Buying a Digital Camera

Digital cameras come in all shapes and sizes with a wide array of options. This guide provides a quick breakdown of the relevant types and features to make the task of choosing a digital camera a little easier.

Digital Cameras 101: How to buy a digital camera

When choosing a digital camera, the first step is to understand your needs. For example, do you simply want to take quick snaps of family and friends, or are you planning to learn the art of photography? If you're always on-the-go and portability is important, you may prefer a small, pocket-sized camera. But keep in mind that you will be forgoing some of the features that typically come with larger cameras. The good news is that most digital cameras produce high-quality images, particularly when the images are displayed as snapshot-sized prints

Types of Digital Cameras


Point-and-Shoot Cameras

Point-and-shoot digital cameras are pocket-friendly and great for taking casual photos and videos. If you’re technologically-challenged, this type of camera features easy-to-use full-auto shooting. That means you don't need to fiddle about with knobs and settings — you just aim the camera and snap a shot. Some of the more advanced point-and-shoot models do offer manual exposure and even manual focusing that lets you try out different settings for those creative shots. Most compact digital cameras have medium-powered zoom lenses and a video mode. LCD monitors and small optical viewfinders are also common on most models. 

Compact System Cameras

Compact system cameras combine the benefits of a relatively small size with the lens swapping ability of DSLR cameras. If you're a casual shutterbug, you'll appreciate the full-auto exposure settings. If you want to get more creative, you can use the manual settings available on most models to produce fabulous photos. Many compact system cameras also offer high-definition video recording.

DSLR Cameras

DSLR cameras are the choice of professional photographers. It’s an ideal camera for shooting top-quality photos of family outings, kids’ sports, nature scenes, etc. Most DSLR models have interchangeable lenses, allowing you to select the best lens for the intended shot. Focusing can be manual, semi-automatic or fully automatic. Many DSLR cameras also offer high-definition video recording, so you can capture the antics of your growing family in spectacular, full-motion detail.

Outdoors & Waterproof Cameras

If your family is the rough-and-tumble, outdoorsy type, you’ll want a camera that's up to the task. These cameras are sturdy, durable versions of the standard point-and-shoot compact camera. They are designed to withstand underwater submersion, falls, freezing weather and generally harsh conditions. You can take them with you just about anywhere you go in search of fun and adventure. 

Action Cameras

An action camera is a great tool for any daredevils in the house.  You just strap them to your helmet or chest and record everything from the extreme sports perspective. Cameras like the Go Pro can also be attached right to a bike, skateboard or surfboard. Either way, successes and ‘fails’ can be captured and relived forever. Action cameras are available with Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and GPS and offer full 1080p HD recording. 

Digital Camera Buying Tips

  • Megapixels are important to picture quality, but they are not the only factor to consider
  • Be certain the camera can meet your zoom requirements
  • Consider whether portability, durability and size is important
  • Keep in mind that you may need to buy extras and budget accordingly

Digital Camera Alternatives

For casual snaps of family and friends, it's hard to beat the convenience of a great digital camera built into your smartphone. Compact and simple to operate, they fit easily into a pocket or purse for quick access when you need them most. As a bonus, smartphones have internet access, so you can effortlessly share them directly with friends or post them to your favourite social media sites for wider viewing.

Digital Camera Features

Lens +

Selecting the right lens for the kind of picture you want to take is important. Your options include using a macro lenses for close-up shots of small objects, wide-angle lenses to get more in the shot and zoom lenses to make distant objects appear closer. Many compact digital cameras are equipped with a 3x optical zoom lens, while some offer as much as 50x optical zoom and more. DSLR cameras have detachable lens mounts, allowing you to choose the lens that's most appropriate for the shot.

Sensor +

Most digital cameras have at least a 10-megapixel sensor. Photo quality is determined in part by the size of the sensor. Lens quality is another factor that affects photo quality.

Viewfinder and LCD +

Most digital cameras have an LCD screen for composing shots and viewing the image afterwards. Some, particularly the bigger models, also have a viewfinder, which you raise close to your eye to look through. One of the main benefit of viewfinders is they allow you to shoot in bright sunlight that would wash out the image on the LCD screen.

Batteries +

Digital cameras are considered "high-drain" electronic devices, so rechargeable lithium ion batteries are a good option.

Manual Focus +

In general, higher-end digital cameras will offer both a manual focus and auto-focus option. Manual operation allows you to focus on exactly what you want in the frame. Manual focus is also useful for adding special effects to your photos.

Shooting Modes +

To capture the perfect shot, you may need a particular camera setting. Fortunately, you can often select a built-in shooting mode that meets your needs. The different shooting modes found on most digital cameras include auto, portrait, landscape, macro, night, sports and panorama. Check your camera’s instructions to learn how different modes work better in different types of situations.

Video +

Most digital cameras today shoot not only still pictures but also full-motion video. The better ones offer full HD video, so you can capture life in stunning detail. The clear advantage here is that it eliminates the need for a second device if you plan on shooting pictures and video.

Digital vs. Optical Zoom +

There are two types of zoom available on digital cameras. Digital zoom first captures an image and then uses digital manipulation to enlarge a section of it. In optical zoom, a telephoto lens enlarges the image before the picture is taken. Depending on your desired result, each method can add subtle nuance to your photo.

Face & Blink Detection +

Many digital camera models offer advanced features such as face detection and blink detection. Face-detection helps improve the camera's focus on the important part of the subject, typically the face. Blink detection provides a warning when people in the frame are blinking, giving you the chance to reshoot the picture.

Wireless Connectivity +

Most digital cameras today are Wi-Fi-enabled, allowing them to connect wirelessly with other Wi-Fi-enabled devices. This way you can send photos to your smartphone, tablet or laptop. You can also use the wireless feature to connect to the Internet and upload pictures to your favourite social websites.


GPS stands for global positioning system. A GPS-enabled digital camera can record directly the location where an image was taken directly into the photo. This is helpful when trying to recall places, times and events.

Shutter Speed +

The shutter-speed feature helps controls how much light reaches the camera's image sensor. The more light that reaches the sensor, the brighter the picture will be. A faster shutter speed reduces the amount of light exposure, while a slower shutter speed increases the amount. This function is essential for shooting in very bright or very dark environments.

Aperture/F-Stop +

A camera's aperture is the opening through which light travels to reach the image sensor. Aperture is measured in f-stops. The lower the f-stop number, the more light is allowed to pass through, while the higher the f-stop, the less light is allowed through. This function also assists shooting in bright vs. dark settings.


In digital photography, the ISO setting determines the camera's sensitivity to light. The higher the number, the less light is needed to take a photo that is correctly exposed — meaning not too dark or too light. On a sunny day an ISO setting of 50 or 100 is fine. But in a dark room, for example, your camera needs some help. You can either decrease the shutter speed to give your camera has more time to take in light, or you can increase the ISO.

See all +

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Digital Camera Maintenance Tips

  • Keep dirt and sand away from your digital camera
  • Keep food and liquids away from your digital camera
  • Avoid touching the lens and LCD
  • Keep a soft cloth or brush handy for cleaning your lenses
  • Do not point the lens directly at the sun
  • Keep your digital camera out of direct sunlight
  • Purchase UV filters to protect your lenses from sunlight
  • Keep your non-waterproof camera away from rain or moisture
  • Purchase rain gear to protect non-waterproof cameras

Did you know?

Using your camera's flash when taking photos in the daylight can be beneficial. If there are harsh shadows on your subject, the flash will lighten the shadows, resulting in a more appealing photograph.
Did you know?
There are several different tools available for cleaning dust or prints from your camera lens. You can use a lens tissue, microfiber cloth, specialty brush or air blower.
This article is intended as general information. Always be sure to read and follow the label(s)/instruction(s) that accompany your product(s). Walmart will not be responsible for any injury or damage caused by this activity.



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