If your interest is still images rather than video, you can perhaps do without video at all or have just basic video capability - ALL cameras
If you want to shoot a lot of video, then the camera should have good Hi-Def video capability, preferably 1080P and ideally HDMI-out direct connectivity to your TV for easy playback viewing.
Video and Still Images
If you want to do a bit of both still photography and video, let's look at cameras that handle still photos well but also provide at least 720P Hi-Def video.
Help me choose
2. image types:
step 2 of 5
What types of imagery are you shooting?
Good head-and-shoulders portraits benefit from a narrow angle of view; usually best achieved with a lens focal length between 80mm and 120mm in 35mm. format.
Wider angle lenses capture the grandeur of the outdoors in landscape photography. Look for a wide angle lens setting of 28mm or wider in 35mm format. A panorama setting can provide ultra wide angle shots.
The wide range of photos you will take of the family require a good all purpose zoom lens that cover enough wide angle for big groups, but can zoom in for nice portraits or shots of the kids. Look for a lens with a 28mm wide angle and 80mm or better at the telephoto setting (in 35mm format). Also look for cameras that detect faces and even recognise known family members or friends.
Pets can move around a lot, and quickly. Select a camera with a longer telephoto range that's wide enough angle to shoot up close but long enough telephoto if they want to run. (Same goes for pictures of active kids!!) Look for a lens with a 28mm wide angle and 120mm or better at the telephoto setting (in 35mm format).
A long telephoto lens and ability to shoot multiple frames per second, will help freeze the action with unpredictable wildlife. In 35mm format, a 28-200, 75-300 or even longer zoom is best.
A long telephoto lens and ability to shoot multiple frames per second, will help freeze the action with fast moving athletes. In 35mm format, a 28-200, 75-300 or even longer zoom is best.
Open up the fascinating world of close-up & macro photography. Whether you shoot bugs or flowers, look for a macro setting that gets you as close as possible to your subject and allows for as much magnification as possible. Some cameras offer a "Super Macro" setting that gets you to within 1cm of the subject.
Wide angle lenses are needed to take in the variety of shapes & sizes of buildings, inside and out. Look for a wide angle lens setting of 24mm or wider in 35mm format. A panorama setting can provide interesting views both vertically and horizontally.
Help me choose
step 3 of 5
Where do you plan on using your camera?
Whether you are snorkelling in the ocean or just having fun in the pool, you need a waterproof camera but check the specs. Some only go down a few feet and others are good to depths of 30 or 40 feet.
For serious boaters or kids playing with the garden hose, active lifestyles need a camera that is at least water resistant and splash proof, but if it can take a dunking then even better. Keep it in mind for rainy Vancouver winters!
Skiing, snowboarding, or snowmen in the backyard all call out for a water resistant or water proof camera.
At the beach
If the camera is waterproof then it is also sand proof. Perfect for active families at the beach.
For best indoor shots, look for a wide to medium angle zoom lens, good for smaller rooms or groups of people, at least a 28mm to 80mm in 35mm format. A good built-in flash is helpful for short distances, but a hot shoe for mounting an external flash is of great benefit for extra flash power and distance.
Concerts & events
A long telephoto lens and ability to shoot multiple frames per second, will help get the perfect shot of performers on stage, where allowed to. In 35mm format, a 28-200, 75-300 or even longer zoom is best. An effective high iso setting with low noise is effective in dim lighting.
For general photography outdoors choose a camera with a longer zoom range, medium wide angle setting for scenic shots but also good telephoto for when you can't get closer to your subject. Also consider a camera that provides premium output image quality to handle a wide range of shooting conditions.
Camping / Hiking
You might consider a robust camera that is waterproof and shockproof against drops, with a zoom range that can handle both scenic shots and some more distant subjects.
Help me choose
4. creative control:
step 4 of 5
What kind of creative control do you want?
Auto & manual
In camera image editing
A DSLR or Compact System Camera that accepts interchangeable lenses are by far the best option for photographic versatility and creative flexibility. You have the option of choosing from a myriad of lenses that are designed specifically for sports, wildlife, macro, or portraiture.
Fully automatic camera that will take care of all the settings for you
Auto & Manual
If you like to explore the more creative side of photography, then choose a camera that let's you take it off "auto" and choose aperture preferred, shutter sped preferred or totally manual settings.
Flash built-in to the camera
For the truly creative photographer, you need lots of light. Many advanced point and shoot cameras allow the option of a shoe-mount add-on flash in addition to the lower powered built in flash. Virtually all DSLR cameras perform at their best when used with an add-on flash.
Creative filters/Scene modes
Many cameras let you select creative filters such as sepia mode, soft focus, or pin-hole camera effect. Other have up to 50 or more scene modes such as night, portrait, food, fireworks, action, or black & white, that set the camera controls for the best results.
Shooting in RAW file format is important if you want to edit and enhance your photos in software such as Photo Shop or Lightroom. You don't need a full sized DSLR to do this. Several of the better point and shoot cameras have the ability shoot in RAW file format.