Being so remarkably different from its predecessors, the digital camera is certainly one of the major breakthroughs in its line of inventions.Adigital camera(alsocalled digi cam) is one that takesvideoor stillphotographs, or both,digitallyby recordingimagesvia anelectronicimage sensor. This report aims to explore the various aspects of a digital camera, acting as a guide for the consumers so they can act more wisely while purchasing this instrument. The report further elaborates upon what the most enterprising companies in this field have to offer. The framework of our model is based on a 3 step guide that focuses on the consumer's needs, the features in digital cameras that meet those needs and finally, short listing of brands and models to fulfil all these specifications, keeping the consumer's budget in mind. The report further analysed the various features of digital cameras that are crucial to such decision making from the point of view of an informed consumer. The final results of this report provided consumers with a comprehensive and informative guide on what features to look out for with respect to their requirements and interests. Furthermore, comparison of three popular digital camera brands was made based on Singapore market research. The report can contribute to making the decision-making process for consumers buying digital cameras, a lot easier and systematic. It is recommended that consumers keep abreast with changes in the market and technology before relying on the results and methodology prescribed by this report. The dynamic digital camera market will continue to change with new and improved cameras and models entering the field, with advancement in technology.
Digital cameras have become an integral part of our lives - a trusty companion on a holiday with family and friends, on an outing to the local restaurant or just on a random day at university with friends - all to capture those memories and perfect moments. In fact, digital cameras have become so much a part of our lives  that few of us remember a time when we used film and developed photos, while terms like 'cam-whoring' and posting photo albums on networking sites like Facebook have become a daily activity to some of us .
Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) did a recent study and found that 77% of American households now own at least one digital camera . Consumers were found to have snapped an average of 72 digital photos at the most recent event they attended and shared about 51% of these pictures . These statistics can easily be applied across the globe and are probably comparable to statistics specific to each region.
Digital cameras come in many types. Choosing a digital camera involves dozens of factor considerations and depends on the user's preferences. From cost to megapixel, zoom capability and lens quality to more technical terms like aperture, shutter speed and ISO - the experience of the user and his requirements will stipulate what kind of camera he buys .
The compact digital camera is what we tend to see most commonly around us . Those of us with a greater inclination in this field go for the Digital SLR cameras - which themselves range from amateur models to professional ones. Costs vary with specifications and brand names  and it is hard to figure out which camera brand and what specifications make an ideal combination that is worth its price and gives quality performance.
While most photography enthusiasts would argue that each camera and its specifications will suit a photographers' style and preferences depending on what he wants to shoot , it is important to be more aware and be able to compare the technicalities in the field of digital camera to be able to make an informed and wise choice.Objectives
In this era of cut throat competition among companies and high rise deception, it becomes necessary for a consumer to know how and what to look for when buying a commodity, especially something as high tech and complicated as a digital camera. A common mistake that the people make is being sucked into buying cameras beyond what they really need.  This report has potentially the following objectives:
- Raising the consumer awareness regarding the various features of a digital camera and what is each is meant for.
- Presenting the worth of each feature in terms of its monitory value that adds to the total cost of the camera.
- Comparing the same features of different prominent companies to investigate the reason behind the difference in their rates.
In our report we compare different features of the camera and investigate the contribution of each feature to the image quality of the camera. However, we would like to point out that our scope is limited to a few basic features. We have not covered all the features of the digital camera due to space and time constraints. We have explored the contribution of these attributes to the actual cost of the instrument. Digital cameras with similar features are offered by different companies, but there lies a great cost difference between them. We have analysed this imbalance in pricing, limiting it to three companies namely, Nikon, Cannon and Sony.Literature Review
This sections aims to explore current and relevant knowledge about digital cameras - the brands available, the various specifications and features, preceded by the general considerations made by people while buying one. The present trend in the market regarding popular brands is also discussed.Digital Cameras in our Lives Today
From a time where we knew the concept of 'developing films', technology has come a long way and has enabled mankind with digital photography. Fuji DS-1P was the first true digital camera developed in 1988.  Today consumers looking for cameras are spoilt for choice as the market bombards them with countless brands, types of digital cameras as well as ever-changing new and improved features.
Digital cameras are an integral part of our lives today and sales and market trends make it evident that they are here to stay . A study by Consumer Electronics Association called "Digital Imaging" concluded that at least one camera is owned by 77% households in America. Our research presents us with a wide range of material about types of digital cameras and their features. Numerous comprehensive consumer guides are also available through the internet and explore features of cameras extensively.[4,11] Research by Elrich (2009) informs us that although compact point-shooting cameras are seen more often as they are easier to use, those who take an interest in amateur and professional photography use D-SLR cameras with additional equipment like lenses.  Thus we may conclude that compact cameras have the advantage of being portable, affordable and easy to use without knowledge of the art of photography. On the other hand, D-SLRs enable the photographer to shoot better quality photos based on the specifications he requires - for example: lighting, shooting speed and movement of the subject.3 General Considerations
While buying digital cameras, people generally tend to look at features like better megapixel, zoom and weight and portability. However, due to lack of proper understanding or ignorance with respect to the technicalities, people tend to overlook crucial features such as focal length, which is in fact the main difference between a 35mm camera and a digital camera, for instance .Common features and Overlooked features.
Higher resolution, sophisticated but user-friendly controls and better technology has made it ten folds easier to click and shoot with the same camera. Research from PC World, an online website, among other such websites, elaborates on how often the megapixels, size, weight, zoom lens or extra features like the red-eye removal, automatic face detection and other publicity gimmicks often overshadow the more important features like the battery life, exposure controls and the focal range of a digital camera for the consumer .Conclusion: Today's story
Among the dozens of options that consumers are presented with when looking for the ideal camera, each brand has its own merits and demerits among its countless characteristics and specifications.
Tjin (2009) compares Canon and Nikon and states that as the first companies that made the transition from film to digital cameras they are undoubtedly the dominant players in the digital camera market - more specifically in the Digital SLR camera market.  While some people prefer Canon DSLR cameras and Nikon point-shooting cameras, the vice versa applies to others.
Sony is also a relatively old player in the digital camera market and has a good reputation for its quality. However, as compared to Nikon and Canon, Sony is a relatively new player. . After Nikon and Canon, all other brands seem to be competing for the third position in the digital camera market.
From the research on cameras and brands, it is reasonable to conclude that in the field of point - shooter cameras, Canon and Nikon again make quite an impression. In the case of Amateur Digital SLR cameras, research claims that Canon beginner DSLRs are equipped with more features than Nikon. In the Professional DSLR category however, Canon seems to 4 have an edge over Nikon cameras for studio-work related photography, while Nikon cameras are preferred for journalism. All these conclusions are based on extensive research and consumer experiences [5,7].
Methods and MaterialsOverview
The following are the steps involved for a customer finds their way through the labyrinth of decisions involved in selecting the camera that's right for them:
- First step is to find out the need(s) of the customer for a digital camera.
- Secondly which factor(s) in the camera meets up to the requirement(s)?
- Finally the brands and prices are shortlisted to determine which specific model satisfies the maximum number of requirements.
3.2 Analysis of the features of a cameraResolution:
In the field of digital cameras the termresolutionis often used as apixelcount in digital imaging. The term MP (megapixels) and figures such as 1024 x 768 is often associated with it.
One of the factors that is most closely tied to the price of a camera is that of resolution, because this aspect is depends on the high costs of electronic chips. File sizeis just another way of estimated the quality of the camera's output. If the camera can capture more information, odds are good that the quality will be better, especially when printed.Storage Capacity:
The ability of a camera to store pictures in its own internal memory is the storage capacity.
While a camera lacks internal storage capacity, one of the most commonly adopted alternatives would be to utilize removable media such as a Compact Flash, Smart media or other PC card.
A PC Card allows you to store photos on an external device and expand the memory of your camera so that it will hold more pictures.
Amemory cardorflash cardis an electronicflash memorydata storage deviceused for storing digital contents.
The cards get activated as the memory storage area of choice simply by inserting it into the card slot of the camera. Two important issues in regard to memory cards:
- These cards are priced depending on how many megabytes of storage they can store.
- When a camera manufacturer invests in a PC card slot, in most cases the camera would not provide much internal storage. This means that in order to get more than, 7-10 high-quality pictures in the camera at any one time, the customer is forced to buy a PC card up front (this adds to the initial cost).
The higher the optical zoom the farther away from the subject you can be and still achieve a clear picture. A standard digital camera should have a minimum of 3x optical zoom to better efficiency.Image Stabilizer:
In the past digital cameras were sensitive to shaky hands and would often cause blurring. These digital cameras with an image stabilizer compensate for minimal shakiness and keep the photos crisp.Camera Weight:
Even though Standard Digital Cameras are usually bigger cameras no one wants to lug around a large heavy camera. The cameras in our research were light weighted and easy for mobility.Software:
Most digital cameras offer one or more of the three following software options:
- A stand-alone digital image-editing program
- A Photoshop plug-in
- A TWAIN acquire module
This software works by itself and allows the user to get the images from the camera into the hard drive. Most of these programs also offer basic image editing features such as cropping, resizing, adjusting brightness and hue etc. Most offer the ability to add type to the image.Photoshop Plug-In:
This module allows direct acquisition into a program like Photoshop. This saves the customer the steps of having to acquire the images using the camera's stand-alone software, save them onto the hard drive, and then reopen them with a bigger, better, stronger Photoshop like program.TWAIN Module:
This is the same software as a plug-in, allowing direct acquisition into a program like Photoshop. The main differences crop in based on whether a Mac or a Windows PC is being operated (and the preferences of the programmers who created the software).Photographic Lens:
Aphotographic lens(also known asobjective lensorphotographic objective) is anopticallensor assembly of lenses used in conjunction with acamerabody and mechanism to make images of objects either onphotographic filmor on other media capable of storing an image chemically or electronically.
Need for a wide angle lens: When backed up against a wall, trying to recompose the picture to get a different look or a wider angle, a zoomwide angle lensis necessary.Figure1 and Figure2 are a couple of examples that made good use out of a wide angle lens:Macro Lenses and Modes:
The classical definition is that theimageprojected on the "film plane" (i.e.,film or a digital sensor) is close to the same size as the subject. Macro mode allows the user to bring the camera closer to your subject, without which the user would be required to stay at 1.5 to 2 feet (or more) from the subject.
The digital cameras with the best macro capabilities either feature a macro mode or the use of a separate macro lens (e.g. when using a digital SLR camera).Using close-up filters does not give a comparable result.Sensitivity:
Sensitivity refers to what the ISO equivalentwould be if the camera operated on a regular film. In low-light photography; the higher the ISO, the more options to work in dim light.A camera with ISO equivalents such as 100, 200, 400, 800, and 1600 gives a lot more flexibility when it comes to shooting in poor light.Burst Rate:
The speed at whichimagescan be captured with one press on theshutter. This is used mainly in mixed-light conditions or when thesubject is in successivemotion. The photographer is then allowed to select the best image of the group or arrange them in a sequence to study the transitions in detail.Battery Consumption:
Primary objective of a digital camera is to bypass the time and money spent in getting film developed. Hence, money spent on batteries should not be allowed to exceed the money that a customer would have spent on film.
When the pictures of digital camera are featured on a LCD monitor, the batteries get drained instantaneously. For this reason LCD monitors should be strictly used only for operations such as playback, erasing, etc. The LCD should be refrained from being used it as a viewfinder. With any digital camera a wise decision would be to get a camera with a rechargeable pack or use Lithium batteries.Market Share of Companies
In other, companies like Kodak, Fuji, Olympus, Panasonic are included which also contribute to their market share. We have just analysed the three famous companies sales share in the pie chart 1, as we found them rather more popular among the users.
PIE CHART: To analyse the market share(sales) of the three famous brands in Singapore Market.
Source: http://blogs.zdnet.comGraphic User Interface
After the research, we have made a Java Applet which is a graphic user interface for the user to select his specifications as per the given buttons for the features. The java applet program basically has buttons corresponding for the various features and slide bars to choose mega pixel, optical zoom and the weight. Then according to the users selections it displays the most appropriate camera as of now in the market, according to our results from the three brands Sony, Nikon and Canon. (A cd with the applet is enclosed with our report)Limitation
In our research, we had a drawback that there are various camera companies in the market and their models keep on changing every day. Therefore the features of cameras can change. With the technology improving, there are also some additional features added which we cannot include in our research. Our results may be not be appropriate in the near future due to the change in technology every min. But, it offers a method and a procedure for consumers to select a camera in the near future also.Conclusion
The research project was conducted basically with the objective of raising awareness among varied users regarding the various features of a digital camera and providing technical details for each of them. A market survey was conducted to realize the monetary aspect for each feature, and how each one of them plays a significant role in the final cost of the camera. To give a much broader and an effective view to our research, three prominent companies in the Singapore market namely Nikon, Sony and Canon were compared, on the basis of the common features they have and to, account correspondingly for the difference in the total cost of the camera, due to these features.
As this study done by us is preliminary, so the results may not be in best of needs with the entire range of customers in the market, but can be useful for an appropriate niche market. Being somewhat skeptical about our results, we need to digest the fact that Camera models do change with technology and our needs, and frankly no one can actually keep up with every camera available in the market. So to make sure that a customer gets the best deal suiting his/her requirements they should keep the points highlighted in the report in mind and proceed to choose the most appropriate deal in the market.
If the customer uses this list as discussed in our report, he/she may miss the very best deal in the coming future, but still then this report will provide the analytical thinking required to choose a camera with the user specifications. Hence, considering any future research on this topic, our research report will provide footage to all of them but as this topic is very volatile with respect to time and needs, thus it can only give a basic format for evaluation but not the final result.
The choice of a camera suiting to ones need solely depends on his requirements. For example if someone shoots a lot of nature photos, he will want a large zoom lens. If he is going to shoot children's athletic events, look for a large zoom lens and fast response times in a digital camera. If most of his photos will be of friends and family, he would want a model that performs well in low-light conditions. If someone does not have that good knowledge of cameras or photography he should try to pick a good all-around model.
Some people prefer larger digital cameras that are easy to hold. Others will want a small, thin model that fits easily in a pocket or purse. Finally, some will prefer a model that exudes a sense of style. Hence, as different people have different interests, our research project recommends, that one should do the necessary homework before hand i.e. try the model you are willing to buy and compare the price with its counterparts before you buy it .
Sony, Nikon, Canon.The companies mentioned here are renowned and have a long history in making fine 35 mm cameras and lenses. All these companies have translated their expertise nicely into digital cameras we use today.
Here are a few suggestions as of March 2010. What you want at the end depends on how much you want to spend, what are your specifications are but the top three cameras according to our survey and research are as follows:
- Canon Power Shot SX210 IS
- Nikon Coolpix L22
- Sony Cyber-shot DSC-TX5
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