Getting Started

Vincent Bockaert, 123di.com

If you are new to digital photography and this website, this page will bring you up to speed.

Which Digital Camera Should You buy?

The "best" digital camera depends on your personal needs such as size, budget, your style of photography, what you intend to do with the images (e.g. share via email, post on websites, view on a monitor, create prints, publish them, etc). The "best" pocket size camera to take family snapshots to be shared via e-mail is obviously different from the "best camera" for professional wildlife photography. The table below will give you an idea what you type of camera you should be considering and some examples in each category that link to reviews on this site.

Description of your needs Suggested camera type Some cameras to consider
I want an easy to use camera that is as small as possible, preferably something which looks cool and trendy, to take snasphots on the go. Ultra Compact
($)
Canon PowerShot S500
Sony DSC-W1
Canon PowerShot S410
Sony DSC-T11
Sony DSC-T1
I want an affordable and easy to use camera that is compact enough to fit in my handbag or briefcase. It should have sufficient quality for posting images on a website, view them on a monitor or to create 4"x6" prints. Compact
($)
Canon PowerShot A80
Canon PowerShot S60
Canon PowerShot A75
Nikon Coolpix 5200
I want to create high quality 8" x 10" images, have manual control over photographic settings, have a good zoom range, preferably extendable via converters, and ideally be able to use an external flash. However, I don't want to carry around a digital SLR with lenses. I can live with some shutterlag and do not intend to shoot in RAW all the time. Prosumer Compact or Prosumer SLR-Like
($$)
Canon PowerShot Pro1
Canon PowerShot S1 IS
Panasonic DMC-FZ10
Canon PowerShot G5
Nikon Coolpix 8700
Sony DSC-F828
Olympus C-8080 Wide Zoom
Fujifilm FinePix S7000 Z
I want a digital camera with the benefits of a conventional 35mm film SLR camera: no shutterlag, interchangeable lenses, an optical viewfinder, full manual control, external flash, etc. My images will be viewed on high quality monitors, and I need high quality 8" x 10" prints. Price is an important factor in my decision. Prosumer SLR
($$ + Lenses)
Canon EOS-300D
Nikon D70
Canon EOS-10D
I want a digital camera with the benefits of a conventional 35mm film SLR camera: no shutterlag, interchangeable lenses, an optical viewfinder, full manual control, external flash, etc. I need the highest possible resolution and image quality and/or top performance in terms of startup time, shutterlag, and frames per second. I intend to use the camera for professional purposes. Professional SLR
($$$ + Lenses)
Canon EOS-1Ds
Canon EOS-1D Mark II
Nikon D2H

Should You Buy a Digital Compact or a Digital SLR?

The above table should give you an idea as to what type of camera is best for you. Prices of prosumer compact cameras and prosumer SLRs are currently very similar. You will only have to invest more in the interchangeable lenses for the SLR. Price aside, the prosumer compacts have the key benefit of being easier to cary around than an SLR system with lenses. They also offer live preview on the LCD which is often twistable, allowing to shoot from unusual angles.

Digital SLRs have faster startup times, shorter lag times, and can shoot more frames per second, so you can "capture the moment". They also allow for longer focal lengths, important for wildlife, sports, and action photography. Unlike LCD's on compact cameras, the optical viewfinder allows for more accurate framing, and is unaffected by bright sunlight conditions. The larger sensors on digital SLRs and their ability to shoot in RAW, will lead to better image quality, even at high sensitivities. Prosumer compacts which allow shooting in RAW mode tend to be too slow to be practical in most circumstances.

How Many Megapixel Do You Need?

Here is a rough guide as to the resolution you should be looking for:

  • 2 megapixel is sufficient for website publishing
  • 3 megapixel is sufficient for 4" x 6" prints and monitor viewing
  • 5 megapixel is sufficient for 8" x 10" prints
  • higher resolutions are only needed for professional purposes

Note however that it is not just the number of pixels that is important but also the quality of the pixels itself.

How to Use this Website

Here are four key sections accessible from the navigation bar at this website:

Buying Guide

The buying guide allows you to search for cameras based on certain features, compare cameras, read users opinions, and see which cameras are currently most clicked at.

Reviews

The reviews by Phil Askey will reveal the pros and cons of specific camera models based on systematic and thorough tests. They will allow you to make a well-informed buying decision based on your specific needs.

Forums

An invaluable resource, before and after your camera purchase. Before posing a question or starting a new topic, it is recommended to perform a search as chances are that someone else already has had a similar problem before.

Glossary

The glossary is is the ideal resource to become familiar with the essential concepts of digital photography. The glossary is written by the Vincent Bockaert, author of The 123 of digital imaging which gives you general advice as to how to select the right camera, scanner, accessories, software, monitor, calibration method, and printer for your digital imaging workflow and explains how these work. It gives you a solid foundation of digital photography and is packed with useful editing techniques to create amazing images.

This article is written by Vincent Bockaert,
author of The 123 of digital imaging Interactive Learning Suite
Click here to visit 123di.com