Camera manufacturers design point-and-shoot cameras for the specific needs and wants of consumers the same way that they target their DSLRs to different professional markets. While we as photographers will always sing the praises of how awesome our DSLRs are, the general population will opt for a “nice” point-and-shoot. We know many of these people and they make come to us asking camera questions. Here’s a round up of cameras for the different personalities in your life. If they’re a student, link them over to my post on Back-To-School digital cameras.
Author’s Note: The camera’s above are a special series of Canon Powershots that Maria Sharapova designed with Canon. They were available in a contest.
One of the reasons for this posting is because of a facebook message from a person I know named Angela. She says (verbatim),
“hey chris!! so for my bday i asked my mom to buy me a camera lol. and i’m not really sure which one to get. i want a point and shoot camera. i use my current one for everything from shooting my pets to taking pix in clubs. what would you recommend?
Well Angela, here are a couple of choices for you and anyone else in our readers’ lives. Keep in mind that these people are usually looking for a camera to suffice for them never having to buy another camera again. Also be sure to remind them that megapixels aren’t everything.
For the tech nerd in your family or for someone that basically wants all the connectivity features of a cameraphone but doesn’t have one, this is the camera that will satisfy their needs. Sony announced the DSC-G3 at CES 2009 and it is one camera that can talk the talk and walk the walk for the most part. Complete with a 10MP sensor, 3.5 inch LCD touch screen, 4x optical zoom, and a slew of other features.
Starbucks and Barnes and Noble lovers will appreciate the fact that it can easily connect to any AT&T wireless location. As with any Sony product though, don’t expect it to be cheap. It costs around $500 depending on where you look, at that price range one can pick up a nice entry level DSLR.
To be fair, no DSLR yet is complete with built-in WiFi connectivity – though we want it. This is great for someone who wants to be able to upload pictures to website right away without the need for using a computer and that also wants better image quality than what their phones give them.
“My iPhone takes great photos,” is not an acceptable response.
Canon Powershot D10/Panasonic Lumix DMC-TS1
These two cameras are tough, really tough. Not only that, but they’re also waterproof. Specifically, user reports say that the D10 feels much tougher.
Who is this camera for? To be blunt, it’s great for everyone from a butterfingers to the adventurous one that doesn’t want the bulk of something like a Nikon D300. Additionally, if you’ve got kids around you can feel confident to leave this camera around on the table as it will surely be able to resist the tortures of your four-year-old after they’ve had chocolate milk.
For the person in your life that goes around with their camera in one hand and a red cup with an unnamed alcoholic beverage of some sort in the other hand, these cameras will suit their needs as well. If they drop (on the floor or in the cup) they’ll survive and you won’t have to buy another camera. People like that usually value sexiness, so the Panasonic TS1 may be the better buy. They both have their strengths and weaknesses. The D10 has been said to deliver better images.
Warning: please keep in mind that it is still a camera. Like any other electronic it should be handled with care.
Canon PowerShot SX200 IS
Though it can be considered a superzoom, the SX200 IS is the more compact type of superzoom with only a 12x optical zoom. For most people, that is more than enough. This is the camera for the person in your life that wants a small camera that can zoom in very far away. If they tell you that they can do that using the digital zoom, tell them that they’re only taking terrible pictures by blowing up the pixels on their camera. Similarly, digital zoom on your camera phone is awful.
They’d be much better off using a camera like this one and it will suffice for all the needs of most people, especially with HD video recording capabilities.
Panasonic GF1/Olympus E-P1
I’m purposely not listing a superzoom camera for a very good reason: you’re much better off going out and buying a Micro Four Thirds camera that you can keep for the rest of your life. These cameras are compact enough to be enjoyed by everyone and can have different sized lenses depending on the situation. A superzoom is lots bulkier, heavier and doesn’t deliver nearly as nice image quality as the GF1 or E-P1 can.
Each of these cameras is feature packed with 12MP, HD video, a range of settings and modes to suit your lifestyle and the invaluable ability to take on almost any lens you can put in front of the sensor with the use of an adapter. That means that you can use a small pancake lens or a larger lens of some sort.
Also of total value, they’re extremely sexy. Sexiness is a huge priority for many. Before you go out, you can put a lens on this camera and be very confident that you’ll be able to take any shot you want. Stick a pancake lens on if you’re at a party of some sort. If you’re at a park or zoo, get a medium zoom lens. There are endless possibilities. Later on in the years, everyone will still be buying new cameras while you’ll just be collecting new lenses on the same camera.
Please be forewarned that the Panasonic has a flash while the Olympus doesn’t. Check out the Olympus E-P1 Review of the camera for more.
I’ve had my share of personal fondling time with the S90. These two cameras along with the Micro Four Thirds cameras above are targeted towards the more advanced crowds while allowing newbies the option of automatic functionality. The S90 is a camera that is meant for those of you that love to shoot in low-light and usually do. The focus of this and the G11 are more on the still capture capabilities as opposed to overall features, bells and whistles.
For a compact camera and for the size of the sensor, they do the job well and are smaller than the Micro Four Thirds cameras. In addition, they don’t have attachable lenses for the crowds of people that are scared off by those. If you hate lots of buttons and advanced ways of getting to the settings you’d like, these aren’t the camera for you necessarily. You’d be better off with the Sony.
What point and shoots do you recommend? Also, keep your questions coming to ChrisGampat [at] photographybay.com.