Digital camera buying guide: What to look for while shopping
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Even though smartphones tend to be the go to camera for most people, there is still a wide selection of cameras for those who wanna get a little more out of their photos.
It all starts with point and shoot cameras.
These are slim, basic cameras that shoot better than a smartphone, but can still fit in your pocket.
Cameras like the Canon SX600 usually sport a ten times zoom, and they're pretty good at capturing photos of fast moving kids and sports.
You'll rarely spend more than $250 on these models.
If it's any higher than that, consider stepping up to the next category.
Here you have compact zooms, megazooms, and high performance compact cameras.
These'll range you anywhere from $350 to $1,000, depending on the feature set, and the size.
Compact megazooms like the Canon PowerShot SX280 usually sport a longer lens.
And they give you more control over manual functions like exposure and even white balance.
They easily beat the image quality of a point and shoot camera.
Then, you have megazooms.
At that point, forget about fitting anything into your pocket.
These cameras fit somewhere between point and shoots, and d s l rs as far as image quality goes.
Cameras like the Panasonic FZ200 are great when you want to get close up shots from nosebleed seats.
That's their primary use.
Other than that, the photo quality is pretty close to a point and shoot camera.
Enthusiasts compacts like the Sony RX100 II don't have a great zoom but their image quality easily beats any mega zoom.
A bigger sensor means higher quality photos and thanks to their more advanced lenses, you get more of that blurry background, or bouquet effect, as it's called.
And even with all that tech, an enthusiast compact will still fit in your pocket.
Some models like the Sony A6000 even have interchangeable lenses.
So you can replace the lens with a macro lens and get beautiful food photos.
That gets you a little bit closer to a DSLR without having to carry around a camera bag.
Now, for the photography enthusiast who wants professional looking photos, there are DSLRs.
Digital s l r's are fast.
They sport big sensors for crisp photos, and you get all the manual functions you want.
You can certainly pick one up and start using it, but for the newbie, there's definitely a learning curve.
What's great is that once you outgrow the stock lens on your DSLR you can replace it with a new one, and feel like you have an entirely new camera.
Once you decide what kind of camera you want, it's time to dig into the specs a little more.
But don't be distracted by megapixels and zoom.
Those numbers don't really mean much.
The first thing you want to look for is the type of lens the camera has.
Wide angled lenses are great for landscape and group shots, whereas telephoto lenses are great for portraits and sports.
Pay especially close attention to the aperture.
This is what allows your camera to perform well in low light.
Plus, it gives you that blurry background or bouquet effect that we talked about.
The bottom line.
The lower the number like 2.8 or 3.5, the better.
And finally, look out for extras.
These aren't necessary, but they can be helpful.
For instance, there's GPS for geo tagging your photos when you're on vacation.
And even WiFi, so you can upload your photos with out ever connecting your camera to the computer.
For more tips on buying digital cameras, head on over to cnet.com/topics/cameras.
For CNET, I'm Sharon Profis.