“What Digital camera do I want?” That must seem a rather silly question to ask oneself, but you would be surprised how many people are coerced, gulled, or drawn to buy a digital that ultimately is not the right one for them. This could be because of recommendations from a friend, being sweet-talked by a camera shop assistant, being seduced by an internet or glossy magazine advert, or simply not having thought things through yourself.

There used to be a time, before digital cameras, and when the internet was only a muddled dream, when the number of models and makes of cameras on the market were so few, that it was infinitely easier to make a choice of camera than it is today. Unless you had a very large budget and were a professional photographer, the choice was fairly limited, and most cameras did the same, few, sort of things. One standard lens, very few settings etc. They were all manual operation. They all needed developing at the chemists or in a darkroom.

Fast forward to now where the consumer is king (or queen). Calm down. Do not rush out and buy the first camera you come across, or one that your friend has- your friend might use it for entirely different shoots than you. And there is the nub of this article: What will you use the camera for now, and what might you use it for in the future?  Another supplementary question might be, who else will use your camera- you may be generous (or foolhardy enough) to allow it to be used by your kith and kin- and what will they want to use it for?

Open out a spread sheet, or get a piece of A4 paper, and make three columns going down: “Essential” the next “nice to have…” and the last one “Unlikely to ever want”. Or make up your own variations of these.

Will you be taking portraits?
Will you be taking action/sports photography shots? Maybe you’re taking it to the Olympics in London?

Will you be taking landscapes? (requiring wide angle shots)
Will you be taking photos from some distance away and want them closer? (requiring zoom lens abilities)

Will you be taking close ups, such as insects, flowers etc. (in which case you’ll need a macro lens feature)  
Will you want to make videos as well as still pictures?
Will you want to shoot at night, or in low light conditions? (need a stronger flash or special low-light options on the camera)

Must the camera be light and portable?
Must the camera be rugged/waterproof (are you likely to drop it, subject it to adverse weather conditions or want to use it underwater?)

Must the camera be trendy, stylish and colourful?
Do you want simplicity and ease-of-use? Point and shoot?
Do you think that you’ll develop your needs and want manual as well as auto-mode?

Finally, put some budget ranges in, so that you have a maximum price.Then fill in the spread sheet by ticking what box applies. One you’ve done that, carry/refer to the spread sheet with you when you go looking for a camera, firstly on the internet, I’d suggest, and then compare the specifications to see whether that type and make of camera appears to meet your requirements. You don’t need to get into the micro-detail of the specifications, and if you’re not sure whether a camera is suitable for something you have listed as essential, then it’s probably best to avoid… most camera manufacturers will shoot their camera’s assets and qualities from the rooftops!

Finally, read the reviews of the cameras you have shortlisted, especially the negative reviews. If you think the comment is genuine, would that particular issue be a problem for you? Many adverse comments are about delivery failures or damage in transit. Not a problem with the camera functions.

Then go and buy your camera and enjoy! For further information about cameras, please read this