A digicam is a camera that stores images digitally. Basically, every camera we see on the market today is a digicam, because the film era has come to an end for some time now. The greatest advantage of digital cameras is that it shoots pictures in an inexpensive way. You don’t need to worry about buying a roll of film every time you want to use it, and you can also skip the developing process. It also works a lot faster, because there’s no film processing.
Now, although a digicam covers a wide spectrum, the term is usually used to describe compact, point-and-shoot cameras. This means that digital single-lens reflex cameras (DSLRs) fall into a category of their own. We’ll go through the differences to help you choose the ideal option.
When going about buying a digital camera, you must understand some basic terms:
A pixel is a physical point in a raster image. Digital pictures are composed of these small squares. When you zoom in on an image, you will notice the countless pixels that make up your photographs. Camera manufacturers categorize their products in terms of pixel count. The merrier, the better.
Nowadays, most digital cameras come with a decent pixel count, so it’s not that crucial.
The size of the digital sensor is pretty small in digicams. For a given pixel count, the bigger the sensor, the better image quality it can provide. This also means a small level of noise. While the number of megapixels is less important, the size of the sensor does count!
The sensor size determines how much light is used to create the photograph. The sensor consists of millions of photosites that record data about what is framed through the lens. Therefore, it is only logical that a larger sensor can capture more information, thus producing better pictures.
Most digicams have both optical and digital zoom. With optical zoom, the lenses change focal lengths and magnification. This type of zoom only crops the frames to a smaller size. With digital zoom, we see a loss of image quality. It practically takes a central area of the frame and enlarges it. The camera thus crops that portion of the image and brings it back to the initial size.
Therefore, always use optical zoom and choose a camera that allows you to disable digital zoom.
Manual mode is an important feature because it allows photographers to take full control over the camera settings. Some prefer to shoot in the automatic mode and let the camera select the aperture, ISO, and shutter speed. However, some circumstances call for personalized settings and it’s best you take matters into your own hands. In manual mode, users get to select the three figures themselves, giving them the maximum control over how the photograph comes out.
Buying a Digicam
Some people choose to invest a great amount of money in a camera that they most likely won’t get to use all that much. Before going shopping, ask yourself what do you need a camera for and how often are you planning on using it. The experience level is also important. If you are not determined to go into the depths of photography, a digicam may be what you need. However, it could also be a good starting point for any aspiring amateur. But there are also other key points you must go over.
Depending on what you are planning to do with your camera, you can also check the materials it is built of. If you’re planning to take it with you on a more active holiday or somewhere with an extreme climate, go for a rugged one. Some cameras are made of sturdy magnesium alloy and provide weather sealing.
3. File format
Most people will shoot in JPEG format. However, it is not exactly the ideal file format you should go for. Look for a camera that has the capability to save the images in RAW format. The difference lies in the fact that the RAW format can record all photo information captured by the sensor. This allows for extra flexibility when opening your picture in a post-processing software for editing.
While few compact cameras compact cameras have other options than the standard JPEG, see what you can find and don’t limit yourself to the JPEG format.
The camera alone may not meet all your needs in the long run. Think about the extra gear you will need. Do you already have compatible accessories? If not, start saving up some cash. The basics are memory card, batteries, a camera bag or a backpack, lenses (if you plan on buying a mirrorless camera), tripod, and reflectors.
5. Try, then buy
Although online shopping is less time-consuming and a more comfortable alternative, hit the local electronics store and test your device of choice . Make sure it has the size you’re looking for, that it feels comfortable in your hand, and that it has a comprehensible menu. You can also shoot a few frames and see if you’re OK with the image quality.
Digicams vs. DSLRs
One of the main differences between digicams and DSLRs is the way we view the frame. Digicams use an LCD or an electronic viewfinder. DSLRs, however, have the unique optical viewfinder. Due to the reflex mirror in the SLR’s built, what you see is what you get, and this is where they shine.
And then there’s the image quality. While megapixels are not everything, and you may find plenty of compact cameras with a large pixel count, SLRs still deliver the best quality. It all lies in the larger size of the image sensor. With SLRs, you also get a large ISO range that allows you to take pictures in difficult conditions without jeopardizing the image quality. However, it all depends on what you are trying to accomplish with your camera. A point-and-shoot might be just the thing.
We think one of the biggest strengths a compact camera has to offer is the smaller package. Sometimes, having the ability to just slip your camera into your pocket is crucial. Today’s cameras are slim and light, making them great for parties, other social situations, or even travel. DSLRs are heavier and sizeable, a factor that may limit their usability.