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How to Buy a Digital Camera

You may wish to look at the December 2013 issues of Consumer Reports, which rated digital cameras.  PC Magazine recently did a comprehensive survey of purchasers of digital cameras which also analyzed reliability.  In addition, in April 2014 PC Magazine also wrote a comprehensive description of the various types of digital cameras being sold.  The article describes the pros and cons of each type of camera.

There are several websites that provide in-depth reviews of digital cameras.   My favorite is Dpreview.  Their reviews are extremely comprehensive.  If you are looking for a specific feature on your digicam such as image stabilization or a high zoom ratio, Dpreview has feature search that is extremely helpful.  There are two additional websites that are very similar to Dpreview.  Since there are more than 600 digital cameras on the market, no one website can review them all.  If Dpreview doesn't have a review of a camera that you are considering, you might find it reviewed at Steve's DigicamsDcviews does not perform any reviews themselves, but they do compile the most comprehensive listing of reviews on other sites, including the ones mentioned in this paragraph. 
Do not buy a digital camera based on how many megapixels it has.  In fact, a camera with more megapixels often produces a photo that is worse than a photo taken by a camera with fewer megapixels.  This occurs because cameras with more megapixels are subject to something called noise.  For more about this subject and to see examples of noise, take a look at this New York Times article and this Yahoo article.
A new class of camera has emerged in the past few years called a 4/3 camera.  These cameras offer image quality comparable to SLRs, but in a much smaller package.  You can read more about this class of cameras here.

Steve's Digicams offers his top recommendatons as does Imaging Resource.

Once you've chosen your camera, you'll want to buy it inexpensively.  You can save as much as $100 on a $500 camera by buying it online.  There are many sites that can help you find the best price, but my favorite is pricegrabber.