Hello digital photographers and soon to be digital photographers! We've had a lot of "help me chose an SLR," "help me choose a P&S," and "do I want a DLSR or P&S?" threads lately, and although a lot of the regulars to this forum love answering every single one and quickly becoming 601s, these threads to clutter up the DP forum. So, I will attempt to create a guide to buying a digital camera. Without further adieu, here I go: Do you want to have your camera with you at all times and shot ready to print images? Do you not mind having shutter lag, or waiting a few seconds between pressing the shutter open button and the exposure actually taking place? get a Point and Shoot Do you want to be able to take artistic images, have very much flexibility in post processing (and need for post processing just to get saturated images), have lots of upgrade paths, and never be able to change brands unless a merger occurs or you have a money tree? Are you shooting subjects that move fast such as athletes, small children, wild animals, or birds? get a DSLR Are you in the middle? Get an advanced, SLR-like camera that has live preview, but not interchangeable lenses Also, remember that you may end up with better images on a top of the line P&S than a bargain SLR that is a few years old. Most importantly, remember that it is the photographer, not the camera that matters! Lots of people think buying a D200 will make them great. It won't, but it will leave them less money for photography books and classes. Of course, there are a few terms you should know when looking at reviews and asking for advce: Exposure: the amount of light let into the shutter to capture a photograph Depth of field: the range of distance from the camera that is in clear focus in a picture White balance: the color that is used as "white," which affects the general tint and tone of the image RAW: the file format used by most DSLRs which allows correction of exposure, white balance, and more during post processing Noise: undesired specks of color found in images taken in low light scenes IS, SR, VR, in other words, image stabilization: the process of the sensor being able to rotate while a photo is being exposed so that shaky hands don't take away from the sharpness of a photo with a long exposure time Once you've decided what kind of camera you'll be buying, you need to choose a brand and model. This is a personal decision, but I'll try to help you. Canon and Nikon are de facto standards, and frankly, you can't go wrong with either. Currently, many users would say that Canons have better imaging sensors, whereas Nikons are better values in the DSLR market. Canon does have somewhat of an edge in the point and shoot market. Of course, there is life beyond these two big brands. Olympus, Pentax, Panasonic, and Sony also make very nice cameras. If you're getting a P&S, the key factors are optical (not digital) zoom, image stabilization, sensor noise (you'll have to find out about this at dpreview.com, the manufacturers won't tell if their cameras are really grainy), lens/optics quality (again, look at dpreview), and number of megapixels. With a DSLR, you should have an idea of what kind of things you want to shoot, find lenses that will make it possible to do that, then find a brand compatible with those lenses, and buy a camera made by that brand that's in your price range. In many cases, there will be more than one brand that has lenses that can do what you want. In these situations, just go for what feels right. Trust me, when you pick up cameras, you will get what I mean. Finally, with an advanced or SLR-like camera, you don't have many choices. Panasonic's models take great images but have rather noisy sensors. BEWARE OF THIS! Personally, I'd recommend the Canon G7. It's the only camera I'd consider a downright winner in any category. Once you get the camera, make sure to participate in our monthly assignments and picture of the day threads. Happy shooting! ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ If there's any way this guide could be improved, please let me know in this thread, and I'll edit the post. Thanks in advance for the input and I hope this can benefit any potential buyers!