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Buying a Digital Camera

Category Electronics
Couple Buying a Digital Camera
Finding the best camera for your needs will take some research. This guide is about buying a digital camera.
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Kelly Ann Butterbaugh0 found this helpful
May 16, 2008

What's so great about a digital camera? I let that question hang as an excuse to stay with my film camera for three years now. In reality, I was too cheap to invest in a new camera. Yet, when my work and my love for snapping pictures made me re-evaluate the investment I learned that digital cameras can actually save you money.
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Film

Film isn't cheap, and anyone who's snapped their way through twenty rolls of film while on vacation knows that. My best bargain was $1.75 per roll if I used a coupon. (However, I did find that offers on eBay often can snag rolls for $1 a piece if you're lucky.) On the average vacation, I bring home twenty rolls of film. (I'm clearly not the average vacationer.) That's a minimal of $35 in film costs alone. If I use fifty rolls of film a year, by investing in a digital camera I will save $88.

Processing

Film processing is another heavy investment when you're bringing home twenty rolls of film. I never pay for the one-hour developing; it's too expensive. Sending it out through our local wholesale club costs $3.50. Yet, that brings a bill of $70 for my twenty roll trip. Film processing isn't avoided by digital cameras, however; most people prefer to have real prints. The idea of printing at home is convenient, but with an average cost of $2 per 8x10 print, it's not the cheapest option.

I did find two savings in digital processing. One is that by seeing the pictures before I process them, I can decide to print only those which I love. With a digital camera I know which pictures are worth saving. In reality, out of the 480 pictures on my twenty rolls of film, only 260 are really great. The other savings I found are that digital prints are sometimes cheaper than film prints. With pharmacies advertising sales of $.09 a print, I can't process film for that price. The low end price of a digital print fall at $.012 while the low end price of a film print figures to be $.015. That saves $14.40 if I develop all 480 pictures.

Instant Gratification

Okay, let's be realistic for a moment. I love to save pennies wherever I can, but I also love seeing my pictures the minute I return from a trip. At what point is this instant satisfaction and ability to share pictures on the internet worth the cost of the camera? You know in a second if you caught Tommy blowing out his birthday candles, and you can see if Grandpa blinked during the family portrait.
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The Camera

I'll be honest; digital cameras aren't cheap. In fact, they're twice as expensive as film cameras. However, the savings in film alone may justify your camera in a few years depending on your model. For some people, the film cameras will always be their choice of preservation; yet, for film wasters like me I can save money in the long run by going digital.

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Warren Lynch0 found this helpful
July 1, 2005

The most important part of buying a digital camera is making sure that the one you select meets all of your needs.

Digital Camera 101

Better digital cameras uses a chip called a "Charged Coupled Device" (CCD) instead of film. Light enters the camera, through the open shutter, and strikes the CCD where it is converted to digital data before being stored in the camera's memory.

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While that is the simple description, things can get pretty complicated from there.

Megapixels & Resolution

Resolution is a measure of how many pixels are used to make a digital copy of an image. Pixels are tiny dots of light that make up a digital image.

The quality of a digital camera's image is usually measured in 'Megapixels' where each megapixel represents one million pixels.

Here's how to determine how many megapixels you'll need depending upon the type of photos you will be taking and what you intend to do with them.

1 megapixel

Almost obsolete, you might still find these in cell phones, PDAs, and desktop "web" cameras. They're OK if you only intend to email pictures to other people and those people aren't going to be printing them.

1.1 to 2 megapixels

Only slightly better than the 1.0, this resolution is OK for an average 4x6 snapshot, but it isn't going to be a production quality image.

2.1 to 3 megapixels

This is the beginning of the decent camera range. You get very good 4x6 images and reasonably good 5x7 images. These cameras are low cost and provide a good platform for beginners.

3.1 to 4 megapixels

You are qualified to say that you have a "pretty good" camera. You get professional quality 4x6 images, real good 5x7 and 6x9 shots, and somewhat decent, but not great 8x10 images.

4.1 to 5 megapixels and up

People will be saying "Hey, great pictures!". You can count on professional images all the way up to 8x10's. Of course, as the megapixel count goes up, so does the price.

If you are only going to be viewing your pictures online, such as posting them at a photo site or using them on your web pages, keep your money in your pocket and pick yourself up something in the 1.5 megapixel range.

If you will be shooting pictures that will be printed at a print house, such as for brochures, postcards, etc, then you will need at least a 5 megapixel camera if not higher. Of course, you'll also need to have a fat wallet or a lot of open to buy on your credit card because, even thought prices are steadily falling, these puppies aren't cheap!

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Once you've solved the megapixel puzzle, the rest of a digital camera's features, such as lens types, storage capacity and shutter speed are pretty routine and easy to understand. You shouldn't have a problem deciding on those features.

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Anna Lim0 found this helpful
December 9, 2004

Sony Electronics, Inc. continues to dominate the digital camera industry. With its wide range of digital cameras, here comes the latest addition to its roster of amazing models, the Sony DSC-V3 Digital Camera which is so far one of the best 7.2 megapixel cameras in the market.

With Sony DSC-V3 Digital Camera, your pictures will have extreme sharpness, outstanding details, and more saturated colors. Even though it doesn't have the highest resolution, it produces sharp and clear images. Its great features include constant auto focus mode, faster write time to memory stick, better red eye reduction and night shot/night framing (nightvision), dual media (memory sticks and compact flash type), large 2.5" LCD screen, CF support, great 30 fps video 640x480 and focusing in low or no light at all, and better battery life (183 minutes fully charged) which is close to 370 shots.

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The basic features of the playback mode of the Sony DSC-V3 Digital Camera include slide shows, DPOF print marking, image protection, thumbnail mode, and "zoom & scroll". You can move from one photo to the next without delay. Some of the more advanced playback features include: resize - you can change the size of an image without the original image being deleted, rotate, divide - you can cut sections of movies, and trim - you can do this when you zoom an image. It also has a top-notch movie mode.

The MPEG Movie VX Fine mode takes VGA resolution video (640 x 480) at 30 frames/sec, until the memory card is full. The sound is also recorded very well. It also allows direct printing to compatible photo printers.

The new Sony DSC-V3 Digital Camera is a very attractive and forceful addition to the high-end digital camera world. Aside from being too responsive in terms of both shutter lag and shot to shot cycle times, image quality is good and sharp from corner to corner. Really cool, there is an auto-balance and a visual of the levels of your picture as you are previewing it. Another bonus is that it has a rechargeable battery.

If you strictly want a point and shoot camera, the Sony DSC-V3 Digital Camera is not for you. But more than that, this camera is the perfect choice. You'll surely love it while learning a little about photography. With its great features, it'll never be outdated anytime soon. It may be a little bit expensive but it's definitely worth it if you'll just unlock the amazing features of this awesome product.

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Questions

Ask a QuestionHere are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community or ask a new question.

By 0 found this helpful
February 22, 2007

I would like to buy an inexpensive used digital camera on eBay. I intend to use it to photograph items I'm selling on eBay. Do you have a camera (manufacturer and model, please) that you'd recommend? It's fine if it's a few years old, of course!

By Liz from Maryland

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February 23, 20070 found this helpful

I used to have an Olympus C-740 that I absolutely loved and was always getting compliments on the resulting pictures. I gave it to my mom and sometimes I wish I hadn't! Great camera. It was 'only' a 3 MP camera, but if you are just taking pics for eBay, it doesn't really matter. I think the whole megapixel count is a bit overrated, anyway.

Canon is most likely a safe choice as well. My better half still uses our Canon A10- a 1.2MP camera! He likes it because it's easy and durable, though a later model with more megapixels would be better for you.

The problem with Olympus and Fuji is that they take xD cards, which tend to be expensive. If you went that route, a card included in the auction would be nice!

Not that I'm too keen on the eBay idea...it's too easy to get carried away and bid too much! I'd certainly compare the prices online first, not too mention check out the clearance sections of stores near you. I recently bought another Olympus (an FE-something or other....4MP) at Sears brand new for $34!!! You can also keep an eye on the Slickdeals.net forums for good camera deals.

Oh, whatever you decide, just be cautious of camera makers (I think Sony is one) that use only proprietary batteries. I like Olympus and Canon because you can usually use rechargeable AA's in them. (I say 'usually' because my experience is limited to the camera's I've owned).

Good luck!

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February 23, 20070 found this helpful

wow please make sure you read the ad before you buy don't get me wrong i buy off of ebay and i'm not putting it down but once you buy it your usually stuck with it and this is electronic so my advice would be to check thrift stores or big lots or the local paper so if it doesn't work you have some recourse and you can get your money back or check it out before you buy.

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By guest (Guest Post)
February 23, 20070 found this helpful

Hi,

My camera is a Concord 4 mp # 4363z I've been very happy with it. It cost $99. two years ago. It has features that many more expensive cameras have. It has a setting for close picture taking also, that would be very important for selling on Ebay.

I bought a recharging system and use AA batteries in it. You can also use regular AA batteries, but they don't last long.

I could not imagine using a docking system. Extra batteries can go with you.

If anything happened to mine, I would not hesitate to buy the same camera.

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February 23, 20070 found this helpful

I am still using the Sony Mavica 73 that I bought in 1999 and used when I was an eBay seller. I love it. It has 10X Zoom which allows you to take very close-up pictures for eBay items when necessary. I could take pictures of the engravings inside a ring with this camera. This camera is no longer manufactured, but is still available.Amazon currently has 11 listed...the lowest price being $94.00. Mine was $399 new in '99. It does take a special rechargeable battery, but I have only replaced my battery once in 8 years. I still use it a lot to take pictures for the craft patterns, etc that I post on Thrifty Fun, and also to take pictures of my yard art. Another feature that I like about this camera is that instead of a memory stick it uses floppy disks to record the photos. You just insert your floppy into your computer and copy your pictures or print, whichever you like. I am making up a catalog of my yard art, and I can take the pictures with my Sony mavica, copy them from the floppy to my hard drive, upload them to Walgreen's to have 4 x 6 prints made,and pick them up an hour later for 19 cents a print. My husband also has a Sony. His is a model FD-95 and takes great pictures also using a floppy.

Harlean from Arkansas

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By guest (Guest Post)
February 25, 20070 found this helpful

Sorry, but I won't recomend buying a camera from ebay unless it is returnable. My sister bought a film camera and used it to take pictures when I had my baby. Nothing came out and she was stuck with the camera. There was something wrong with the shutter.

If you watch for deals--you can buy inexpensive cameras--sometimes coming with a memory chip and you have the chance to use it and be able to take it back if a problem arises.

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By guest (Guest Post)
March 1, 20070 found this helpful

Ditto on ebay, unless you have done some business with a dealer you can trust.

I have a 4.0 Kodak easy share that I really like. I bought mine at a discount store for 149.00. I wanted one for my grand daughter, so I went to

www.prestigecamera.com and got a 3.0 for her, it was used, but in wonderful condition for 35.00. I was really happy with it, and she thinks it is great. This company has a good reputation, and a return policy as well as a repair dept. Good luck.

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March 2, 20070 found this helpful

LIZ, I gave you the wrong website for a used camera, sorry, it is KEH.COM This is where I had such good luck with the used Kodak.

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March 15, 20070 found this helpful

I think my post was misunderstood. I did not buy my camera on eBay. I bought it from BestBuy, an electronics store with a local store. I used it to take the pictures of items that I sold on eBay. I do not trust ebay sellers of electronic and computer related products, either. Have seen too many accounts of people who were cheated to the tune of big $$$$'s

Harlean from Arkansas

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By 0 found this helpful
July 20, 2010

I am currently in search of a digital camera. My budget is $250, though I want a quality camera. I do not need any special features. I just want a good easy to use camera, and would prefer one with a large screen to view pictures. If you have a camera that would work with my suggestions, please tell me the name, the brand, and where you purchased it. Thank you very much!

By Cara from Firefield, USA

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By 0 found this helpful
June 15, 2009

How do I choose the best digital camera, without spending a fortune on it? I want clear pictures and also as much zoom as possible.

By Cricketnc from Parkton, NC

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Answers

June 16, 20090 found this helpful

I would go to a camera store and see if they have any preowned cameras they may have taken in on trade. Also look for people wanting to sell their camera. A lot of cities have books for sale that advertise used goods for sale. I have bought several digital kodak cameras because for what I use a camera for they deliver very good pics. Two thing you should keep in mind. Buy a camera with the most pixels and camers usually come with optical and/or digital zoom lens. Forget the digital. The important zoom lens is the optical one.

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June 16, 20090 found this helpful

I was going to post the same thing as foxrun about the zoom. Spend your money of the best optical zoom you can afford. My digital cameral is around 10 years old, and I've used the digital zoom only a couple of times. It reduces the quality of the image -- makes it look pixelated.

Good luck - hope you love your new camera!

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June 16, 20090 found this helpful

A magazine entitled Consumer Reports can be found at a public library.

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July 1, 20050 found this helpful

Tips to help you when buying a digital camera. Post your ideas.

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July 1, 20050 found this helpful

Digital cameras prices are coming down in price, but you still need to shop around, and that's easy to do on the internet. I personally like Staples because they have the instant, on-the-spot rebates. But they are just one place. Just SHOP AROUND, 'CAUSE PRICES ARE COMING DOWN.

By Ardis Barnes

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July 1, 20050 found this helpful

If you'd like to sell jewelry on ebay, I have been told that it takes 10x optical, minimum 3 megapixels to capture the finer detail. I don't own a digital yet, because I am waiting for prices to drop. At the time of the inquiry at a professional camera shop, 4 MP were the maximum and the cost was over $1,000. Prices have since come down substantially and I am wondering if the 10x optical has been reduced in favor of a higher MP.

I have read that the higher MP's are just regular MP's made smaller, and less useful. That a 3 MP with standard sized MP's, is more useful than something with many more MP's that are less than standard size. How you would find this out, I haven't the least idea, but it bears thinking about.

I know that the digital power of a camera is less impressive than the optical power. Digital zoom just means enlarged (which becomes fuzzy when a larger picture is made) and optical means better focusing. So buy the most optical zoom you can afford and ignore the digital.

By Holly

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By guest (Guest Post)
July 6, 20050 found this helpful

"I have read that the higher MP's are just regular MP's made smaller, and less useful. That a 3 MP with standard sized MP's, is more useful than something with many more MP's that are less than standard size."

MP = megapixels. mega = 1 million

Every megapixel is 1 million pixels, no more, no less.

Like a kilometer is always 1000 meters, since kilo = 1,000.

There's no such thing as different size megapixels. Every megapixel is 1 million pixels.

If there were such a thing as different size megapixels, I doubt anybody would pay those high prices for cameras that have lots of megapixels, and reviews for those cameras in magazines like PC Magazine and Consumer Reports would not report that they made good quality enlargements.

Does thriftyfun not verify any of the information that it puts in its newsletter? I had come to trust this site as a source of good advice for saving money. I guess I will just have to research things on my own.

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July 6, 20050 found this helpful

"I have read that the higher MP's are just regular MP's made smaller, and less useful. That a 3 MP with standard sized MP's, is more useful than something with many more MP's that are less than standard size."

=============

I read this somewhere in a magazine that was discussing the new digital cameras. I didn't make it up. It was quite a surprise to me as I figured a mega pixel was just what it was called, and not a stretched out version of itself.

And yes, you will have to verify everything you read on the internet. Some info is placed so as to be purposefully misleading and other info may be accidentally misleading. Some can just be misinformation and other, the actual facts.

You have to be your own judge about everything you read.

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July 6, 20050 found this helpful

http://www.phot  ital/sensorsize/

Nice article about pixels and sensors.

-------------

http://www.ptec  tal-cameras.html

This article talked about shrinking pixel size and offering more.

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By 0 found this helpful
July 25, 2005

This weekend I saw an advertisement for a Bell and Howell digital camera with 10 megapixels. The asking price was $200 and I just had to read about it.

The ad said that the 10 megapixels were due to interpolation. I don't know what that means, but I do know a 'buyer beware' when I see one. Sounds like the 10 MP's were really something else.

Holly

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July 25, 20050 found this helpful

Holly, I looked the word up on http://dictionary.reference.com/ and when I apply it to a commercial, it sounds like a lot of double talk....lol

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July 25, 20050 found this helpful

Interpolation is basically a way to guesstimate the value of something, based on what is around it. In the case of digital camera images, the camera actually sees and remembers a "holey" image, and then fills in the holes based on the colors around the holes. As a very simple example, say you have a hole, with a white pixel on one side and a red pixel on the other side. The camera's processor would fill in the gap with pink. If one side were blue and the other side green, the hole would be filled in with blue-green.

What you end up with is a 10MP picture, but only a certain number of those pixels are originals that the camera actually saw. The others are the filled-in holes. For the best quality image, the greater the percentage of "original" pixels, the better.

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July 25, 20050 found this helpful

How do you figure how many non-interpolated pixels it really has?

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By guest (Guest Post)
July 25, 20050 found this helpful

I found two resources...I did a search at google.com

Interpolated - Software programs can enlarge image resolution beyond the actual resolution by adding extra pixels using complex mathematic calculations.

THe second resource is here:

http://www.dire  kob_Jelling.html

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By 0 found this helpful
March 21, 2012

I need a new camera and don't want one with a lot of bells and whistles as I am not very good in this area.

By Ruthie

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