Digital cameras: Choosing and buying the best digital camera Choosing the best digital camera
Whether you’re after a simple point-and-shoot compact camera or a more advanced digital SLR camera, our expert advice can help you choose the perfect digital camera for you from the hundreds available.
Which? has reviews of nearly 300 digital cameras. Take a look at our digital camera reviews to find reviews of the best compact cameras.
To help you choose the right camera for you, think about these three things:
- How much do you want to spend on the camera? Camera prices range from around £50 for simple point-and-shoot compact digital cameras to more than £1,200 for a top-of the-range digital SLR. Avoid paying for features you won't use, and focus on those you actually need to take the type of photos you want.
- What do you want to use your digital camera for? Some cameras are small enough for your pocket, while others are much more bulky. Think about the type of photography you will use your camera for and where you will use it – from everyday snaps and travel shots to portraits, macro, sports and action shots. Different types of digital camera are more suited to different types of photography.
- How much camera control do you need? Would you prefer to use an automatic camera where the best settings are chosen for you, or do you want more control over how your photos will look? Some digital cameras offer lots of manual controls. Budget cameras rely on automatic settings designed to take the best possible photo.
In this guide, we take a closer look at the different types of digital camera and what makes a good one, including which features to look out for, and which you can compromise on.
What type of digital camera do I need?
A compact digital camera is small and lightweight, so it’s easy to carry around in a pocket or handbag. This portability means you never have to miss those spur-of-the-moment shots.
Find out more about buying the best compact camera.
Compact cameras have fully automatic and scene modes – perfect for beginners – and some models include semi-automatic and manual controls for more advanced photography.
The smallest compact cameras are typically 20mm thick or less, and are also known as ultra-compact cameras. These cameras are tiny enough be slipped into a shirt pocket. The trade-off for their size is usually a lack of manual controls and sometimes they lack a viewfinder. Buttons and dials can be fiddly to use, but our tests show that ultra-compact cameras are capable of taking good quality images.
Would suit: Casual photographers or photography beginners who want an easy-to-use, lightweight and cheap digital camera.
A bridge camera lies between a compact camera and a digital SLR (DSLR). Cameras with advanced features and big zooms are usually referred to as bridge cameras.
Find out more about buying the best bridge camera.
These types of bridge cameras don't allow you to change lenses and tend to be smaller than DSLRs, but offer manual control and often have features such as viewfinders. Some bridge cameras have huge zoom lengths of up to 35x.
In our bridge camera reviews we also review high-end compact cameras that bridge the gap between compact cameras and interchangeable lens cameras like DSLRs. High-end compact bridge cameras have better sensors than you'll find on a standard compact camera, so you should get better shots in low-light conditions. You also get manual controls in a camera that is capable of fitting into a large pocket. One downside is that zoom lengths can be rather limited on this type of camera.
Would suit: Anyone who wants more control over their photos, without paying significantly more for a DSLR.
Digital single-lens reflex cameras (DSLRs)
If you want advanced manual control over your photos along with the best possible picture quality, there’s no substitute for a digital SLR – known as a DSLR camera.
Find out more about buying the best digital SLR where we'll explain what digital SLR features you need and the ones you can save on.
Digital SLR cameras capture better photos than slim digital compact cameras thanks to to their large image sensors and superior lenses, as well as the wealth of manual settings on offer.
You can use the DSLR starter lens kit that comes with the camera for everyday photography, and buy additional lenses for specific situations – such as a telephoto lens for capturing fast action sports. However, DSLRs tend to be bulky, and often don’t come cheap.
Would suit: Professionals and keen amateur photographers who want full manual control and excellent photo quality.
For reviews of our top recommended digital cameras, take a look at our Best Buy digital cameras.