Getting a compact digital camera as your first photography equipment is one of the best first step to start learning photography basics. There are various ranges of digital compacts to suit your budget and preference to start taking pictures. However different manufacturers has different function and features bundled with their models. And each equipment is not equal in its ability.
Megapixels should not be used as a benchmark to determine the quality of the digital camera equipment. The development and advancement of megapixels has come to a point where it is no longer a factor to determine which model to go for. On the contrary, for the lay photographer, the higher the megapixels would translate to bigger size pictures which would mean more storage space required for archiving the photos. Though with the cost of storage coming down, the lack of storage space would not be a big issue. The only problem for bigger file size is the management of archiving photos. Believe me; losing one’s sentimental photo is like a loss of a part of your life.
The sheer amount of makes and models make it difficult to pick a suitable compact camera. If you have the budget, you should not go for the cheapest as they lack features like stabilizers and quality lens. So what do you look out for nowadays?
Quality of picture
This is the main criteria. The picture should be sharp and rich in color. This can be determined by transferring the photo onto a desktop computer and viewing it from there. If not able, enlarging it on the LCD may provide a clue. Sometimes the quality of the LCD display itself provides a clue to the overall picture quality of the camera. If the manufacturer prides itself for its camera to take good quality photos, the LCD should display it.
A good lens would very likely produce a better picture. Lenses that do not focus the light correctly on the sensor would produce poor photos. Some manufacturer like Canon and Fujifilm makes their own good quality lens, while others like Panasonic and Sony outsource their lens to Leica and Carl Zeiss respectively.
Image stabilizer vs anti-shake
Camera shake does spoil the picture, with image stabilizer it helps to improve the photo by avoiding the minute shake while holding the camera. Image stabilizer helps to minimize the blur by moving the lens to counteract the small movement of the hands. This is a physical counter-action. While anti-shake uses the sensor to determine the movement and counter the shake by sensor displacement. Some models meaning of anti-shake meant bumping up the ISO settings. Which is better? The image stabilizer of course. Manufacturers that uses image stabilizer in their compacts include Canon and Panasonic.
Shape of camera
This is up to individual preference. For ease of portability, slim ones are handy to carry around. However the reduction in size meant sacrificing some features like less zoom and using manufacturer’s own proprietary battery which could be expensive. Of course you could buy cheaper compatible battery versions. Bulkier digital cameras use AA size batteries (easy to find replacement when your battery is low on power) and usually have bigger lenses and better optical zoom capability which would translate into better picture quality. They also have better creative modes like Av, Tv and full manual settings.
The bigger LCD screen is a plus, especially good on older and tired eyes. It gives a better preview and final viewing of the photo. The downside is the higher battery consumption. Still, the bigger the LCD screen the better!
Choice of camera manufacturer
So which digital camera manufacturer should you go for? This is a personal opinion. So please take this as a guide. Having tried them from the retails shops or friends; my verdict for good camera manufacturer photography equipment for a compact would be Canon. Next in line for consideration would be Panasonic. For fancy feature wise with good photo picture taking quality would be Fujifilm and Casio. Average choice would be Sony (due to its insistence on using its own proprietary accessories like its memory stick storage card which is costlier than those SD Cards). Olympus, Nikon, Kodak and others would rank last on my preference list for digital compact cameras. They may look fancy or famous but their compacts are either not durable or their picture taking capability is not up to par.