Point-and-shoot cameras are the largest segment in digital camera market. They are so popular because their compact design, ease of use, and ability to take great pictures with minimal effort. With a point-and-shoot camera, you can simply press the shutter button, and the shutter speed, aperture, focus and light sensitivity are automatically adjusted to capture a clear picture. Different from D-SLR cameras that can provide larger image sensors, more manual control and interchangeable lenses, point-and-shoot cameras can offer portability and low price. However, to choose the best point-and-shoot digital camera may not be easy, since there are hundreds of models with various prices and features to choose from. To help you decide which one is the best product for you, we listed eight most important tips when selecting point-and-shoot camera.
1. More megapixels are not equal to better photos.
Some people always ask a question when buying their point-and shoot camera, like: “This camera look awesome, how many mega pixels does it have?” As a matter of fact, more megapixels don’t guarantee better photos. A decade ago, this question does have some value of discussion when the megapixels evolve from 2-3 to 4-5. For right now, normal point-and-shoot camera has more than 10 megapixels, and very few of us will print pictures large enough to take full advantage of those large megapixels Instead of megapixels, the sensor size is of more importance. If too many pixels are put into smaller image sensors in some compact cameras, it can actually hurt a camera’s low-light shooting performance.
These smaller sensors will also make color gradations less smooth and make it difficult to create shallow depth of field. However, the advantage of the smaller sensors is their portability, which is one of the most preferable features of point-and-shoot cameras. Some compact cameras do have larger image sensors, yet they always come with higher price according to the added features and are typically aimed at enthusiasts.
2. Don’t just focus on zoom factor.
Nowadays, the zoom range is usually a highlighted item in marketing material, but in fact, that “x” number, which indicated how far the camera’s lens reaches, doesn’t tell you the whole story. Instead of the zoom factor, the focal length range, which is typically expressed as a 35 mm equivalent value, let you know more concerning the field of view that the camera covers. Some good point-and-shoot cameras use 28 mm nowadays, which is efficient in taking wide angle images especially in tight rooms. Some other budget models are less useful in family reunion, since it is very difficult to frame photos with a lot of people in compact space.
3. Consider weight versus features.
The weight and features seem to be two opposite items that you need to consider and weigh between them. If you really want a tiny model that put its portability on the first place, then you may need to sacrifice a long zoom lens and other advanced functions. If you have larger hands and do want to keep all the possible features, you are welcome to choose those models with more features but less compact. The best way is to consider it first, and get your hands on the camera before you buy it. In this way, you can decide which model feels best for you.
4. When you are looking at LCDs, don’t overlook resolution in addition to size.
There is a common mistake that when you look at the LCD display, you are only considering how large it is, but ignore its resolution. Since you will use the rear LCD to review the images and videos, the quality of the display is very important. The size of the LCD display should be at least 2.5 to 3 inches. The LCDs are typically measured in dots, and the larger values mean sharper displays. 230k-dot is the minimal requirement for the 3 inch display, and you’ll be more than happy if you have a bright 460k or 921k LCD when you see its outstanding outdoor performance. Some models come with 360 degrees rotational screens and touch screens; you can also take them into consideration if you need those features.
5. You should look for good low-light performance that effectively lessens the need for the use of flash.
For cameras, ISO is a measurement of the camera’s sensitivity to light. With the higher ISO, the more light can be collected through the sensor. A camera that performs well at higher ISO settings will make it possible to snap blur-free photos in lower light conditions. Also, the better low-light performance effectively decreases the need to turn on the flash, which degrades the quality of the photos in dark space. However, if the ISO increases, the image noise level also increases, and too much noise results in grainy, blotchy photos. So what you need to look at is the optimal combination of both high ISO performance and low noise level. For an example, you should look for a model that keeps noise under 1.5 percent at ISO 800. It is very important that you read customer or professional reviews before you buy one and see how cameras actually perform at these higher settings, since one may produce much better photos at ISO 1600 than another.
6. Image stabilization is a must-have feature.
Optical image stabilization can compensate for the movement for your shaking hands during photographing. Unless you plan to always take a tripod with you or you think you can always find a flat surface to place your camera, then it is a must-have feature for a point-and-shoot camera. Nowadays, almost every midrange and high-end cameras include this feature but you should take a look at it if you are considering a budget model in the $100 range.
7. Don’t forget the HD video capture.
Almost every model can capture video but it is a question mark if it can capture high definition videos. You don’t need to set your minds for the full HD (1080p) quality, and a 720p HD recording should be enough for sharing online or with your friends. Most models allow the cameras to connect with HDTV or computer through HDMI output port. Yes, if you have a HDTV, then you’ll enjoy the high quality video captured from your point-and shoot camera. One more thing that you need to pay attention is, you should check to see if the camera can zoom while recording and if the mic functions well.
8. You can save a lot if you don’t mind to pick up last year’s cameras.
Last but not the least, if you want to save some bucks on a point-and-shoot camera, to consider last years’ models is a good choice. Point-and-shoot cameras are usually refreshed yearly and improvements are not dramatic. You can save a lot by getting a year-old model without sacrificing much in functionality.
*Image source: http://www.linkedin.com/today/post/article/20130130145630-29478030-death-of-the-point-and-click-digital-camera.