Consumer Voice - - Comparative Product Test - Source: h.ttp://www.con­sumerre­

Ditch the sales pitch

You can't always de­pend on sales staff to help you to choose the right cam­era. Read­ers in­di­cate that the qual­ity of in-store help is all over the map. In­deed, when our re­porter shopped at mass mer­chan­dis­ers, as many con­sumers do, a mem­ber of the sales staff told him that there was no dif­fer­ence between dig­i­tal and op­ti­cal zoom (op­ti­cal is far more use­ful). An­other could not ex­plain the dif­fer­ence between me­chan­i­cal, op­ti­cal and sim­u­lated im­age sta­bi­liza­tion (op­ti­cal and me­chan­i­cal are su­pe­rior).

Also, de­spite the preva­lence of 16-, 18- and 20-megapixel cam­eras, 10 megapix­els is all the res­o­lu­tion most peo­ple need. But if you of­ten crop or dras­ti­cally en­large your images, con­sider a higher megapixel cam­era. Higher res­o­lu­tion does not nec­es­sar­ily pro­duce bet­ter prints, so do not let a sales­woman push a cam­era solely based on its megapixel count.

Shop by brand

Be­fore div­ing into spe­cific mod­els, con­sider some char­ac­ter­is­tics by brand, culled from our years of dig­i­tal-cam­era tests. For ex­am­ple, Fu­ji­film of­fers im­age sen­sors with pro­pri­etary tech­nol­ogy that pro­duce high im­age qual­ity at high ISO set­tings. Canon, Nikon and Olym­pus of­fer full line-ups for ev­ery type of user. Sam­sung of­fers cam­eras with high styling and mul­ti­me­dia fea­tures. Pana­sonic uses im­age sta­bi­liz­ers and Le­ica lenses through­out its line. Sony of­ten uses Zeiss lenses, a brand well known in the cam­era world.

Fits your grip

The small­est, light­est mod­els are not nec­es­sar­ily in­ex­pen­sive cam­eras, and the big­gest and heav­i­est are not nec­es­sar­ily the best ei­ther. If pos­si­ble, try the cam­eras at a store be­fore you buy. Bet­ter still, bor­row it from a friend or ask them to share ex­pe­ri­ences. If you need to shoot quick and quite of­ten, see which one fits your hands best. In our tests, some of the small­est did not leave much room for fingers to op­er­ate the cam­era. Forgo the ex­tended war­ranty Over­all, dig­i­tal cam­eras have been among the most re­li­able prod­ucts in our sub­scriber sur­veys. About four per cent of those bought have been re­paired or had a se­ri­ous prob­lem. Yet, in our lat­est sur­vey, 60 per cent of cam­era buy­ers were pitched an ex­tended war­ranty in stores, and 16 per cent of those bought one. We do not think it is worth pay­ing for in case of cam­eras at least.

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