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Does A Point & Shoot Camera Still Make Sense For You?

Does A Point & Shoot Camera Still Make Sense For You?With the increase in capability of smartphone cameras, the argument for purchasing a point and shoot camera is quickly becoming moot. This year’s Black Friday sales figures tell the tale, with a reported 36% drop in unit sales compared to 2011, even when the price of devices stayed essentially the same (moving from an average of $101 in 2011 to $106 in 2012). The writing may be on the wall.

On the other side of the coin, for ‘experienced’ photographers, are the shortcomings with current generation smartphones:

  • Non-variable aperture
  • Little or no optical zoom
  • Poor noise performance at high ISO (very small sensor size)
  • Less pixels (noting that this is not a sole reason to purchased one camera over another)
  • Supplemental lighting (flash) is often sub-par
  • Dynamic Range suffers

Camera companies are already struggling as competition increases year after year and the market shifts. Phones, after all, are more easily updated via firmware (apps) and have the advantage of almost always being in a pocket when a photo needs to be taken. Plus they are currently light-years ahead on the grounds of ‘share-ability’ and connectedness that a new generation of owners seems to be demanding.

I have been without a point and shoot camera since I acquired my iPhone 4s this last Spring. It can’t do everything I want in a Point and Shoot. I want to shoot in RAW and I want optical zoom. But the hurdle to get me to buy a second device, at around $300 for the model I would want (likely a ‘tough’ camera for my type of travel and use by my daughter), is too high at this point in time.

What can the camera manufacturers do to entice people like me back to Point and Shoot cameras?

1) Keep making the ‘tough’ models. This will likely be my next purchase.

2) Make sharing very easy. I know this is difficult without putting a cell phone in the camera, but maybe that is the way to go. Or tether the camera off existing cell phones via Bluetooth or Wifi.

3) Keep the form factor small. They have this going for them as smartphones seem to be growing with a desire for bigger screens.

4) GPS is quite handy for me, but not for everyone.

5) The flash on Point and Shoots almost always rivals smartphone flashes. This needs to be highlighted and retained and is a reason I would use one in dark settings, instead of a smartphone.

What about you?

Would you buy a point and shoot camera this year or would you prefer to switch to a smartphone?

And what about those of you who own both? Do you use one more than the other?

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Peter West Carey
Peter West Carey

leads photo tours and workshops in Nepal, Bhutan, Seattle, Portland, Los Angeles and beyond. He is also the creator of Photography Basics – A 43 Day Adventure & 40 Photography Experiments, web-based tutorials taking curious photographers on a fun ride through the basics of learning photography.

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