Photography Information

Digital Camera Reviews and Ratings De-Mystify the Choices

Shopping for a new digital camera can be quite frustrating with the hundreds of choices available. Digital camera reviews clarify this confusion by comparing camera features and options, then rating how each camera compares with similar models.

An effective comparison of best digital cameras requires two things: 1) the camera's specs and features, and 2) performance ratings. Spec sheets and ratings are plentiful, but to efficiently compare digital cameras it's important to set some guidelines.

Decide on how the camera will be used, the quality and size of final prints, and necessary features. Write these down and rank camera reviews and ratings against these standards. Whether looking for a professional or snapshot camera, scan the reviews and narrow your choices down to a few cameras before making final comparisons.

OK, Lets Cut to the Chase...

Re-visit the reviews for this short list and evaluate the digital camera ratings in more depth for the following criteria:

Design, Construction and Controls

Minor design differences can become significant in daily camera use. Carefully compare how each camera's review is rated for design elements. Size and weight, body configuration, plus location of buttons, knobs and other controls can make a camera a joy to use or a real pain in the neck.

Evaluate how well the camera is put together. Are access doors for battery, memory, etc. solid and stable? What does the reviewer say about the shutter release, zoom and other buttons and knobs? How many photos will a fully charged battery take? Is the LCD bright and clear in both low light and sunny conditions?

The reviewer's evaluation of the camera's controls is critical. Can manual adjustments be made for different lighting conditions? How about auto-focus zones and exposure modes? Are controls simple and intuitive, or complicated menus?

Sensors, Pixels and Processors

These are the heart of a digital camera and determine photo quality, so closely compare how the reviewer rates them.

Generally larger sensors have more powerful and efficient photodiodes, and will produce higher quality photo images. Both CCD and CMOS sensor technology is advancing rapidly, but with each new development there are usually draw-backs, so compare carefully.

Digital camera marketing would have us believe it's all about more megapixels. But it's more complicated than that. Evaluate how each camera's review rates pixel quality, not just quantity. Some cameras will actually take better pictures with fewer pixels.

What the camera's processor does with the data collected from the sensor's diodes is equally important. It must properly interpret color balance and interpolate pixels for sharp natural looking pictures. It must be able to do it quickly or you'll have to wait too long between shots.

Lens Optics

In many ways lenses for digital cameras are simpler and less expensive than for conventional 35mm cameras. Even so, sensors and processors can't produce a better photo than what's visible through the lens. Compare the ratings because cheap lenses can distort images and colors.

In conclusion, decide on camera basics and budget range, scan enough reviews to pick a handful of finalists, then scrutinize the reviews and ratings on those cameras to find the perfect choice.

A list of top rated digital cameras can be found at our Digital Cameras Ratings page.

Digital cameras information from A to Z: camera types & features, how they work, accessories, photo printers, comparisons and more - plus digital photo processing tips and info at A-Z Digital, Your Complete A-Z Resource for Digital Cameras, Accessories and Information.

This article may be re-printed in its entirety, with no changes and this resource box included. 2005 A-Z Digital Cameras All rights reserved

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