How to Buy the Best Small Digital Camera for the Money

fuji best small digital camera

If you're looking for the best small digital camera you don't have to look further than this Fuji

Finding the best small digital camera, whether for yourself or as a gift can be a little difficult considering the number of companies making them as well as the different features you’ll find out there. There are many advantages that a small digital camera has over their larger, full size cousins, as well as some disadvantages. But, if you pick wisely, even these disadvantages can be turned into advantages. Let’s look at the features you should consider when you’re out to get the best small digital camera for the money.

When searching for the best small digital camera you should understand these features

First off manufacturers love to throw the term ‘megapixel’ at you. While this is indeed an important stat understanding it’s effect on such things as resolution, memory and storage are important. More megapixels aren’t always better.

Megapixel (MP) is simply the number of dots per inch on the picture, the more dots, the clearer and finer the picture will be. Now if you know you’re only going to be printing pictures around 4 x 7 inches a 5 or 6 megapixel camera is absolutely fine. If, however, you know you’ll occasionally print larger pictures a low megapixel camera will produce grainy photos. Also, and just as important, the more megapixels the camera has, the more memory each photo will take, so if you have a 13mp camera but only use 4 x 7 photos you’re essentially wasting memory space. This isn’t as much an issue if you have additional memory cards (which we’ll get into later) but you should be aware of this.

Next up is zoom. Once again manufacturers love to throw this at you, but unless you really understand this you may end up with low quality pictures. There are in fact two different types of zoom you’ll encounter. Optical zoom and digital zoom, digital is in fact NOT better, optical is.

Optical zoom uses the actual lens of the camera to zoom in while digital zoom uses software to zoom in which will actually result in grainy pictures the more you zoom in. Higher megapixels will alleviate some of this, but not all. Consider when, or even if you’ll actually use the zoom feature.

Obviously the best small digital camera will use optical zoom. This is a function of the lens quality as well so an optical zoom camera will be more expensive. Another case of ‘you get what you pay for’.

How complicated are small digital cameras?

One of the wonderful things about small digital cameras is that they usually just have four buttons; power, shoot, zoom in, zoom out. More expensive, full size cameras often times have many more giving you a plethora of options to fully customize your photo. You may

think of this as a disadvantage, but, I think it’s an advantage especially if you just want a simple, point and shoot camera. This is also a great selling point if you’ll be giving this as a gift to somebody who is less than tech savy.

nikon best small digital camera

This Nikon is one of the best small digital camera models out there

Now on some of the higher end small digital camera models you may find additional ‘situation’ buttons. These are usually along the lines of; portrait, indoor, outdoor etc. These buttons will setup the camera for the best settings for that particular photo situation.

Looking along those lines, eventually you’ll want to either print or upload those pictures. This is where connectivity and software comes into the picture. At the very least you’ll want a USB connection, but for the easiest printing you’ll want a small digital camera that can connect directly to your printer. Just make sure they’re compatible. The easiest and best small digital camera models will plug directly into a printer without requiring a computer, again, a great gift for the less than tech savy user.

Just about every small digital camera has a certain amount of on board memory, the best small digital camera models will also allow you to insert memory cards to expand your memory. Remember what I said about megapixels, if you choose a high MP camera you’ll probably need additional memory cards, especially if you’ll be away from a computer for a while.

You’ll also find a screen on these cameras. For the most part they’ll be about 2 inches square and provide a good view of what you’re shooting. In addition they’ll also usually indicate battery life and possibly remaining memory.

What other features will I find on the best small digital camera?

panasonic small digital camera

A little more expensive but this Panasonic is simply amazing!

In no particular order you’ll find some digital cameras with these features. I consider these ‘gravy’ and aren’t absolutely necessary.

  • Anti blur/stabilization. Good for sports or action shots. The best small digital camera models will have some form of stabilization.
  • Rechargeable batteries. It’s greener and cheaper in the long run. Although if the camera isn’t rechargeable you should go out and get a rechargeable battery kit.
  • Strap, carry case, tripod mount. Not absolutely necessary but nice to have.
  • A good warranty, and no, a one year warranty is NOT a good warranty.

So you see finding the best small digital camera can be a challenge. Just keep in mind how it’ll be used and for the best picture quality go for optical zoom and high megapixels, just keep in mind memory usage.

If you still need help finding the best small digital camera I’ve linked some of the best models available here, good price and great features as well as impeccable digital camera reviews. You should check these out.
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FH20 14.1 MP Digital Camera with 8x Optical Image Stabilized Zoom and 2.7-Inch LCD (Red)
Nikon Coolpix S630 12MP Digital Camera with 7x Optical Vibration Reduction (VR) Zoom and 2.7 inch LCD (Ruby Red)
Fujifilm Finepix A170 10.2MP Digital Camera with 3x Optical Zoom and 2.7 inch LCD

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About the Author

Hi there!, My name is Norm. I am a college grad, a veteran, a pet owner and a family man. I started writing articles both to make a little extra money, and to share my knowledge with others. I currently work in the IT department of a major NY hospital.
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