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How to choose the right digital camera

Digital camera buyers' guide

When it comes to buying a digital camera, it's easy to get confused as there are so many options. Fear not. We're here to help. This guide will help you make a purchasing decision based on the specifications you'll need to examine closely (and the specs you can basically ignore) before you fork out your hard-earned cash.

LCD and Viewfinder
All digital cameras have an LCD screen; these vary in size from 1.8 to 3.5in. The smaller size limits your ability to review just-taken images on the camera. A good LCD is essential for knowing whether you got the shot you wanted, and can usually give you an indication of whether it was properly exposed. Some new cameras have touch-screen LCDs that allow you to tap on subjects in the frame to focus on, as well as to navigate menus. If you're thinking about getting a camera with a touch-screen LCD, make sure the screen is responsive--and account for the screen-smudge factor.

LCD quality varies widely: Many wash out in sunlight or become grainy in low light, or the image may change if you tilt the camera slightly. If you can, try a camera outside before you buy it. Some cameras also have an eye-level viewfinder, which is a convenient backup for framing your shots (and if you turn off the LCD when not using it, you'll save battery power). Perhaps the best way to ensure an accurate exposure is to view the photograph's histogram on the LCD (if the camera offers this feature). A histogram is a graph that will show you highlights that are overexposed to the point of being pure white, and shadows that are underexposed and show as pure black.

Wireless
Using Wi-Fi to transmit images to a PC, a printer, or a photo-sharing site may sound enticingly free of entanglements, but we recommend that you try this feature beforehand. In our reviewers' experience, sending Wi-Fi transmissions did not work seamlessly in some cases, and as a result this feature was not worth the extra money it added to the camera's cost. You don't have to buy a Wi-Fi-enabled camera to send photos directly from your camera, however. Eye-Fi cards enable any compatible camera to send photos wirelessly to your computer, to photo-sharing sites, and even directly to a mobile phone. And TransferJet wireless technology lets you transmit photos and video between compatible devices simply by holding them close to one another.

NEXT PAGE: Digital camera shopping tips

  1. Chose the camera that suits you
  2. Compact interchangeable lens cameras
  3. Pocket Megazoom
  4. Ruggedised Point-and-Shoot camera
  5. The specs explained
  6. Size, weight and design
  7. RAW Mode
  8. Battery life
  9. Menus
  10. LCD and Viewfinder
  11. Digital camera shopping tips

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