Digital Camera Buying Guide

Panasonic FZ18Tis the season for taking pictures and a digital camera is something you don’t want to put under the tree, you want to have it in your hand to capture the moments as they happen.

Dan Kesselring is a Product Specialist for Digital Imaging with Panasonic. While most of us will be happy with just a simple point and shoot, Dan says “there are still some important feature advantages you should be looking for, even in those more stylish and cute cameras.”

Megapixel is where a lot of people get confused. It simply refers to the dots in the image.

If you have a 7 megapixel camera vs one with 10, you’re really only going to see the difference if you’re using the camera to make very large prints, say beyond 19×13. Dan says really 5 megapixels is enough for most of us who are just printing 4×6 or archiving family memories

When it comes to specific features, “image stabilization should always be top of mind,” says Kesselring. “Its almost become a generic term, but there are different types and optical is providing the best form of stabilization.”

The cameras are so small and difficult to hold still, so any movement in your hand will make a blurry image – the stabilizer solves that problem.

If you’re wanting to upgrade to a pocket camera, but are intimidated by the workings of professional SLR cameras, something like the Panasonic FZ-18 fits right in the middle.

“It gives you everything from a 28mm wide angle lens right up to an 18x optical zoom,” says Dan.

Optical zoom is actually zooming the lens to grab the image, while Dan says “digital zoom is like putting something on a photocopier and blowing them up. You can make things bigger, it comes at a cost of resolution and detail.”

You’re looking for a higher optical zoom, you can digitally zoom with a photo editor afterwards.

Whichever camera you choose, Dan says to remember “the fit and feel really has to match with the user first and foremost.”

Dan says $200 should be plenty to set you up with a cute pocket camera, while the FZ-18 retails at $499.

**UPDATE Dec 30, 2007** Check out this post about a German study that says picture quality actually decreases once you get a point and shoot above 6 megapixels.

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  1. […] I got myself the Panasonic FZ-18 for Christmas and haven’t stopped taking pictures since. […]

  2. […] I recently chatted with Dan Kesselring from Panasonic to get some tips on how to buy a digital camera for my column in 24hrs. Megapixel is where a lot of people get confused. It simply refers to the dots in the image. […]

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