Myth: More the Megapixel better the camera.
Reality: First, it is the quality, not just quantity of megapixel which decides how good a camera is. A camera with 12-14 mega-pixel is more than sufficient. If you are getting more mega-pixel at the same price, then be informed that you might be compromising with the other components of the camera, viz. lens quality, optical stabilization, battery, etc. More megapixels are required only when you want very large print-outs of the photos.
Myth: More the zooming capacity, better the camera.
Reality: It’s again the quality of zoom which decides what you should look for. It’s always recommended that you look for optical zoom and nit mere digital zoom. Digital zoom is same as cropping the picture to get enlarged image.
Myth: Canon and Nikon are the only good brands.
Reality: The truth is Canon and Nikon are the most advertised brands which does not necessarily make them the best camera manufacturer in the world. I started with the same impression and then I bought Panasonic and Sony cameras. I must say they are excellent. The list does not stop here. You can also try Olympus, Pentax, Leica which are quite good.
Q. What are the 10 most important features which you need to look for before buying a consumer camera?
(1) Lens quality: Although Canon and Nikon already have good lenses, if you get Leica or Carl Zeiss Lenses it is even better. Currently some of the Sony models use Carl Zeiss Lens and some selected models of Panasonic use Leica lens.
(2) Megapixels: Megapixels up to 12-14 is more than sufficient for a normal user. Do not fall into the megapixel trap. High megapixel images are required for printing large sized bill boards and advertising material and not for your normal usages.
(3) Optical Zoom: The more you get, the better it is for taking good quality tele-photo.
(4) Wide Angle: The lesser the wide angle value, the more the coverage area in the frame. Go for 22-24 mm.
(5) Optical Image Stabilization: Your camera must have this feature so that the images are not shaky and blurry.
(6) Lesser Geometrical Distortion: This means a straight horizontal line in your frame should be captured as straight as possible and two parallel lines should be captured as parallel as possible.
(7) Battery Type & Back-up: Lithium batter is what you should go for. The battery back-up is measured in number of shots as per CIPA standards. Compare with the similar products and then decide.
(8) Maneuverability: Check for how much leeway the camera gives you to adjust shutter speed, aperture, white balance, etc. The more the better.
(9) Macro Mode: Though all the cameras now have this feature, you should go for one which has got it better. You can test it by clicking picture of the dress you are wearing and see how clear the threads look on the screen to judge the same.
(9) Image Display Resolution: This has nothing to do with the quality of the final image. It’s just the display resolution which appears on the camera screen. If you have it better you would be able to know quickly the quality of the image taken by you and decide if you have to make another attempt at taking the same picture.
Another piece of advice is do not go blindly by the user reviews. Look for the expert and detailed reviews here. Dave’s Pick on this website will usually have the reviews of best among the lot. This is the website which I trust the most to decide which camera I need to buy or recommend a friend.