Digital Cameras

There's a lot of different digital cameras on the market. Read on to determine the features and functions you need.

White balance

Almost all digital cameras let you choose a white-balance setting via presets. These settings tell the camera the colour temperature of the light in a setting so that white comes out white and black comes out black - and, by inference, red comes out red.

Although all digital cameras have an automatic white balance control and will do an overall good job of figuring out the light when you take a photo, they're not always accurate. Some light sources, such as sun light or fluorescent light, may cast slightly coloured hues across your lens, which will then affect the quality of your image.

If you are concerned about colour accuracy, look for a digital camera with a manual calibrator in which you press a button while aiming at a white object.

Exposure settings

The same goes for the camera's automatic exposure.

Although all digital cameras have an automatic exposure control and will do an overall good job of figuring out the light when you take a photo, they're not always accurate. Shadows or dubious light sources can trick the camera into thinking there is more or less light present. This will then affect the exposure and hence the quality of your image.

All digital cameras let you shoot in fully automatic mode, but higher quality cameras offer aperture and shutter-priority modes, in which you adjust, respectively, either the size of the lens opening or how long the shutter stays open; the camera automatically controls the other variable to give you the proper exposure. Usually the same cameras also offer full-manual exposure control, in which you set both variables. These modes make a camera adaptable to almost any situation.

Your other option is to use the included preset scene modes. For example, choosing "sports" will open the aperture to a wide setting and force a fast shutter speed. They're useful, but you may have to spend extra time deciding which mode fits your setting.

Burst Mode

A good burst mode can be a great addition to a camera. Burst mode captures a series of shots in quick succession, allowing you to either record a series of fast paced events, or take multiple shots of something very quick like a soccer goal, in an attempt to nail the perfect snap. Some cameras will operate faster than others, with top end SLRs capturing in excess of five frames per second, while compacts are usually more sedate at two or maybe three frames per second.

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