There are various reasons for going digital and the best advantages of a digital camera are -
ease of usage
time and cost saving factors
not having to finish a roll before processing
not having to load a film in the first place
and seeing in advance what your picture would look like
High end versions come with multimedia facilities of social and video recording. And more!
How would you know which one to buy?
In a nutshell, digital cameras are much like the standard 35mm film cameras. The key difference lies in how they capture images. A digital camera has no film, and uses an image sensor.
Essential features you should know about-
Quality, Clarity & size of pictures
The amount of fine detail that a camera's image sensor can capture is the resolution, which is based on the number of pixels. More pixels produce sharper, more detailed images. The more detail you have, the more you can blow up a picture before it becomes 'grainy' and distorted. A one megapixel camera provides one million pixel.
What is Image Storage?
Images are stored on memory devices. Memory determines the number of pictures you can store at a time.
Internal memory is inbuilt; external memory comes as a card that you add to your camera. Ensure that your camera is configured to take on external cards from any company. Most companies provide 16 to 32 MB multimedia memory card with the camera.
How do you decide how many megapixels you need?
This would depend on your purpose for taking a picture and the print size needed. A word of caution - if your camera has more megapixels, your photos would be large but require more space. Investing in a camera with two many megapixels may mean spending more cash than necessary. And storage cards can be expensive... sometimes costing more than the camera! But, keep in mind, with less megapixels your pictures would suffer.
Digital cameras may have an optical zoom, a digital zoom, or both. You can zoom out with a telephoto lens for a wide-angle view, or you can zoom in for a closer shot.
An Optical zoom physically moves the camera lens to zoom in on subject. It is responsible for ensuring sharp images from a distance. An optical zoom is true zoom that preserves the quality of an image with no distortion.
A digital zoom is a computer trick that magnifies a portion of the image captured. It is not a true zoom lens.
Flash & Viewfinder
Amateur photographers use digital with an in-built flash system while professionals generally go for external flash to get the maximum picture clarity.
The viewfinder is the point from where you view the picture to be taken. Go for TTL or 'through the lens' viewfinder that prints the actual frame as you see it.
Most digital cameras have am LCD or 'liquid crystal display' screen, which shows the image. The larger the screen the better, for a sharper display.
Burst mode: Shoots a series of picture one after another at a high rate. It's for those interested in wildlife and sports photography. Self timer: Fires at the end of a preset period of time - 5 to 7 seconds. Panoramic view: Advisable for those keen on landscape or group photography. Gives a very wide view like a wide-angle lens. Remote control: You can fire the camera from a distance with a wireless remote control. Dual Purpose: Most digital cameras double up as video cameras for short-duration shots. While on video mode, carry extra storage cards, as you would need more memory.
Do Not Ignore - The battery! If you want good photos, your camera needs to be powered for extended periods of time. Choose a camera that has good battery life.
Advised - A short course on Photostat for editing digital images. This software is your personal photo-lab.