Cameras Buying Guide
Comparing different types of camera
If you're looking for a digital camera, check out our camera buying guide below and ensure you know what all the different features mean before making a purchase. That way, you can ensure you get all the functionality you need without overspending on unnecessary extras.
What are Compact Cameras?
Compact cameras, or Point-and-shoot cameras, are designed for people who don't know a lot about photography, but still want to capture high-quality images. They come with different modes so that getting the best image in different scenarios is easy.
What are DSLR cameras?
DSLR cameras, also known as digital single-lens reflex cameras or digital SLR cameras, provide more creative freedom to photographers. They have manual controls that allow users to adapt everything from focal length to shutter speed, and have interchangeable lenses.
What are bridge cameras?
Bridge cameras are an affordable option for those who want more control over their photography. Advanced features, manual controls and a versatile fixed lens enable more creativity.
What are megapixels?
Pixels are tiny dots of colour that come together to make up an image, so the more there are, the more detail is in the picture. One megapixel is equivalent to one million pixels, so it would seem that the number of megapixels a camera has correlates directly to resolution.
While this is true when it comes to the pure digital image, the truth is that more megapixels does not always equate to a better print or a superior image on a computer screen. That’s because there are limitations to the way megapixels are displayed in different formats.
However, more megapixels gives you the freedom to crop photos without significantly compromising the quality. If you have a 16-megapixel image and crop out three-quarters, you are still left with a 4-megapixel image, which will look sharp on a 6” x 4” print! Large prints and blown-up pictures look better if the pixel count is higher, too.
Do remember that image file size escalates with pixel count, so you may need a memory card with a larger capacity if you do purchase a high-megapixel camera. SanDisk suggests that a 16GB memory card will hold 1,144 uncompressed 4-megapixel images, but only 208 uncompressed 22-megapixel images.
Understanding camera zoom
Optical zoom is often called the ‘true zoom’: it allows you to take a close-up picture of far-away objects without compromising image quality. That’s because it uses a zoom lens, which magnifies the view without affecting the digital image captured.
On the other hand, digital zoom can have a negative impact on photo quality. That’s because it zooms in much like photo software on your computer would. As a result, the section you photograph contains the same number of pixels as it would it you were zoomed out. However, this is useful if you want to avoid cropping in post-production.
Zoom is measured 2x, 4x, 8x and so on, which reflects how much closer it brings the image.
Camera lenses explained
What is focal length?
A 'standard' lens has a 50mm focal length; this captures an image similar to that seen by the human eye. The measurement is the distance between the between the optical centre of the lens and the focal point: where the subject is rendered sharply.
Lenses with a short focal length (below 35mm), often called wide-angle lenses, focus on a subject when it is closer. This results in a wider angle of view, so the frame captures more. Conversely, lenses with a long focal length, or long-focus lenses, give a narrow angle of view but greater zoom.
With a CSC or DSLR camera, you can change the lens to get different types of shot. Most point-and-shoot and bridge cameras come with a wide-angle lens.
Benefits of Wi-Fi cameras
Wi-Fi cameras connect to the internet wirelessly, so you can upload your photographs to your computer or other compatible device without any cables. This also means you can back up your images, so a lost camera isn’t quite as devastating.
Many Wi-Fi cameras allow direct access to social networks and email, so you can share your pictures with friends and family whenever you’re connected. Find a Wi-Fi zone on holiday, and you won’t need to wait until you return home to upload your snaps to Facebook!
Certain devices are also compatible with wireless photo printers, so you can eliminate the middle man — your computer — when it comes to printing out pics.
Buying your digital camera
We hope this guide has helped you determine exactly what sort of specifications you need in a digital camera. Remember, you can use the feature filters on our category pages to make finding your ideal device easy.
You can also find a number of camera accessories here at Viking. We have cases that will protect your device from bumps and scrapes, tripods for a steady shot, additional lenses, and more.