The Genealogists’ Digital Camera Buying Guide

These days, a digital camera should be in the “tool kit” of every genealogist.  Here is a short list of what digital cameras can be used for:

  • taking photos of grave stones
  • taking photos of documents in archives, museums, courthouses, and other research facilities (check the rules of the facility first!)
  • taking photos at family reunions
  • taking photos of family heirlooms
  • taking photos of family homesteads
  • … and more!

But how do you know what kind of camera to buy?  How do you know what kind of camera will meet your needs?  Well here is my quick Digital Camera Buying Guide for Genealogists.  Find your digital camera personality below to read about your needs.

Budget Buyer

Your number one concern is money.  You want a camera that costs under $200, user-friendly, email and post pictures on the web. You want a camera that will last and satisfy you a few years.

  • Price: Under $200
  • Lens: 3X or greater zoom
  • Resolution: Doesn’t matter.  Most cameras on the market will meet your needs.
  • Focus: Autofocus or fixed focus
  • Interface: USB connection
  • Cool Features to Consider: webcam capabilities, basic video capture, automatic scene modes, continuous-shooting mode.
  • Examples: Sony Cyber-Shot,  Olympus Stylus,  Casio Exilim,  Nikon Coolpix

Technology Trendsetter

You enjoy having the latest, shiniest, brand new technology.  You are ahead of the curve in the genealogy world when it comes to genealogy.  You want a camera that will impress without being too complicated to use.  While you care about how much you spend, this isn’t your top priority.

  • Resolution: Nearly everything on the market will meet your needs
  • Price: Under $800
  • Lens: 5X or greater optical zoom
  • Focus: Automatic
  • Cool Features: compact design, interchangeable lenses, Wi-Fi, geotagging support, 12X or greater optical zoom, face detection
  • Examples: Cannon PowerShot,  Nikon Coolpix,  Sony Cyber-Shot


You want a camera that is small enough to fit anywhere.  You want the camera to be easy to use for you and the family.  You want to post photos on the web and email them to family.

  • Price: $150 – $300
  • Resolution: Anything on the market will meet your needs
  • Lens: 3X optical zoom
  • Exposure: Automatic, programmed scene modes
  • Focus: Automatic
  • Cool Features: In camera red-eye removal, image stabilization, face detection
  • Examples: Panasonic Lumix, Cannon Powershot HP PB360

With one of the biggest shopping days in the year coming up, now is the time to buy a big purchase like a camera.  You don’t have to stand in line at the big stores – instead, you could shop by the comfort of your own home.  Now is the time to get some great deals!

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2 responses to “The Genealogists’ Digital Camera Buying Guide

  1. Elyse,
    Great entry! I totally agree. I don’t go anywhere without at least 1 camera. I always have one in my purse. Plus you never know when genealogy will pop up!
    Alanna´s last blog post ..Oakwood Cemetery CD is finally available from GTAGS!

  2. Alanna – The uses for cameras in genealogy is endless. I definitely miss my digital camera (it was stolen). Losing my camera made me realize how much I didn’t utilize this resource enough!

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