference between auto-smart and super-intelligent mode? WHAT COLOR DO I GET?


Take a deep breath, and we’ll take a look at some questions that may help you get a better bearing on where this is going.

We’ll be covering some familiar ground – you asked these questions when you were trying to decide between your camera and camcorder, but we’ll look at them through a different lens . . . view . . . we’ll look at them in a different way.

Where do you shoot?

If you’re mostly roughing it when you take photos, you might take a look at a durable camera that can stand being dropped, kicked, or getting wet. If it’s largely in your home or on a light vacation, you can probably get away with nearly anything.

What do you shoot?

While most cameras have a pretty good variety of scene modes for any situation, if you find yourself shooting in low light quite a bit, you’ll want to take a good look at the aperture of any camera. A high aperture means that it’s going to be able to take better pictures without a lot of light. If you mostly take photos of things that are far away (wildlife, your kids in sports, your murderous neighbors after breaking your leg), then looking for a camera with a long zoom range is best.

A quick word of caution on relying strictly on the marks of “35x” or “15x” – this refers to a division of the highest possible millimeter zoom to the lowest possible. While you can usually rest assured that you’ll be able to get close shots with a high number, you’ll want to take a look at the lower end of the number to make sure that you’re getting something with a wide angle lens, the lower the number, the wider the range.

How do you carry your camera?

Once again, the transport question. If you find yourself out in the wilderness (whether it’s trees or buildings), a DSLR camera may ensure you get amazing shots, but if you can’t stand the idea of lugging around multiple lenses, you’ll find it gets left stowed more often than not.

How good do the shots need to be?

There’s a lot of talk about high definition that gets mixed up into cameras a bit too often for most people’s liking. Pretty much any camera you’ll find (and I can say with 100% certainty that any camera you’ll find at Vann’s) is better than high definition. Your 1080p television is a 2-megapixel device.

I’ll let that sink in for a second.

It’s good to consider how you’re going to use your photos: if you’re mostly going to be sharing them via the web, or displaying them on your television, you’ll still want a decent amount of resolution, but may not absolutely NEED the 35-megapixel camera. If you’re mostly going with prints – well, you still don’t need 35-megapixels, but that 10- or 12-megapixel camera may not be quite as much overkill as before. This doesn’t take into account things like lens quality (which is variable, and often tied to price), or subject, but it’s a good starting point.

What looks good?

This is a question a lot of people ignore, but it’s still a key question to ask yourself. No, you’re not being shallow, just realistic: if you hate the way your camera looks, you’ll never use it. And I can guarantee that the camera you pass on won’t have its feelings hurt (it’s a camera).

These questions will help you significantly narrow the field when it comes to camera buying, and in a field where there are literally hundreds of cameras to choose from (we have about 245 options right now), narrowing is the best thing you can do.

What are your favorite camera picks and questions?

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