Technology is advancing at a steady pace and while point and shoot cameras were seen as inferior compared to real “professional” cameras, this statement isn’t true anymore. In my opinion, point and shoot cameras are ideal for many situations and for most people that are interested in getting into photography, they are a great way to start.
I know that it might be a better feeling of having a big camera in Your hand and that it might make You appear more professional. Instead of having to show off, that You are a good photographer, why not look past that and buy a camera that really works in Your favor?
If I had to choose again, I would go for a point and shoot camera again as there are so many advantages.
So now I want to present my top reasons to buy a point and shoot camera over a “traditional” DSLR and keep You from investing in expensive gear that You don’t need anyway.
When digital cameras were released there basically two kinds of cameras. Small and cheap compact cameras and DSLRs. Geared towards professional photographers, DSLRs were clearly better when it came to every aspect of image quality, shooting speed and the quality overall was just so much better than any small camera.
The reason for this was mainly that good electronic components needed a lot of space. From a technological point of view, it just wasn’t feasible to put the best chips and advanced technology in a small camera. Even more so if You look at the economic side of things.
So for years small cameras have been seen as “cheap” and providing a bad quality. But how is it looking today?
There are point and shoot cameras out there for everyone. That small cameras cannot deliver high quality is simply not true. Technology has been so advanced, that full-frame sensors can be included in relatively small Sony cameras. Although technically not a point and shoot camera, those pieces show what is possible.
My favorite small camera, the RicohGR has in its current version more than 16 megapixels. The next iteration that is due for release in 2019 features a sensor that delivers more than 24 megapixels. Even the 16 megapixels in the current version are alright to get quality prints.
As far as image quality is a concern for You, there are different compact cameras out there that will be sufficient for Your needs.
Of course, point and shoot cameras for under $300 won’t deliver the same quality a high-end Sony, or Fuji camera can deliver. But I would guess for 90% of the people that are searching for a simple camera for their next vacation, that those cameras are the most suitable choice.
The price range in cameras is huge. You can grab a cheap camera for under $100 and be happy with it, or You can splurge and invest in new lenses and cameras for more than $5000. There is no end and if You want to spend the money that is fine. For most of us though, I would guess that we need to keep our money together and investing in a camera that costs multiple grand is just not reasonable.
From my own perspective, I had different cameras that I was able to use for a longer time, as well as trying out different great from friends.
When I first got started into photography, I went with a cheap Canon Rebel camera which cost me about $500. In hindsight, it wasn’t the best choice and I pretty much bought it because I thought that only Nikon or Canon could manufacture good cameras. The low-light performance was abysmal, the 12 megapixels not really much and of the three lenses, I bought I only used one anyway.
After realizing that this DSLR isn’t what I needed, I invested around the same money in a RicohGR. Now I got a way smaller camera with more megapixels, reasonable low-light performance and overall the quality was so much better and exactly what I needed at that time.
In general, the price-performance on point and shoot cameras is a lot better, especially when You know what kind of photography You are doing. If You are searching for a travel camera, then there are models out there that have a 40x optical zoom integrated, so You don’t need to be afraid that You will miss some shots.
The other good thing about point and shoot cameras is, that they aren’t coming with additional costs. You buy a complete system that works and don’t need any further investment. Especially when You are a beginner and are looking for a new camera, You won’t make any failed investments by purchasing any lenses that You aren’t using anyway.
Size might not matter for You at the moment, but when You see the difference and work with it more often, You will appreciate how small point and shoot cameras really are. When I used my old DSLR, I would often be hesitant to take it with me. Not only the weight but also the space that this camera would take up would convince me to leave the camera at home, rather than taking it with me. Carrying an extra bag just for the camera and the lens is also not feasible every time.
“The best camera is the one that You have with You” – This is a very accurate statement. And while the DSLR was staying at home, the point and shoot camera would conveniently fit in the pockets of my jacket, or any other small bag. Another advantage is, that I don’t need to make extra space for the lens.
The reduced sized also includes a reduced weight. Again, You might think that a few hundred grams don’t make a huge difference. From my personal experience, after shooting countless hours, I appreciate the light weight of point and shoot cameras.
I can carry them all day and don’t get tired of them, I can either wear them around my wrist and if I don’t feel like shooting anymore, I am able to put the camera away.
Sometimes the compactness of the camera can also be an advantage when taking pictures in public. While big cameras can look very intimidating and more professional, small cameras are more “hideous” and people around You might not worry about You too much, while You take the picture.
Taking more Pictures
Photography is often seen as a “numbers game”. The more pictures we take, the higher the potential that we actually capture a good photograph. With a more heavier and bulkier camera, the chance is higher, that I wouldn’t even carry this camera with me. In contrast, the point and shoot camera can always be in my pocket.
Of course, this is attributed to the better compactness of point and shoot cameras and that I can keep them in my pocket.
Not only the fact I am able to carry the smaller camera more often leads to more pictures that I am taking, but also the fact that it is so simple to just take the camera and push the shutter button.
As a Street Photographer, I am naturally walking through the city and I am always on the hunt for the best picture. But sometimes I am just doing chores or running errands that I want to get done. When I come across a great scene, just taking my point and shoot camera and clicking, is much easier than taking the DSLR and maybe having to change lenses first.
The preparation time for a heavier DSLR is a lot longer. With a point and shoot camera I just power it on, the lens hood opens itself and the camera is ready to shoot in a short time.
Great for Traveling
When it comes to traveling, I realize that a lot of people are searching for the absolute best camera. They are researching every camera that is available and are willing to invest more in the gear, than the travel experience itself.
Especially when they are doing a long vacation far away, they don’t want to miss any moment and believe that with an expensive camera they will bring home better pictures. The reality though is, that a bigger camera, whether is a DSLR, or a Mirrorless camera with interchangeable lenses is not really suitable for most travelers.
I would only advice to take such a camera with You when Your clear focus during the travel is on photography itself.
On top of the weight and space that the camera occupies, You also have to take the lenses into consideration. This can quickly stack up and since airlines have tight weight limitations, I wouldn’t want to overboard with camera gear.
When traveling, I am also a little paranoid when it comes to my camera gear. I also want it to have it with me and don’t trust any airline to handle my gear properly. Therefore I take my gear with me in the cabin luggage.
Point and Shoot cameras have a clear advantage, that they are more compatible to be transported in the cabin luggage.
Not only the transportation itself is of concern for me when I travel. Of course, I also want to soak up the new city and capture the experiences with my camera as well as I can.
With a point and shoot camera, I feel more empowered to capture the real atmosphere of the city or streets in general. I am able to walk through the streets, have a little conversation and snap my pictures right away.
The weight doesn’t wear me down and after a full day of walking and shooting, it becomes clear that a small and simple camera is the ideal tool to discover new areas.
No other Gear needed
Photography should primarily be about taking pictures. Nonetheless, a lot of people are contemplating whether they should go for a new lens, some special filter, or any other gear that might make their pictures better in their head.
The truth is, that the main reason why the pictures aren’t looking like the photographer expected them to be is that the photographer wasn’t able to create this image. Any kind of modern camera is already so advanced, that it is possible to create high-quality images with them.
If You are doing something super special like Wildlife and Sports photography I agree that a mirrorless camera under $500 won’t be sufficient, but for the usual travel, street, or even portrait photography, point and shoot cameras are very capable.
Without the focus drifting over to gear, it becomes more clear that there are a lot of areas that the photographer has to improve on. Instead of buying the newest gear, becoming unhappy and frustrated with photography, it is a lot better to invest in a point and shoot camera once and then focus fully on the important part of photography. A point and shoot camera shouldn’t be seen as an excuse why the picture didn’t work out
Are You going to events a lot, like concerts or sports venues? Then they often follow the rule that “professional” cameras aren’t allowed. Because the security that is deciding which camera is “professional” isn’t trained on the subject well and doesn’t have the time to inspect every photographer, they often follow the easy rule, that any camera that has interchangeable lenses isn’t allowed.
This rule is easy to follow, even for untrained staff. Little do they know though, that even small cameras are very powerful and can produce great images.
Depending on the time and the venue that You are going to, You might want to use different cameras though. While a small point and shoot camera with an integrated flash might come in handy if You are getting close to the front row and want to snap some pictures, other times a zoom may be more beneficial, or a bigger sensor for a better low-ISO performance.