Cheat Sheet

Digital Photography For Seniors For Dummies

Are you a senior interested in digital photography? Seniors looking to buy a digital camera should consider how convenient some features are to use. Is the viewfinder large enough to see easily? Are buttons too small? Here are some important digital camera features to consider so you can find the perfect camera and get on your way to taking great digital photos.

Digital Camera Features to Focus On

Digital photographers of all ages should know about digital camera features and their functions. Understanding digital camera features can help you choose the right camera when you're ready to shop. Here are some suggestions and descriptions of camera features to consider.

FeatureExplanationRecommendation
Body style Compact cameras are very small. Bridge or prosumer cameras are larger. DSLRs (digital SLRs) are the largest, with interchangeable lenses. Compacts are portable and simple but may be too small for your hands. Hobbyists should look at bridge cameras, which have more features than compacts.
Image resolution (megapixels; MP) A measure of dots that make up an image. Expressed in width and height in pixels (say, 3000 x 2000) or in total megapixels (say, 6MP). For photos sent by e-mail, 2MP is fine. Any resolution 5MP and higher should be generally useful. Higher resolution, up to 12MP, is better for larger prints.
File format All cameras create JPEG files. Some models also create large RAW files, for advanced editing. RAW matters only to very serious hobbyists and professionals.
Macro A macro setting allows taking extreme close-ups with the camera closer than 1 inch from subject. Great for shooting flowers and insects.
Zoom (optical) Use a zoom lens to bring a distant subject closer. Zooms range between 3X–20X. Optical zoom quality is superior to digital zoom quality. Ignore digital zoom when comparing cameras. The bigger the zoom factor, the closer you can get to a subject. Look for 35mm camera zoom lens equivalents when comparing cam-eras. For photos of people nearby, using 3X or 5X may suffice. The more you shoot outside, especially wildlife, the longer the zoom you need (12X or greater).
Viewfinder An optical viewfinder helps you compose a photo. An electronic viewfinder (EVF) displays camera settings over the scene. An EVF conveys more info. If a camera has no viewfinder to look through, you have to hold the camera at arm’s length to use the LCD to take photos.
LCD Displays the scene before the shot and displays photos during review. Also displays menus for camera settings. Larger (3 inches diagonal width and larger) and brighter are better although power-consuming. Some LCDs offer touchscreens for accessing camera controls.
Memory card Provides removable storage for photos. Comes in different types (SD, CF, XD, and Memory Stick) and different capacities (1GB and greater). Buy the specific card type required by your camera; 2GB is enough for most uses. Hobbyists shooting RAW format need more capacity (8GB).
Battery Provides power to the camera for all operations. Rechargeable proprietary batteries cost more than standard AA rechargeable ones. Expect about 200 photos per charge. If the camera uses AA batteries, buy extra rechargeables. Buy a recharger, too.
Scene modes Control camera settings by choosing a scene, such as Beach, Snow, Landscape, Portrait, and so on. A few common scene modes are very helpful. A huge number of choices may be too many.
Self-timer Delays the shutter release so you have time to jump into the scene before the photo snaps. A must for self-portraits.
Buttons Use these to select different settings. Size and placement vary considerably. Make sure a camera’s buttons aren’t too small for you.
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