The Insider: Stay focused to snap up your model camera

Digital cameras have revolutionised the way we take photos. Gone are the days of stuffing in rolls of film and waiting hours to get the pictures developed at Boots. Today, photos can be looked at instantly – and, without too much extra effort, you can download them onto the computer and then upload them onto the internet.

As a result, amateur photography tends to stretch much further than a few holiday snaps. Every trip, every unexpected snowfall, every new family birth is now recorded with hundreds of photos.

But the boom in digital photography has also brought with it an explosion in the amount of choice. You can pay anything between £15 and £3,000 for a digital camera, and between the cheapest and most expensive there is plenty of difference in terms of functionality, picture quality and battery life.

The first choice you need to make is whether you want to go for a SLR (single-lens reflex) or a more straightforward camera. SLR devices offer more control over, but they're bigger and much more expensive. These are only worth buying if you are serious about photography.

Smaller digital cameras, however, can take very good pictures these days – and you can get a decent device for well under £100. "Digital SLRs give the very best picture quality, but if you're a casual photographer then a standard 'point and shoot' camera will probably suffice – and it will be cheaper and easier to carry around too," says Martyn Hocking, the editor of the consumer magazine Which?.

"You can get a decent compact model for around £100 now, and some come with the kind of technology that used to be the preserve of more expensive models – like image stabilisation and face detection. More megapixels mean greater detail, but it's not the be-all and end-all. The camera's lens quality, sensor quality and sensor size also play a big role in producing sharp and colour-accurate pictures."

When Which? carried out its latest survey of digital cameras, the Canon PowerShot E1 (pictured) was rated best for casual photographers, costing around £140 and receiving a rating of 70 per cent from Which?'s team of testers. It was praised for its good image quality, great battery life, good flash and range of features.

At the bottom of the heap was the Kodak Easyshare Z1085IS. It may cost £20 less than the Canon, but it scored just 16 per cent in Which?'s tests, scoring particularly badly on battery life and movie functionality.

Aside from the main factors such as image quality and battery life, it's important to check how well your digital camera focuses and what the shutter delay is. Some cameras are very slow at taking pictures once you hit the button.

Where to buy

If you know which model you're looking for, you'll find the best prices online, using sites such as froogle.co.uk, pricerunner.co.uk and whichcompare.co.uk. If you prefer to browse, go to sites such as argos.co.uk, currys.co.uk and jessops.com – which all have a wide range to choose from. Argos, Jessops and Currys Digital can all be found on the high street too – you could also consider picking up a second hand camera at a Jessops outlet.

If you're out and about and want to check which cameras are the best, try downloading Which?'s digital camera application for the iPhone, priced at £1.79. Users can view test results on over 300 rigorously-tested cameras and can navigate the report by brand, model, features and price. You can also rotate the iPhone to see images of the cameras from every angle.

The Insider is written in conjunction with the consumer group Which?. For more information visit www.which.co.uk/cameras or download the Digital Cameras application on your iPhone. To get three issues of Which? magazine for £3, call 01992 822800 and quote INADVICE.

Five questions to ask

Do I want an SLR? If you're a more advanced photographer and want precise control over aperture and exposure settings, go for an SLR. But be prepared to spend upwards of £300.

What's the battery life like? Some cameras have a rechargeable battery, others require them to be regularly replaced. Either way, you want a camera that can keep going for several hours before it needs a top-up.

How many megapixels does it have? The more megapixels, the better the quality of picture. But if you're only using your camera for casual holiday snaps, 3 or 4 MPs is enough.

What's the zoom? Even compact cameras can now have incredible zoom capability. But the quality isn't always that good on long distance shots. If a big zoom is a priority, test it first.

What extra features does it have? If you want a camera that can take a burst of photos or has a face detection feature, you'll need to take a closer look when you're shopping. Features and functionality vary considerably.

Independent Partners; request a free guide on NISAs from Hargreaves Lansdown

News
people
News
people
News
peopleStella McCartney apologises over controversial Instagram picture
Life and Style
Laid bare: the Good2Go app ensures people have a chance to make their intentions clear about having sex
techCould Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Burr remains the baker to beat on the Great British Bake Off
tvRichard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
News
i100
Sport
footballArsenal 4 Galatasaray 1: Wenger celebrates 18th anniversary in style
Arts and Entertainment
Amazon has added a cautionary warning to Tom and Jerry cartoons on its streaming service
tv
News
people
News
The village was originally named Llansanffraid-ym-Mechain after the Celtic female Saint Brigit, but the name was changed 150 years ago to Llansantffraid – a decision which suggests the incorrect gender of the saint
newsA Welsh town has changed its name - and a prize if you can notice how
Arts and Entertainment
Kristen Scott Thomas in Electra at the Old Vic
theatreReview: Kristin Scott Thomas is magnificent in a five-star performance of ‘Electra’
News
Destructive discourse: Jewish boys look at anti-Semitic graffiti sprayed on to the walls of the synagogue in March 2006, near Tel Aviv
peopleAt the start of Yom Kippur and with anti-Semitism flourishing, one Jew can no longer ignore his identity
Life and Style
Couples who boast about their relationship have been condemned as the most annoying Facebook users
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Hayley Williams performs with Paramore in New York
musicParamore singer says 'Steal Your Girl' is itself stolen from a New Found Glory hit
News
i100
Finacial products from our partners
Property search
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Money & Business

    Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Birmingham - Real Staffing

    £18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Real Staffing are currently lo...

    Trust Accountant - Kent

    NEGOTIABLE: Austen Lloyd: TRUST ACCOUNTANT - KENTIf you are a Chartered Accou...

    Graduate Recruitment Consultant - 2013/14 Grads - No Exp Needed

    £18000 - £20000 per annum + OTE £30000: SThree: SThree are a global FTSE 250 b...

    Law Costs

    Highly Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: CITY - Law Costs Draftsperson - NICHE...

    Day In a Page

    Italian couples fake UK divorce scam on an ‘industrial scale’

    Welcome to Maidenhead, the divorce capital of... Italy

    A look at the the legal tourists who exploited our liberal dissolution rules
    Time to stop running: At the start of Yom Kippur and with anti-Semitism flourishing, one Jew can no longer ignore his identity

    Time to stop running

    At the start of Yom Kippur and with anti-Semitism flourishing, one Jew can no longer ignore his identity
    Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

    Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

    The vintage series has often been criticised for racial stereotyping
    An app for the amorous: Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?

    An app for the amorous

    Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?
    Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid. Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?

    Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid

    Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?
    Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

    Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

    After a few early missteps with Chekhov, her acting career has taken her to Hollywood. Next up is a role in the BBC’s gangster drama ‘Peaky Blinders’
    She's having a laugh: Britain's female comedians have never had it so good

    She's having a laugh

    Britain's female comedians have never had it so good, says stand-up Natalie Haynes
    Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LED lights designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows

    Let there be light

    Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LEDs designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows
    Great British Bake Off, semi-final, review: Richard remains the baker to beat

    Tensions rise in Bake Off's pastry week

    Richard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
    Paris Fashion Week, spring/summer 2015: Time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris

    A look to the future

    It's time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris
    The 10 best bedspreads

    The 10 best bedspreads

    Before you up the tog count on your duvet, add an extra layer and a room-changing piece to your bed this autumn
    Arsenal vs Galatasaray: Five things we learnt from the Emirates

    Arsenal vs Galatasaray

    Five things we learnt from the Gunners' Champions League victory at the Emirates
    Stuart Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

    Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

    This deal gives England a head-start to prepare for 2019 World Cup, says Chris Hewett
    Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

    The children orphaned by Ebola...

    ... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
    Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

    Are censors pandering to homophobia?

    US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence