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So you're shopping around for a new camera, but there are so many to choose and you wonder to yourself "how in the world am I going to find that perfect camera for me?" The camera world can be especially daunting for the average person because there are so many choices out there. Well, this page is here to give you a few guidelines on how to look for a camera so that you'll hopefully be able to find the right one for you.

The Different Types of Cameras
I'm going to state this right off the bat: there is no best camera. There is a best camera for you but there is no best camera period. Cameras come in many different sizes, shapes, and specialties, and it really depends on what you want to use it for. So ask yourself: Am I going to be using it just for pictures of friends and family or do I want something that will give me a little more creative freedom?

Not counting digital SLRs, there are generally three types of digital cameras out there: consumer, prosumer, and specialized. Consumer cameras tend to either be thin, light, cheap, or a combination of two of those. These cameras tend have a moderate zoom range and they're targeted towards people who generally want something that they can discreetly carry everywhere to take general snapshots. Prosumer cameras generally have better lenses and more manual controls such as aperture, shutter speed, and ISO. There's also a class of prosumer cameras called superzooms that are usually advertised with 10x or more zoom. Specialized cameras are those that serve a certain purpose such as the current waterproof and/or shockproof offerings.

In essence, you should make your decision based on what you will most likely be using your camera for. If it's just going to be snapshots of friends and family, go with something thin and light that you can take everywhere. If you want to get a little more creative, go for a superzoom camera. Planning on visiting a tropical island? Maybe you should check out one of the waterproof offerings. If you want something a little more advanced, you might want to check out how to buy a digital SLR.

Summary: Buy a camera based on how you plan to use it.

What Brand Should I Get?
There are a lot of camera manufacturers out there, so how do you know which one is the best? The best way to look for a camera is to try the different cameras from different manufacturers and choose by how the camera feels in hand and the different menu systems that they use. Most cameras nowadays have such similar features and image quality that it really doesn't matter which camera you get; rather, it's all about how well the photographer uses it. Therefore, choose the camera that you feel suits you best.

Summary: It really doesn't matter. Choose based on feel.

How Many Megapixels?
Generally, for a consumer digital camera you'll want more than 3 megapixels but usually no more than 7 or 8. Anything more is just a waste of hard drive space; large pictures load slower too. I generally prefer around 5 megapixels for my regular digital cameras; it's a good size and it doesn't take up too much hard drive space. For more information, please read this article on megapixels.

Summary: Generally anything over 8 is more than enough. Most people probably don't need more than 20.

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