As cameras that come with smartphones continue to improve, camera manufacturers, like Sony, Canon, Nikon, and others have pretty much abandoned producing cheap, compact point-and-shoots. However, it doesn’t mean that such models aren’t a useful option. For example, a decent point-and-shoot (or compact) camera is a great way to introduce your kids to photography. Not only will it help them learn the fundamentals, but provide them with an optical zoom lens, a better flash, and better image stabilization than you'll get on a smartphone. Plus, most point-and-shoots are fairly inexpensive, making it less of an investment—and worry—should they drop it.
Our favorite compact camera is the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-WX500, which has a wide focal range, flip-up LCD, and a bevy of other features, such as Wi-Fi and image stabilization. Or if you want to capture the action with a rugged-and-waterproof camera, consider the Olympus Tough TG-5, which has lots of options for capturing great low-light shots. For instance, you can adjust the TG-5's flash output, for just the right amount of illumination, or switch to its Portrait + Nightscape scene mode, which fires off the flash (to light the subjects) but uses a slow shutter speed to capture more of the ambient light
There's also been a resurgence of instant cameras, which print out a small photo right from the camera. One example is the Polaroid Snap ($99), which is a fantastic, fun and inexpensive gadget that offers the novelty of instant photos with the convenience of modern technology, as it includes the ability to save a digital version of your shot on a memory card. But there are some other instant models to consider as well, including models from Lomo and Leica. With them, there's no more worrying about sharing pics on social media, because all you need to do is shoot, print and hand out a good 'ole fashioned photo to your friends and family.
Three Ways Compact Cameras Produce Better Low-light Shots Than Smartphones
There's no doubt that smartphones continue to improve, and are often the camera of choice for most consumers, since it's the camera they always have with them. But in some situations, like low light, you'll find that many point-and-shoots produce better quality photos than you can take on a smartphone. Here are three ways compact cameras achieve this.
1. Better quality and more versatile built-in flash. Most phones have a weak LED light, that literally pales in comparison to the more powerful built-in flash available on point-and-shoots. What's more is that some compacts offer other flash settings, such as slow or rear sync mode (which fires off the flash at different points in time, but leave the shutter open for capturing the ambient light) or the ability to increase or decrease the flash output.
2. An optical-zoom lens. Because most smartphones still don't have an optical zoom lens, and most compacts do, you're more likely to produce a better quality photo. That’s because if you zoom in with a smartphone, in many cases you'll be using digital zoom, which will introduce noise or grain and degrade image quality. When you use an optical zoom lens, this is less likely to occur.
3. Better image stabilization. Although these days you'll find that more smartphones include image stabilization, it's often an electronically stabilized image, which isn't as robust as optical or mechanical (sensor-shift) IS. If your compact camera comes with optical or mechanical IS, you'll get sharper shots in low light.
Things to Remember Not to Do When Using a Compact Point-and-shoot Digital Camera
It’s easy to want to jump right in and start shooting photos or video when you’re at an event, or you’re with family and friends. But before you get started, here are a few things not to do when using your digital point-and-shoot:
Don’t Lower Image Resolution: When you’re shooting photos, be sure to set your camera to capture the best quality images (without interpolating them). Avoid down-sizing them in order to save space. Memory cards are pretty inexpensive, so either buy a new card, or clear the images and videos you have on your existing card.
Don’t Use Digital Zoom: Most digital cameras include two types of zoom, optical and digital. In most cases, though, it’s best to go into the camera settings and disable the digital zoom, since this type degrades image quality on photos and video.
Don’t Compress Your Photos: Some cameras still allow you to create smaller-sized images by increasing the photo compression. But this will often introduce artifacts and aberrations into the image. So, try and use the least amount of impression.
Don’t Use a very high ISO: In most cases, it’s best to avoid the highest ISO settings (typically, anything higher than ISO 3200) on a point-and-shoot, since it will generally create grainy, noisy images or video clips. But if you do happen to use a very high ISO setting during a photo shoot, don’t forget to set your camera to a lower ISO setting or Auto ISO after the shoot or before the next one.
How We Test Compact Cameras
We test the cameras under similar conditions for each model to get a comparative overview of their capabilities. For some of the testing, we left the cameras on their default settings. Then, to get a sense of exposure accuracy, we shot the cameras on Auto or Program Auto and, when possible, one of the semi-manual modes (aperture-priority and/or shutter-priority modes) using various ISO settings depending on the conditions. At the same time, we took note of the cameras' speed and overall performance.
Most of our test shots were outdoors, which also gave us the opportunity to see how well LCDs performed under bright sunlight. In addition to shooting some quick video clips, we tried to check out at least one of each camera's special creative options.
See Also : The 10 Best Photo Storage and Sharing Sites
|More Camera Recommendations:|
|Best Cameras for the Money|
|Best Bridge Cameras|
|Best Mirrorless Cameras|
|Best Waterproof Cameras|
|Best Action Cameras|
|Best 360 Degree Cameras|
|Best Security Cameras|
|Best Phone Cameras|