It is not all about megapixels. The sensor size and the optics are equally importance on the final picture quality.
Before we get into what to look for in a camera, let me briefly explain how a digital still camera works. In simple words, a digital still camera (DSC) records still pictures and videos. Essentially what happens is that the light passes through the lens and falls onto the sensor. When the shutter is pressed, it captures a picture.
The first thing that customers look for, when buying a digital still camera is, ‘how many megapixels does the camera offer’? But the question you have to ask yourself is whether you are going to print the pictures? As more people have now started to realize that to print a standard 6 x 4 picture, all you need is a picture taken in 5 to 6 megapixel resolution.
It’s not all about megapixels. The sensor size and the optics have an equal importance on the final picture quality. That means, you can have the same number of megapixels in sensors with different sizes. The camera with the larger sensor generally will produce better pictures.
Most customers out there a looking for a simple camera that looks stylish and when the shutter button is pressed, it takes a picture. These cameras are broadly called ‘point-&-shoots’. Point-and-shoot cameras require plenty of light and often product better images when used outdoors, particularly during daytime, as compared to indoor shoots or shots in low-light conditions.
If you are in the market for a ‘point-&-shoot’, look for one with a good ‘Auto mode’. One of the highly recommended DSC with a good ‘Auto mode’ is the Panasonic LUMIX with the Intelligent Auto mode. With the LUMIX, once you set the dial to the Intelligent Auto mode, the camera activates up to 6 functions and automatically changes its settings to suit the shooting object and conditions.
The limitation with the point & shoots is that camera does it all for you. That means, it decides where the focus point will be, how much light will fall on the sensor and at what speed the shutter will capture the image.
Larger, and generally more expensive than the point-and-shoots camera’s, are known as ‘bridge’ cameras. As the name suggests, these cameras act as a bridge between the point and shoots and Digital SLR’s. Bridge camera’s generally offer higher optical Zoom (18x Optical Zoom or more) and allow the users to manually change the settings for better control, that is, the ability for the user to be able to control the aperture and shutter to suit the artistic picture a user wishes to capture. However the limitation of a bridge camera is that you are limited to the capabilities of the lens mounted.
When looking for a camera with interchangeable lens option, look for one that best suits your needs. Many interchangeable lens cameras now offer ‘All Time Live View’ that allows you to frame your shots onto the LCD screen, rather than having to look through a tiny view-finder, which is perfect if you are up-grading from a ‘point-&-shoot’ or a ‘bridge’ camera. You would also want to look into a brand that offers a good selection is optional lenses to choose from. Also look for one that is compact and lightweight so you can carry it where-ever you go.
Finally, look for a camera with a good video recording capability. Certain Panasonic LUMIX models offer the flexibility of video’s being captured in AVCHD or Motion JPEG formats. AVCHD offers better picture quality and the user can record footage twice as longer as compared to footage captured in Motion JPEG on same sized SD Card. On the other hand, Motion JPEG is suitable for PC applications for playback on a PC and or uploading to websites such as You Tube.
The bottom line is that users should do as much research as possible and buy a camera that suits you style, needs and photographic requirements.