Choose a Digital Camera for a Beginner

Stephanie M. Kelley
Canon s100
Canon s100

Choosing a digital camera can be intimidating, especially for a novice. There are many variables to consider including features, physical size and of course, price. With so many options you may need a little guidance and direction to avoid investing money in a camera that is poor quality or will not meet your needs.

Top Digital Cameras for Beginners

Some of the best digital cameras for beginners include:

  • Canon PowerShot S100 : This camera is considered to be one of the most capable compact cameras currently on the market. It has many features for both novices and a more advanced photographer including full manual controls and RAW shooting, excellent image quality and superslow-motion video modes.
  • Nikon Coolpix S9100: This camera will satisfy both budding photographers and those with more advanced skills. It features an 18X-optical-zoom lens and takes high resolution photos, but is lightweight and easy to carry around. There is an editing feature in the camera to improve low-light shots

Consumers and experts weigh in on rating the top digital camera at Amazon. Check out their top picks.

Nikon s9100
Nikon s9100
  • Canon PowerShot ELPH 300 HS 12.1 MP: This camera boasts of being the "world's thinnest" and features a wide-angle lens and 5x optical zoo. The camera is great in low-light area even without a flash.
  • Nikon COOLPIX L120 14.1 MP : The camera has a 14.1-megapixel sensor for outstanding images and HD video capabilities. It's small in size, weighing just 5 ounces, and fits neatly into pockets or purses.
  • Olympus T-100 12MP: This model is easy to operate and features 2-megapixel images. There is also a movie mode if you want to take video footage

Camera Types

It's easy to be intimidated by the sheer number of digital cameras on the market. However, you can eliminate much of your confusion by remembering that most digital cameras fall into one of two categories: Point-and-shoot or SLR.

Point-and-Shoot

  • Point-and-shoot cameras manually control the flash, depth of field, and exposure.
  • This particular type of camera is on the low end of the price scale.
  • Once you advance in skill you will likely want to upgrade, as point-and-shoot cameras are not designed to grow with you.

Single Lens Reflex (SLR)

  • SLR cameras are more advanced
  • They use filters and sophisticated interchangeable lenses to accommodate various shooting conditions.
  • SLRs are bulkier and more expensive than basic point-and-shoot models
  • They require more manual manipulation to work than point-and-shoot models.

Finding the Right Camera

When it comes time to choose a digital camera for a beginner, it's important to focus on price and features. You might also seek out a camera store that allows you to experiment with digital cameras prior to buying. The more comfortable you are with your camera, the more apt you are to use it. Therefore, completing your research prior to purchasing will help ensure you end up with a picture perfect camera.

Choose Your First Digital Camera

Olympus t100
Olympus t100

Consider the following factors when choosing your first digital camera:

Setting a Budget

If you are a beginning photographer, you want a camera that is relatively easy to operate. You don't need an expensive device with dozens of advanced features. Therefore, you should be looking for a camera in the $150-$250 price range. Higher-end models can run upwards of $500, so it's important to set a budget before you start shopping. Setting a budget will help you to narrow your search for the right camera, and will help you to avoid over-spending on features that aren't necessary or intended for more experienced photographers.

Consider the Uses

Consider what you will be using the camera for. If you're the type who only takes pictures during the holidays or while on vacation, you can get by with a basic camera. If you intend to also capture video or have a serious interest in learning more about photography, a higher-end model will be more appropriate.

Weight and Size

Consider the weight and size of your ideal digital camera. Ask yourself if you want your camera to be with you at all times. If so, shop around for an ultra-compact digital camera that can easily slide into your jacket pocket or purse.

Number of Megapixels

More megapixels equals sharper images. If you plan to enlarge your photos on a regular basis, then consider purchasing a digital camera with more megapixels. However, keep in mind that high megapixel cameras tend to be more expensive. If you are a beginner, don't choose a digital camera based solely on megapixels. Rather, look for a device that contains features that suit your overall needs.

Making a Final Decision

Any novice photographer should do research prior to purchasing a new digital camera, as there are a lot of options to choose from. You may feel overwhelmed, but setting a budget helps to narrow the search and can help to assure that you will not over-spend. Research and read reviews about the various choices to help you make a final decision.

Choose a Digital Camera for a Beginner