Points to consider when choosing a camera
Compact Cameras – the lens cannot be changed
1. Number of megapixels – 12 is sufficient for most family/amateur purposes, 16 minimum for birds, or selling photos. But number of megapixels is not the only consideration – the size and the density of pixels on the sensor are critical. For example I have a relatively expensive camcorder which quotes a massive 24 megapixels for still photos, but it still will not produce a decent picture beyond a 6″ x 4″ print ((no better than my old 5 MPx camera). This is because camcorders have very small sensors which are adequate for video, but not for good still pictures.
2. Size of sensor (usually very small for compact cameras, camcorders and phones) – the bigger the better, but again that is not the only consideration (see below).
3. Zoom Ratio – 5 to 10 for general use, 15 to 50 for wildlife, sports fields etc (this means “optical zoom” not “digital zoom” which expands the image digitally, losing quality).
Taking your first photo
Your first basic camera could have a reasonably wide angle, a zoom capability of 5 to 12, a big 3″ screen, and a flash.
Most cameras these days have many more features than you will ever use, but still glance through the menu to get a feel for your new camera, and select “intelligent auto” so all you have to do for your first pictures are:
- While the battery is charging fit a memory card if the camera does not have internal memory.
- Fit the battery (if not already in the camera!), turn on the camera and check the indicated charge of the battery (should be 100%).
- Select a fully automatic setting like “intelligent auto”.
- Point the camera at a subject and adjust the zoom to your liking.
- Preferably ensure your subject is all in the light, or all in the shade (not patchy lighting).
- Press the firing button half-down and wait to see the camera is focussed.
- Press the firing button fully down to take the picture (in poor light conditions the flash may automatically operate).
- Check your photo on the camera screen.