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Top 10 things to consider when buying a digital camera

Are you looking to buy a new compact digital camera? Here are 10 features you should look for before parting with your cash.

Lens and Megapixels

Contrary to popular belief, it’s not all about the megapixels. The more pixels in an image, the bigger it can be enlarged and printed without a loss of quality.

With megapixel count, eight to 10 is perfect for everyday use, and anything more is a bonus.

But you need to choose a camera that has a decent lens too. Most compact cameras have a built-in, non-removable one, so make sure it’s good. Look out for Canon, Nikkor and Carl Zeiss lenses in particular.


Don’t be taken in by a high digital zoom factor if the optical zoom, which offers the highest quality image close-ups, isn’t good. Aim for 3-5x.

Image Stabilisation

Some form of image stabilisation is common now, even on the cheapest cameras. It’s particularly useful for capturing blur-free pictures when taking photos at arm’s length, especially if you have shaky hands.

But each manufacturer calls it something slightly different so look out for optical image stabilisation (OIS) and VR image stabilisation.

Face Recognition

If you take a lot of photos of friends and family, particularly action shots, face recognition is very useful. Many cameras can find and track several faces in a single shot to ensure they are focused on, and in movie mode some can auto focus on a person of your choice.


You don’t have to worry about remembering where your photos were taken with a camera using built-in GPS. It pinpoints the location of each picture using the same satellite technology in your sat-nav. Some allow this to then be plotted on a map or integrated with online tools such as Google Maps and Flickr.

Manual Features

Point-and-shoot cameras are great for just that, but sometimes you want a little more creative freedom. Some compacts have additional controls to adjust settings like shutter speed and aperture. These are great if you’re in between amateur and professional.

HD Video

All new TVs now show images in high definition, so if you’re thinking of playing back the short movies taken on your camera, go HD. YouTube also has an HD channel now, so why miss out on showing your footage in all its glory.


Not essential, but instead of connecting the camera to your computer via a USB cable or using the memory card, this allows you to transfer the images wirelessly.


If you’re going to be taking a lot of photos on the beach or in extreme conditions, a rugged, water and weatherproof camera body is essential. Fortunately many compact cameras are built to withstand water (splashes and immersion), dust, sand and other dirt.


Many compact cameras take standard AA batteries. These are generally easy to find and replace if you run low but buying a model with a rechargeable lithium-ion battery is a better idea. They last longer between charges and are more environmentally friendly.

Digital cameras have come a long way in the last five years, with a ton of features to enhance your pictures. Though they can’t guarantee you’ll become the next David Bailey, you’re sure to get some great photos and movies for a modest investment.

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