Point and shoot cameras or compact cameras are handy little tools to get you kickstarted with photography. This is even though you’re just a beginner trying things out or an experienced photographer on the move. They’re usually smaller in size, lighter than their SLR and DSLR counterparts, and usually come with fixed lenses.
Point and shoot cameras rely a lot on auto modes and preset for focus, exposure, and color grading. They sometimes even have fixed zoom and focal length options as well.
This makes such cameras a great choice for beginners. Especially people who're just getting acquainted with the basics of the craft of photography and its tools. Professional photographers also prefer them for taking quick snaps on the go.
All the big shot camera manufacturers such as Canon, Nikon, Fujifilm have a range of point and shoot cameras in their lineup. They’re easy to carry around and can be a great present for a loved one or for yourself.
Before you get one, it’s a good thing to do a little research about them so that you know which point and shoot camera would be best suited for your needs.
Go through this writeup, and hopefully, you’ll find out.
Point and shoot camera FAQ
Here are some of the things most beginners wonder about point and shoot cameras, with questions answered and myths debunked.
Are point and shoot cameras better than iPhone?
There are distinct differences between the iPhone camera and point and shoot cameras. Your final decision on which to use generally comes down to your preference and how you wish to take photos.
Regardless, take a look at the characteristics of both the iPhone camera and point and shoot cameras below:
Point-and-shoot camera characteristics:
Do professional photographers use point and shoot cameras?
Yes, professional photographers use point and shoot cameras in some situations. Even though these cameras don't have as many manual controls as DSLR cameras, there are more high-end compacts on the market these days.
Having said that, they are generally only used as a "snapshot" camera on day trips and outings. However, many companies (like Sony, for example) are trying to manufacture point and shoot cameras that have incredible lens and image quality.
Can you change the lens on a point and shoot camera?
In short, no.
Point and shoot cameras come with fixed or permanently attached lenses or that cannot be switched out. One of the main purposes behind the invention of "Point and Shoot" cameras was to ensure portability and ease of use.
What better way to do that than to keep everything tightly compact in a single case? That’s why they’re also commonly known as compact cameras.
This not only ensures speed and easy mobility but also grants new users the assurance that they don’t need to be an expert to start out on their passion. They can simply pull a camera out of their pocket (yes, they’re that tiny), literally point, and shoot, and still get a good picture.
There are, however, lens accessories specially designed for point and shoot cameras. These give them the extra ability to do some things that regular point-and-shoot cameras can’t.
A macro adapter, for example, enables the non-macro lens of your compact camera to take macro shots. These are still experimental things, and not very commonly used. You can still try them out for experimental purposes.
Does a point and shoot camera have GPS?
Yes and no.
Some of them do, some of them don’t. Because compact cameras have been around for longer than the invention of GPS technology, most of the point and shoot cameras made by the popular brands were already out on the market by the time GPS started being commonly used.
Most of them did not upgrade to incorporate the technology.
Then came the newer models of compact cameras, such as the Sony HX90V and Ricoh Pro G3 with GPS and built-in Wi-Fi.
Read: Sony RX100 VII Review
However, despite GPS and compact cameras being around for quite some time now and despite the development of both of their technologies, it’s unfortunate that not many point-and-shoot cameras have a built-in GPS.
Having said that, there was this thing called ‘Geotagging’ that can be called a substitute for GPS. ‘Geotagging’ simply means the process of automatically adding geographical coordinates to a photo you take. It allows the location of a photo to be pinpointed on the globe.
This is especially useful for landscape photographers and travelers who want to navigate back to the location where a photo was taken or provide details about that photo.
Are point and shoot cameras mirrorless?
No, they’re not.
They’re simple and compact, as the name suggests. They come with a built-in, fixed lens, and provide situational shooting modes.
Unlike mirrorless cameras, they have a built-in reflex mirror. This mirror diverts some of the rays of the light coming through the lens from reaching the sensor. While this creates a great image, one of the major drawbacks of this system is that it blocks out part of the light that could’ve been used to give the image better exposure.
One of the earlier solutions to this problem was the ‘rotating mirror shutter’ used in the Arriflex camera. Those were film cameras. In this technology, light is only reflected when the shutter-blade covers the film while advancing into the next frame.
But this arrangement also had its own drawbacks. One of the major flaws of this system was that it opened a path for the light to return from the viewer’s eyepiece and reach the film.
This would completely ruin the shot. So, for this system to work, the viewer had to fit the eyepiece around their eye. He/She used the viewfinder so that no light can pass through.
On top of that, since the camera shutter only closed once per frame... there was a distinct flicker in the image. The photographer had to get used to that.
There is another variant called compact system cameras. They’re basically a marriage between compact cameras and mirrorless cameras. They are handy and compact, just like point-and-shoot cameras.
But they also can provide the image quality of a DSLR, along with the freedom to change lenses. They’re also known as ‘hybrid’ cameras for this reason, and their popularity has caught up so quickly that now almost every big camera brand has at least one CSC in its lineup.
What is the difference between a point and shoot camera and a mirrorless camera?
A DSLR camera (digital single-lens reflex camera) is very different from a simple point and shoot camera. Whether you're comparing them on ease of use, creative control, or cost, you'll find numerous differences.
Overall, DSLR cameras have the following characteristics:
Point and shoot cameras, on the other hand, have these characteristics:
What is the difference between a point-and-shoot camera and a DSLR camera?
A point and shoot camera, sometimes referred to as a compact camera, is known for its minimalist simplicity. It has automatic shooting modes, built-in lenses, and features a slim build. It's better for novice photographers.
A mirrorless camera, also known as a compact system camera, is closer to a DSLR camera in its functionalities. It comes with an interchangeable lens system so you can set it up more effectively for your shoot. It is better for intermediate/professional photographers who want their cameras to grow with their skillset.
The main difference between the two is the lens system. Mirrorless cameras have much better versatility.
Can point and shoot cameras record video?
Yes, they definitely can, and they’re rather good at it.
As a matter of fact, one of the primary reasons behind their popularity was that they substituted huge bulky video cameras and camcorders.
Not only did they replace those huge and heavy video cameras with their super lightweight and compact exterior, but also because the video quality they produced was at that time even better than some of the professional-grade video cameras.
Times have changed, and compact cameras have changed along with it. Now some of them are even capable of shooting videos at 4K resolution.
Some of the best compact cameras for videography out there in the market are the Panasonic Lumix LX10, the Canon PowerShot G16, the Sony Cyber-Shot DSC-RX100 III, the Ricoh GR II, and so on.
Different price ranges will get you compact cameras that can shoot in different resolutions and have other functions, but all of them can shoot video, that’s for sure.
Do point and shoot cameras need batteries?
Of course, they do!
Earlier, they used to run on AA or AAA batteries. Now most of them use CR123A, CR2, 2CR5, or CR-P2p batteries. You’ve guessed it right. Before they used to be non-rechargeable, but now most of them come with a rechargeable battery.
Some models such as the Canon PowerShot SX740 HS, the PowerShot G7X Mark II, and III are some of the best compact cameras with a rechargeable battery out there.
While buying a point-and-shoot camera, remember to check if the battery is up to the mark to meet the qualifications of the rest of the camera.
Whether it can provide a long enough service, and whether the battery is an official one or replaced.
Most people leave the batteries inside their compact cameras for years on end. This causes leaks and damages the camera. Remove, clean, and replace the batteries regularly. For those still using the old-school batteries, here are some tips on removing, cleaning, and replacing them.
Do point and shoot cameras use film?
Yes and no.
Point and shoot cameras first came to exist when film was still the only method of capturing photos. Hence, naturally, the first range of point and shoot cameras all used film. But nowadays, everything has become digital. While this is good in the sense that it makes developing and preserving photos easier, but some people miss the vintage tone that film cameras provided.
While that’s entirely a matter of preference, the Contax T2, the Yashica T4, the Olympus Stylus Epic / Olympus Mju II, the Olympus XA2, and the Nikon L35af are five of the best point and shoot film cameras still available in the market. You can try them out if you’re into novelty stuff.
Do point and shoot cameras have manual settings?
Some of them do.
Although point and shoot cameras were originally designed to provide you with instant photographic perfection. The actual purpose of their invention was to save you from the hassle of having to fumble through the various complex modes and settings and end up missing the perfect moment by the time you get the shot ready.
But as you gradually advance from a beginner to an intermediate level to a pro level photographer, you’ll eventually need to dig into manual mode to get the basic foundation of factors such as exposure, ISO settings, focusing, and so on. Ever since professionals started trying their hands out on compact cameras, the manufacturers began to include some manual settings into their range of point and shoot cameras.
Here are some of the top point-and-shoot cameras with manual settings: Fujifilm X100F, Canon PowerShot SX730HS, Sony RX10 IV, Ricoh GR III, Canon PowerShot X530 HS.
Do point and shoot cameras take photos?
Of course, they do! And rather good ones.
Some of them can even shoot in different modes such as panorama, macro, and long exposure. It all depends on the camera’s functions. Almost all of them are also really good at shooting videos. Some can even shoot in 4K.
How long do point and shoot cameras last?
This is an interesting question. Certainly, one that cannot be given a single answer to. See, the lifespan of a camera depends not only on how well it’s built but also on many circumstantial factors. A major one being how well it’s been handled and the kind of environment it’s been exposed to.
For example, if you only use your camera for personal purposes, traveling, taking family photos, or street photography, chances are that it’s going to last for a long time.
Of course, if you don’t drop it or manhandle it, that is. But if you’re using it for documenting your trekking expeditions in extreme conditions, you might need to get a new camera every couple of years or so.
Another important factor to consider about the lifespan of a compact camera is its price. Sounds too corny, but it is true.
The decently priced ones tend to last longer than the comparatively cheaper ones. The ones that cost less than $300 will not last longer than a good 3 years. Basically, the hundreds of dollars you spend on a camera sort of adds up to a year of its lifespan. The math is pretty simple here.
Canon or Sony point and shoot camera?
When it comes to camera brands, it’s tough to pick just one favorite. And if the comparison is between two of the leading brands, Canon and Sony, the competition gets really tough. Not just quality-wise, but the two brands have also produced cameras that are really similar to each other in terms of feature and design.
Canon has been the best-seller among interchangeable lens cameras for over a decade, Sony is also catching up. Canon still remains to maintain a certain edge, but Sony is giving them tough competition. The tug of war is pretty similar to that between Apple and Android. It’s mostly a matter of preference.
But if you’re considering buying either of the two, here are some of the things you should keep in mind:
History and heritage
Sounds like too much homework, but doing a bit of research about the history of the two brands will help you choose the one that fits you the best, in the long run.
Canon originally started off as Kwanon back in 1933 and became immensely popular among photographers as well as general people for its funky features. Canon was the first brand to introduce video to still cameras, and the first brand to synchronize the flash.
Sony, on the other hand, started off some 13 years after Canon, but quickly caught up in terms of technological advancements. Interestingly enough, Sony did not start its journey with film. Their first camera was analog but electronic. Then it waited a long time before starting off with CyberShot, the signature series that instantly became the world’s new favorite point and shoot camera brand.
This is perhaps the most important factor to check out while buying any kind of camera. Although different camera manufacturers have different approaches towards processing images, the general people won’t be able to tell the difference between a photo taken with a Canon from one taken with a Sony. Because there isn’t any. As long as the photo is good, the brand doesn’t matter.
But if you must be picky about it, the main difference between the two brands in terms of image processing is perhaps color science. That is, how a camera processes red, green, and blue light. Although the color quality is very subjective.
Ah, the issue of ergonomics. Once again, this also varies from person to person, which one they prefer. But in general, most people tend to prefer the feel of Canon cameras. Sony’s menu system seems to be a bit complex, especially for beginners.
Since they are top competitors, often competing for the neck to neck against each other, Sony and Canon manufacture cameras that are pretty close in the price range.
It’s hard to compare the two depending on their price. Canon’s long history of camera production makes them a trusted choice, while Sony’s feature-packed cameras that come at the same price sometimes steal the show.
It’s a neve- ending debate. But if you keep the factors mentioned above in mind, you’ll be able to choose the one that’s the best for you.
What types of sensors do point and shoot camera use?
This is the sensor type that causes magnification of the scene for the production of an image that matches the full-frame image circle of the lens. Meaning that the total area covered by an APS-C sensor is smaller than that captured by a full-frame sensor.
The result is that you get a field of view that’s ideal for portraits and selfies.
The letters APS stand for Advanced Photo System. This is a film format introduced back in 1996 but was discontinued shortly afterward. Currently, there are three types of APS sensors being used in digital cameras, and the most popular one among them is APS-C. Here the ‘C’ denotes ‘classic’, meaning it still maintains the classic old format that APS sensors were initially developed with.
Compact cameras, pocket-sized cameras, or point-and-shoot cameras, whatever you call them, you can’t deny how useful they are. Even some of the leading professional photographers have their own ranges of favorite point-and-shoot cameras and for good reason.
These things are handy and they deliver image quality that often beats DSLRs. Hope this article helps you learn everything you need to know about point-and-shoot cameras before you decide to buy one.