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Before choosing a digital camera it is best for you to decide what you hope to get out of it, and then select which options are most important for you.
In advertisements you will find descriptions of all kinds of features, but many of these have little to do with the effective use of the digital cameras. We are now going to describe some of the most important features to look out for when choosing a digital camera.
We should note first and foremost, that there are two main types of digital cameras:
Amateur digital cameras enjoy high demand among consumers due to their compact size, stylish design, and also the high quality of their images. These cameras are easy to use, something which is very important. Amateur digital cameras are equipped with a special video output through which you can view images by connecting the digital camera to a TV, and by using special software which is included with the camera, you can transfer files to your computer. Experts recommend that when buying digital cameras it is important to pay attention to the size of the matrix because the larger the matrix is, the higher the quality of the image you will receive. Also do not forget about the format of the image-files and storage media because they are important in that they determine how easily you will be able view and edit the images or video. Many consumers believe that the higher the optical zoom (zooming in) the higher the quality of the image is, however this is not completely true. This is because when filming at a high zoom there is a high probability of noise affecting the quality.
Professional digital camera allow to receive a photos of the highest quality, however in terms of size they have much greater dimensions than those seen in amateur digital cameras. Professional digital cameras are generally bought for work purposes. While some models of amateur digital cameras can fit in your pocket, professional versions are not so simple to carry as their size and weight is much greater. Operating professional digital cameras requires certain skills which are not necessary for amateur models. Models in this group not only offer automatic, but also exposure settings of manual and semi-automatic. They also give the photographer more "space" for the installation of other options. Therefore, users with experience in photography will be able to make high quality photos in virtually any environment with these cameras.
Professional digital cameras are less popular among consumers due to their high price.
Both professional and amateur digital cameras are usually evaluated based on the following parameters:
Numerical and quantitative:
It should be noted that each digital camera has its own specific capabilities - the quality cannot be judged through only numerical (quantitative) criteria. It is virtually impossible to choose a digital camera without making subjective assessments too.
Let's take a look in more detail at some of the parameters digital cameras have to offer.
The first parameter is one which can often be seen at the start of many descriptions of digital cameras.
Optical zoom is one of the main parameters. It shows the ability of the camera to "zoom in" on distant objects.
Optical zoom is a much more important parameter to consider than digital zoom - the lens with great ability "enhances" the image and only then records it on to the camera. With digital zoom the camera zooms in just like a magnifying glass and so the quality does, of course, leave much to be desired.
Optical zooms normally range between 10x and 25x. It is difficult to maintain high image quality at high magnification and therefore expensive cameras with good optics usually offer an optical zoom between 10x and 12x. Only digital cameras which cost over $2,000 can boast of both high optical zoom and good optics.
When choosing a camera it important that you don't go for the one with the highest optical zoom - 10x or 12x is enough for any shot. If you plan to receive a lot of distant objects it is better to buy a teleconverter (which can be removed at anytime) and use this to increase the optical zoom. Also, in this instance it is highly desirable to buy a tripod, since by holding the digital camera in your hands it is virtually impossible to make high quality photos in high optical zoom. Not even a stabilizer can help in such a situation.
Digital zoom is often measured in three digit numbers, however this function has practically no use. Commercials which laud the advantages of digital zoom are, to put it mildly, showing wishful thinking.
To be honest, digital zoom should be switched off immediately after purchasing the camera. This is because while filming, whenever the capabilities of the optical lens are exceeded, the digital camera automatically switches in to digital zoom mode. Any problems with such images cannot be fixed. If you still want to look at an image "through a magnifying glass" then this can be done easily using any graphics editor.
Based on the above there is no point paying any attention to the level of digital zoom a camera offers. Digital zoom should definitely not be considered when evaluating a digital camera.
A stabilizer is absolutely essential - and at present virtually all digital cameras offer this function. The quality of photos will be affected if no stabilizer is used - the natural hand movements during filming will result in blurred images. While in principle it is possible to film using just a tripod and no stabilizer, how many of us are willing to bring a tripod with us on vacation?
While the type of stabilizer used is not important (the differences in operation between different types are often unclear), it is nevertheless desirable to know how they differ from each other. There are two types of stabilizer available for digital cameras - optical, and electronic. Let's consider (briefly) how they work.
Electronic stabilizers operate on a very simple premise - through using pixels outside the border of the CCD matrix they are able to keep images within the matrix stable, and thus images can be saved accurately at any time. The basic principle of electronic stabilizers can be seen in figure 1.
Figure 1: Electronic stabilizer
The main advantages of electronic stabilizers are that they are cheap, and easy to manufacture. One of the major shortcomings of electronic stabilizers is that they cause redundant matrices which lead to a decrease in the area of each pixel within the matrix, and thus the sensitivity of the digital camera. Another disadvantage of electronic stabilizers is the fact that when using them while recording, they can cause increased digital noise or artifacts.
Optical stabilizers work under a completely different principle; through the help of moving elements within the camera's optical system, the image is kept strictly to the CCD matrix. The figure below illustrates the principle of optical stabilizers:
Figure 2: Optical stabilizer
The advantages of optical stabilizers - the quality of stabilization is significantly higher due to the larger number of samples for the analysis of the camera's movement, and the smaller the number of pixels in the matrix, the larger the potential exposure.
A very important advantage of optical stabilizers is that they give the digital camera higher sensitivity, and consequently, better quality when filming in low light.
Their disadvantages - they are expensive and increase power consumption.
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