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How to Buy a Compact Camera? Best P&S Cameras in 2017

Updated on August 1, 2017

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This guide is for everyone who wants to buy a compact camera and are stuck with the thousands of options in the market. If you want an upgrade to your smart phone camera, consider these features before going for high mega pixel 'pathetic' cameras.

Point and shoot cameras are compact, easy-to-use digital cameras with which you can take quality pictures with minimal effort. Point and shoot cameras or compact cameras are the easiest way to capture high quality images. But the smart phone revolution has replaced many compact cameras on the market and it continues to do so, but a good point and shoot camera cannot be replaced by a smart phone camera. The main reason behind this is the sensor size. We will discuss this later.

Another option for those who love photography is to consider DSLRs. DSLR wins in terms of image quality of course. But point and shoot cameras are more convenient in all aspects. Some big advantages comparing compact to DSLRs are

  • Compact cameras are less expensive
  • Slip into the pocket easily and weighs less
  • Is less complicated
  • Live LCD display
  • Completely noiseless

Deciding to buy a digital camera is easy. Choosing the best is the most difficult task as there are hundreds of models available.

No single camera can be considered as the ‘BEST’. It solely depends on your need. What are you looking for? Are you a professional photographer? What type of photography are you interested in? Do you travel a lot? Do you need a rugged model? What features are you looking for?

Ask yourself these questions and you can narrow down the mega list to the ones you need only. However it is still confusing to select the best from the short list. This article is written aimed to help consumers to select the most useful and high quality point and shoot camera for specific needs.

Things to be considered when buying a compact camera

Forget the Megapixels. SENSOR SIZE is the new player.

The light sensor in a camera consists of photosites, light sensitive spots. This determines how much light is captured to create the image. Obviously, larger the sensor, more spots will be there and more light will be used to create the image. Thus sensor size plays a very important role in determining the quality of a digital camera.

Let me put this as simple as possible. Small sensor means poor performance in low light, less smooth color reproduction and low angle of view. Small sensor cameras also have some advantages such as compactness and less expensive.

Large sensor cameras on the other hand have improved low light performance, shoots more detailed images, have less noise in images (less grainy), isolate objects and blur background efficiently. But they tend to be bigger, need bigger lens and weigh more.

Also as the size of sensor increases the crop factor decreases. Which means you can capture a large part of full frame picture if you have larger sensor.

Overall, larger the sensor, greater the image quality, bigger the camera. In the case of point and shoot cameras, the best sensor size would be between 1 inch and 1/2.3 inch.

Most of the smart phones have smaller sensors and that is one of the main reasons they can’t beat a P&S camera.

Larger Sensor Professional P&S


You may have noticed the ‘f/(some number)’ like specification on camera’s specs chart. For example ‘f/1.8’. This is the aperture of the lens. Simply put, large aperture means it transmits more light to the sensors which eventually means high image quality. But as the aperture increases, zoom range decreases. It is better to keep this factors balanced.

Zoom range is one of the major factors that must be taken into consideration. Smaller aperture cameras have larger zoom ranges like up to 30x optical. This is indeed good for talking distance shots zoomed and clear. But it will not do any good in taking short distance pictures. Good point and shoot cameras start around 28mm focal length which is balanced and better. And not all ‘zoom’ matters. Optical zoom is the one you should look for.


Of course a compact camera should be compact. But how small? There are ultra-compact cameras to bigger P&S which reaches the size of a DSLR. Deciding on the size and weight must be solely based on your needs. Buy ultra-compact only if you need it because the image quality may not be that good. Also, as the size decreases, the controls and display also get narrower which makes it difficult to use.


As we know, P&S cameras come with LCD display to instantly view and navigate through the images. Well, the size of this display is equally important as you may want to see the picture you have taken clearly. Do not choose cameras with tiny display unless it is ultra-compact. The optimum range of display size can be stated as 2.8 inch to 5 inch. And you may need to note the resolution also. 230k for smaller display, 460k or 921k LCD would be right choice. Choosing these factors right, you will get high outdoor performance and a clear look at the pictures.


Do you need flash for every night pic? No you don’t. Also there can be situations where you can’t use flash. This is where ISO comes handy. ISO is basically the cameras sensitivity to light. Higher the ISO, more light it captures but higher will be the noise. Which means you get a grainy picture. You will need a right balance between them. The best option is to consider cameras with Noise under 1.5% at ISO 800. Also choose the ones with larger ISO range.


Got a shaky hand? No? Still you may need to consider cameras with image stabilization. It rectifies the shakiness and stabilizes the image even when you are moving. Or you may want to buy a tripod along with the camera.


HD video recording is a must and popular in every models these days. The increasing ‘TV size’ and HD compatibility is the main reason. 720p is enough for normal use and up to 35 inch TV or opt for 1080p if you have a higher resolution HDTV to watch it.


I think I don’t need to explain this stuff. Choose the one you like!


Battery life should be taken into consideration too. Some offers long battery life but some sucks in this regard. Look at the specs, read user reviews, make sure the battery last long enough.


Well, everybody will determine a specific budget for a P&S camera and it’s good. Find out the one that fits almost all your needs and within the budget. It should have good warranty period, fast and efficient customer support too.


As the development in technology is booming, you may want to take a look at the additional features a digital camera offers. One of them is

WiFi: You can share the photos easily and instantly. Also you can control the camera with a smart phone.

GPS: GPS comes handy if you travel a lot. Inbuilt GPS can be really helpful in wildlife photography too.

Waterproof and Ruggedness: Consider this feature if you are frequent traveler or you want to take under water shots.


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    • AaronB72 profile image

      Aaron Brown 

      11 months ago from New York

      Spot on guide. Thanks

    • Hanzamfafa profile image

      Mike Leal 

      2 years ago from London

      Great Hub. Thanks for sharing.


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