A few years ago, I churned out some reviews of digital cameras that to date, have still been the most popular articles on the blog:
- 7 best point and shoot cameras for under $200 <- try this one first
- best intro DSLR, a buying guide
- best budget lenses for dSLRs
These articles contain a TON of background information that will put the below review in context. If I copy and paste it here, I’ll make the Google monster angry at me so just click the link, will ya?
Below is my updated take on digital cameras for 2016. Here’s the thing: cameras have changed. Have you heard of this phone that Apple makes called the “iPhone”? It’s camera has been incrementally improved over 7 models and we’re at the point where it’s just a really, really good camera. If you already carry a great camera in your pocket, why exactly buy something else?
The nail in the coffin? The new iPhone 7 has a portrait mode, which blurs the background better than any point and shoot will. Kirk Mastin, a guy at the forefront of digital editing claims it’s an absolute game changer and may be what finally makes point and shoot cameras an extinct species. It’s a bold claim, BUT. It’s already happening. In fact, Kodak, who has been out of the digital camera market for some time has just released a camera that is a phone. (Not a phone that has a camera, a subtle but important difference.) Kodak realizes people won’t buy a single function device. Kodak is making phones!?
I use my older iPhone model for my day to day photography and have for some time. In fact, we make a book each year with just phone images and it’s absolutely incredible. Heck, my Instagram is almost exclusively iPhone images.
Here’s why you might want to invest in an actual digital camera: If image quality matters to you and you plan to print beyond 8×10, a decent digital camera is best. If you find yourself in darker gyms other crappy lighting regularly, if you go on adventures that include water or rough terrain, or you want to send your child to camp with a camera and not a phone, digital cameras still have a place.
My 2016 Review of Point and Shoot Cameras
Each time I sit down to review, I do it as if I was buying one for my own parents. I check into Consumer Reports, the gold standard to ensure that my picks don’t end on their crappy list. I scour the Internet and even try to hold a few models myself but in the age of Amazon, that’s increasingly difficult.
There were dozens of my models on my chicken scratch list and I narrowed it down to these models for you. Each has it’s own strength and even where each model is weak, it’s good enough.
Good enough digital cameras? Doesn’t have as nice a ring, does it?
Prices below are cited from Amazon as of publishing date, late October 2016. I always encourage you to purchase at small businesses near you and support your local business but for the purposes of comparing, these links contain the info.
For a mirrorless, this camera is very inexpensive and has the basic features you’d appreciate. It’s got great video, a swivel screen for selfies, wireless capabilities to make downloading your images easy, a touch LCD screen, and pretty decent image stabilization for higher quality images in crappy circumstances. The link above includes a promo including a memory card. For $680, you can get this model with a second zoom-ier lens. Killer deal.
This thing is tiny! Mirrorless cameras don’t get smaller than this guy. It’s got impeccable styling and can be ordered in multiple colors with over 40 color combinations. The body is very small (although it won’t quite fit in a jeans pocket) but packs the power of interchangeable lenses, which do not cost a ton each. This would make an ideal camera for a vacation if you ask me. The only downside is that it was announced over two years ago which means a newer version might be on the horizon.
This has all the great features of a digital camera packed into a durable, waterproof body. It’s fast, with a high resolution sensor and decent zoom ability. Plus, it has image stabilization and can take RAW images. If you are into creative time lapse video, this is the camera for you.
Basic Point and Shoot Cameras
It doesn’t matter what camera I compare this to in it’s class, it wins every single time. You can pay more for gimmicky features or just settle on this inexpensive camera that Conley contains what you really need. It’s small, fast, and cheap.Plus, it contains GPS and can take some panoramas in camera. Nikon knows how to make a solid camera and this proves the point.
Super Zoom Cameras
Many choose a non-phone digital camera for it’s zoom ability. This point and shoot model has a max telephoto focal length of 1200mm and 50x optical zoom. Although it’s heavier than my other favorite model (below), it has a ton of zoom. That’s why you go for this model. The Finepix S9800, its predecessor, is also a fine camera. Right now, they price about the same but both are winners.
This was my other favorite pick in the super zoom category. It’s a tiny pocket cam and still has decent zoom with a max telephoto focal length of 720mm and 30 optical zoom. It’s a great model but it does lack an electronic viewfinder. However, it does have wireless connectivity.
Advanced Point and Shoot Camera
So there was one model that stood out in this category: the Fuji X30. It costs more and is larger than the best basic point and shoot (Nikon Coolpix S7000), but it adds some features that anyone who dabbles in photography will appreciate. It’s got much better battery life, an articulating screen, RAW shooting capability, and manual controls for exposure and focus. It does have a lower resolution than some of the other cameras it competes against but resolution is not the end all and be all of a camera. I also really like the styling of this camera. It’s slick and beautiful.
Continuing with the iPhone love, this camera is a tiny little addition to your iPhone. It uses an app as the user interface and uses the camera to take better quality photos than you do now. Reports show it’s not quite got the kinks worked out yet. The camera doesn’t seem 100% secure when attached to the phone. It can be used alone but without the visual confirmation of a screen, it’s only really suitable for street photography (the only time “stealth mode” is an advantage). Watch this one. It’s possible to be a serious thing in the coming years.
When you phone works for so many things, why not make your digital camera one that can take a punch and capture video better than anything like it on the market. The GoPro is an action cam and this model now boasts a touchscreen, Wifi, Bluetooth, and it comes with underwater housing. It takes great still shots as well both alone or in burst mode. I’d also think this would be great for kids who love to explore.
Bargain Priced Models
Both of these models are the most entry level models. They contain the basic features you need without any of the unnecessary extras. Unless it’s for your child, I’m guessing that purchasing a camera with special features like the ones above is worth it. Otherwise you have a camera without a phone.
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