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How to Choose the Best Digital Camera for Genealogists

Updated on June 14, 2014

Essential Camera Features for Genealogy

There are many ways you can use a camera for genealogy. Whether you are taking photos of loved ones to record current moments, or homes and schools to show where your family has been, the camera can be a convenience or a hindrance.

While any camera will do when you want to do your genealogy research, having a camera that gives you helps serve as a valuable tool while you conduct genealogy is a great asset. A camera that provides nice, crisp sharp pictures will give you a sense of pride, and will give you pictures that you can share with your loved ones for generations to come. Having the right tools to conduct genealogy makes it a pleasure, and lets you concentrate on your family history research.

Photographs are a useful tool for genealogists
Photographs are a useful tool for genealogists | Source

Essential camera features for genealogists.

Here are the camera features that are helpful for genealogists.


A digital camera has many advantages. A digital camera lets you take many pictures at once without having to change a roll. Once you take a photo, you can check to make sure it is exactly the picture you wanted. You can adjust the lighting or other settings if needed. this way you don't come home with rolls and rolls of blurry images and pictures that are too dark. A digital camera is more economical because you only print the photos you want. You can also use each photo in many different ways, such as your family tree software, scrapbooks, slide shows, and sharing with family members..

Video features

A camera with video features is very handy in recording family history interviews. Taking videos of children playing or of Grandma cooking adds to the rich texture of your family history.


A camera with GPS capability is useful in identifying the exact coordinates of burial markers as well as family homes and other locations. Over time, as things change, your descendants will be able to find these places when they want to retrace your footsteps.

Size and Shape

The camera must be comfortable for the photographer to carry around and use. Different people will have different preferences about the size and shape of the camera. I prefer to have a camera that is small enough to put in my pocket or purse. This makes it convenient for me to take everywhere I go, so I am never without a camera. Other people are willing to deal with the inconvenience of having a larger camera that provides more features than smaller cameras do.

Battery Life

The battery of the camera should last long enough to record the entire oral history interview. Some people prefer to have a camera that also accepts AA batteries, so they can buy them if their rechargeable battery runs out. This is not important to me, since I don't travel where I don't have access to electricity. I buy two rechargeable batteries, so I can switch them if necessary. Then I recharge the other battery while I am using the first one.


Some people prefer to have a viewfinder that they can look in, in addition to the big screen in the back. This saves battery life, and it also helps when outdoor lighting is too bright to see the LED screen clearly. Sometimes there is a hefty price difference for this feature.

Suggested Cameras for Genealogists

Nikon Coolpix

The 16 MP Nikon Coolpix is a waterproof and freezeproof camera with GPS that takes full HD-1080 video. You don't have to stop taking pictures at the cemetery just because it starts raining or snowing. It can handle low light and fast action photos. You can take videos of the kids swimming. It is rugged and shockproof for outdoor use, so if you drop it while fumbling around with your genealogy notes, it should be okay. It adds GPS information to your pictures, so you can properly identify where each photo was taken when you are going on any trip. It also has imaging stabilizing features. The only thing it doesn't have is a viewfinder.

Canon Powershot

The 12.1 MP Canon Powershot digital camera has an image stabilizer, full 14 X optical zoom, a 28mm Wide-Angle lens, a full 1080p HD video, and GPS. It allows for 32 different predefined shooting situations. The HS system provides clear photos even in low lighting. The wide angle lens lets you take group pictures, landscape scenes and tall buildings.

Panasonic Lumix

The 14.1 MP Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS10 has a 24mm 16x wide angle lens. It also has an optically stabilized image and GPS features. It allows for burst shooting and high speed consecutive shooting. It also takes high definition videos. This camera also has a 3D mode which lets you take 3-D photos. It takes 20 shots and automatically chooses the two (one for each eye) to choose the best 3-D experience.


When you buy a camera, don't forget to buy the accessories, if they are not already provided. A small tripod and camera bag are helpful things to have. The camera will probably will come with a cord so you can upload your photographs onto the computer or printer, if you don't have card drives. Some will even let you send photographs directly to the internet.

Even though a battery and a memory card will probably be provided, the memory card will generally be a very small one that will not hold a lot of photographs.

I prefer to get a large memory card so I can take a lot of pictures or videos without worrying about running out of space. You don't want to skip out on a photo of Great Aunt Edna at the family reunion just because you ran out of room. I also get an extra photo card that I carry with me in my camera bag. Better safe than sorry.

An extra battery is also helpful for places where you cannot recharge your battery. If you go on a trip to another country, instead of getting an electricity converter just for your camera battery, you can simply have the extra one and manage the vacation without worrying about recharging it until you get home.

The Right Camera for Genealogists

These considerations will help you find the right camera features for genealogy. Having the right camera will help make conducting genealogy research much more enjoyable and less cumbersome. You can record current family situations, the paths your ancestors have walked, and your progress in finding them. A camera that stabilizes the image, takes video, and marks the GPS location comes in very handy when conducting family research.

Comments: "How to Choose the Right Camera for Genealogists

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    • Millionaire Tips profile image

      Shasta Matova 6 years ago from USA

      Thanks Donna! Be sure to come back and let us know what you decided.

    • DonnaCosmato profile image

      Donna Cosmato 6 years ago from USA

      Good article with important tips, and timely, too. I'm in the market for a new camera but wasn't sure of the features that were the most beneficial.

    • Millionaire Tips profile image

      Shasta Matova 6 years ago from USA

      Thanks for visiting Nell and thanks for your comments. We try to take a photo of all the grandchildren together every time we get together.

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 6 years ago from England

      Hi, this is great! we forget that the photos we take now, or the videos are really for future generations, if only they had done this in the past, well, the photos at least! lol great info! rated up! And welcome to Hubpages! cheers nell


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