Digital Compact Cameras Buying Guide

Digital compact camera is small, light and simple to use automatic camera that only requires the user to point and shoot to get great photos. Compact digital cameras come with a range of features to suit different needs, including size, water or shock proofing, and optical zooms.

Choosing the right camera size

This comes down to personal preference, but it's important to match a camera's features to your lifestyle needs. Ultra-thin cameras will fit into your pocket with ease, which is great for travellers. Regular-sized digital compact cameras are still small enough to fit in a handbag, but often come with more features.

How does the camera store photos?

Instead of using a roll of film, digital cameras convert images into digital files, which are stored on internal memory or removable memory cards. This lets you take hundreds of photos in one session and delete the one's you don't like.

  • Compact Flash (CFC): Mainly for digital SLR cameras

  • Secure Digital (SD and SDHC): Most common and can be used across devices like video cameras, DSLR and computers

  • Memory Stick: Sony products

What are megapixels?

Pixels are the small dots that form a digital image. One megapixel (MP) equals one million pixels. The higher the megapixel count, the bigger the images can be printed without losing quality (pixelating).

  • A 3MP camera should produce A4-size prints without pixelation
  • A 5MP camera should produce A3-size prints without pixelation
  • A larger image sensor will also increase image quality

Difference between optical zoom and digital zoom

Optical zoom (true zoom) delivers a closer image, while retaining image quality. On the other hand, digital zoom reduces image quality. This is because digital zoom digitally enhances an image by cropping then enlarging a section of the image, while optical zoom uses the lens.

Display screens

The LCD display screen on the back of the camera shows a preview of the photo you are about to take. It also displays previous photos and allows you to scroll through the camera's functions. In digital photography, a bigger display screen is easier to use. Some LCD displays offer touchscreen control and menu functions.

Type of batteries do digital cameras use

Most compact digital cameras come with custom-fit rechargeable batteries, while some budget models and super-zoom cameras run on AA batteries.

Additional features:

GPS: Automatically logs the location of each photograph

Face detection: Automatically finds and focuses on the faces in the photograph

Shooting modes: Use the predetermined automatic settings for great results in different situations: night-time, portraits, sport etc

Video: Capture video on your camera

White balance: Create more natural colours when shooting in artificial light

Manual functions: Some of the top compacts offer manual adjustments of shutter speed and aperture, for greater control over your photography

Optional accessories:

A carry case or soft pouch will prevent scratches and other damage

Extra memory cards are handy, especially when travelling

At least one spare battery. You'll kick yourself when the battery runs out at a crucial moment

Different users


Record the spectacular scenery and events on your next trip.

Wide-angle lens - Perfect for picturesque landscapes. Look for about 25mm.
Zoom - Try to get as much optical zoom as you can afford; 7x optical zoom or more is great.
Size - The smaller and lighter the camera is, the easier it will be to carry around.

Parents and Grandparents

Record every magical moment of your family's lives.

High Definition Video - Relive those special moments with a clear video recording you can keep on a computer.
Zoom - Get closer to the action with 10x optical zoom or above.
Image stabiliser - Helps prevent blurry pictures caused by unsteady hands on the camera.

For the Kids

Nurture creativity with a durable, easy-to-use camera.

Shockproof - Kids are tough on gadgets, so buying a shockproof model makes sense.
Waterproof - Another good idea is to ensure that the kids' camera can handle liquid hazards.
Colours - Cameras come in a range of fun colours.

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