Categorizing Types of Digital Cameras

Digital cameras fall into several overlapping categories, which are usually defined by a number of features. Specifications that define a category change over time. However, the categories themselves have remained fairly constant in terms of who uses them and how:

  • Web cams/phone cams: Most Web and phone cams (like the one shown in this figure) can’t do serious digital photography.

    Phone cameras can snap quick, convenient pictures — but not quality ones.
    Phone cameras can snap quick, convenient pictures — but not quality ones.
  • Point-and-shoot models: Point-and-shoot digital cameras can do anything a simple film camera can do. This figure shows a typical point-and-shoot model.

    Use point-and-shoot cameras for simple picture taking.
    Use point-and-shoot cameras for simple picture taking.
  • Intermediate models: Intermediate digital cameras (see this figure) are the most widely used. They have the best compromise of features to suit most consumer needs.

    Intermediate cameras offer some useful features.
    Intermediate cameras offer some useful features.
  • Advanced consumer models: These cameras (like the one in this figure) are aimed at those who want some special features.

    Advanced consumer cameras usually require a session or two with the instruction manual to master all their capabilities.

    Get an advanced consumer model for more bells and whistles.
    Get an advanced consumer model for more bells and whistles.
  • Prosumer dSLR models: Prosumer digital SLR cameras (see this figure) are the models that photo buffs and even a few professional photographers favor.

    The key differences between high-priced prosumer digital SLR cameras and professional digital SLR cameras are resolution, speed, and ruggedness.

    Prosumer cameras are just a step away from professional-quality.
    Prosumer cameras are just a step away from professional-quality.
  • Professional models: These high-end models (like the one in this figure) are the equal of their film camera counterparts in every way.

    If you want the best, go for a professional digital camera.
    If you want the best, go for a professional digital camera.
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