Digital Camera buying guide

Started Aug 18, 2005 | Discussions thread
OP beefman New Member • Posts: 14
Re: Digital Camera buying guide

So... just what was the basis for your choices? Just saying Hi,
I've got this buying guide and you should buy these cameras in each
class, without some sort of explanation as to how you arrived at
those choices is kind of irrelevant. What are your qualifications
for making these suggestions? What is your choice, may not be the
right choice for someone else.

That is why Phil, and others exhaust a great deal of time and
effort to do exhaustive reviews.

Just my opinion, no offense intended.

A buying guide offers head-to-head comparisons -- something
that Phil and all other reviewers I've seen don't offer (probably
because of their relationships with the manufacturers that
provide review units -- I speak from experience as a reviewer
of MIDI instruments for an internationally-distributed magazine).
The closest one can come at dpreview is to use the "by rating"
filter in the reviews section... and this reveals a serious bias in the
reviews here towards larger cameras. Buying guides also offer
advice for those who aren't experts on cameras and those who
don't wish to sift through moutains of reviews.

Obviously, buying guides require criteria for creating the classes,
and then for finding a winner in each class. I'm happy to share
the criteria I used, and if they don't match your favorite criteria
I hope you'll contribute your own buying guide to this thread.

The basic idea is to class SLRs by cost and others by thickness.
Thickness is a very good single-dimensional heuristic for carryability,
which I assume is the principle reason for not buying an SLR.

Within each class I use image quality, video quality, weight and
battery life (further measures of carryability), build quality, and
cost, in roughly that order.

For image quality I compare reference shots and comments of
reviewers like Phil. My primary objective heuristic for image quality
is sensor size. I also give heavy weight to the angle of widest
zoom (for non-SLRs), since this is usually what amateurs (shooting
groups of people in close spaces) and landscape photographers
(such as myself) need more of. Occasionally a special feature like
Panasonic's image stabilization or Fuji's high-sensitivity sensor tech
gets consideration.

Video quality assessment usually amounts to a heavy penalty
for not supporting NTSC-level video clips to the capacity of the
camera's storage, a reward for supporting mpeg4, etc.

Weight and battery life are fairly straightforward.

Build quality is usually evident from photographs of the camera
and sometimes from reviewers comments or familiarity with the
camera's manufacturer.

Cost is last because the market is very competitive, and all
cameras in a given class usually fall within a US$100 range.

Responsiveness (timings) used to be way up on the list, but
these days almost all cameras from the major manufacturers will
have good startup and shot-to-shot times.

You can scroll down on my blog to see a discussion of how
the winners in the ultracompact classes were chosen.

Thanks for caring,


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