Consider the Extras: Choosing a Digital Camera (part 5)
by Andrea Steed (Nov 26, 2004)
You’ve narrowed your search for a new digital camera by identifying your photography needs. You’ve covered megapixels and zoom, decided on your budget, and chosen the style of camera you want, but there are still four to five cameras that meet your criteria. Now the details become important to help you determine which camera is best for you.
Battery Life and Style of Battery
Memory Card Options
All of the various types can be purchased in different storage sizes. Rather than purchase one extremely large memory card (such as the 1 gigabyte cards), you might consider two or three smaller ones (256 megabytes). Three hundred photos lost on one large storage card is much more detrimental than 50 lost on a smaller card.
Shutter Lag Time
There are ways to reduce shutter lag, such as keeping the battery fully charged, using a high-speed memory card, and anticipating the moment by pressing the shutter button earlier. You can also keep the shutter button pressed halfway down making the camera auto-focus on the subject as you follow it with your viewfinder. When you press the button, because it’s already focused, the write-time is decreased slightly.
Another factor that can be helpful in decreasing shutter lag and increasing the ability to take multiple photos in succession is the in-camera buffer. If you have a larger in-camera buffer, then the camera can store the photo there while you continue taking photos. It’s able to go about recording the photo on the card because it uses that buffer instead of the operating memory. This is the feature that allows for “burst mode” photography, where the camera will take photos at regular brief intervals for sporting events and the like.
Additional features that might help you make your final decision between two close contenders include the size of the camera, the size of the LCD viewfinder, how it feels in your hand as you use it, the brand name (you may trust one over another), whether it can take panoramic photos, if has special settings for portrait, lansdscape and burst photography, and the accessories that come with it.
The bottom line: The extra features are what will make your final decision on a camera. Consider the battery style and life, memory card options, connectivity with your computer, and shutter lag time for each camera. Read plenty of reviews and give the camera a try in the store if you’re buying it locally.