Megapixels aren't everything
Vacations and other important events are always coming up and that means that people all around the country will be getting ready to go on family trips. Like all family trips, you will want to remember what you do forever so photos are a must and video is nice too. If you are still rocking that digital camera from five years ago, it’s time for an upgrade.
When it comes time to upgrade digital cameras, some people get hung up trying to figure out what they need and what they don't need. One thing you don't want to get hung up on is megapixels. All of the mainstream digital cameras on the market today have enough megapixels to do snapshot prints with no issues at all. If you want larger digital photos with good resolution such as large prints, you will want a few more megapixels. All of the consumer focused home printers I know of only print up to 8 x 10 prints and to get good resolution at that print size you need only 6-megapixles for best quality and only 2-megapixels if you want average quality.
With most major cameras today packing in 8MP and higher you will not need to be caught up in the megapixel race. Rather than focusing on megapixels, look at the quality of the optics and check online for images to see how the camera works in the real world. If possible, glass optics are generally better than plastic optics when it comes to image quality, so spend more for a quality camera with glass optics if your budget supports it.
One place that you can spend more money to get a bigger number is the zoom range. If you want to be able to get in close to the action lots of zoom is important and many of the super zoom cameras can do 12x optical zoom or higher. Avoid digital zoom numbers; I suggest you just ignore that number altogether. Digital zoom makes the pixels larger and that leads to poor image quality.
If you get camera with lots of zoom, you will want image stabilization. Without image stabilization, it's nearly impossible to get a clear shot at high zoom ranges. For this buyers guide I will focus on point and shoot cameras and save DSLR cameras for another day. Make an informed buying decision on your new camera and you won't be disappointed.
If you have a modest budget, the Canon Powershot SD1300Is has the features most people will want on an entry-level point and shoot in the under $200 range. The camera has a 4x optical zoom lens that is wide angle and features image stabilization. The camera also comes in a range of colors so you can buy what suits your tastes as well. You can get the SD1300IS on Amazon right now for about $108.
If you want to be able to get really close to your subject from afar, the Canon SX30IS is a great option. This 14.1MP beast supports 35x optical zoom. A 35x zoom on a point and shoot is equivalent to a lens of 24-840mm on a 35mm camera. The camera also has optical image stabilization, and records 720p HD movies so you can get video and still pics with one device. The camera stores to SD cards as well as SDHC and SDXC cards. The only downside here is that the high-end features have a high-end price of right at $370.
If Nikon is more to your liking and you want some great features that make shooting easier, like an angle adjustable screen, the Nikon Coolpix P90 is a great option. The camera has a 3-inch rear LCD that can be tilted to make it easy to take photos from any angle. The camera has a 12.1MP resolution and a 24x wide-angle optical zoom lens with vibration reduction. Vibration reduction is to reduce blur in the images when you press the shutter button. The P90 also has a glass lens and tons of other features. This is about as high-end as you can get in a point-and-shoot digital camera so it carries a price that goes along with the feature set of $449.
If your tastes lean towards a camera a bit smaller and easier to carry, the Nikon Coolpix S6000 might be perfect. This little camera has 14.2MP resolution, 7x optical zoom (which is good for a camera this size) and a 2.7-inch rear LCD. The S6000 has 720p HD video recording and uses vibration reduction image stabilization. You can get the little camera for about $200 in several colors.
If neither Canon nor Nikon is what you have in mind, Panasonic is one of the larger names in the digital camera market and the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ40 is a nice option. The 14.4MP camera has 24x optical zoom with image stabilization and a 3-inch rear LCD. It can record HD video and has lots of intelligent automatic modes to make taking photos a snap. You can get the DMC-FZ40 for about $300.
If you are the active sort that needs a digital camera that can survive water and keep on shooting Fujifilm has a very nice little waterproof camera called the FinePix XP10 that has a 12MP resolution and 5x optical zoom with a 2.7-inch rear LCD. The camera can survive depths of up to ten feet and drops from three feet as well. It is also ruggedized against dust and freezing temperatures as well. You can get the XP10 for about $108.
The cameras I talked about here will cover the average photographer for just about any need from outdoors to long zoom ranges and all in between. Don't get caught up focusing on getting the most megapixels for your budget, there are some things that are more important like zoom and image stabilization among other things. Happy shooting!