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Digital cameras : Which One to Choose?

It’s the start of yet another year and turning to photography as a hobby might be a good idea. There are so many cameras in the market, but which one do you opt for? There’s just too much to choose from. All throughout the year, we emphasize on cameras in articles and tests.

Going shopping for a camera is first about doing your homework and being very clear on what you want from it. Most people purchase standard point-and-shoot cameras that are priced anywhere between Rs. 7,000 to Rs. 15,000. The grey market prices are obviously going to be lower. The entry-level PowerShot A470 from Canon is still available at just under Rs. 7,000. The PowerShot A1000 IS and the very new A2000 IS have just been released in the market for a little over Rs. 11,000. They are 10-MP cameras with 4x and 6x optical zoom lenses.

Canon has been updating the PowerShot line of cameras up the price scale as well. The well-known Canon PowerShot A720 IS and the A650 IS are mid-ranged P&S cameras to own. The prices of these in the market hover somewhere between t h e Rs. 11,000 mark in the grey market. These cameras both come with 6x optical zoom which is sufficient for most purposes. If you want something a bit cheaper, then the PowerShot A590 IS is one to look for. The price of the A590 IS has dropped to around Rs. 11,500.

However, if you want a no-compromise P&S camera with a good zoom lens and a decent-sized sensor, the new SX110 is the one to look for. It has a better build and is a better performer than the older SX100. Priced at around Rs. 16,000, it comes with a pouch and a 2 GB SD card. Look out for schemes in malls and showrooms where you get a charger and batteries along with the camera.

There are a few new ultra zoom cameras in the market too. The DSC H7 and H9 from Sony come with 15x optical zoom. Canon’s S5 IS is still in the market and can be found at around Rs. 17,000. Canon has begun to phase them out with the SX10 which has an incredible 20x optical zoom as compared to the S5 IS’ 12x. If you like to go for an Olympus ultra-zoom, then the SP565UZ is an interesting model to look out for. The price is somewhere around Rs. 20,000.

Compact cameras are available at under Rs. 15,000 as well. They aren’t typically liked for performance but for size and portability reasons. The IXUS 80 and 85 IS are the ones from Canon priced under Rs. 15,000. Even the Nikon S52 is available for just under Rs. 13,000. Clearly, the days of extremely expensive ultra-compacts have passed. Even Sony’s T77 is not more than Rs. 16,000 in the market.

One of the more interesting categories of cameras is the D-SLR. Prices have dropped and are now just above the price bracket for the ultra-compact fashion oriented cameras. The Nikon D40 and the D40X are the entry-level offering from Nikon. Rumors are that the D40 is priced around Rs. 18,000 in the grey market, but that’s only great if you can find one. If you can’t, then the D40X is the next best bet. The Nikon D60 has been brought in to replace the D40 and the D40X. Canon has a few entry-level D-SLR cameras too — the EOS 1000D and the EOS 400D. Both of these cameras can be bought for around Rs. 30,000 to Rs. 33,000. The lens supplied with most of these cameras is the 18–55 mm ones. Look out for shops that sell you only the body and give you the option of selecting a different lens. Shopkeepers and photographers will also tell you that cost of Canon lens is considerably more than the Nikon ones.

We reviewed the Nikon D90 and liked it a lot. We suggest you look out for a Nikon D80. The D90 replaces the D80, which might get phased out soon. The prices for the D80 have been dropping steadily with the launch of the D90. The D80 body itself in the grey market is rumored to be around Rs. 35,000 and there are some interesting offers for lenses offered as well.