This summer, you’re headed out on a once-in-a-lifetime vacation, or missions trip, to Peru, where you’ll get to meet monkeys face-to-face, and play with adorable babies in an orphanage who just need some love.
But you want better photos than your sometimes-okay phone takes, and don’t have a lot of money, or time for learning how to use some fancy thing called a DSLR.
If you’re looking for an easy-to-use camera for your next vacation, or for your kid’s first camera, or aging mother’s new photography hobby, you should consider starting with a compact digital camera.
What is a Point and Shoot Camera?
A point and shoot camera is a still camera used for taking images, rather than moving images like a video camera would.
A point and shoot camera, also known as a compact camera, is the easiest type of camera to use. It has very basic settings, like “outdoors” versus “indoors,” and allows you to switch from nighttime to daytime, or turn off the flash.
A compact digital camera is literally a camera that you can point at the subject of your photo, and click to capture the image.
No significant effort has to be put out, and no strong knowledge of cameras needs to be had to take decent pictures with these.
Why You Should Consider Point and Shoot Cameras Over DSLRs
Reason #1: Cost Factor
The first big winning point in getting a point and shoot camera is that you can get a decent quality compact digital camera with great image quality for under $100, while a DSLR worth buying will cost you a minimum of about $450 to upwards of $2000 for a “starter” camera.
Reason #2: Ease of Use
Compact digital cameras are single focus or automatic focus cameras. This means that anyone whose vision that isn’t always great, is definitely going to get great use out of a point and shoot camera.
Instead of worrying about focusing on the central image, the photographer can instead just point and shoot the camera, knowing the camera will do the work of focusing for her.
Reason #3: Time Saver
One of the absolute best reasons to use a point and shoot, however, is the fact that you don’t have to learn anything new to use one. That means not only do you, the owner, have nothing to learn besides where the on/off switch is, but you can let anyone else use your camera to snag a shot of you feeding that elephant at the Australia Zoo.
When Do You Need Something Besides a Point and Shoot Camera?
Most times, a point and shoot camera will do the trick. The exceptions would be for photos you’d like to sell, or photos for images at greater distances. Examples include:
- Jungle tours where a sloth is high in the branches and hard to distinguish from the leaves
- Castles on distant hills
- Zoomed in images for small objects at a greater distance than a few feet
How to Choose the Right Compact Digital Camera
Generally speaking, as you choose a digital camera, you’re looking for a few key factors to decide what will meet your needs.
While some people are good with optical zoom, if you want quality images from your zoom lens, we highly recommend looking for higher optical zoom and ignoring the digital zoom. Digital zoom will pixelate any image. This is fine for images you won’t want in higher quality.
An electronic viewfinder comes standard on pretty much all digital cameras. For the vast majority of people purchasing a point and shoot camera, an electronic viewfinder works. It’s that little digital screen on which you see what your camera sees.
For those looking for slightly more precise photo-taking, though, look for an optical viewfinder as well.
Megapixel count is important if you want decent image quality. However, you should be both looking for high enough and low enough count to get the most out of your digital camera.
Too low megapixel count will result in low quality images that can’t be resized to anything frameable.
Too high megapixel count, however, will bloat your camera with an overload of information, causing it to work less efficiently, which can mean lower quality images overall, or at least fewer images overall.
Shoot for something more like 7 to 12 megapixels and the most.
To Find Your Best Point and Shoot Camera
Keep in mind your megapixel count, the type of viewfinder available on the camera, and the quality of zoom. But before you latch onto a given camera, be sure to check out reviews from real reviewers and professional reviewers.
Manufacturer and retailer sites can make all kinds of promises, but real users know what really works and what doesn’t.