Whether you're buying a camera for yourself or someone else, the different options available today can make the choice a difficult one. If you plan to become a professional photographer or you're enrolling in a photography course, a DSLR may be the obvious choice. For everyone else, an advanced point-and-shoot or even a Smart Camera may make more sense, once you understand the differences and what each type of camera has to offer. Whichever camera you select, don't forget to make a checklist of the accessories you need, since they don't usually come with a camera out of the box.
While many people may still associate point-and-shoot cameras with weekend snapshots and people who aren't "serious" about photography, some point-and-shoot cameras do have advantages for beginners. They don't have the range of manual settings available on a DSLR, but they do have most of the automatic settings photographers need to learn. If you decide to get a point-and-shoot camera, look for models with an optical zoom. Optical zooms retain the full pixel count when you zoom in on a subject, giving you sharp images. Digital zooms essentially just crop a photo as it's being taken, reducing the image quality.
Smart Cameras are one of the newer options available to serious photographers today. These come with built-in Wi-Fi and some even include a 4G cell phone. Much like a smartphone or tablet, you can download and use photo editing apps and then email or post your photos online directly from the camera. While you can also download games and other apps, it's important to remember these are cameras first and foremost. They include optical zoom lenses and can even record high definition video.
When purchasing your first camera, keep in mind that many of the accessories you may need won't necessarily come with the camera. Accessories to look for include a carrying case and a lens cleaning kit. You may want an extra battery, an SD memory card for transferring photos to your computer and at least one additional lens--an adjustable telephoto lens is a popular first choice. UV filters are relatively inexpensive and will protect your lens from scratches. If you plan to take night shots or a lot of portraits, a more powerful flash that can tilt will also come in handy. A stable tripod can also be essential for nature shots, or anything with a long shutter speed.
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