Here is the short answer to the question of which digital camera should you buy.

A camera that is one level better than what you think you will need.

If you follow the step-by-step plan below, you will gain a detailed understanding of choosing a digital camera based on its specifications. If you don't have time, here are my big three qualifications:

Two other important qualifications include:

Here are three highly recommended digital cameras:


What to look for when buying a digital camera

This is a step by step guide to what to look for when buying a digital camera. It will focus you on the right model for you, and will help you make the purchase, all in a few minutes.

Don't buy the best digital camera. Buy the right one. Here.

1.  Action: Write down the features that are essential for you.

Before you even began to delve into the question "what digital camera should I buy?", you probably had some ideas. There are some things and features that you know you want, and without them the investment is not worth it. Start by listing them, and then you can refine the list as you consider other factors.

2.  Action: Define what and why you will be photographing.

What to look for when buying a digital camera depends on what you need the camera to do. If you are a parent planning to photograph your kids Little League baseball games, you need a camera that is good with motion. It should have a wide aperture and fast shutter speed. Having a movie mode may be of interest to you.

If you're at school, and your pictures are more social than artistic, a small pocket digital camera that you can keep with you, in your pocket or bag, is what you want. Whenever you need it, it will be there for you.

If you're an aspiring professional or artistic photographer, go for photo quality and features. Landscape photographers will want a great zoom lens. For flowers, a lens with a macro setting is crucial. If you're looking to upgrade from a camera SLR to digital, you may want to buy a quality digital camera to learn with before making the hefty investment in a digital SLR.


3.  Action: Define how you will use the camera.

Are you a student looking for a camera to use at school and on trips? If so, you probably will want a compact, slim or mini pocket digital camera. Will you be taking the camera on long hikes? A lightweight camera will be important, so the dimensions statistic is something you should look at. Is the camera to be in a studio, or at home? Then you can get a larger size with more advanced features.

4.  Action: Define what you will do with the photographs.

At the end of the day, this is the key element of what digital camera to buy. Here we look at megapixels and resolution.

Are you going to be using the pictures exclusively for e-mail and photo sharing? Then you can save money and get a lower megapixel/resolution camera. Are you going to be making small prints? Then a three megapixel camera will suffice. Quality graphics and enlargements? Look for a five or above megapixel camera. Professional photography? Consider a digital SLR.

By knowing what you'll do with the pictures, you will know the quality of camera you require.

5.  Action: Speculate about the future.

If I were a prophet, imagine the fun I could have in Las Vegas! The best I can do about my future is given an educated guess. I've met people who insist on buying the best of everything, loaded with features they will absolutely never use. If you have the budget for it, I guess it's not so bad. But, still, wasteful spending bothers me.

On the other hand, I've purchased equipment which was perfect for about six months. Then I realized I needed more. Today's mini pocket digital camera may not be adequate for next summer's trip to Thailand.

I try to follow a "two-year" rule. I speculate on how my needs may change within the next two years and base my purchasing decision on that. Another possibility is a "one notch above" rule. Look to buy something that is one level above your current needs. For example, get a six megapixel digital camera instead of a five megapixel digital camera.

6.  Action: Understand what to look for when buying a digital camera.

Before looking at a comparison of best digital camera comparison features, make sure you understand what those features are. There are lots of technical details on a product specification list. Some are inconsequential, some are crucial. You've heard about megapixels, but there are other important factors. Lens focal length, maximum aperture, light metering and flash capabilities are all critical factors in deciding what digital camera you should buy.

On the digital camera features comparison page, we have taken a quality digital camera and listed all of its specifications. Together with each significant specification, you will find an easy to understand explanation of what it means. Then, that camera will be evaluated based on where it fits in in the quality spectrum.

That information will allow you to understand digital camera comparison features, and make the right decision for you. Go now to what to look for when buying a digital camera.