PointandShoots

It’s 3:00 a.m. and insomnia has set in. Bleary eyed but wide awake, I grab my robe and head to my computer to do a little surfing. Generally, a little time spent web wandering has a sleep-inducing effect on me.

As I ran down the results from a Google search, I saw a headline that drew me in; “Ten Things Not to Buy in 2014.” Yeah, I know… these brief broad-brush articles are a mile wide and an inch deep, but so is my mind in the wee hours of the morning.  I clicked on the link, and began reading the article under The Wall Street Journal’s Marketwatch heading.

The list included:

  1. Cable TV. Why? It’s dying. A victim of streaming which costs a lot less, and so far, has no commercials. Personally, I got un-cabled two years ago, and have never looked back.
  2. Landline phones. Why? You know why. I still have one, but only because cell service across all carriers is still sketchy in my suburban neighborhood.
  3. GPS Units. Totally agree. My cell works great for that.
  4. DVD/Blu-Ray Players. Yes, unless you want to store a new one for 10-15 years until they become retro-cool, I agree here too.
  5. Hotel Rooms. Really? Where does the author suggest we sleep on a trip? I’m too old to sleep in my car, my tent leaks, and I don’t own an RV. Here, I’m pretty much stuck.
  6. Two-Year Cell Phone Contracts. Yep! Leading the pack here. When my last one expired, I left the ball and chain behind, and went month-to-month. It’s worked out well.
  7. Desktop/Laptop Computers. Is she serious? Has the author ever tried to type on an ipad? How about edit a photograph or design something? Sorry, I have a tablet, but there’s no way that it does all the things I can do on my desktop. Maybe someday, but not yet.
  8. Extra Legroom in Coach. I’m relatively short, so paying more for a seat isn’t something I’d do.
  9. Credit Cards with Mileage Rewards. I agree with this. You have to have a degree in contract law to figure out the fine print. I’d rather reward myself by NOT using a credit card at all.
  10. Digital Cameras. WHAT? OK, now she’s gone too far. She’s gored my ox; rained on my parade; stepped on my tender toes. Why? Because I sell cameras for a living, that’s why!

I really hate to admit it, but there are good arguments for her premise. Point-and shoot digital cameras have suffered mightily at the hands of iPhones and smart phones in general.  The truth is, there are a ton of smart devices out there that have decent cameras for everyday use. The phone camera accessory market is making the argument not to buy a point-and-shoot even stronger with add-on lenses and tiny tripods. There’s even an iPhone Stedicam.

But, for as many reasons as there are not to buy a small point-and-shoot camera, there are plenty of compelling reasons to buck the trend and purchase one. Here are some very valid reasons why:

  • Ease of use. Point-and-shoot cameras most often have zoom lenses built in. You can get that telephoto shot without fumbling  with accessory add-ons; no need to hop from a phone call or GPS search to capture the moment; no apps to download.  Just power up and click away!
  • Travel. Cell phones are great. I shoot with mine a lot. But if I was taking that dream trip to Europe, I’d still carry a camera. Why?  Because I may just capture a shot that I want to blow up and hang on my wall. Bigger sensors and better lenses produce images that print better. That’s to say nothing of battery life—even point and shoots usually take several hundred photos on a charge, and extra batteries are small and easy to change out.
  • Features. They’re not cheap, but point-and-shoot cameras at the top end of the market have features you just can’t get in a smart device camera such as:
  • Extremely long zoom ranges. Some bridge cameras have lenses that go from a relatively wide 24mm to over 1000mm! Cell cameras, even with accessory lenses, don’t even come close.
  • Bigger sensors. In digital photography, the two most important components are the lens, and the sensor. The sharper and faster the lens, and the bigger the sensor (not necessarily pixels, but in physical size), the better. Cell phones are small; so are their sensors. It stands to reason that a top-tier point and shoot will outperform a cell camera every time.
  • Technologically challenged folks. Even in this technology-obsessed world we live in, there are still a lot of people out there that just want to take a decent shot of their family, friends, and their upcoming camping trip. Many still do not have a smart phone. Just turn on the camera, set it to automatic, and push the shutter. Viola! A picture is captured, a story is told. No muss, no fuss.
  • Price. Yes, the allure of point-and-shoot cameras is fading . Their popularity is being eclipsed by smart devices. That means prices have and will continue to come down, and the least expensive point-and-shoot can out-perform some of the most expensive digital cameras from just a few years ago.
  • Newbies. For anyone new to photography, a small point-and-shoot is a great way to introduce them to it. They aren’t difficult to use, and are an appropriate first step for budding photographers of any age.

So, I will have to agree to disagree with the author of the “Then Things” article when it comes to buying a digital camera. While they are certainly not cutting edge, and they hold only a fraction of the market share they once enjoyed, they are still relevant, and continue to provide quality and value to a multitude of people interested in photography at all levels.

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