Feeling lost in the sea of point-and-shoot cameras on the market? Don’t know how to choose the best camera? It doesn’t have to be complicated. With the advice on this page, you will know exactly what to look for when choosing a point-and-shoot camera, and all you need to know about them.
You will see that you don’t need to get a high-end DSLR to shoot beautiful pictures and have access to high performance.
I hope this guide will greatly help you find your ideal camera.
Let’s dive in!
What is a Point and Shoot Camera?
I think it’s important for me to first define the term “point and shoot camera.”
A point-and-shoot camera is a compact camera that was designed for maximal portability and ease of use. Point and shoot cameras are made of different types of cameras, from the very compact ones that fit in your pocket to the bulkier superzooms that almost look like mini-DSLRs and those in between.
While point-and-shoot cameras may have slightly different definitions at times, the general definition of a point-and-shoot camera is a camera, be it digital or film, that has a fixed non-interchangeable zoom or fixed-focal-length lens. If you are able to change the lens of a camera, then it’s not a point-and-shoot camera.
Cameras that have interchangeable lenses are usually referred to as “advanced cameras” and they include most DSLR camera systems and mirrorless cameras.
Point and shoot cameras come in varying sensor sizes which usually range from relatively tiny 1/5″ sensors to full-frame (24 x 36mm) camera sensors.
Pros and Cons of Point and Shoot Cameras
Point and shoot cameras have a number of advantages over DSLR/mirrorless cameras some of which will be highlighted below:
- Compact size: Perhaps the greatest advantage of point and shoot cameras. They are super portable and easy to transport. You can easily put a point-and-shoot camera in your pocket.
- Easy to use: User-friendly and easy to use. They are also quick to deploy since you can put them in your pocket. This way, you won’t miss shots.
- Automatic functions: The camera is almost completely automatic in auto mode thereby taking all the manual work away from you.
- Fixed lens and built-in flash: All the key components of a point-and-shoot camera are fixed and this means you don’t have to carry additional products.
- Quiet: Point and shoot cameras take shots quietly since they are fully digital.
The cons of point and shoot cameras compared to DSLR/mirrorless cameras include:
- Lower quality: Point and shoot cameras cannot just compete with DSLR/mirrorless cameras as those are more advanced cameras designed for professionals.
- Limited control: DSLR/mirrorless cameras give you more control over how you take shots as they have manual control.
- Fixed lens: Since you can’t change the lens of point-and-shoot cameras, you are stuck with whatever is in the camera indefinitely.
- Shorter battery life: Batteries tend to drain faster in point and shoot cameras due to the digital LCD screen
Point & Shoot and Bridge Cameras
You may have heard of a bridge camera before and wondered what the camera is about. The first thing you should know about bridge cameras is that the term “bridge” is actually a marketing term and not a technical term. The reason why manufacturers name some cameras bridge cameras is because those cameras are a “bridge” between point-and-shoot cameras and DSLR cameras.
Bridge cameras are sometimes referred to as hybrid cameras and they are more advanced than point-and-shoot cameras but not as sophisticated as DSLR cameras. You just get enough advanced features (larger optical zoom lens, improved sensor, and controls) to get a small taste of DSLR cameras. But bridge cameras are still point-and-shoot cameras because their lenses are not interchangeable.
Optical Zoom vs. Digital Zoom
When you are zooming on a digital camera, you are trying to get a closer view of far-away subjects. There are two types of zoom – optical and digital zoom.
Optical zoom actually uses an actual lens adjustment to get up close and personal to far-away subjects. The lens of the camera actually moves back and forth to truly zoom in and out. Optical zoom is the most important type of zoom and if you intend to take lots of photos from far away subjects, be sure to go for a camera with a large optical zoom.
Digital zoom actually involves in-camera image processing – an all-electronic form of zooming in or out. Nothing is moving on your camera. It’s your camera’s software and processing that’s zooming in or out the image on the screen.
Manufacturers usually use magnification power to denote the zooming power of lenses. That’s why you will see a camera zooming power represented like 8x, 25x, and so on. But while something like 8x actually sounds like a reference to magnification. It’s not. What an 8x zooming power means is that the image is magnified eight times the widest focal length number. So, an 8x zoom that starts at 28mm would zoom in to 224mm, but an 8X zoom that starts at 24mm would only zoom in to 192mm.
In a nutshell, optical zoom is what matters. I wouldn’t even care if the camera allows a 100x digital zoom if the optical zoom is lame.
Optical zoom magnifies the picture and keeps the resolution and image quality intact. It is obtained by modifying the focal length of the lens.
Digital zoom, as its name suggests, is digital and does not come from lens movement. It is an artificial zoom obtained by cropping the image, and as a result, reducing its resolution and quality.
What Are The Factors to Consider When Choosing Your Camera?
Image and Video Quality
What’s the use of a camera that can’t produce high-quality photos? The image and video quality of a camera are very important. Megapixels (MP) are the standard used to measure the resolution of a camera. The higher the megapixels, the better the quality of photos you get.
Cameras on this list can also record videos. Most of them have a video resolution of 1080p (the standard for HD – High Definition) which is very good. You’ll rarely find a point-and-shoot camera that has 4k video resolution at this price range. However, the 1080p resolution is very satisfactory for most people.
That’s an obvious criterion, and instead of going for either the most expensive because you want the best one, or the cheapest camera around, I suggest you try to find the best value for money with an intermediate budget.
The image processor is a bit like the brain of the camera. It ensures that the camera and the autofocus system function fast and efficiently, and good image quality, particularly in low light (good noise management). The image processing technology is evolving very fast, and choosing a camera with a more recent processor can result in a big difference in the camera’s performance.
The sensors on point-and-shoot cameras vary in size. Some even have the APS-C sensor size you can find on some DSLR cameras! It’s true that smaller sensors make it possible to have smaller cameras, but performance-wise it is better to have a larger sensor.
Larger sensors typically offer better image quality and a much better result in low light, high ISO configuration.
ISO and Low Light Performance
The sensitivity of your camera’s sensor to light depends on the ISO. The higher the ISO of your camera, the easier you’ll be able to shoot in darker conditions without using a flash. Look for cameras that offer ISO 1600 or higher.
However, higher ISOs mean that there will be more noise in the image as the image will be grainier. You can go online and search for images taken by the camera you want to buy at low ISOs. And such images should be bright and crisp.
Today, many cameras can use high ISO settings and still get very usable images.
Since you can’t change the lens of a point-and-shoot camera, it’s important to get a good one! Some brands have a very good reputation for optics quality (Sony’s Zeiss lenses, Leica lenses…).
Pay attention to the maximum aperture available. The wider the aperture, the faster the lens. The amount of light that goes through the lens directly influences the shutter speed and if your lens is not very bright, your camera will need to expose longer to get a good picture. This will result in blurry images due to camera shake. If you have a very bright lens (f/1.8, f/2.8, etc.), you can keep a fast shutter speed and avoid camera shake.
Image stabilization helps reduce vibration and shakiness when shooting. This will reduce blurriness in photos, especially in low-light conditions. Manufacturers will either install a stabilization mechanism in the camera body/lens or use software to stabilize images.
Wireless Connectivity – WiFi and NFC
Cameras that have WiFi connectivity allow you to easily upload your media to your phone, computer, or social media straight from your camera. There are camera models that allow you to download apps that link your phone up to your camera. This allows you to do stuff like setting a timer, pressing the shutter, or seeing what your camera sees, all from your phone.
Near-field communication (NFC) is another wireless option available that comes with newer camera models. And this feature lets you send images wirelessly from your camera to a wireless device (your phone or tablet) simply by touching the devices together.
Point-and-shoot cameras can be capable of really interesting performance with continuous shooting (or burst shooting). If you shoot fast-moving subjects, this mode will ensure you don’t miss the perfect shot. A few frames per second is already pretty good.
Probably not a huge deciding factor on its own, but an articulated / tilting screen instead of a fixed screen, and a touch screen instead of a basic LCD can be a nice plus.
This may or may not be a priority for you, but video quality also varies from camera to camera. Some models offer 4K capture, but many “only” offer full HD (which is already pretty good!). If video is really important to you and you are into vlogging, for example, you might want to select 4K cameras in priority, but remember that 4K capture takes up a lot of battery and space on the memory card.
Pay attention to the sound quality. Some cameras provide a stereo sound recording, and some have a port available for an external mic, which is even better.
Features & Functionality
Point and shoot cameras come with different camera modes which include portrait, daylight, museum, sports, night landscape, night portrait, landscape, etc. Some cameras have viewfinders that allow you the frame while composing an image. Face recognition is another feature you may find in cameras.
That’s it for this guide on point-and-shoot digital cameras. I hope it was useful and helpful to you. Follow the advice on this page and you will be able to choose the perfect camera for your needs!