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; Do you need financial advice on your investments, pension or insurance? Book a free consultation with an independent Financial Adviser at VouchedFor.co.uk

Finacial products from our partners
Property search
  • Get to the point
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

    SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

    £20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £45,000: SThree: SThree Group have been well e...

    Ashdown Group: IT Manager / Development Manager - NW London - £58k + 15% bonus

    £50000 - £667000 per annum + excellent benefits : Ashdown Group: IT Manager / ...

    Recruitment Genius: Sales Consultant / Telemarketer - OTE £20,000

    £13000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Scotland's leading life insuran...

    Ashdown Group: Training Programme Manager - City, London

    £40000 - £45000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: Training Programme Manag...

    Day In a Page

    Where the spooks get their coffee fix: The busiest Starbucks in the US is also the most secretive

    The secret CIA Starbucks

    The coffee shop is deep inside the agency's forested Virginia compound
    Revealed: How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Loch Ness Monster 'sighting'

    How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Nessie 'sighting'

    The Natural History Museum's chief scientist was dismissed for declaring he had found the monster
    One million Britons using food banks, according to Trussell Trust

    One million Britons using food banks

    Huge surge in number of families dependent on emergency food aid
    Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths 2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

    2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

    Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths trove
    The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey, 25 years on

    The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey 25 years on

    The space telescope was seen as a costly flop on its first release
    Did Conservative peer Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

    Did Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

    A document seen by The Independent shows that a week after he resigned from the Lords he sold 350,000 shares in an American company - netting him $11.2m
    Apple's ethnic emojis are being used to make racist comments on social media

    Ethnic emojis used in racist comments

    They were intended to promote harmony, but have achieved the opposite
    Sir Kenneth Branagh interview: 'My bones are in the theatre'

    Sir Kenneth Branagh: 'My bones are in the theatre'

    The actor-turned-director’s new company will stage five plays from October – including works by Shakespeare and John Osborne
    The sloth is now the face (and furry body) of three big advertising campaigns

    The sloth is the face of three ad campaigns

    Priya Elan discovers why slow and sleepy wins the race for brands in need of a new image
    How to run a restaurant: As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food

    How to run a restaurant

    As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food
    Record Store Day: Remembering an era when buying and selling discs were labours of love

    Record Store Day: The vinyl countdown

    For Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
    Usher, Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert as part of the Global Poverty Project

    Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert

    The concert in Washington is part of the Global Citizen project, which aims to encourage young people to donate to charity
    10 best tote bags

    Accessorise with a stylish shopper this spring: 10 best tote bags

    We find carriers with room for all your essentials (and a bit more)
    Paul Scholes column: I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England

    Paul Scholes column

    I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England
    Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

    Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

    The heptathlete has gone from the toast of the nation to being a sleep-deprived mum - but she’s ready to compete again. She just doesn't know how well she'll do...