If you're looking to improve your photography skills, the first step should be to find a digital camera that's a step up from your smartphone. On the low end of the digital camera spectrum you'll find the point-and-shoot — a compact camera designed for the amateur photographer who just wants to point and shoot — and at the high end you'll find DSLRs — a digital single-lens reflex camera which combines a traditional high-end camera lens with a digital camera sensor instead of using film.
Unfortunately the camera that's best for you depends on how you plan on using the camera, so it's not as simple as pointing out a single model number — and with new cameras being released all the time, even knowing a model number might not help you find the right camera. So instead of pointing you at model numbers, we're going to walk you through the camera features — and tech jargon — you need to know to pick out the right camera for you.
This is top of the list because it's perhaps the most important part of finding the right camera. If you want a camera that will easily fit into a pocket or purse, you'll need a smaller model without a bulky lens. If you don't mind carrying around a large camera to snap the best pictures, then size may have no relevance at all. But remember, a camera you leave behind because it's too bulky to carry with you won't help you get better photos.
Picture quality is judged, to an extent, by megapixels. More megapixels means more pixels in your photo which means larger, more detailed photos. However, it's important to know that the number of megapixels isn't everything and even lower megapixel cameras can snap great pictures.
The larger a camera's sensor, the more light it can let in when you snap a photo — which results in higher quality images. Compact cameras (and smartphones) typically have small sensors, which can mean low image quality even when they have plenty of megapixels. If you want better photos, you'll probably be better off getting a camera with a larger sensor than a larger number of megapixels.
If you want to photograph things that aren't directly in front of you, you'll need some kind of zoom capability. Small cameras typically have digital zoom, while cameras with larger lenses will have an optical zoom — and while advertisements might boast of high zoom ratios, what you want is high optical zoom for taking photos at a distant. If zoom is important to you, be sure to look for optical zoom.
We hope this brief lesson on camera jargon has helped you better understand your digital camera options. Armed with this knowledge, you should be able to able to browse cameras on offer and easily tell which ones are and which ones aren’t a good match for your needs — so go out there and find your perfect camera!
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