I’ll admit it. I use a point and shoot camera.
It’s not that I can’t handle manual settings. It’s just that I don’t want to.
Over the years, I’ve had all sorts of cameras. I ran hundreds of rolls through my beloved Pentax way back in college… even had a bulk loader to save money on film. It was 100% manual. Pull out your light meter, set the shutter speed and f-stop, focus and shoot. I was pretty good at estimating the exposure without the meter. As I recall, in bright sunlight it was the reciprocal of the ASA (since replaced by ISO) at f16 in bright sunlight.
I later moved on to a variety of cameras with integral meters, including some large format cameras and even an underwater Nikonos.
So how did I end up with a point and shoot? It’s because they got real good and I got tired of lugging heavy equipment.
I haven’t gone 100% automatic. My current prime camera has full manual override available. I know it works because I tried it out when I first got the camera. But since then, almost all of my pictures have been taken with one of the preset modes built in, or even by letting the camera pick the mode.
The camera is sometimes smarter than I am. It seems to know what mode to choose and how to balance the exposure. And even then, it knows when to follow up with a few more frames with bracket exposures.
All that and it fits in my pocket! And the whole camera is smaller and lighter than some of the wide straps that I used to need to keep from breaking my neck with the big box camera … not to mention the sledgehammer shaped flash that it needed.
So let’s look at what’s available in point and shoot cameras.
There’s not an awful lot of sense to look at the lower end of the point and shoot market. They’ve pretty much been replaced by smartphones. In fact, there are more photos taken on iPhones than any other camera!
The strength in point and shoots comes in the zoom and super zoom range and travel cameras.
Smartphone pictures are good, but their small lenses sensors are very limited. They just can’t capture the latitude and range of colors that a larger sensor can. Of course, DSLRs and some of the newer mirrorless cameras are even better, but they don’t fit in your pocket.
Several companies are making top quality travel zooms now. My personal camera is a Panasonic. Yeah, I know that Panasonic isn’t one of the old names in photography, their strength is electronics. And that’s what a digital camera is. And There is an old school photo connection through the Leica lens.
My little pocket camera has a 30x zoom lens. That’s enormous, and wouldn’t even be usable if not for strong electronic stabilization that takes the shake out. At 30x, my lens covers the equivalent of extra wide 24 mm all the way up to 720mm. I remember using a 300 mm lens on my old Pentax. It was enormous. 300 mm is about a foot long. It needed to be mounted on a unipod or tripod to hold it steady. Even then, exposures had to be faster than 1/250 or everything blurred. Now, I can crank my Panasonic out to 720 mm equivalent, and hand hold it to catch a bird in a tree at 50 yards.Here are some of my favorite point and shoots
Here are some of my favorite point and shoots:
Best of the Best
Sony Cyber-shot RX100 V
- Worlds fastest AF system with the world’s most AF points
- Stackedback-illuminated Exmor RS image sensor
- Retractable viewfinder
- Capture photos from video
The Sony Cyber-shot RX100 V is a premium compact point and shoot and it is top-of-the-line. Starting with a 1″ sensor that’s big for a point and shoot. Bigger sensors have more range and latitude. This one isn’t just bigger, it’s a superchargedExmor RS stacked back-illuminated CMOS sensor with its own built-in DRAM. The result is higher quality pictures in low light which in turn allows much faster shutter speeds. You get sharper images with less electronic distortion.
My Favorite Long Zoom
Canon PowerShot G3 X
- 25x, f/2.8-5.6 optical zoom lens, 24-600mm equivalent
- Wide ISO range
- 1080p Full HD
- Built-in Wi-Fi and NFC
This camera is a great combination of processor and power. It’s got a 1″ CMOS sensor coupled to an extra long zoom that goes from the equivalent of 24 mm extra wide angle, all the way to a 600 mm equivalent. That’s a 25x range. The lens power is backed up by Canon’s Intelligent IS system that takes the shake out even in low light. And it is all rain and dust resistant.
My Personal Point and Shoot
Panasonic DC-ZS70K Lumix
- 30x Leica DC VARIO-ELMAR Lens (24-720mm)
- 5 axis optical image stabilizer
- Post Focus / Focus Stacking
- 20.3-megapixel High Sensitivity MOS sensor
Surprised that my personal point and shoot is smaller and less expensive than the others listed here? I’m not going to tell you that this is the best camera on the market, just that, to me, it’s the best point and shoot that fits in my pocket and is ready all of the time. I don’t want to walk around all of the time with a hunk of metal and glass hanging around my neck, so the pocket aspect is important to me. The big camera comes out when I’m serious, but my Panasonic spends more time with me.