The perfect pick…how to buy a digital camera that suits you

By on October 3, 2006

What do the words mega pixels, optical zoom, ISO, image stabilization and LCD all have in common? They are all part of the digital camera lingo.

As a college student, a digital camera is a great, fun way to capture memories.

“I don’t understand why anyone would not have [a camera]. It’s so easy and convenient,” said Sara Fiore, a senior broadcast journalism major.

Perhaps the answer is because there are many questions to consider before buying a camera. What is important to look for when purchasing the camera? How can one possibly choose between hundreds of devices?

Cameras range from $100 to more than $500. If the price range is set, it targets a group of cameras that will be affordable for the budget.

What type of pictures will the camera be taking? Will it be used for traveling and landscape photography? How about sports and action shots? Or does it just need to fit the simple need of capturing a picture on a day-to-day basis?

“I don’t know that much about cameras, but if it works, that’s good enough,” said Heather D’Amico, a sophomore communications major who has a Canon Power-Shot a520.

What are mega pixels? They determine the cropping flexibility of the picture. The higher the mega pixel number in the camera, the higher quality of the prints once cropped. Figure out what type of photo printing will be used. If the prints are going to be used more frequently or made into larger prints, plan on using a higher amount of mega pixels. Mega pixels range from two to eight and above.

Will the camera be used for taking many close-up shots? Optical zoom captures close-ups without a decrease in the image quality. Go for a powerful optical zoom for taking pictures from a distance, at least a 3x optical zoom level.

Image stabilization is another word for “anti-shake.” It helps to prevent blurred images. This is a helpful feature to look for. The LCD screen is the screen on the camera and can be as large as three inches. The recycling time, or shutter speed, is the time that it takes for the camera to reset between flashing for one photo and the next. A faster recycling time is ideal for taking sports and action shots.

Jason Caplin, a sophomore finance major, recently bought a Canon SD630. “I looked at the screen size, the mega pixels, zoom, camera set up, the size of the camera and the additional features on it,” he said.

What’s next after determining the facts? Shop around! Ask friends for recommendations. Do they like their camera or don’t they? Conduct searches online to begin to compare cameras. Some popular Web sites to try are, and After making comparisons online, be sure to shop in stores to get a feel for them first hand.

What’s one of the most popular camera features for a college student? The size.

“It’s more practical for the camera to be able to fit in my pocket,” Caplin said.

D’Amico agrees. “The smaller the better,” she said.

Some of the most popular brands of cameras include Sony, Canon, Nikon, Kodak, Fuji film, Olympus, Samsung and Hewlett Packard. Sony’s newest camera is the cyber-shot DSC-N2. Its features include 10.1 mega pixels, high shutter speed with a low flash and a 3 inch LCD touch screen. Canon offers its new Power-shot S80, which features 8.0 mega pixels, 2.5 inch LCD screen and 21 shooting modes.

Fiore has a Nikon Coolpix camera and said, “I love it.”

The choices are endless.


About Kristen Perry