Our checklist helps you ask the right questions before buying a digital camera. Print it and refer to the checklist when you shop. An author found the checklist so useful, it’s included in his book.*
What to ask before buying a digital camera
1. Return policies
What is your policy if I decide to return the camera? Is there a restocking fee?
How many megapixels does the camera have? Will it be enough for the maximum size photos I plan to print?
Are there any features that set this camera apart from others? Does it have auto features for focus, exposure and white balance? Does the camera have Optical Image Stabilization?
4. Shooting capabilities
Does the camera have both point-and-shoot and advanced shooting capabilities? Does it have manual controls?
5. Focal length
What is the focal length of the zoom lens? What is the 35mm equivalent?
Is the zoom optical (a true zoom)? Does the camera have a digital zoom (a simulated zoom) and, if so, can it be turned off? [types of zooms]
Does the camera have a macro mode for close-up photos? What are the other modes and scene modes?
How does the camera store photos? Is the storage built-in, removable or both? What type of memory card is used; if Secure Digital, is it SD High Capacity? Does the manufacturer recommend using a high-speed memory card?
9. Image storage capabilities
Is a memory card included in the purchase? If so, what is the capacity? How many images can be stored on it at the highest resolution; at the lowest resolution?
10. Battery type and cost
What types of batteries are used in the camera? Are they standard or proprietary? If proprietary, what is the cost to purchase an extra battery and where can I purchase it? Can the camera also use alkaline or lithium batteries?
11. Included accessories
What cables are included with the camera? What other accessories are included in the price?
What software comes with the camera? Does it include an image editing program?
13. Gray market
Is the camera gray market? If so, does it have a warranty and is it eligible for authorized repair in my own country? Are camera drivers and video and electrical components compatible in my country?
What type of warranty does the camera have? How long is it? Does it cover both parts and labor for the entire time?
15. Extended Warranty
Does the warranty cover both parts and labor? Does it cover anything beyond mechanical and electrical failures and defects in workmanship and/or materials? Can it be renewed or transferred to a new owner? Does it have a “no lemon” policy? Can it be canceled and, if so, will I receive a pro-rated refund?
16. Service and Support
If the camera needs repair, can I have it done locally or must I mail it? Will service be done by an authorized repair service center? What is the typical turn-around time? Does the manufacturer offer phone or online technical support for the camera?
*“Streetwise Small Business Book Of Lists: Hundreds of Lists to Help You Reduce Costs, Increase Revenues, and Boost Your Profits,” by Gene Marks