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Friday, June 1, 2007

Tips for Buying Advanced Compact Digital Cameras

Advanced Compact Digital Cameras Offer A Great Value For The Money

Buying An Advanced Digital Compact Camera

For today’s user, the term “easy to use” has come to mean “easy to achieve excellence,” that is, both full manual control and expanded bracketing options along with practical and powerful shooting modes that are programmed into most of these cameras. New camera technologies now automatically remove red-eye, brighten shadow areas, create panoramics and close-focus down to mere centimeters all because of instructions that have been programmed into the various shooting modes.

Truth be told, almost every technologically advanced imaging feature was introduced on a zoom camera long before being offered on a D-SLR. Partially because of manufacturing and other cost efficiencies, advancements like 5-megapixel CCD image sensors, super-sized LCD monitors and body-integral image stabilization all debuted on zoom cameras before migrating to D-SLRs. If you want to guess what future D-SLRs might look like, study the advanced compact zoom models.

Other Features

True wide-angle performance has become more commonplace among cameras of this type, and that’s a big advantage. D-SLRs typically offer a 28-85mm equivalent zoom in a standard lens kit, but some all-in-one cameras provide a lens that starts at 24mm (35mm equivalent), most notably the Nikon Coolpix 8400. Fast lenses are easier to find, too. And many of the fixed-lens zoom models accept screw-on tele and wide-angle accessory lenses that provide excellent results.

The fact that the lens doesn’t come off can be a considerable advantage. Removing the lens on a D-SLR exposes the image sensor, mirror and other internal components to contamination by airborne dust particles. D-SLR imagers can be cleaned, it’s true, but a sealed, dust-proof system trumps a blower brush any day.

Advanced compact zoom cameras offer a superb value-for-dollar proposition. Pricing pressure from D-SLRs has driven manufacturers to cut zoom camera retails to the bone. In many cases, they’re priced quite close to compact point-and-shoot digital cameras, despite the fact that compacts lack long zooms and advanced features. Digital SLRs are available for $800 or less, but adding a 7x or longer zoom lens will set you back at least $300 to $400 for even the lowest-priced lenses. You also could think of it this way: Would you prefer to spend eight hundred bucks on the cheapest entry-level D-SLR, or own the best, most sophisticated and fully featured zoom compact camera for the same money?

What To Look For In An Advanced Compact

Zoom Range. For many people, the number-one reason to consider buying an advanced compact digital camera is the extended zoom range. Look beyond the “x” number (e.g., 10x zoom), however, and check the wide-angle spec as well as the telephoto. A 28mm or wider equivalent is much more useful than a 35mm lens. How much zoom range you need is dependent on what you photograph. If you shoot landscapes and travel scenes, the wide-angle end may be critical to you; for people shots, mid-range focal lengths work; and for wildlife and sports, an equivalent focal length of 300-400mm can be helpful.

Image Stabilization. Here’s a feature that will help you achieve better results in more situations than you may at first imagine. When shooting with a telephoto in low-light conditions, when shooting macro or at any time when you want to keep the ISO setting low, you run a risk of the camera moving during a slow exposure, which will lower the quality of your shot.

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