Types of digital cameras
There are now many types of digital cameras to choose from, and this might make the buying decision a little more difficult if you are unfamiliar with them.
There are two major types of digital cameras on the market today which are known as Point and Shoot digital cameras, and Digital Single Lens Reflex cameras. These are referred to as P&S, and DSLR for brevity.
Point and Shoot Digital Camera
A digital point and shoot camera is the most popular style, because it is much less intimidating. It is also quite small in size, weighs very little and can be purchased for less than $100 in some cases. These make P&S cameras quite popular with general consumers and the hobbyist. Another reason that they are so popular is their ease of use. In most cases you simply turn the camera on, point it at whatever you plan to take a picture of, and push the button, hence the reason for the name.
There are now a number of P&S camera's that have much more advanced features too, and they also tend to be very easy to use. However, you do not have to use these additional features unless you would like to. Consequently, they are still quite friendly to complete beginners, while offering some more advanced features to those who would like to do a little more.
A common advanced feature of point and shoot cameras is the zoom functionality. Another is referred to as "modes". Modes are indicated by little pictures on a dial of the camera, and they allow you to set the camera up for a specific type of picture taking. For instance, if you are taking pictures of your child's football game, you might change the mode dial on your camera to the little running man picture. This means the camera is now configured better for the faster pace needed when taking sports pictures.
Digital Single Lens Reflex Camera
A single lens reflex digital camera is much more powerful and advanced, but it can seem a bit more intimidating or difficult to use. However, many DSLRs are being made with ease of use in mind. For instance, they have a mode dial similar to P&S cameras so that the user can simply turn the dial and take a picture without fiddling with many different settings.
DSLR cameras have become much more popular in the past year or two, mainly because you can change the camera lens anytime you would like to. A P&S camera has a built in lens that cannot be changed. And even though the P&S may have zoom functions, it is limited to specific ranges only.
A DSLR on the other hand, allows you to put a different lens on whenever you want to. If for instance, you wanted to take a sweeping scenic picture, you might use a wide angle lens. But to get a really good close up shot of that deer off in the distance, you can attach a longer, telephoto lens and get up nice and close with your picture while still standing in the same spot.