Compact Digital Cameras

The Ultra Compact Digital Camera or Lifestyle Digital do exactly what they say on the tin. Sleek, slim and extremely portable, the Ultra Compacts combine ease of use with quality photos, allowing anyone to take professional looking snaps with a pocket sized lens. Prices range from around £100 to £400 and, with so many different specifications available, it is important to know what you want.

The camera’s resolution is one of the most important features. Ultra Compact’s resolutions usually range between 5 and 10 megapixels and, whilst a salesperson might like to convince you otherwise, 5 or 6 megapixels is more than adequate for printing photos up to A4 size.

Storage is another key factor. Most digital cameras come with a memory card with a capacity of 16MB, although up to 32MB is available. Bearing in mind 1MB is roughly equivalent to 300 photos, depending on the resolution, there’s no need to go wild on the megabytes!

The camera’s optical lens or zoom function is another thing to consider. Most Ultra Compacts will come with a zoom of 3x or 4x, meaning you can get up to 3 or 4 times closer to your subject. For zooms of over 4x it may be worth investing in an Ultra Zoom Digital Camera that offers increased zoom in a small camera.

Another feature in Ultra Compacts is the sensitivity or low light functionality. This is measured in ISO numbers and refers to how sensitive the camera is to light. The higher the ISO number, the higher the sensitivity, meaning shorter shutter speeds and less use of flash. A high ISO number will give clearer images, particularly after dark. A good Ultra Compact will have a maximum sensitivity of ISO 1600, although ISO 800 is not bad. The highest available is ISO 3200 although this is quite rare and not really needed.

The camera’s screen yet another feature you need to consider when purchasing your UC. Most now come with LCD screens, which boast low battery use and thin size. Look out for cameras with a viewfinder that make taking pictures in bright light much easier than trying to see the LCD screen. A typical size of an LCD screen is around 2.5 inches or 6.35 centimetres in the latest Ultra Compacts.

Video is now also available in many Ultra Compacts and, whilst its ideal for a few short clips of friends or your favourite song at that gig you went to, longer recordings are still better on a camcorder. Zoom is also often left out of Ultra Compact’s video mode. Still, crisp home videos no longer require expensive kit!

Other features include antishake and facial recognition. Antishake prevents blurry pictures if you’re travelling or on the move. Facial recognition prevents blurry faces against sharp backgrounds. Both are nice features that ensure crisp, clear photographs although neither are worth paying over the odds for.

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