Point and Shoot cameras make up a large segment of the digital camera market thanks to their ease of use and their affordable price. As opposed to digital SLR cameras, point and shoot cameras are compact, easy-to-use and provide great picture quality without much effort. In order to use these cameras, the user only needs to press the shutter button. The camera automatically adjusts the shutter speed, aperture, focus and light sensitivity. The pictures captured by these top rated point and shoots are sharp with exceptional color representation. Before buying a point and shoot camera, it is necessary to compare the different types in the market. This point and shoot buying guide will help you choose the best one to suit your needs.
Purpose of the Guide
Choosing the right camera for you can be confusing with all the options on the market. We've put together this guide to help you navigate the point and shoot camera options and to answer your questions.
What are Point and Shoot Cameras?
When it comes to the best digital point and shoot cameras, there are many types to choose from. The major types to choose from are basic point and shoots, superzooms, super compact cameras, rugged/waterproof, and advanced compacts.
The basic point and shoot camera is best suited for people who are happy with auto features. This type comes with in-camera automation features so users don’t have to manually set controls to take pictures. These cameras are well-known for providing very good auto modes and scene selections for those perfect in-camera settings. The advanced point and shoot are compact cameras that provide the advantages of DSLR-like features with the bonus of portability. These offer manual control for setting the aperture, shutter and ISO, which makes it easy to capture images. They also provide better image quality in comparison to normal fixed-lens cameras. Super-Zoom cameras offer magnified focal lengths anywhere from 20x to 30x optical zoom, giving both impressive wide-angle shots and telephoto reach. These cameras also provide manual control for aperture and shutter, as well as image stabilization. There are also portable super-zooms that offer 10-15x zoom with even more portability. Lastly, Rugged-style point and shoot cameras are made to withstand extremes in just about any environment, making them ideal for the extreme-sport enthusiast, mountaineers, etc. These cameras are uniquely designed to be shockproof, waterproof and weatherproof. Extremely durable, but still providing great image quality.
Features of Point and Shoot Cameras
When choosing a digital camera, it is essential to first understand the features which are most important in your future purchase.
Although the misconception is that more megapixels means better images, this isn’t necessarily the case. Sensor size has more impact on the clarity of your photos, especially in low-light situations. If shooting in low-light situations is a priority for you, consider a point and shoot with a larger image sensor. If a powerful zoom is more important, look for something with a smaller sensor.
When looking at different point and shoots, it’s important to differentiate those that utilize optical zoom vs. digital zoom. Although digital zoom can give a longer zoom range, image quality is compromised. Some cameras offer both optical zoom with extended digital zoom. If zoom lenses are an important feature to you, optical is the way to go even though it adds a little bulk.
Most point and shoots do not have viewfinders and instead have an LCD screen to help you line up a shot. Larger LCD screens are more expensive but offer you a better view of your framing. Some high end compacts still have optical viewfinders which are helpful for composing in bright light when it’s difficult to see an LCD screen because of glare.
Premium quality LCD screens are important when choosing your camera. A large 3 inch LCD is better for giving you a more accurate preview of your shot. Higher quality LCDs provide better color and have better visibility in bright light.
This feature is very helpful when taking pictures in low light. Since the camera will often choose a slower shutter speed to get a better exposure, an image can have a blurred effect even with a sturdy grip. Image stabilization, or IS as it is also known, can help with this. The two methods often used are optical image stabilization and sensor movement. Optical IS adjusts the lens to compensate for movement, while sensor movement adjusts the position of the sensor to compensate for any shake. Another method used is digital image stabilization, which attempts to correct the blurring after the image is shot.
Many point and shoot cameras come with different shooting modes that automatically help photographers get the most out of any scene. The camera will recognize a scene, saving you time from having to change settings.
Most digital cameras these days offer facial recognition features to help detect your subjects faces in a scene. The camera senses a face and locks focus and exposure suitable for the image. Like face recognition, some cameras provide smile recognition features which automatically detects a face and takes the picture when they smile.
Many modern point and shoot cameras now come with built-in Wi-Fi, offering a great way to share photos through social media sites by connecting to a Wi-Fi hotspot. NFC (Near Field Communication) is a feature on some cameras that help them connect directly to a mobile device for image preview and sharing.
Most point and shoots come with their own rechargeable lithium-ion batteries for extended use. Some still are powered by normal AA batteries for those who don’t always have access to an outlet.
Utilities of Point and Shoot Cameras
When selecting any particular point and shoot camera, features that you might want to look into are a great quality lens, adequate zoom range, image stabilization, nice sized LCD screen and additional features like face recognition and Wi-Fi. Point and Shoots are great for fun, spontaneous photography because of their portability, but you’ll also want to look out for image and video quality.
Top 5 Manufacturers
There are many companies that offer great quality point and shoot cameras. Let us see the top five leading companies that have been manufacturing the best point and shoots.
Canon is well-known for providing some of the best point and shoot cameras that have advanced features and offer different functionality. Canon point and shoot cameras provide excellent image quality and are still affordable.
Nikon is a leading company that has made its niche around the world with their imaging products. Nikon point and shoots are known to offer great image quality with many features without being too heavy on your pockets.
Fuji is a world-famous company which offers digital cameras to satisfy the needs of all photographers, amateur and professional alike. Fuji point and shoot cameras have loads of features including fixed prime lenses for optimal quality, larger sensors and only the most cutting edge technology making it a perfect choice for professionals and enthusiasts.
Samsung is known to offer the best kind of digital cameras that have amazing features while still maintaining an affordable price. Samsung point and shoots are ultra-compact digital cameras that give high resolution shots, suitable for any type of photographer.
Olympus offers a huge range of digital cameras with amazing features that a fit for both beginners and professionals. The wide range of Olympus point and shoots feature great build quality within a stylish design all the while having great image quality.
There are some important terms that you need to know before buying a point and shoot camera.
- One million pixels, used as a measure of the resolution in digital cameras. The amount usually refers to the highest resolution of an image from the camera measured in the amount of pixels. More megapixels means a larger image better for editing and enlarging but also means larger file sizes.
- A feature on the lens that allows you to magnify the focal length. Point and shoots with optical zoom generally perform better than those with digital zoom. Longer zooms also require optical image stabilization to help with camera shake.
- Allows you to view the frame while composing an image. Some point and shoots have these to help while composing and are beneficial when trying to take pictures in bright light.
- LCD Screen:
- Allows you to compose an image and view playback or menu settings. Opt for a larger 3 inch screen with accurate colors and increased brightness for outdoor shooting.
- Image Stabilization:
- This feature helps account for camera shake, allowing you to take sharper images even in low light conditions.
- Camera Modes:
- There are various camera modes available in point and shoots cameras of which some are portrait, daylight, museum, sports, night landscape, night portrait, landscape, etc.
- Face Recognition:
- Face detection features recognize a subjects face automatically before taking a picture. Smile recognition recognizes a face and takes the picture before shooting the picture.
- Wireless Connectivity:
- This allows cameras to connect to mobile devices and the internet through Wi-Fi connectivity or another connection such as Near Field Communication.
- The type of powersource for the camera. Most cameras use rechargeable Lithium Ion for the convenience of extended use. Some cameras run on AA batteries.
- Memory Cards:
- These serve as a means of storing the images you take on your camera. Most Point and shoots take SD or SDHC cards and can be read using an external card reader.