Most of us already have a digital camera that suits our needs. Quite possibly it's a brand of camera you bought at Walmart on sale that no one has ever heard of before, maybe it's the one integrated into your cell phone, or maybe your camera doesn't suck and you are thinking to yourself, what is the point of this article!?
Well, I'm hoping to share a short list of some of the commonly overlooked or new features of digital cameras today that you might be missing out on. You might even find them all just enough of a reason to change what you are hoping for this Christmas.
1. Image Stabilization
What was once only found in professional cameras has now found its way to the masses. Image stabilization technologies could very well be the biggest change for digital cameras since the auto-focus. With image stabilization you can take photos or video clips without a tripod that would otherwise be blurry due to an unsteady hand. Even with a steady hand, trying to take a photo while zoomed in is near impossible at times, but it becomes all that more possible to do with the image stabilization technology working its magic.
Have you ever tried to take a photo by hand in a dim room without a flash? The results generally aren't very pleasing. Trying to compensate for the lack of light with high ISO settings or long exposure times could just make the photo noisy or blurry. With image stabilization however, you could get away with that less grainy ISO setting and a longer exposure time without having the image blur nearly as much. Simply, image stabilization is amazing technology that you will never want to be without again.
2. Articulated LCD Displays
They might be a bit strange, don't seem to be very popular, and they really aren't as big as some other new screens out there, but articulated LCD displays are something you grow to appreciate. I've heard a quote once that there are two types of people, those who love articulated displays, and those who just haven't used one yet.
My appreciation stems from the fact that you can turn the display to face you at any angle, allowing you to get shots that normally would be just too hard. ie: Trying to take a picture of a band while in a large crowd or taking a shot from the ground upwards. Pictures seem to turn out a bit more interesting when you are free to be that extra bit more creative. As well, by folding the display into the camera reversed, you protect the screen from being damaged.
3. Face Detection
If you have ever had trouble getting your camera to focus on someones face before, this new feature that has recently been added to some of the digital cameras by Canon is worth a look at. When the face detection option is enabled, the camera will be able to detect faces in the field of view and automatically focus in on them. Not the background, foreground, or whatever else may be in the way.
4. Modern Imaging Sensors
Not so much of a secret, but newer models of imaging sensors tend to produce better image quality than older ones. The same goes for quality brand names versus no name brands. One problem that still plagues digital cameras is image noise, which is more apparent with higher ISO settings. Some digital cameras have advanced noise reduction, which can really help reduce this problem, but the problem with noise is generally not a diminishing one. Higher megapixel cameras tend to be more sensitive to noise than lower megapixel cameras for example, so not always is more better. Some suggest 6 megapixels is a good trade off between detail and noise. A high ISO settings with less noise allows for shorter exposure times and/or less need for a flash in dim lighting. Noise can be filtered out also in post processing with Photoshop, however this can often reduce image detail.
5. Optical Zoom
Most people have figured out by now that the digital zoom on their camera is not really any good. Digital zoom does still have its uses, but you simply can't produce a sharp high resolution image with extensive digital zooming. Even with its uses, you're often better off doing any enlarging and cropping of the photo afterwards in Photoshop. What is preferable nearly always is rather a good optical zoom. Almost seeming to be a standard, many digital cameras now include a 3X optical zoom. Even a 3X optical zoom can be limiting at times, however there are some cameras that offer much more; 10X or even higher for example. With image stabilization technology now about on the market, manufactures are daring to release more of these high optical zooming cameras.
6. Wide Angle Lenses
Not a critical addition for most photographers, but having the capability to take a wide angle shot with a compact camera does come in handy now and then. There are some brands offering such wide angle capabilities in their compact camera models and it's worth it to keep an eye out for them.
That's it for list. Thanks for reading. If you are looking for more on camera reviews or suggestions, I highly suggest the following website: http://www.imaging-resource.com/ I am not a camera expert, but these are my honest suggestions of features that you might find beneficial in your next camera purchase.
My own suggestion for buying a camera is to stick with Canon brand cameras if you are not sure what you are doing. Other brands, such as Nikon and Olympus, do offer quality cameras, but you simply can't go wrong with a Canon camera.
If you would like to experiment with some real photography, yet are not able to afford a digital SLR camera, may i recommend to you the Canon PowerShot S3 IS. It is not a compact camera, but it does have many of the features I have mentioned in this article.
With compact camera needs in mind, the Canon PowerShot SD800 IS is really quite a stunning camera that is simply loaded with features. It is geared towards being more a mindless point and shoot camera, which it does an excellent job at, but it has enough manual control to also please most enthusiasts.
For those on a tighter budget, the Canon PowerShot A540 is a very impressive bundle for the price.
Lastly, for those looking for an inexpensive digital SLR, the Canon EOS 400D Rebel XTi is currently a very popular model.