5 “Point & Shoot” Camera Features That Should Be Trashed

1. Digital Zoom

Digital zoom is a feature found on many point and shoot cameras and is essentially a crop of the image, which results in lower resolution and quality. Camera manufacturers continue to confuse consumers by plugging inflated zoom ratios into camera specifications. Digital zoom is about the biggest crock of a feature that has ever been put on digital cameras.

Fortunately, consumers are coming around and several manufacturers have dispensed with this “feature” altogether. Look for “optical zoom” as a camera feature, which does not crop the image or reduce the quality.

2. Too Many Pixels

Unfortunately, this spec still continues to attract a number of consumers. And, if camera makers can market to consumers tiny camera sensors with ridiculous amounts of pixels, you better believe that they are going to keep stuffing them inside point and shoot cameras.

High megapixel point and shoot cameras simply don’t make sense from a practical standpoint. When the pixels get too numerous, the tiny sensors just can’t make a clean image. That’s why most of these 10+ megapixel pocket cameras produce grainy images.

Hey Canon, Nikon, Sony! Can’t we go back to 6 megapixels or so and have some nice, clean images with the great processors you’re putting into these cameras now? It’ll save us all some hard drive space and help us have nice prints up to 8×10 or so. And, if we’re printing something bigger than that on a regular basis, we’re going to buy your DSLRs anyway. Save the 10+ megapixel range for sensors that can handle it.

3. High ISO

This one goes hand in hand with the last. There’s no such thing as high sensitivity on a point and shoot camera when you’ve got 14 megapixels that you’re cranking out. Stop. Seriously. If I see another ISO 10,000 spec on a point and shoot camera, I’m going to throw up.

Give us something clean with lower megapixels up to ISO 800 or 1600 if you can. Above that, you’re wasting our time. Don’t put increased sensitivity in a camera because ISO 3200 sounds cool. Make it work as high as you can and then stop.

4. Smile Shutter

I actually thought it was cute when I first tried it out . . . that was the only time though. Smile shutter purportedly waits until people smile and then captures the image. The fact of the matter is that you have to tinker with the settings for so long that the moment is lost by the time you get it set or by the time everyone finally smiles together.

“Say, Cheese!” still works pretty well for me.

5. “Authentic” Camera Sounds

The “ksh-clik” sound that point and shoot cameras make to sound like a “real” camera is just plain silly. While it’s not intrusive to image quality like some of the other features, I could do without the extra manufacturing cost for a little speaker in the camera. Additionally, the “authentic” camera sound just irritates the heck out of me.

It’s funny that serious DSLR users are concerned about the camera making too much noise. Camera makers even offer quiet shooting modes to make DSLRs more friendly in quiet environments like weddings. Not so with point and shoot cameras though. It’s the first thing I turn off whenever I get a new point and shoot camera.

What Do You Want to Trash?

I’ve said my peace. Do you agree or disagree?

What other features would you like to see die in point and shoot cameras?

Sound off in the comments below.

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Comments

  1. says

    I wholeheartedly agree with every point you’ve made. My last point and shoot was 5mp and I have plenty of 8x10s printed on my wall made by it – unless you want to do some serious cropping, 5-6mp is really about the right size for 90% of people out there.

  2. Fabula says

    1. Agreed, but slightly moot now as it is vanishing from the descriptions on most cameras.

    2. I would put this as 1. Completely agree. When people ask me for advice, I have been telling them for a while that 6mp is more than sufficient for normal use.

    3. Yup, but for normal people, high iso is less of an issue. Yes it would be fantastic to have, but most people take photos outside on sunny days, and don’t notice the noise too much when they try photos indoors.
    Also, with points 2 and 3, the manufacturers may not want to cannibalise their DSLR sales with cheap point and shoots that actually do perform well in low light or fast shot situations.

    4. Never encountered.

    5. Not noticed any problem with sounds.

    6. Lag. Point and shoots just seem too unresponsive, when changing from my relatively old 350D. Get them working faster!

  3. Eric says

    Don’t underestimate 6 mega pixels. I once blew up a 6mp image from a D40 to 16×20″ and it looked fine. The New York Times ran a good test comparing prints from various mega pixel cameras and the simple fact is most of people can’t distinguish between a 4 megapixel image as a 13 megapixel image printed at 16×24″.

  4. Kim Bentsen says

    You have basically specified my Coolpix 5000 from 2001. It is a quality build of magnesium matching the quality of some DSLR’s of today. I like that camera and it has 28-85mm equivalent optical zoom and 5 megapixels – AND compact flash card. How perfect is that!

    That being said, I love my 1Ds mark III a little bit more ;-)

  5. says

    When it comes to sounds, at least in EU, I think this is enforced by law. This is also why camera phones make a sound. It is not possible do disable it on my phone.

  6. Candy N says

    Not exactly a “feature” but… time for proprietary memory like xD and Memory Sticks to go…

  7. says

    ” Eric
    January 26th, 2009 at 11:10 am
    Don’t underestimate 6 mega pixels. I once blew up a 6mp image from a D40 to 16×20″ and it looked fine. The New York Times ran a good test comparing prints from various mega pixel cameras and the simple fact is most of people can’t distinguish between a 4 megapixel image as a 13 megapixel image printed at 16×24″. ”

    Sensor on a D40 and sensor on a 6MP P&S is on different playing fields… read up on it before making comparisons…

  8. Phist says

    The lag on point and shoot cameras is my biggest beef with them. The rest of the features are all optional, for example my camera has digital zoom but I never use it. But I think a point and shoot digital camera should be like that, not point, hold button for several seconds, take crappy picture of missed opportunity.

  9. Ken says

    I was just reviewing some of my konica digital pictures from 2003 (5 mp) and they look better than most of my current day shots (8-10 mp)

  10. Javier says

    Totally Agree!… Please Big Ones, Will be a real like dream to see a 6mp sensor with a clean 1600iso with the tech improvements of today sensors…and if from this point the big ones want to hype the iso to 12000 or so, ok bt at least it starts with a more rational sensor/pixel ratio. Thanks for such funny article. Best regards

  11. says

    Good reading. I’ve made about 13,000 shots with P&S cameras which probably gives me some opportunity to comment.

    All the five features mentioned above for discarding are correct. However, make no mistake that P&S digicams turn out good images under sufficient lighting conditions. They also perform pretty well at night using the built-in flash for short distances. It meets all the needs of a pure amateur photographer who “just” casually shoots whenever he/she feels like. They are never serious about it.

    But the serious hobbyist will have to resort to prosumer DSLR as this equipment, with bigger sensors, does have the capability to respond to their calls that I’m experiencing now. P&Ss with their tiny sensors can never do that. Certainly the gimmicks should be abandoned as these only mislead the customer to lose some extra bucks for nothing.

  12. r0cks7ar says

    Well Said, A feature that i would love to see stop before it goes to far is Video which is now being stuck on DSLR’s, if I wanted a camera with video then I’d by camcorder its completley pointless most of them can only manage around 20mins, not to mention the additional circuitry, buttons and menus that are obviously cheapening the rest of the camera.

    I’ve actually just heard that the next Hasselblad H is going to have HD video, Satnav, DD 5.1 Surround Sound, MP3 player, games and with there new range of revolutionary lenses the camemera can also be used as a night vision Monocular. and if you think I’m over exadurating there just look at mobile phones you can’t by one those these days with out all the pointless gimmicks of Cameras, torches, games/programs, internet, mp3 players, video, blah blah blah….

  13. T,Ghosh says

    Couldn’t agree more but what’s the use of moaning?
    D’ya think Bill Gates’ minders are going to stop shovelling out bloated Win versions, stuffed with apps very many, if not most, will never use, just ‘cos the users whinge? Get real!

  14. itlog says

    the worst thing to happen to cameras for me is that right now people can take as many pictures as they want that they never think about positioning composition and lighting of the shots. but then again thats just me.

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