Technology is now so advanced that the features on offer in once simple products can be pretty daunting. Digital cameras for example may still be simple to use but the jargon often found in their official product descriptions about what ‘specs’ they have will likely baffle anyone not accustomed to the professional photography world, making it all the more difficult to choose which one to buy. Consider this a basic guide to some of those terms and a reference point when looking to purchase your next camera to help you filter through what’s on offer.


The resolution of a digital camera refers to the quality of the detail it is able to capture in photographs. This is becoming more and more advanced all the time, with accessories for phones even being released to make the most of their in-built cameras. The resolution in digital cameras continues to remain superior however, making them the best option for better quality. Displayed in Megapixels (Mp), the higher the resolution, the crisper the image, making it easier to crop, zoom, expand and print your pictures without compromising the quality and ending up with ‘grainy’ images. Pictures taken with a smaller resolution have their benefits too however, as they have smaller file sizes, making them much easier to store on your computer or memory card, edit or email to others.

Optical zoom

The optical zoom of a camera is how much you can amplify a scene or image before you take a picture, making a higher optical zoom ideal for taking close ups and shots from far away while lower zoom settings are great for capturing landscapes. 10x optical zoom is the maximum for most standard models but ‘superzoom’ cameras have optical zoom of up to 24x.

Shutter delay

The shutter delay refers to the time lapse between the user pressing the button and the camera actually taking the picture. This can sometimes be a second or so due to the camera trying to focus before it captures the shot, resulting in better quality images but is therefore not ideal if you plan to photograph fast moving action shots such as sports matches or animals, etc. The settings for the shutter delay can sometimes be changed on each individual camera but is something to be aware of depending on what kind of pictures you want to take.

Face detection

If your camera has face detection, it will automatically recognise people’s faces and try to adjust the quality and lighting on them so that they look clear and glare free. This is a very handy feature if you like to take lots of pictures with large groups of family and friends at gatherings as regardless of the lighting on each individual at the time, the final image should be well balanced.

Manual and auto focus

All popular types of digital camera come with autofocus but only some also have the option for manual focus. With auto, the camera will adjust its settings by itself to focus the view before it takes the picture but with manual, you have the ability to adjust the focus yourself; ideal for people who like to take extreme close-ups of people and objects or creative, artistic shots where certain parts of the image are blurred or obscured deliberately for atmospheric effect.