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Digital Camera Buying Guide: What to look for and what to avoid

So, you’re ready to move beyond your smartphone and begin taking pictures with a real camera? That’s a bold move, my friend, and we congratulate you for it. We understand the process of choosing the right camera is daunting in this day and age, with a multitude of options at every price point. As June 29 is National Camera Day, we figured this was a good time to go over some of the larger questions you’ll encounter on your journey to photographic fulfillment, and hopefully simplify the camera buying process along the way. It isn’t the purpose of this article to tell you which exact model to buy, simply what you should look for, where you should be looking, and what to avoid.

Related: 10 point-and-shoot cameras that make your smartphone look sad

Well, if you’re reading this, then chances are you’re seriously considering a “real” camera, as opposed to a smartphone. However, it’s a good idea to be sure. Today’s modern smartphone can easily capture images that rival entry-level point-and-shoot camera in terms of quality. If you’re not interested in laying down several hundred dollars on a camera, then you shouldn’t expect significant image quality gains over your phone. Expect to spend in the range of $500 to $800 for a high-end compact camera or entry-level interchangeable lens model, while lower-end point-and-shoots are as cheap as $200 or less.

There are also reasons to look at a dedicated camera that go beyond image quality. Smartphones have many limitations when it comes to photography, especially concerning their fixed, wide-angle lenses that make it difficult to shoot far-away subjects or take good closeups. If you’re looking for versatility, even if you don’t need better image quality, then even a low-end digital camera may fit the bill.

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