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Suggestions about digital cameras

I need to buy a digital camera, which kind of camera should I buy? The purpose of this article is to give some basic suggestions about the evaluation and the use of digital cameras. The considerations here reported are not absolute, they come from my experience and reflect my personal opinion; please feel free to read and compare this article with other similar to create your own personal point of view.

Analogic vs digital cameras

Despite today digital cameras are really trendy, there are still good reasons to buy classic cameras. Classic cameras are based on a well established technology; mechanics is generally robust and reliable, film sensibility is high (ISO 400 and more) and battery consumption is normally limited (flash). The ratio price/performance of this kind of cameras is excellent.
Differently, digital camera technology is still under development, electronics and especially micro hard disks are sensible to humidity and to shocks. Complex features like anti-vibration risk to decrease the overall camera reliability. Digital cameras, like laptops, suffer high energy consumption: at least a spare battery set and the battery charger are essential. I fell that, even if the price of digital cameras is dropping, today these cameras are still "expensive" compared to the classic ones.

Digital cameras features

There are at least three big advantages using a digital camera; you can immediately see the photo you have done, you print only the photos you like, you can share easily the photos through email/internet. It is exciting to shoot many photos regardless about the development costs.
It is necessary to use some attentions while using a digital camera. Digital cameras are not quick like classic ones (with the exception of SLR's); normally the time delay between the pressure of the bottom and the shoot of the photo is noticeably long. As a result, it is really difficult to immortalize subjects moving fast; normally the "quick shoot" option gives poor results.
The equivalent film sensibility of digital cameras is normally low (with the exception of SLR's), ISO 50 or 100; this kind of cameras normally has problems to focus under low lightening conditions. The amount of light that enters into a camera depends on the size of the objective; as a consequence, from this point of view, the really compact digital cameras, theoretically cannot reach the performance of the bigger digital brothers.
I don't like digital zoom; digital zoom, unlike optical zoom, generates low resolution photos. When a camera, using its lenses (optical zoom), is not able to provide further details of an image, it enlarges the details stretching digitally the photo (digital zoom).


Optical zoom allows to broad the possible range of photos. It is not always convenient to buy a camera having an high optical zoom; zoom, for geometry reasons, reduces the quantity of light that enters into the camera, in addition, zoom forces lenses to work far from their optimal area. Both these factors affect the overall image quality of the photo.
I have noticed that digital cameras create beautiful portrait and macro photos; I tried several times, but I was never able to shoot a landscape photo where the profile of the mountain was sharp. Barrel distortion is a typical defect of digital images.
Theoretically it is possible to print large photos (A4 format) only if the source image is big (5-10 Mega pixel), in practice people seldom need to make large prints. The ink of the home printers is really expensive, I suggest to print photos in the shops, the result is absolutely professional. Print costs can be moderated printing only a selection of the best photos.
Which digital camera should I buy? Performance, size, weight and cost are relevant aspects. It took me more than three months to choose a digital camera. The problem is that on the net there are many cameras reviews each giving different advices. In addition, because new cameras offer plenty of different features, the comparison is difficult. Finally I have chosen to trust only my eyes, I have compared the sample photos of each camera. If you visit steves-digicams you can find reviews and sample photos of the most popular digital cameras.

My choice

Well, I would also give my opinion about the digital cameras I have tried. I am not affiliated with any camera seller, so I will express just my thoughts. Please test yourself the cameras to get the final judge. The first camera I have owned is a Olympus Camedia C-3030 ZOOM. I liked it a lot: it gives natural colors and has a nice macro. This camera, released on 2000, has 3.3 mega pixels. Then I have been using Canon PowerShot Pro1. Pro1, released on 2004, is a semi-professional camera; it has a great zoom, a super macro and 8 megapixels. Pro1 is one of the first "cheap" 8 mega pixels cameras. To me, it goes close enough to a SLR. The main drawback of this camera is that it gives over saturated colors; colors are vivid but not natural. For example, I feel that it is difficult to photograph with Pro1 people faces; the color of the skin results often not natural. Now I am using mainly the Kodak P880; this 2005 camera also delivers 8 mega pixels. P880 is cheaper and newer than Pro1; Pro1 has higher zoom, is more compact and looks more robust. P880 super macro is good but less exciting than Pro1. Both cameras mount high quality lenses. P880 is able to focus better when there is low light and gives really natural colors. P880 zoom is relatively limited, but photo quality is good at any zoom: I have seen the distortion of some super zoom cameras lenses and I do not like it. My sisters own two Ixus 60. I think this camera is a perfect compact camera that you can always take with you. The image quality and zoom capability of compact cameras are naturally necessarily limited by their camera size.

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