How to Choose a Digital Camera

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These days purchasing a digital camera is not an easy task. Smart phone cameras has improved so much that not many shoppers are looking for affordable pocket shooters. And the selection of budget cameras available for sale is not very big. Most buyers are tempted to purchase entry-level SLRs, but we recommend splurging on a premium pocket model with large image sensors, or a midrange camera with interchangeable lens. Bridge style cameras with super zooms are great options to consider as well. When looking for a new camera consider checking out Groupon offering a wide range of digital cameras, from the most affordable to the most expensive ones, but with a Groupon Promo Code you can get a discount and save on your purchase.

Below are some of the most popular and highly rated models for each of the categories that are being offered in today's market.

Pocket Friendly Models

You can purchase an entry-level point-and-shoot camera online for just about $100 but they will be identical to those most smart phones feature now. But if you are ready to spend a bit more there are some nice models from Canon and Nikon with the price tag reaching $200. What differs these slim line cameras form smart phones is packed zoom lenses along with dated CCD sensor technology limiting image and video quality when shooting at high ISO settings.

Cameras that cost $200-$400 are equipped with more advanced CMOS image sensors and rather long zoom lenses, mostly 30X. Video is 1080P and you'll even find some waterproof options.

Premium Compacts

You may wonder whether buying a pocket camera with a fixed lens at $400-$1000 makes sense as you can get an interchangeable lens model for that much. But a slim, premium shooter is for those who already have a mirror less camera or SLR and lots of lenses. Modern cameras in this category come with longer zooms, narrower aperture and lenses that top out at 10X coverage (25-250mm). Although a narrow aperture isn't good for lowlight such pocket cameras are a great choice for taking photos on vacation. Some models feature one-inch sensor that ensures decent image quality through ISO 3200 up to ISO 6400 when shooting in raw format. Others come with a larger image sensor, shorter zooms or no zoom at all. Or you can opt for a small camera with SLR sized APS-C image sensor and a fixed focal length lens.

Bridge Cameras

Bridge camera is a fixed lens camera of the size and shape of an SLR. Such models typically have long lenses up to 83X zoom power along with the 1/2.3 inch sensor, sport electronic viewfinders, hot shoes, and articulating rear displays. Even though a bridge camera is not as good at handling dim light as an SLR is it is still a great choice. A premium bridge camera will have a 1-inch sensor, a zoom shorter than in SLRs, and two or three lenses for a 24-200mm, 24-400mm, 24-600m coverage range. The price of such cameras is higher than that of an SLR and bridge models with smaller sensors, but they perform better at higher ISO settings.

SLR and Mirror Less

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Among the disadvantages of mirror less models are tilting touchscreen displays and wireless connectivity. Modern SLRs from Canon now have improved video autofocus so customers can purchase a budget mirror less model if they need a fast autofocus for recording moving pictures.

Let's explain the term first. The mirror in a camera directs light to an optical viewfinder from the lens. Cameras without the mirror box are slimmer and have fewer moving parts along with more accurate autofocus. The latest models come with really fast autofocus. If you can do without a viewfinder and want to use the LCD to frame your shots, there is a good selection of cameras for less than $500, including a kit lens. Keep in mind that different manufacturers support different lens formats. Sony mirror less cameras require the use of a Sony E and FE lens or you can use Fujifilm for the X lens system. However the Micro Four Thirds system allows for an Olympus and Panasonic lens format.

Entry-level SLRs by Canon, Nikon and Pentax feature traditional optical viewfinders. Sony has the A-mount SLR system, but uses electronic viewfinders in its Alpha SLT series. Due to the fixed mirror design and EVF the video focused system uses the same sensor as the focus for stills. In other words, their autofocus is on the same level with mirror less cameras when you record moving pictures.

Premium Mirror Less and SLR

If you are ready to spend more than $1000 for your camera make sure you look into the lenses and accessories available for each system and analyze the pros and cons of different image sensor formats.

Lens options are less varied compared to those offered in the Canon and Nikon SLR systems. If you want to capture distant subjects you will appreciate the flexibility that the APS-C and Micro Four Thirds sensor sizes deliver, however the choice of full frame models is also great. The full frame size is the best for landscapes, events as well as for making portraits and taking reportage photos.

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If you want to buy an interchangeable lens camera for $1000- $2500 there are many options with similar features, performance and image quality. First of all you need to consider which lenses you'd like to have and figure out how much they cost. You should also focus on the capabilities of the camera itself. If an autofocus and burst capture rate is important for you APS-C models are the best. If you specialize in landscapes or portraits, a full frame camera is what you need, so a sensor size and quality should be the priorities.

Then you must decide whether you need an optical or electronic viewfinder. Contemporary EVFs are not bad, plus they refresh really fast enabling you to track moving action. If you are a devoted fan of an optical viewfinder, then an SLR is preferred to mirror less.

Professional Cameras: Full Frame and Medium Format

Most professional photographers got used to relying on a Canon or Nikon SLR system, because of a huge assortment of pro grade bodies and lenses, as well as a strong support system. Others may prefer a Sony pro level SLR.

Professional photographers use cameras that don't pack as much resolution as an SLR, but they can fire off images and boast continuous tracking and exposure.

When it comes to the medium format photography digital cameras offered on the market have the 33 x 44 mm sensor size and cost under $10,000, including Pentax's SLR bodies and mirror less models from Fujifilm and Hasselblad.

The most expensive cameras have a sensor that's 54 x 40 mm in size which matches the 645 film size. One of them is Phase One XF 100MP offering raw image capture and hundred MP resolution.