Point-and-Shoot Camera Buying Guide

With the ubiquity of cell phones, it seems everyone these days has a camera in their pocket, but there's still a market for – and good reason for owning – point-and-shoot models. While camera phones offer convenience, point-and-shoot cameras often allow for more customization and advanced features for shutterbugs. And despite the popularity of phones, point-and-shoot cameras still cost good money, so it's worth thinking about a few things before you decide. Here's your point-and-shoot buying guide.

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Image quality

Point-and-shoot cameras often offer images that are a higher quality than cell phone cameras. However, despite manufacturer's insistence that their particular models offer a lot of megapixels – that is, a better resolution of image – this isn't the only factor that will affect the photograph's quality. One major advantage of point-and-shoot cameras is that they often include a zoom lens, something that isn't offered in cell phone cameras. In addition, a camera's image quality largely depends on the quality of its sensor. Be sure to read reviews and don't be afraid to get a little technical in your research.

Size and portability

Perhaps you don't want to spend hours comparing different sensors and claims of pixel density; that's understandable. You can't argue, however, that your decision will have to consider how comfortable you are using and carrying around your camera. Point-and-shoot cameras are made in a variety of form factors, from tiny, pocket-sized models to larger, full-body bodies. If you make an impulse purchase, you could come to regret owning a camera that is too big and unwieldy to use often. So, if you plan on buying a camera with the purpose of taking it out to events, make sure that you'll be able to take it around with you.

Computer compatibility

While many cameras have LCD screens, nobody takes pictures to view them on a tiny screen. And while many people do still get their pictures printed at the photo shop, the most popular way of viewing photos in this age is on the computer. Therefore, you should be sure that your camera is compatible with your computer. Most cameras come equipped with a slot for a small memory card and the ability to plug into a computer directly. So, before you buy your camera, consider how you'll get your pictures onto your computer – you don't want them to be trapped inside the camera!

There are many things to consider when making a purchase, especially when it comes to technology, which seems to change everyday. Therefore, try to read consumer reviews and consider your needs before coming to a decision.