The biggest thing to keep in mind when buying a digital camera is what you plan on using the camera for. For example, if you want a small, easy to carry camera for taking photos at parties and emailing them to friends, you probably want a small, ultra-light camera. These cameras are point-and-shoots with little or no zoom and a relatively low resolution, but the small resolution won’t matter unless you’re printing the photos larger than 4×6, and the ultra-small size of these cameras makes them easy to drop into a purse or shirt pocket for a night out.
Or, maybe you want to use your digital camera in the same way you did your 35mm, sending a few photos to friends and printing others out for storage in albums or for a few larger wall hangings. Then consider buying a digital camera in the point-and-shoot range, something with a resolution between three and five mega pixels. Though these cameras may not always fit in a shirt pocket, they’re still easy to carry and use. Most come with a decent optical zoom that will allow you to get close to your subject, a few different shooting modes for taking portraits, indoor, and outdoor shots, and various other features depending on the model and manufacturer. The higher resolution will allow you to print out crisp photos, either at home or at a photo processing store.
If you’re buying a digital camera to compete with your 35mm SLR or want to get into more advanced digital techniques, you’ll want something in between the point-and-shoot and the full-on, professional digital SLR. You fit into the “prosumer” category, squarely in between the professional and the standard consumer. In the past five years the digital camera market has really responded to this section of the market, offering up a large number of fully-featured, relatively inexpensive cameras. Digital SLRs with a full range of interchangeable lenses usually start around $1,000, while other cameras with many of the features of the SLRs but without the interchangeable lens system can be had for much less.