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The ultimate guide to...

Digital cameras

To ensure you get the right camera and produce the results you desire with your photos the first question to ask yourself is what do you need from your camera and where is it you're going to use it.

Compact cameras are a great portable option for everyday use. If you're looking to get more serious with your photography then a Bridge camera will offer more features and versatility.

For a more professional edge then a D-SLR will possibly be the right choice or a compact system camera (CSC).

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Compact cameras

Often referred to as 'point and shoot' these pocket-sized, portable cameras are ideal for everyday life. There are a range of levels available.

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Entry level compact

These are ideal for the first time camera user and offer a camera on a budget. Auto modes help take any complexity out of taking pictures.

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Super zoom cameras

Offers additional features to other models but principally provides a higher optical zoom with image stabilisation.

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Advanced compact

Produce high quality shots but from a lightweight and compact body. Includes more premium features and controls with higher quality sensors.

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Smart cameras

A new form of digital cameras driven by the dominance of the smartphone market incorporating the look and feel of a smartphone and Android operating systems with advanced photographic features.

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Tough or action cameras

Ideal for the adventure seeker and those who need a camera that can survive just about anything. These types of cameras are waterproof to a range of depths, shockproof, dustproof and freeze proof to work in the coolest climates.

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Bridge cameras

Offer an in between solution to compact cameras and DSLRs providing more shooting features than a compact and a far more expanded focal range, ie. a longer zoom.

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Compact system camera

A recent revolution in today's camera market, these have become many people's popular choice offering the professional imaging power and versatility of a DSLR but in a body not much larger than many top of the range compact cameras.

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Digital SLR Cameras

This once film-based camera, single lens reflex (SLR) has now been developed to fully support digital photography and with a wide range of entry level DSLR models there is an option for photographers of any level who simply want the professional level imaging and control.

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Jargon Buster

Key Word Description
Aperture Adjustable opening in the lens through which light passes. When it changes size, the focus and the exposure of the image is affected. It is stated as f-stops, the lower the f-stop number e.g. f/2.8 indicates a large aperture.
Auto focus Automatically brings the lens into sharp focus on the subject. Auto focus systems operate quickly and are often very reliable.
Digital zoom Centre of the image is enlarged digitally. Easy to use but image resolution and sharpness can be affected.
Exposure A process which allows more or less light into the camera and exposing the image sensor to light, a captured image is the result.
eXtreme Digital Memory (xD) Type of memory card format used mainly by Fuji and Olympus cameras to store images; it is smaller than Secure Digital.
Face detection Camera software built in that can detect the shape of a human face and sets the exposure and focus automatically to create perfect portraits.
Frames per second (fps) The maximum number of images a camera can shoot continuously in one second. Important if consumer is looking for high-speed action shots.
Image stabilisation Technology that can automatically compensate for any unwanted camera movement allowing the reduction of blur in photos. Optical image stabilisation is the most effective form.
ISO ISO measures sensitivity to light. A high ISO rating lets you take clear pictures in low-light environments or of fast moving objects.
LCD screen Liquid Crystal Display. A screen that allows you to view and review your images in addition to displaying camera functions and menus.
OLED Organic light emitting diodes – ultra thin and lightweights as they don’t require backlighting which an LCD screen does. It offers wider viewing angles, more vibrant colours, higher contrast and more accurate reproduction of images. The fast refresh time is also ideal for electronic viewfinders to show live view.
EVF Electronic viewfinders are digital displays showing the cameras current settings and exactly what the camera will take a picture of. They are easier to use in bright light than an LCD screen.
Lithium ion battery A popular digital rechargeable battery type. It does not require a full discharge before being charged again. Higher capacity than most battery technologies.
Megapixel (MP) 1MP (megapixel) = one million pixels. The more pixels in an image, the higher its resolution. Pictures of 5MP or higher can be enlarged to A4 size.
Memory Stick (MS) A memory card format made by Sony. Continually evolving, however Sony is now starting to adopt standard SD format.
Optical zoom Image is enlarged with no loss to picture quality. The higher the magnification a camera has the closer you can zoom. 3 xs is typical, but some high zoom cameras are now reaching over 10x.
PictBridge Allows images to be printed directly from digital cameras to a printer, without having to connect to a computer.
Red-eye reduction Technology that reduces the likelihood of red eyes occurring in portraits - some cameras can even eliminate them later, digitally.
Macro mode Use to capture the finest details by allowing your lens to focus even when very close to the subject.
Scene modes Auto modes to take pictures quickly as the camera settings are optimised to get the best image for the chosen subject or shooting conditions.
GPS A common feature in action cameras and advanced compacts allowing you to map where you’re taking pictures of so ideal for remembering all your holiday snaps. With geo-tagging it makes sorting through all your images even easier as they can be sorted by location.
Secure Digital Memory (SD) A memory card format that becoming the standard it is smaller and lighter than Compact Flash.
SDHC Secure Digital High Capacity - an advanced level of SD memory.
SDXC Secure Digital Extended Capacity - an advanced level of SD memory.
Shutter speed Refers to the length of time the cameras shutter remains open when a photo is taken. High shutter speeds can 'freeze' moving objects. Lower shutter speeds have the ability to create blur effects.
Single lens reflex (SLR) A camera with interchangeable lenses, usually giving the best possible image quality.
Universal Serial Bus (USB) A hardware memory interface that allows the transfer of images and data between computers and add-on devices such as digital cameras.
Wi-Fi enabled Connect direct to Wi-Fi networks to transfer pictures and videos to a computer or upload direct to the internet.