Back in 2000, when I decided that I needed a good digital camera, I checked around online and was utterly flummoxed by the incredible level of detail provided by the camera review sites. I have no grounding in traditional photography, so the jargon went completely over my head. Many of my photographer friends had the Nikon Coolpix 990, I think, which was a large, expensive camera with a lot of features, and I considered just buying the Nikon 990 and being done with it. But I was uncomfortable with its high price, and I had a nagging feeling that it wasn't the camera I needed to take toddler pictures for the grandparents.
After some soul-searching, I realized the problem was that the Nikon wasn't the right camera for me - I don't care about manual controls and the highest possible image quality, since it's more important that I have the camera with me and ready to shoot when Tristan is being particularly cute. I ended up deciding on the Canon PowerShot S100, and I liked it so much that when the time came to pass that camera on to Tonya, I bought its successor, the PowerShot S400.
All this is by way of introduction to our latest $5 ebook, "Take Control of Buying a Digital Camera," by Seattle photographer Larry Chen. Put simply, it contains the advice I wish I'd had back when I was faced with the decision about which digital camera to buy, if only because Larry starts by drawing the important distinction between people who take snapshots and those who are looking to make artistic photographs. For anyone overwhelmed by the number of camera models out there and the massive level of technical detail in most reviews, this one distinction is your best starting point. Thinking about just how you plan to use the camera goes a long way to narrowing your choices, and it allows you to feel good about your eventual decision. Do be honest with yourself - for instance, I'd love to take artistic photos, but I've been forced to admit that I lack the time to devote to such an effort.
For people like me, features like small size and fast shot-to-shot performance turn out to be paramount, since if the camera doesn't fit in my pocket, I won't carry it with me and thus won't have it when the perfect picture presents itself. But for those more interested in artistic photos, features like high resolution and manual controls are significantly more important. So if you're either in the market for a new camera for yourself or are helping someone else pick the right camera, I think you'll find that Larry's ebook will help frame your questions and narrow the choices once you start to pore through the detailed discussions on the camera review sites. "Take Control of Buying a Digital Camera" is available as a 73 page PDF (a 1 MB download); I also encourage you to download the free 27-page sample to get a feel for the book.