Choosing a digital camera chart

Confused?Buying a digital camera can be confusing, but it doesn’t have to be. There are so many models from which to select, from ultra compact to Interchangeable Lens Cameras that come in various sizes, shapes and weight.

This at-a-glance chart can help make it easier for you to determine what type of camera is best for you, which features may matter to you and how much you can expect to pay. We also offer suggested accessories based on your shooting style.

Shop for digital cameras at Amazon by Brand, Megapixels, Optical Zoom and Display size.

BEGINNER INTERMEDIATE ADVANCED
Your Style Snapshooter/Casual shooter – does not want to fuss a lot Enjoys taking and tweaking photos; take a lot of photos Passionate about photography; want highest quality images
Camera Point-and-shoot Premium compact or SLR-like DSLR or Mirrorless canera
Camera cost Under $200 $250 – $500 $450 – thousands
Features
  • 5-6 megapixels
  • Optical zoom
  • Fully automatic exposure
  • Scene modes
  • Face recognition
  • PictBridge compatible
  • Optional camera dock to transfer, save & print photos at a touch of a button. Charges the camera battery.
  • 6-8 megapixels
  • Optical zoom
  • Semi-automatic and/or manual controls
  • Scene modes
  • Adjustable settings such as ISO, white balance, exposure compensation
  • Advanced face-recognition
  • Some cameras have a larger CCD sensor or back-illumined CMOS sensor that provides better high ISO performance.
  • 10+ megapixels
  • Shoots JPEG, RAW
  • Semi-automatic and full manual control
  • Variety of exposure and focus modes
  • More precise and faster focusing than compacts
  • Flash compensation
  • Save custom settings
  • Hot shoe for external flash
Pros & Cons
  • Lightweight, compact
  • Easier to use
  • Do best in bright light; not so hot in low light
  • Noise at higher ISO numbers
  • Advanced features
  • Have some of the features and performance of DSLRs
  • Some accept a variety of accessories and converter lenses
  • Depending on sensor type and size and lens speed, may produce unacceptable noise at higher ISO numbers.
  • Range of built-in lens can not be changed without converter lens
  • Higher learning curve than most compacts
  • A variety of lens types and focal lengths. Pro quality lenses are expensive.
  • Outstanding low light performance using high ISO
  • Some are bulky to carry
Extras
  • 1 GB+ memory card; check camera specifications for maximum card size.
  • Memory card reader
  • If battery is proprietary, one may suffice until it completely wears out; must be special ordered.
  • Non-proprietary (eg. AA) batteries are readily available.
  • Camera case
  • 2 GB+ memory card; check camera specifications for maximum card size.
  • Memory card reader
  • Extra batteries
  • Converter lenses and adapter if you want a wider or longer focal range
  • Tripod or mini-tripod
  • Mid-sized camera bag
  • High capacity, high speed memory cards
  • Memory card reader
  • Extra batteries
  • External flash
  • Filters
  • Quality-built tripod
  • Portable backup drive
  • Large camera bag
Photo editing software
  • Program that came with your camera
  • Free photo editing & organizing program such as Picasa.
  • PaintShop Photo Express
  • Photoshop Elements
  • PaintShop Pro
  • Photo Impact
  • PhotoFiltre Studio
  • Photoshop CS
  • Photoshop Lightroom
  • Fireworks
  • GIMP (free)
Printing & sharing
  • PictBridge compatible printer or dedicated 4×6″ photo printer
  • Free photo hosting such as Picasa Web Albums or Facebook
  • Photo quality printer with at least five ink cartridges
  • Photo hosting such as Flickr
  • Photo printer that takes six or more ink cartridges; for large prints, consider a wide format printer
  • Photo hosting such as Pbase

Top Selling Compact Digital Cameras

Top Selling Digital SLRs

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7 Responses

  1. John says:

    Gail thanks for the response, I recently purchased a book that is specifically for my t2i and your blogs actually helped me out so thank you for the help.

  2. Gail Bjork says:

    John, Canon has excellent, easy-to-follow tutorial about learning how to use a DSLR. I think you’d find it very helpful. I think it would be a good place to start. While a DSLR is unique in many respects, it also has much in common with all other cameras such as Exposure Compensation, White Balance, etc. We have lots of basic information about using a DSLR, types of DSLR lenses and their uses, useful accessories, etc. throughout the site. Just use the search feature to search for a topic (eg. type in DLSR, or DSLR lens). Take it slow as you learn, take plenty of test photos and enjoy. btw, though my dslr is a couple of years old, it’s one of the predecessors to your 2ti. Check out my blog posts about the Canon XSi. I’m sure some of the user info, tips and suggestions will be very helpful about the camera itself, and some of the kit-type lenses I use with it.

  3. John says:

    Hi Gail you seem to know your stuff on cameras. I recently bought a cannon 2ti rebel. I love it so far but I’m a novice at photography right now, and was wondering if you knew about any online tutorials that could enlarge my knowledge on the whole subject thanks.

  4. Gail Bjork says:

    Chris, some may fit the same brand camera as your 35mm model, however you should call Tamarak to make sure. Here’s why: older lenses will not always work with newer cameras because manufacturers sometimes change the way autofocus is driven, aperture is controlled, etc. They sometimes change the whole lens-to-camera connection.

  5. Chris says:

    I have a 35mm camera, and I would like to purchase a digital camera that I can use the same lenses on. The lenses ate Tamarak? or something like that. Are all lenses compatible with all cameras? Thanks, Chris

  6. Gail Bjork says:

    I personally don’t think HD video recording is a “must have,” however many like this feature. Here is some information about HD video recording on DSLRs. One of the biggest drawbacks currently is that you must focus manually, on DSLRs and most compact digital cameras. Some superzooms, such those made by Canon, focus automatically during video recording. Most will let you zoom with the digital zoom, but the quality may be significantly reduced. If you’re not in a rush for a digicam with HD video, you may want to wait another generation for the technology to mature.

  7. Anmit says:

    What about HD video recording as an option with digital cameras, is it a must have? What is the impact on video recording quality with Standard movie recording vs HD movie recording features?
    Cheers