The right Digital Camera: buying guide and the top 10

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Are you a photography enthusiast and passionate about technical details, or are you someone who just likes to point and click to capture those special moments, and don’t want to know anything about what’s behind it?

The latest generation of compact and ultra zoom cameras can suit both profiles, you just need to know how to choose. Here is a guide that can clarify some fundamental aspects.

What kind of camera is right for me?

Finding the right camera can be confusing if you’re not sure what to look for. Megapixels make no sense as a parameter to distinguish a good camera from a junk camera. So how do you decide?

Compact digital cameras are small and portable and usually something totally automatic, particularly suitable for casual or basic use. They sacrifice advanced features and some image quality for compactness and simplicity. This type of camera has been successful in popularity, due to the better camera performance of smartphones.

Ultra zoom cameras are often more expensive and have all the features of a compact, but also have some advanced features. They are often a little bulkier and are a good option for someone in the middle of the market. Sometimes these models are also called “bridge” cameras, as they are a transition from a basic compact camera to a more sophisticated DSLR (see below).

DSLR (single lens reflex) cameras remain popular, with a much larger sensor than other types of cameras that can provide great image quality, but are often quite heavy and bulky.

MIL (mirrorless interchangeable lens) cameras are a good alternative to ultra zoom or bridge cameras, as they have similar sensor dimensions to DSLRs, but in a much smaller camera body.

Tough cameras are another option: they can be carried in most situations without fear of falling, and withstand heat, cold, humidity and sand. The difference is the amount of maneuverability. Their image quality and ease of use make them a suitable model for a user ranging from beginner to intermediate, or a professional who must necessarily operate in extreme situations.

What should I watch out for when buying a camera?

Some things to keep in mind while shopping:

– Batteries: Digital cameras are usually quite power hungry, and as a general rule, rechargeable batteries are a good idea. There are some situations (such as travel), where being able to use normal alkaline batteries is a real advantage. Having a spare (rechargeable) battery is quite important.
– Image stabilization: With longer lenses it can be difficult to hold the camera still, which can lead to slightly blurry images. Image stabilization can help by internally adjusting the camera shake. The best system is often referred to as “optical anti-shake,” in which lens elements move. Some cameras now have a very effective mechanical system in which the camera sensor moves.
– Manual focus: Manual focus is useful for situations where the automated function falls short. Low light and subjects behind glass or low contrast, can be tricky for some systems. Continuous manual focus is more useful than systems that only offer a number of preset distances, as it allows for a more precise control.
– Memory cards: The main form of storage for your images at the moment. SDHC and SDXC cards are high-capacity SD cards, and most cameras that can handle them can use SD cards as well. Some older cameras, on the contrary, will not recognize SDHC or SDXC cards.
– Resolution: The higher the resolution the more storage you need, but keep in mind that resolution is not always an indicator of image quality.

Have you got a general idea? All that remains is to choose the digital camera model that’s right for you. Here are the ones we have selected, that is the best on the market both for performance – in the relative range – and for value for money.

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