Camera Buying Tips for the average user
By Ayman Rabea and translated by Shaza Walid
Want to buy a camera but confused about all the different models and types out there? In this article, we will discuss the important features that the average user would need in a camera, the most suitable camera types for users, and how to compare between cameras to choose the perfect one.
The first thing you need to know before purchasing a camera is that camera manufacturing companies have studied the market well and classified camera buyers into three categories: average, amateur, and professional users. Hence, they designed cameras for each user’s preference and usage.
*Prices of cameras below are their prices when the article was first published. Prices are subject to changes according to the current market.
Best camera types for the average user
The average user is the one who buys a camera to document memories with family and friends on different occasions. This kind of user only needs a simple and easy-to-use camera without sophisticated features.
The best camera types for the average user would be the Point & Shoot cameras or the compact cameras.
- Small-sized cameras with relatively convenient features but perfect for the average user.
- Compact cameras can vary greatly based on features and capabilities according to the buyer’s needs. Of course, the more the features, the higher the price. Nevertheless, prices remain within the average user’s budget.
Before buying a camera
- There is no compact camera that has everything. Every camera will have both great and regular features
- Think about how you will use the camera. Based on your needs and usage, you will be able to determine the features you want and the kind of camera to buy.
Numerous features distinguish one camera from another and it would take a professional photographer to differentiate between the specific details. However, the average user cares about a certain set of features only.
The most important features in compact cameras
- The ISO’s number represents the sensor’s sensitivity to light.
- The higher the ISO number, the more effective the camera will be in photographing low-light areas. Hence, it is preferable that you purchase a camera with high ISO if you will use it in photographing night events or events in closed areas such as weddings, for the high ISO will help make the photo’s lighting suitable and you would not need a flash or a camera holder.
- Some compact cameras have an ISO as high as 3200, which will make pictures taken in very low light perfect such as Canon PowerShot Ixus 265 HS or Samsung WB35F.
- However, compact cameras mostly have an ISO of no more than 1600, which is suitable for photographing low-light areas as Canon Powershot A3400 IS or Nikon Coolpix S2900.
- We do not recommend buying a camera with an ISO less than 1600.
2. Optical zoom
- Optical zoom is the lenses’ ability to make things seem closer and it is expressed in X.
- So when a camera has a zoom of 4x, it means that the lens can zoom in on the scene by 4 times. To make the idea clearer, we could say that a body 4 meters away from the camera will appear 1 meter away.
- Most compact cameras will have a maximum zoom of 5x.
- Some cameras can have a zoom of up to 21x such as Samsung WB350F or 18x such as Canon PowerShot SX610 HS.
Difference between optical and digital zoom
- Optical zoom means enlarging the photo by adjusting the lens’ focal length.
- Digital zoom means enlarging the photo by enlarging the pixels, which is similar to enlarging it through a graphics program such as Photoshop.
- Most cameras have a digital zoom of 4x, which means that the camera enlarges the pixel by four times its original size.
- It is not advisable to use the digital zoom because it negatively affects the quality of the photo (it becomes pixelated). Thus, it is better to disable its use through the camera’s settings.
- The flash’s effectiveness differs from one camera to another. If you check the camera’s settings, you will find the flash’s range (which is the distance lit by the flash in front of the camera to be able to light up the photo)
- If you are going to use the camera in photographing night scenes, you have to make sure that the flash is strong enough for your usage.
- Most compact cameras have a flash range of 2 to 3 meters. However, some cameras have a flash range of 4 meters such as the Canon PowerShot Ixus 265 HS or 4.8 meters such as the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W380.
4. Video recording
- If you are into video recording, there are two features to consider in a camera: image stabilization and the video quality.
- Image stabilization is the feature that adjusts the photo’s stability if there was a movement or shaky hands when taking the photograph. It is a feature that is available in most cameras nowadays.
- Video resolution: some cameras shoot with 720 HD and some with Full HD 1080. But do not be fooled with such precision because there is another number that affects the video’s quality even more, which is the frames per second (fps) and it usually ranges between 25 fps to 60 fps.
- Good video resolution coupled with high fps results in a better-quality video.
- Megapixel is the feature that most people know about cameras.
- In fact, the number of megapixels used to be quite an important feature in the past when the digital cameras were just emerging. At that time, the 4-megapixel camera was much better than the 2-megapixel one.
But nowadays with the rapid development of digital cameras, there is no big difference between a 10 megapixel camera and one with a higher megapixel. Contrary to what would most people expect, a camera with lower megapixel could produce a better quality image than one with a higher megapixel due to technical specificities that would take long to explain.
If you are interested to know why, you can read this article on the trap of the megapixel’s number.
|Camera||Price starts from|
|Samsung WB35F||1,120 EGP|
|Canon PowerShot SX610 HS||1,949 EGP|
|Canon PowerShot Ixus 265 HS||1,099 EGP|
|Nikon Coolpix S2900||828 EGP|
|Samsung WB350F||1,900 EGP|
|Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W380||2,109 EGP|
|Nikon Coolpix P530||3,099 EGP|
|Canon PowerShot SX60 HS||5,299 EGP|
|Canon PowerShot A3400 IS||899 EGP|
|Nikon COOLPIX L340||1,800 EGP|
About the writer
Ayman Rabea: an amateur photographer interested in cameras and photography techniques. He created the website eshtry camera to offer photography fanatics tips and information on cameras and the basics of photography, in addition to ads on buying and selling used cameras through the website.
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