Digital Cameras

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Walk into a camera shop and you're faced with a thousand options. With technology breaking new ground, and causing prices to drop, which camera is right for you?

"Digital has changed photography absolutely, fundamentally at every level. But what it's done with cameras is give you a lot more value. Today's low-end camera, the affordable camera is so much more sophisticated than it ever was with film" says Paul Burrows, Editor of Camera Magazine. He's compiled a list of the top five cameras selling for around $200 or less.

SAMSUNG L100
"Very stylish little camera. Priced about $229 somewhere about that. You might even get it a little bit cheaper. Compact, slips in a pocket, slips in a handbag. 8.2 mega pixels resolution: all that means is lots of image quality and a good little zoom lens."

OLYMPUS FE20 $199

"Now the FE 20 is another camera at 8 mega pixels and a three-time zoom so that's kind of the standard features set at this price which is just under $200 but it has an interesting little feature called face detect and what that means when it sees a face in a scene, it locks onto it and exposes and focuses accurately for the face."

PANASONIC LS80 LUMIX $189
"The LS80 is available in a number of colours and colours are getting to be an important selling feature. People like something better than black or silver. Another 8 mega pixel camera and again another one with the image stabilisation feature."

NIKON COOLPIX L15 $175
"Nikon of course are a very big name in photography. Lots of professionals use Nikon cameras. Again, very compact, very stylish. Another 8 mega pixels camera with a 3 time zoom and an interesting little feature which is image stabilisation so avoiding camera-shake when you're shooting in low-light."

CANON POWERSHOT A470 $149
"Canon Powershot A470. It's Canon's more or less entry-level model. Just under $150 that's incredible value for money. 7 mega pixels. Slightly less than 8 but not anything you're going to notice in your image quality and a three-time zoom."

While $200 will get you a good camera these days, this is one of Australia's biggest sellers. It's three times the price but it has three times the features including triple zoom capacity, automatic night/day adjustment, face recognition - it knows when you're smiling, can tell the difference between a fast or a slow-moving shot, it's got widescreen, automatic flash and it takes video.

It's the PANASONIC TZ15 - $549
Features include: 10x optical zoom, 9.1 mega pixels, intelligent auto 3 inch lcd screen, movie mode and 29 millimetre wide angle lens.

Now you've got the tools you might still need talent.

Grant Schwarz is a professional photographer. "A good camera doesn't necessarily make you a good photographer, but here are some tips that can help: If you're taking pictures of family and friends make sure you get in close because the face is the most important and always focus on the eyes and try and keep out of harsh sunlight."

"For scenery shots try and keep two thirds of the actual scene itself, and one third sky. Rather than split it down the middle and try and keep your main subject off to one side rather than directly in the centre."

"If taking photos indoors make sure you have the window behind you or if the window is behind the subject, make sure you turn your flash on."

"Your 2 features in a camera you can't live without auto focus and flash, but luckily these days most cameras include those."

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