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How to Buy a Camera

Before you shell out big money for a camera you can’t use, here are some ideas to help you buy the perfect camera to get the perfect scene.
Types of Cameras

The right type of camera can make a big difference in how you take pictures. Still photo cameras are classified into:

– Film cameras. Film cameras are most often used by people who like to work with film, or take pictures the old-fashioned way. A good film camera, when used properly, can sometimes take an even better picture than a digital camera.
– Digital cameras. Digital cameras are now very common and affordable. Digital cameras do away with film rolls and cartridges, and upload image files directly into computers or digital photo-editing machines.

Models of Cameras

Whether you buy a film camera or a digital camera, the camera model can also have a very direct and significant effect on the way you take pictures. There are two common still camera models available on the market:

– Point-and-shoot cameras are the simplest camera models available. Equipped with simple controls and autofocus features, you simply aim the camera at the object, click the shutter, and you instantly have a picture. Point-and-shoot cameras do not have as much flexibility and adaptability as other cameras, although some advanced point-and-shoot cameras do have a limited set of features to take a better still photograph.
– Single-lens reflex (SLR) cameras are advanced camera models equipped with interchangeable lenses and aperture settings that you could tweak to get the desired effect of a photograph. Much of the settings can be automated in digital cameras, although high-end SLR cameras that work with film have to be manually adjusted all the time.

Gauge Your Skills

An SLR camera may be the best option for many professional photographers because of its versatility, but a person who doesn’t know how to use an advanced high-end camera will almost certainly mess up a picture. If you’re really serious about taking up photography as a hobby or a means of making extra income, you may want to buy an SLR.

If you’re an occasional photographer and you need a camera for special occasions, or if you’re a snap-shooter, a point-and-shoot camera does the trick. If you’re really good with a point-and-shoot camera, you may not even need to buy an SLR.

Test the Camera

Most camera dealers will allow you to test the camera first before buying it, so that you can get a feel for the camera before buying it. The camera you’ll choose depends on your personal preference, but here are important things you need to keep in mind:

– Weight. If the camera is too heavy, you won’t use it. Pick one that’s easy to carry around, and doesn’t weigh you down when you’re taking action-packed, fast-paced pictures.
– Positioning of controls. The layout of the buttons, knobs, and other controls on a camera are laid out in many different ways. Pick a camera that has a convenient, clean, clear control layout.
– Precision. The dealer will probably allow you to take a few pictures here and there so that you can evaluate the quality of the camera. Make sure to check the crispness and sharpness of the image, and if the camera takes precise and accurate images. Remember that no two cameras are alike, and you may take quite a while in the camera store picking among cameras to find the best one.

Get as Many Features as You Need

Some camera buyers think that the more features a camera has, the better it is. A feature-rich camera may seem to have a lot of advantages, but it may only make operating the camera more complicated than it should. There are basic features of a camera that you should pay attention to:

– Autofocus. If you’re a beginner photographer, or if you’re an expert photographer who needs to use point-and-shoot cameras, autofocus makes it easier and faster for you to take a picture. Make sure that the autofocus feature on the camera is quick enough to automatically pinpoint and identify focus points on the object.
– Zoom varies with the length of the lens. It’s best to buy cameras with a mechanical zoom instead of internal zoom (like ones in cellphone cameras), so that you can maximize the zoom capabilities of a camera.

Buy Peripheral Parts and Lenses

Now that you bought a good camera, you may also want to look into other accessories that can help enhance your photographic experience. Here are some things you also want to buy with your camera:

– Interchangeable lenses. For SLRs, a complete set of lenses can make all the difference between regular-looking pictures and fantastic-looking ones. While the lenses may be more expensive than the camera unit itself, you can think of them as investments.
– Straps and cases. A damaged camera is a real pain. With secure straps and cases, you can protect lenses and the camera body from scratches and damage.
– Tripods and stands. For portrait photographers or those who specialize in still-life photography, tripods and stands do away with the fatigue and stress of holding the camera in place.

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