As a photographer I get asked this question ALL THE TIME! "What kind of camera should I get?" Now I don't necessarily have the right answer for that question but I can say (no matter what kind of camera you are looking for) do enough research before you buy; read online, check out forums, ask friends, ask dealers, use the cameras (try out) if possible, ask about sales and warranties, ask about accessories...the whole nine yards!
1. What do you need the camera for? (Examples: Product, Lifestyle, Daily Life, Personal, Street Photography, etc)
2. What is your budget?
3. What conditions will you be shooting in (Indoor, outdoor, in water, low light,etc)?
4. Will you just use the auto function or are you willing to go for pro(meaning learn more)?
5. Any experience?
6. What features do you want? (zoom, image stabilization, touch screen, interchangeable lenses, etc)?
*helpful hint: when shopping for the camera, ask the dealer his opinions. have him help you compare cameras.
Here are some things to consider:
Megapixels - I mean, what are they even for? I just want a camera! Well to be honest, maybe 10 years ago the word megapixel would have been a major concern when buying a digital camera but nowadays most cameras are well equipped with over 6 megapixels. If you are worried about megapixels, the main worry should be when printing. If you are printing larger than normal size (over 8x10) make sure your camera has over 10 megapixels. For online use, blogging and personal life all cameras that are on the market right now will have enough pixels to suit your needs.
Accessories - If you haven't owned a camera before be aware of what you need! Most cameras have accessories which can be as simple as a bag. Keep that in mind when shopping on a budget. I highly recommend a sturdy case for your camera. Other accessories include: flash equipment (lighting), other lenses, memory cards, tripod/stands, backgrounds, straps, spare batteries, amongst other things. A memory card of course is always needed & I recommend no less than 4GB.
DSRL or PointNShoot - Keep in mind when shopping, what type of camera you want to lug around. DSLRs are larger and heavier and require more accessories (lenses, flashes, etc). They usually are body only, or with a simple beginner kit, which means a bag, lens, some cleaning accessories, maybe an extra battery, a memory card...anyway kits vary. The kit lens is great to learn on, but I recommend researching at least two other lenses you can buy in the future (depending on what you are shooting). Point N' Shoots are great because of how portable they are. Some can even go in your front pocket!
DSLRs are of course, more cash(mostly).
Zoom - You may see the words "optical and digital zoom." These are important. Stay away from fancy high digital zoom. That only means it is enlarging the pixels in your shot; yes it does make your subject closer/bigger but also more pixelated (like if were looking at a mosaic piece or too close to your television). Optical zoom is key, 3x or larger is what most modern cameras have.
Like I said above, read reviews and ask questions. It is very important you don't miss anything especially since most of the nice digital cameras are in the hundred(s) dollar range. Personally, I would check online forums and photography sites before asking an employee at a store. Sometimes that employee is just an employee. If there is a local camera shop in town, go visit and have them pick out a few cameras, ask if you can touch them, and use them around the store. Check out their features, is it comfortable to hold, and you can even see some accessories right there instead of waiting.
Once you like a camera or a few, compare. Ask the pros and cons. And then most important, find the best price. Rather it be online or at a store, there is usually a good deal somewhere. Don't be afraid to buy used, just be careful. My first DSLR was used.
Are you in the market for a camera? Do you have any questions? Leave a comment below!