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Digital Camera HQ offers unbiased, informative reviews and recommendations from camera experts and everyday users looking to share their own experiences. We're not a store, but we'll help you find a great camera at the best price. Throughout the site, you'll find some of our most popular cameras as well as links to reviews, comparisons, and guides.
First and foremost, we’re dedicated to helping you buy a digital camera, and we try to make the process as straightforward and pain-free as possible. We have no ties to camera manufacturers, and we’re not salesmen. We get a small commission from our merchant partners every time somebody clicks on any camera offer. Our only incentive to recommend one camera over another is because we really think that it’s a better product.
Ratings and Reviews
We think that our rating system sets us apart from the other digital camera review sites out there. Some of those sites judge all cameras according to high dSLR standards (and to be fair, those sites tend to focus on dSLR cameras anyhow). Others are afraid to give bad reviews at all, and as a result, nearly every camera ends up being “recommended.” We rate and rank cameras based on the standards of its category or sub-genre, and we’re not afraid to give a camera a poor ranking.
Since cameras are rated according to their category (ultracompact, travel zoom, consumer dSLR, etc.), you’ll see some $150 point-and-shoots graded “A” and some $800 dSLRs graded “B+”. Yes, the dSLR is a much more powerful than the point-and-shoot, but comparing them is like comparing apples to oranges. There’s a better dSLR out there, but the point-and-shoot may be best in its class.
When a staff member does a hands-on review, we touch on attributes including physical design, build quality, interface, performance, image quality, video quality, the fun factor or “X” factor of user experience, and its value for the money. We evaluate all these factors in the context of similar cameras; how it stacks up to last year’s model, and how it stacks up to competing models from other manufacturers.
As of October 2010, we began breaking down the ratings into four categories: Body & Design; User Experience; Image Quality; and Value for Money. We rate the camera from 0 to 5 in each category, and assign a grade based on the total. 18 and up is an A plus. Very few cameras score this high. 17 or 17.5 is an A. 16 or 16.5 is an A minus, so on and so forth, down to an F.
We give grades to all cameras, even those that we have not reviewed. We base those grades on the spec sheets, reviews from other sites, and user feedback. Ideally, we’d like to do a hands-on review of each and every camera out there so that we could give you the most accurate rankings possible, but we don’t have the resources to review the six or seven dozen cameras that come out each year. Nor does it always make sense to review each and every camera out there. Manufacturers sometimes release two or three cameras that are nearly identical aside from slight differences like zoom factor or HD video capability. By reviewing one of them, we get a very good read on the others as well.
We even give grades to cameras that have not yet been released. Sometimes, we’ve had a little bit of a hands-on preview with them, which we will indicate. Most of the time, we’re pre-judging those cameras based on the spec sheet, the camera line’s reputation, and if applicable, its direct predecessor’s reputation. That’s why we tend to give Canon point-and-shoots high marks in pre-release. Kodak point-and-shoots, not so much. That might sound like a bias, but it’s our extensive experience talking. In general, we start it off with a lower grade than what it will likely end up with -- we don’t want to take attention away from great cameras that are available right now -- and bump it up (or down) after the release date. We will rarely give a camera higher than an A minus before it’s released.
The lowest grade that you will ever see in a search result is a C minus. If it’s below that threshold, it’s simply not worth buying, so we don’t even show it to you (though it does remain in our system if you search for it). As of November 2010, we’ve changed our grading scale. In the past, the lowest grade we showed was a B minus, but that didn’t allow for enough nuance in the camera rankings. We decided that if we moved the bottom-end down to a C minus, we’d be able to display more accurate rankings. So, if you visited us prior to November and saw that a camera had a rating of an A minus and are curious why that’s now been dropped down to a B, it’s because we’ve changed our scale.
Round-Ups and Comparisons
Our round-ups and comparisons allow shoppers to quickly compare a handful of cameras that have something in common. Some roundups spotlight the top three or four cameras in a certain category. Others pick a few cameras at different price points that appeal to a certain type of photographer or consumer -- students, travelers, and hobbyists to name a few.
Around the holiday season, we put a greater emphasis on these roundups. A huge number of our visitors are shopping for somebody else around that time of year, so we like to make it easy for them. These are not the final authority, but you can be sure that you’re getting a great camera if you go with one that we recommend in our round-ups.
Guides and Editorials
We like to post some longer-form essays or guides from time to time, and we write them for different reasons. Our main focus is to help you to buy a camera, but we hate to see you go away forever after that process is done. To keep you coming back, we have some how-tos and tutorials to help you get started with your camera and photography in general. More are always on the way.
We also notice that some questions show up quite frequently in the comments section. Rather than answer each one individually time and time again we’ll write a longer, more elaborate answer that we can refer readers to for more in-depth answers. And if there are further questions on that topic, it makes good sense to have them all asked and answered on that related page.
And sometimes, we post articles just because we think that they’re cool, fun to read, and somehow related to cameras and photography.
We love it when you leave comments/questions and user reviews. We do have rules, though.
1) No foul/derogatory/hurtful language. Let’s keep it clean for the kids. We’ll delete these comments.
2) Don’t personally attack at one of our staff members, contributors, or even a random commenter. If somebody is wrong about a fact, act like a grown-up and point out why it’s wrong. Don’t insult the person. Show some respect. Ignore grammar/spelling/language errors. If we see insulting and/or attacking, we’re deleting it.
3) Relevant links only, please. If you want to share a relevant website, please do so, but if it looks like spam, we’re deleting it.
4) If you ask a question in a user review, we can’t answer it. Not because we don’t want to, but we can’t reply to a user review because of how our system is set up. Please ask questions in the comments section. If you submit a question as a user review, it will be deleted. Nothing personal.
5) Try to say something more insightful than “Cannon is crap!!” in your user reviews. You can include that if you feel like it, but tell us why it’s crap, and keep in mind that one bad camera doesn’t necessarily make a bad brand.
Hey! Why Didn’t You Review Camera X!?!
Probably one of three reasons. A) It probably won’t get much attention from our visitors, and we don’t bother writing a review that nobody will read about a camera that nobody will buy. B) The manufacturer didn’t have it available for a loan during the time when it was a relevant camera. C) The manufacturer, for whatever reason, ignored our requests for the product or chose not to send us that particular product.
Why Don’t You Give More Coverage To Brand X?
If a company doesn’t send us cameras to review, we can’t review them. Plain and simple. Some people think that this amounts to us holding the camera companies hostage. Nope, it’s nothing insidious like that. It’s a two-way street, and if the companies won’t send us cameras, we can’t cover their cameras. We reach out to each and every company, so it’s up to them to meet us halfway.
Companies have their own reasons for why they won’t send us cameras. It may be that we’ve given a bad review for a similar camera -- this isn’t usually a problem, but it has happened. Sometimes, it’s just bad timing -- we requested a camera at a time when it wasn’t available, our request slipped through the cracks when it was available, and it was nobody’s fault. Just the wrong request at the wrong time. Sometimes, there’s a company-wide policy of not loaning out certain cameras: Fujifilm doesn’t loan their low-end point-and-shoots, for example.
Do You See Any Perks From The Camera Companies?
We do not receive any money, gifts, trips, fine wine, etc. from any camera company. The companies send us cameras to review, sometimes before the release date. We have a limited loan period (usually two weeks, sometimes two months) and if we don’t return the camera, we have to pay for it.
At best, we’re invited to events to get an early look at upcoming products before they’re announced to the public. The plus side for us is (hopefully) a higher search result for being among the first to report on a camera, especially when we can say we’ve had a hands-on preview. We cover our own travel costs to these events.
The one cost is always paid for: shipping. The public relations firms always cover the cost of shipping cameras to and from the distributor, for which we are thankful, but not beholden.
So once again, we don’t get paid by the camera companies. Our merchant partners pay us a small amount every time a visitor clicks on a camera offer, no matter which camera it is, so we have no financial incentive to push one camera over another, aside from maintaining our credibility.
Hey! I Love My Camera! Why Did You Give It A C Minus!?!
There could be a couple of reasons for that. In general, it means that we do not think you should buy that camera. Some more specifics:
A) There’s probably a newer model with better features and performance. We try to indicate this in a yellow box at the top of a product page, but sometimes we miss. If you think that a camera has been replaced but we haven’t indicated that, leave a comment and we’ll look into it.
B) It might be a bad camera, at least compared to some similar options. We’re not saying that you can’t like it, or that it will definitely take terrible photos and break within a year. We’re just saying that, if you were to ask us if you should buy that particular camera, we’d definitely say ‘no.’
C) At a certain point in a camera’s lifespan, its price actually increases after declining steadily from the original asking price. The supply of a discontinued camera dwindles, and the folks who still demand that old camera (for whatever reason) are generally willing to buy it for more than its worth. So the value decreases as the price increases, which is grounds for us lowering its grade.
Why Didn’t You Respond To My Question/Comment?
We get a few dozen questions and comments each day, everywhere from our product pages to articles to round-ups. We try to respond to as many as we can, but it doesn’t always work out. Aside from us being too busy, here are some possible reasons we don’t respond:
A) It got lost in our system somehow and we didn’t see it. Sorry, it happens. Not often, but it does.
B) Somebody already asked your question and we already answered it . With popular products, we’ve probably already answered questions like “Does it zoom during video?” We often answer questions multiple times, but we make no promises that we can always answer it.
C) Your question was not specific enough. “Should I buy the Canon SD1300?” will probably not get an answer. “If I’m looking for a well-built compact with good image quality and an easy interface, what are some good cameras to buy?” will probably get an answer, though we might just link you to another page on our site -- we have gobs of information on DCHQ, and we think that there’s enough available to help you help yourself in most cases.
C2) Also, it does not count as a specific question if you list eight cameras, then ask us which one you should buy. Again, we spend a lot of time coming up with guides that we hope answer these questions for you in the first place, so please use the info we’ve compiled for you before asking a question.
D) Nobody on our staff knows the answer. We’re pretty good, and we’re happy to do a little research to find the answer for you (it helps us learn too!), but sometimes we just got nothin’ for ya. Sorry.
E) You used foul/hurtful/derogatory language. Your mother taught you better than that. In fact, not only did we ignore the comment, we probably deleted it.
F) You lobbed a personal attack at one of our staff members, contributors, or even a random commenter. This should go without saying. If somebody gets a fact wrong, act like a grown-up and respectfully point out why it’s wrong. We put in a lot of work to help you out, at no cost to you, and we’d really appreciate if you showed some respect and kept things civil. As above, we will probably delete these comments.
G) You typed in all caps. We are 10 years into the 21st century. Turn off the caps lock. As above, we will probably delete these comments.
H) The comment has not cleared our cache yet. Comments usually appear on the site within 30 minutes, but it can sometimes take six hours or more. Just wait, and we’ll probably have an answer for you.