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Tips for Using a Point & Shoot Camera

by Philip Greenspun, 1997


Do you feel inadequate because you have a puny Canon SD900 or Fuji F30 in your pocket while your friend is lugging around a digital SLR?

Don't.

You can get a better picture than he can, for the following reasons:

  • Your camera is light and compact enough that you have it with you at all times.
  • You have about as good a lens as he does; like most first-time SLR owners, he hasn't bothered to upgrade from the cheap low-contrast zoom lens that was included in a kit with his camera body.
  • He is using the pop-up flash on his camera as his primary light. You would never be that uncreative (at least not after reading the rest of this article).
  • Your camera has a better system for combining light from the flash with ambient light ("fill-flash").

MIT Graduation 1998 A professional photographer with a pile of $1500 lenses and a tripod is going to be able to do many things that you aren't. But rest assured that he carries a P&S camera in his pocket as well.

The photo at left shows Bill Clinton handing out a diploma at MIT's 1998 graduation ceremony. I was in the press box with a Canon EOS-5 (film!), 70-200/2.8L lens, and 1.4X teleconverter ($2500 total). In the upper right of the frame is a woman with a point and shoot camera. I would venture to guess that her pictures of Clinton are better than mine.

Think about Light

"He spoke with the wisdom that can only come from experience, like a guy who went blind because he looked at a solar eclipse without one of those boxes with a pinhole in it and now goes around the country speaking at high schools about the dangers of looking at a solar eclipse without one of those boxes with a pinhole in it."
-- Joseph Romm

My personal definition of photography is "the recording of light rays." It is therefore difficult to take a decent picture if you have not chosen the lighting carefully. Read the photo.net tutorial chapter on light.

Just say no
Amy, Philip, Paula, at Aspects of Love in Minneapolis Just say "no" to on-camera flash. Your eye needs shadows to make out shapes. When the light is coming from the same position as the lens, there are no shadows to "model" faces. Light from a point source like the on-camera flash falls off as the square of the distance from the source. That means things close to the camera will be washed-out, the subject on which you focussed will be properly exposed, and the background will be nearly black.

We're at a theater. Can't you tell from the background? That's me in the middle. The guy with the flat face and big washed-out white areas of skin. Part of the problem here is that the camera was loaded with ISO 50 film and therefore doesn't capture much ambient light (i.e., the theater background).

Virtually all point and shoot cameras allow you to control the on-camera flash. What you want to do most of the time is press the tiny lightning bolt button until the "no flash" symbol is displayed. The "no flash" symbol is usually a lightning bolt with a circle around it and line through it. Now the camera will never strobe the flash and will leave the shutter open long enough to capture enough ambient light to make an exposure.

A good point and shoot camera will have a longest shutter speed of at least 1 second. You can probably only hold the camera steady for 1/30th of a second. Your subjects may not hold still for a full second either. So you must start looking for ways to keep the camera still and to complete the exposure in less time. You can:

  • look for some light. Move your subjects underneath whatever light sources are handy and see how they look with your eyes.
  • set a higher ISO sensitivity, e.g., ISO 400 or ISO 800 (currently only Fuji F30 and rather expensive compact digicams are designed to give good quality at higher ISO settings; the rest just give you a lot of digital "noise")
  • steady the camera against a tree/rock/chair/whatever as you press the shutter release
  • leave the camera on a tree/rock/chair/whatever and use the self-timer so that the jostling of pressing the shutter release isn't reflected on film. This works well for photographing decorated ceilings in Europe. Just leave the camera on the floor, self-timer on, flash off.
  • use a little plastic tripod, monopod, or some other purpose-built camera support
Yes it was dark in Bar 89. But I steadied the camera against a stair railing and captured the scene with a Minolta Freedom Zoom 28-70 (current eBay value $5?). Note that not using flash preserves the lighting of the bar.



Just say yes
Just say "yes" to on-camera flash. Hey, "consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds" (Emerson; slightly out of context).

The on-camera flash on a compact digital camera is useful. It just isn't useful for what you'd think. As noted above, it is not useful for lighting up a dark room. However, it is useful outdoors when you have both shaded and sunlit objects in the same scene. A JPEG photo or a print cannot handle the same range of contrast as your eyes. A picture that is correctly exposed for the sunlight object will render the shaded portrait subject as solid black. A picture that is correctly exposed for the shaded portrait subject will render the sunlit background object as solid white.

Manhattan 1995. Here the chess players are being shaded by some overhead screens while the background foliage is not. The on-camera flash makes sure that the foreground players are bright. In fact they are a bit brighter than they probably should be and note the washed-out highlight on the leading edge of the table, which is close to the camera. This picture was taken by prefocusing on the shirtless player on the right, then moving the camera with the shutter release half-depressed to the final composition. Without the prefocusing the camera would have latched onto one of the chess tables in the center of the picture, quite far away. The foreground men would have been out of focus and also tremendously overexposed since an amount of flash adequate to illuminate a far away subject would have been used. [Note that many $1000 SLR cameras would not have been capable of making this picture except in a completely manual mode. Their flash metering systems look for light reaching the central area of the image rather than computing appropriate flash power from the focussed distance.]

Pressing the little buttons on a P&S camera until a single solid lightning bolt appears in the LCD display will keep the flash on at all times. Note that a side-effect of the "flash on" mode is that you also get the same long shutter speeds for capturing ambient light that you would with "flash off" mode. The standard illustrative picture for this has an illuminated building at night as the background with a group of people in the foreground who've been correctly exposed by the flash.

Sunglasses & ferris wheel. Coney Island. Sometimes it all comes together, as it did here in Coney Island. Without fill-flash, the ride operator would have been a silhouette. Prefocussed on the human subject's face. "Flash on" mode.



Prefocus
Market Street, San Francisco The best-composed photographs don't usually have their subject dead center. However, that's where the focusing sensor on a P&S camera is. Since the best photographs usually do have their subject in sharp focus, what you want to do is point the center sensor at your main subject, hold the shutter release halfway down, then move the camera until you like the composition.

Virtually all P&S cameras work this way but not everyone knows it because not everyone is willing to read the owner's manual.

A side effect of prefocusing is that most P&S cameras will preset exposure as well. Ideal exposure with a reflected light meter is obtained when the subject reflectance is 18% gray (a medium gray). If you don't want to wade into the exposure compensation menus, try to prefocus on something that is the correct distance from the camera and a reasonable mid-tone. I.e., avoid focusing on something that is pure white or black.

Burn Memory
Stockholm airport, hopskotch If a memory card is lasting for months, something is wrong. You aren't experimenting enough. An ideal memory card for has 50 pictures of the same subject, all of them bad. These prove that you're not afraid to experiment. And then one good picture. This proves that you're not completely incompetent.

It takes at least 10 frames to get one good picture of one person. To have everyone in a group photo looking good requires holding down that shutter release button. You should have pictures from different angles, different heights, flash on, flash off, etc.

Buy a stack of 2 GB SD cards and challenge yourself to fill them up!


Try to Buy a Decent P&S Camera
You can read our buyer's guide. My personal ideal point and shoot camera would have one of the following lenses:

  • 24-50 zoom (35mm film equivalent; zooms out wide enough to capture a subject and the background context)
  • 24-70 zoom
  • a single focal length (non-zoom) because it is one fewer decision to make at exposure time

Sadly, the marketplace doesn't agree with me and compact cameras with these lenses aren't available. Almost always you get a zoom lens, which would be more useful on a full-sized SLR camera because the user interface is better/quicker (i.e., you can turn the ring on the lens instead of pushing little buttons to drive a motor).


Article created 1997

Readers' Comments


Add a comment



Matthew Cole , January 19, 1997; 04:32 P.M.

I seem to be leaving comments all over this site. My T-4 comment has to do with the use of flash. I am constantly taking pictures indoors and ligthing them with my Vivitar 283. I've had one of these units since 1976 and they remain a workhorse (my first one croaked after 6 years and my disassembly of it with a Swiss Army Knife). Anyway, every P&S camera suffers from weenie flash syndrome, including the Nikon 35Ti and Yashica T4. I've owned both. I finally went out and got a slave for the 283 and now happily bounce-flash my indoor pictures. It works really well, lighting the whole room up, looking natural and soft, and the small camera flash even fills in the eye sockets a bit.

As for the T-4, I took back my Nikon 35Ti and traded it in for 2 T-4s (one for wife, one for mother in law) about 3 years ago. They are so nice I just got a T-4 Super for my Dad when his old Nikon P&S packed up on him. I bought this last one from Camera World of Oregon with no delays, hassles or problems.

Have fun with the T-4/283 combo. I wish they'd make it with a hot shoe, like the old Minox scale-focusing mini-35mm camera.

M Cole

myron wolf , March 05, 1997; 10:33 P.M.

The new Ricoh GR-1 gives back complete control of exposure, focus, and flash to the photographer. The lens is a 28mm/2.8 symmar formula. It weighs 6 oz, has metal everywhere it needs to have it: top, bottom, back, film channel + more. Ricoh has so understated this camera that it will take most people years to figure out -- finally, there is a tool to have at all times, and take superb photos. I use it to take available light shots of musicians and dancers. Oh yes, its full frame 35mm, one inch thick, all black, costs $454. There's more. Center weighted metering down to EV 6. Then it switches to averaging plus the finder internally illuminates so you can see the shutter speed, exposure compensation (2 stops) and distance (ikons) in the finder window. Its a lot of fun!

Adrian Ferre-D'Amare , May 01, 1997; 12:46 P.M.

I've had a Ricoh GR-1 for about a month and I've shot a dozen rolls of negative and slide (Velvia, E100S) film with it. I find that the 28 mm f 2.8 lens is very sharp and contrasty and yields nice colors. On the down side, it appears to be somewhat more prone to flare than my SLR's lenses, and there is no provision for attaching a lens hood. Exposure metering is accurate enough for Velvia; exposure compensation is through an intuitive (for me anyway) analogue knob. The camera is extremely compact and light, and the all-metal skin rugged. I found the camera control layout easy to understand, and the camera fits nicely in my hands. It cost $450; I think it's a superb camera.

Some complaints I have are (1) the viewfinder is rather small for eye-glass wearers; (2) there is no cable release; (3) external flashes cannot be used; (4) on/off button is easy to activate inadvertently; (5) there's no weatherproofing; (6) no manual ISO setting; (7) no depth-of field information (even in the manual); (8) somewhat cryptic manual.

Ravi Nagpal , August 28, 1997; 01:46 A.M.

I agree with Philip on his choice of the yashica t4 camera. I personally own 3 cameras... A canon elan iie w/ a couple of decent lenses, a yashica t4 and a canon elph APS camera... While each of these have their own merits and limitations... I have to say the flash metering system specifically fill-flash on the Canon Elph APS camera is the best I have ever used...

Piaw Na , December 10, 1997; 01:33 A.M.

One thing about point and shoot cameras: they work best if you understand a little bit about exposure. Exposure meters in cameras try to make everything a medium tone (think green leaves---that's medium tone). If you're trying to take a photo that's bright, the camera will still try to render it medium tone. The solution in those cases is to get a lock on something medium tone but in the same distance, press the shutter release halfway down, and then recompose and shoot.

Example: you're trying to take a picture of a sunset with the sun in it. Point at the horizon with no sun in it, press shutter halfway, point at the sun, and then shoot.

This explains why all sunset photos taken with point and shoot cameras look too dark. Wish I'd known this a year ago.

Albert E. Anderson , May 12, 1998; 12:23 A.M.

Here's another idea for a backup/travel camera. I recently found a 1950's German made Voightlander Vitamatic in the local camera store for $40! The lens is a 50mm/2.8 Skopar all-metal thing that looks like a miniature Hasselblad lens. It's completely manual and has a built in light meter (no batteries required). It even has a flash shoe and will sync up to 1/300th. Yeah... it's a little heavier than the modern P&S cameras... but if you need a backup camera... consider an old classic.

T C Khoo , September 26, 1998; 09:57 A.M.

One of the nice things about returning to P&S photography with a fixed lens is that it sends u back to thinking about the basics of image making again.

I've just spent the better part of the last 3 weeks trying out a few models of all the famous P&S single focal length cult cameras mainly to try and make a decision on which one is the most suitable for me. The experiences have been recorded elsewhere in the site, but with regards to technique, it just brought me back to remembering how to think about light, composition, perspective, support and basic camera handling. With these pillars of photography set straight, it is indeed possible to get shots on a P&S as good as any top notch SLR.

It's true, u don't really need stacks of equipment to ensure u can take good photos. With the above fundamentals set out, u already have enuff to be an A student. With all the other bells and whistles, u may probably get to A+. But IMHO, since the 80/20 rule is applicable to most things in life, the last 20% may not be worth the extra cost or effort. Unless u r a perfectionist, or a professional, or both.

Gerry Siegel (Honolulu) , November 01, 1998; 06:27 P.M.

This will be no revelation, but I think more and more who read this section have come to expect more and more capabilities out of the Point and Shoot category. And most aren't going to be happy with a Rollei 35 or a Canonet I think. Those who will admit to this no compromise will want to look seriously again at the Silver Hexar. Not a big camera by any means, grippable and well layed out- see Caruana's wonderful review elsewhere.(No offense to the GR-1 people, I havent tried it at all) On Program mode Hexar behaves like my Leica Mini III only better,-tack sharp lens. ( I have the option of setting it up so that the Hexar knows that outdoors I like a lot of DOF, but if forget and I set it at 2.8, at least it will give me some kind of photo.)OTH, when I shot at night from a hotel window last month I put it on manual mode, used the camera meter to find a gray tone and let the spot metering get the exposure. Then I pushed MF to get bam to infinity focus through a windown and I was good to go.( But if you think I didn't ALSO carry a T-90 with three lenses in my kit on the trip, you arent a member in good standing of the schlep- what- you-just- may need club.:-)either.

Todd Frederick , November 04, 1998; 09:35 P.M.

I am a public school teacher, but have been doing serious photography, pro and hobby, since 1959. I have used everything from 4x5 through 6x6, 645, 35, etc. About a year ago I obtained a Leica CL from my repairman for a song, and loved what I could do with it. I totally hate photo mags that advertise "stepping-up" to bigger and bigger film sizes. I want to "step-down" to greater freedom, speed, and spontaneous artistry. Be that as it may, I bought a Leica Minilux last week (before I even knew that T-4's existed!!!), but enjoy this camera greatly. Here's the bottom line: I live in the San Jose California area and would like to gather serious P&S users for regular P&S only field excursions (a few times a year) with some sharing of results later on...and lots of fun, food, etc. If anyone in the S.F. Bay area is interested, feel free to send an e-mail with a phone number...mine is (408) 686-1441, so call if you like, but,please, no solicitors! Thanks, Todd

jules l , January 30, 1999; 11:53 A.M.

good pages! just bought a yashica T5 and look forward using it, you set away my doubts over leaing my dear nikon behind for a while (wait till i get my first pictures, though) sure oone thing: ps is fast.

Heidi Weaver , January 30, 1999; 11:43 P.M.

I don't know how many people have tried this old camera, but I've just gotten it from my mother: Ricoh 500 G. It must be a predecessor to the newer G's, but I hadn't heard of it before. It's a real rangefinder, having full manual control (as well as offering automatic exposure...which has proven to be reasonably accurate from some of my trials). I'm totally blown away by the quality of the lens in this camera. It's every bit as sharp as my SLR...although I haven't put it to the test with slide film yet. And it's tiny! Although heavier than my Olympus P & S. For those times when I have more than a moment to fiddle, but don't want to bother with my SLR, this camera is awesome.

Benoit Doloreux , February 02, 1999; 05:26 P.M.

Just a short note to let you know about Fuji's Ga645 medium format P'n'shooters. After overdosing on gearomania, I've decided to get myself a one lens, one camera combo and work on fundementals and lighting. The GA 645 was perfect for me and the 645 neg enlarges quite gracefully to 11 X 14. It's exactly the same in operations as a 35mm point and shoot save for a few goodies such as vertical framing, cable release, tripod socket, etc.

It won't fit in your pocket though...

Ronald Gregorio , February 15, 1999; 05:44 A.M.

I've recently started taking pictures with a P&S after having had some experience taking pictures with an SLR. I've had good results with my Yashica T5 (T4 Super in the US). I've experimented with its different flash modes and I found that the Fill-In flash works better than the Automatic Flash or Red-Eye Reduction mode. Even in taking pictures indoors with even lighting, I use the Fill-In flash mode. The camera does a good job with the exposure as it balances the light reflected by the subject and the background light. There's less overexposure on the subject, and less shadows on the background. One trick to reduce red-eye effect, I just tell the subjet to look at a light source for a moment and then pose. Also, I use the Super Scope (waist level viewfinder) frequently since I'm a tall person living in Asia. This eliminates the barreling on some pictures caused by the wide angle lens if you take them from a high viewpoint. It's also neat to take pictures without people knowing it. They all think that I'm just checking how many shots I have left, while I'm actually looking through the Super Scope and snapping away (without flash of course). Another point, if you're ever in Vietnam, check out the cheap prices of cameras in Ho Chi Minh City (former Saigon) and Hanoi. Their prices are competitive to those in the States and cheaper than in other countries in this region (i.e. Ricoh GR1 = 400USD; Olympus mjuII = 130USD).

kathy kane , February 22, 1999; 12:35 P.M.

I just got back from a trip to London and Paris and brought along my brand new Olympus 80 zoom deluxe wide. I am thrilled with the photos it took. I would highly recommend this camera to anyone. The wide angle lens came in very handy in sooo many instances. Has anyone had a good experience with this camera. This is my first experience with a point and shoot. it was nice having such a small camera and not my OM1 to lug along.

Philippe Wiget , March 02, 1999; 06:21 A.M.

I have had the Yashica T4 (older model, now: T5/T4 Super) for about 3 years now. It is a nice P&S camera, cheap, with an excellent lens and exposes "correct" in standard situations (also for slides). I take it with me, when I want to leave the heavy stuff at home, or just as a supplement for the SLR equipement. The only problem I've had is that the rewinded to early a few times (at about picture 20). -> Would buy it again with no hesitation.

Lex Molenaar , March 05, 1999; 03:42 A.M.

A useful hint for people with active autofocus P&S cameras that lack an infinity focus button, like the Infinity ;-) Stylus Epic, I found on http://www.ans.com.au/~chrisb/photo/equipment/olympus/mjuii.html There Chris Bitmead says:"The Epic doesn't have an infinity lock (useful to shoot through windows) You can however get the camera to focus at infinity by covering one of the IR focus sensors with a finger or whatever and then press the shutter button half way. Then compose and shoot." That should do it. Though I didn't the results yet, I'm sure it will help. By the way Phil, about your site: the more I use it, the more I admire the great accessibility.

John S. Wojtowicz , April 01, 1999; 11:27 P.M.

I use the Yashica T4 for shooting stereo pairs. I originally had two of them mounted six inches apart (lens-to-lens) on a bar, but have abandoned this system because:

1) I could never press the shutter buttons at exactly the same moment.

2) My dear Catherine "borrowed" one of the cameras eighteen months ago, and uses it so much she has yet to return it.

In any event, excellent stereo pairs can be taken with this camera simply by shooting the first picture with an object on the left side of the center circle, and the second with the object on the right side. If the scene has a concentrated light source such as a fireplace, there might be a problem with the difference in camera position resulting in different metering, but if the light is not near the center of the picture, it generally isn't a problem.

Todd Frederick , April 07, 1999; 10:44 P.M.

Last year I purchased a Leica CL and then a Minilux (see previous comments for November '98), but sold the CL and bought a Leica M6 through a fine young man I "met" on the internet (minilux club)who asked me if I wanted an M6, bought me a beautiful used model (9606th made)with 2 lenses for 2K, and is accepting payments!!!...we've never met! True trust is a wonderful thing!...and believe that seriously...very rare today! However, after reading widely the Photonet P/S comments, and considering my need for a very pocketable camera (don't take an M6 on a kayak!), lens quality (asph elements), true ergonomics (pocket tapered design), and lens speed, I bought two Olympus Stulus Epic cameras (one for me and one for a friend, in fine used condition: one through e-bay and one from a "WTB" on Phil's Photonet ads today. I haven't run a single roll through, but I expect great things! This is not a rejection of the T-4, or others! The teeny-weeny size got to me and the tapered design was just what I wanted. I will, of course, run many rolls through, and post an evaluation. I am concerned about the comments on AF problems, but the spot meter is a GREAT addition! I do wish there was a reader's photo gallery on this site as there is on the Minilux and Hassie clubs. Phil...think about it...we can show our great stuff and praise each other as we so deserve! I'm still looking for San Francisco/San Jose CA Bay Area people interested in taking photo trips. I once taught adult ed classes in photography and had a great time on field trips, until these darned old P/S cameras came along and no one wanted to know photo basics any more! Look who's talkin' now!

Ron Lawrence , May 24, 1999; 12:35 P.M.

After having read all of the comments, it makes me wonder why anyone but a professional would use a regular SLR. I just don't think that a P&S gives me enough of what I want. I don't take a lot of pictures but when I do I like lots of closeups and landscapes, plus some sports action. I just can't get that with a P&S. I am thinking of going digital for my P&S needs.

Russ Arcuri , May 27, 1999; 05:10 P.M.

Sorry, Jim -- I disagree w/r/t Philip's example at the graduation. If Philip were sitting next to the woman with the point and shoot, he wouldn't have his big cache of gear with him -- a point & shoot is likely all he'd be able to bring to that position.

...he would have taken a better framed, better exposed, sharper and more contrasty shot with his slr

Better framed? No, that's entirely related to the skill of the photographer. Better exposed? With print film (and a little bit of brain power) it wouldn't make a difference. Sharper? Yes. More contrasty? Likely.

But this is all missing Philip's point -- you can bring a point & shoot with you almost anywhere. You can whip it out at a moment's notice and get the shot. Hence the value of a point & shoot. They may not suit you, Jim, but that doesn't mean they're without value.

luis villasana , June 02, 1999; 05:21 P.M.

I love taking pictures. After researching the current market I found the T-4 best fit my needs(I found out it has no problem with being carried around in my pocket). The more I read up on it the more fascinated I became. I shopped around and found that Cambridge Camera Exchange offered it for only $118.95. I placed my order via mail\phone. That was two weeks ago. After many long distance calls (many of which got me nowhere[they hung up on me five out of ten times I would call]) I have found out that "my T-4,"as I so dearingly refer to it, will not cost anything near the first expected price. $158.95. I have not let it get my hopes down, I am waiting by the mail box in a childish frenzy just imagining the fun I'm going to have with "My T-4." That's Cambridge Camera Exchange in New York. They'll hang up on you.

G|rol Kutlu , June 17, 1999; 09:00 A.M.

I'm using an Olympus Infinity Stylus /Zoom 115 for about a year and extremely pleased with its outstanding performance.It is definetely the smallest and lightest point-to-shoot camera in the world. It works perfectly on the panaroma mode.While taking close-up shots,strictly adhere to the close-up correction marks.I'm an ex-pilot and I must add Olympus Infinity Stylus is highly recommended for aerial photography. I have fantastic photos taken at 37.000 ft.Try to avoid buying from Singapore.I've had awful experiences in the past.Prefer the ones manufactured either in US or Japan. I also recommend Samsung Maxima Zoom 145 QD,Cannon Sure Shot Z135 and Pentax IQ Zoom 160 QD.

erin o'neill , June 20, 1999; 03:39 P.M.

I'm beginning to feel like a collector of cameras!! Once I got serious about photography I got a used Nikon FM2 & 2 lens - 50mm & 28mm. I mostly use the 28mm as it suits my style.

I've moved up to medium format which I love but I can't bring myself to lug my Hasselblad on a trip (I mostly fear I'll throw my back out -- rather than fear losing it).

And there was this thing about being in clubs where all this exciting stuff is going on & I just can't capture it with my blad. So I got a P&S. I got the canon Z135 (a friend who teaches photography & has a couple of books out - Del laGrace, recommended the Canon Z115 and by the time I got mine the Z135 had come out). I read the manual but can't quite remember all the fine details in a club setting (but I'll be sure to try some of the recommendations here!). I still play with the settings & I've gotten some fun photos I just can't get with even my nikon. Tho I bring my nikon with it's 28mm lens & either TriX 400 pushed to 1600 or one of the faster b&w films. I get different kinds of photos.

Now when I travel and I'm wanting my medium format camera I just throw in one of my super light weight plastic cameras!! I prefer the lubitel for more serious work (it's much more flexable with all sorts of cool things like a timer, a hot shoe, shutter speeds & f-stops) but I'm trying to learn my holga. My holga gets me plenty of funny looks because I couldn't find any black electrical tape so it's taped up with red tape. I've gotten some GREAT shots & it probably weighs less than an ounce! BUT I bring my P&S too!! I can't always shoot in daylight.

(now besides all those cameras I also own 2 polaroid cameras!!)

Jagadeesh Venugopal , June 26, 1999; 07:18 P.M.

Well, I own one of the cameras that is often disparaged in this group. Its a 400si with (horror of horrors) a Sigma 28-80 lens, a second-hand Minolta 50mm f/1.7 and another second-hand Minolta 70-210mm lens. I also have a cheap Sunflash external flash.

I like what I own because it gives me the flexibility to try out new things. I can try manual metering, aperture or shutter priority metering and manual focusing. While I have not attained genius-hood with my setup, I have taken quite a few photographs which make me a lot happy.

I dare say that except for the bulk, my camera is no worse off than a decent point and shoot. And considering the price I paid for it I think it is worth more to me than a P&S camera would have been.

Joe Toole , June 29, 1999; 10:45 A.M.

All this arguing over p&s cameras is getting a little redundant. Correct me if I'm wrong here, but isn't the idea behind a p&s to either have fun in casual shooting situations, or as an emergency back up when your SLR is down, or unavailable? Sure, it's always great to see useful information about a camera before you purchase it, but lets not forget that the majority of the cameras here are under $200 ferchrissakes! AND, as we all know: you do get (sometimes less than) what you pay for.

That said, here's a great idea for point and shoot fun: I've got a Yashica, and I love to play 'hot potato' with my friends. Just use the self timer to trigger the shutter, and start tossin' it around. I've gotten some really cool shots this way.

Joe

Mark Sussman , July 15, 1999; 08:30 P.M.

I'm glad to see that Heidi Weaver has discovered the Ricoh 500G. I bought one new in 1977 for a trip to Wyoming and loved it. We took some great pictures, enlarged them to 9.5 x 14 and they're still hanging on our wall. Then came Autofocus cameras and I put my Ricoh aside. Later I passed it on to my niece. I sometimes grow tired of the lack of control and limitations of Autofocus cameras, but still enjoy taking a small light camera with me. Then came E-Bay. For relatively little money I was able to bring a Ricoh 500G back into my house. It still takes great pictures and is an inexpensive and wonderful compromise when you need a little more control without a lot more heft.

Mark Sussman

Oleg Volk , July 30, 1999; 01:42 P.M.

I have a Ricoh 500 given to me by a friend. It is a beautiful camera, but slow in use and clumsy...and heavy. I have an Olympus XA, also received as a gift. The lens isn't sharp or flare-resistant, and tiny controls are hard to use. I gave my girlfriend an Olympus Sylus Epic *35/2.8 lens) and, even on a tripod, the lens isn't very sharp. That is why I would stick to light SLRs like Elan with a 50mm lens whenever possible...the compacts seem to give too much in image quality and speed of use.

Clarence Ng , August 05, 1999; 03:45 A.M.

I bought a Leica Z2X couple months ago and went to New Orleans. The Z2X was such a pleasure to use and I got some of the most wonderful pictures of the old French Quarter. These are some of the best pictures I've ever taken using any P&S.

Graham North , September 07, 1999; 10:46 P.M.

My perspective may not be especially alternative. I too own a T4 I purchased it almost 3 years ago shortly after having many years worth of Canon equipment stolen. Well, I have been thrilled by the results this camera gave, so much so that I am thinking seriously of trying to stay with Zeiss Contax lenses. I am not sure what the difference is, contrast, colour balance? but I prefer the colour to anything shot on my Canons....go figure. HOWEVER, BEWARE!!! service in Canada is another story!!! Last Christmas I dropped it in a hotel parking lot oops and owww! The lens cover was broken, more than $100 dollars later, (well we can't expect warranty to cover impact damage can we) I happily gave it a little hug and proceeded to shoot again....problem, vignetting?!?! Telephone Yashica and explain, after sending directly to him with explanatory note, several weeks later it comes back with same problem, this time when I phone the manager had not seen it, techie had fixed by "adjusting" the meter??? After bitterly complaining, I have re-sent my camera and they are forwarding to New York. I hope your US service is better or I will not be able to talk myself into spending the kind of money necessary for some Contax gear. That said, before breaking, the T4 (T5 here) is a beautiful little camera. Highly recommend for hiking, biking etc. Graham North

byard edwards , September 10, 1999; 10:27 P.M.

Good photography is in the eye of the user.

My wife has no concern for obtaining adequate quality photographs. She merely wishes to obtain images which will induce a memory recall of the event. What I consider trash, she values. The P&S is geared toward those of my wife's bent where the object is not to produce art but rather physical records of prior events. By automating the artistic control, the average quality increases but the average art value diminishes.

In contrast, I use photography as an artistic outlet. I shoot 35mm b&w, with a spot meter using the zone system and do my own printing. If I have no darkroom set up, I don't shoot. I haven't shot in years.

Two extremes.

Perhaps if I gave up some control, I would obtain more even if I enjoyed it less.

My compromise is using a GR-1 with negative film. I will use store printing for my wife's film, and computer printing for my film.

This compromise may better the both of us.

Troy Hyde , January 13, 2000; 01:18 A.M.

Monkey!

Dave Baldo , January 13, 2000; 10:11 A.M.

Ian's comments above are based on some degree of SLR/EOS snobbishness. Pity. It's not difficult to get decent photos with a point/shoot camera; the Stylus Epic's fast f/2.8 lens gets the job done nicely. So does my Yashica T4 super (f/3.5). I carry a mini-tripod with flexible legs to negate camera shake, or wedge my shoulders up against a wall or door jamb. And I usually expose at least two frames per subject, varying stance or lighting as called for. When I know I want something more complicated, I'll haul out my Nikon FM2n and its assorted lenses, but that's infrequent. Using outdated or cheap film for test/technique purposes is a great idea; instead of getting that tree-killing second set of prints, find a lab that will give you a free roll of "House brand" film; it's often made by one of the name manufacturers in Japan or Minnesota.

James Jingozian , January 28, 2000; 04:05 P.M.

I know my viewpoint may not be similar to other people here, but it's here. P&S cameras may be great for "consumer" shots (i.e vacations, family gatherings, etc.) but in professional photography, nothing beats an SLR or TLR. I guess the reason manufacturers keep P&S in production is not for photographers to use them, or they would produce a small camera with manual apeture and shutter. I don't really know how a P&S is in the real world (since I do astrophotography), but it's hard to beat a good SLR with a telephoto lens.

Jim

Manfred Mornhinweg , January 31, 2000; 07:43 A.M.

After many years using only SLR equipment, I bought a Minolta Freedom Zoom as a take-along-at-all-times camera. Unfortunately, it proved to be extremely unreliable. It made me miss many opportunities when it just switched off (leaving the lens unretracted) at the moment of pressing the shutter. It ruined many pictures by focusing to minimum distance, even for landscapes with no foreground! It frustrated entire mountain trips by simply locking up. It took seven repairs to shoot a total of about 40 rolls of film, of which more than half was ruined because of camera problems.

I have now discarded it, and replaced it by a Ricoh GR-1s. What a difference! This camera is very usable, extremely small and lightweight, rugged, allows a considerable range of manual control (which I missed so much with the Minolta), and so far I have not lost a single frame to camera malfunction. It works very well indeed! I'm very happy with it.

This camera is an improvement over the already good GR-1, and I do highly recommend it (I have no connection to Ricoh other than being a satisfied customer!). Its main drawback is the lack of a zoom lens, but then, its 28mm f/2.8 is really good, and WOULD you expect a zoom in a camera this size?

Recently I was able to photograph some lightning bolts with the Ricoh, something I had been never successful at when using the SLR equipment! Tomorrow I'm off for one month into the mountains, doing some flying and some climbing, and the Ricoh comes with me!

Manfred Mornhinweg.

Jeffrey Goggin , February 05, 2000; 09:41 P.M.

Although technically not point-n-shoot cameras, there are many compact 35mm rangefinders from the '70s that are almost as small and nearly as easy to use. Check out www.cameraquest.com/classics.htm for a rundown of the better ones.

Personally, I'm quite happy with the Minolta Hi-Matic 7sII I picked up for $60 last year. While it can't focus itself, it does have a fairly accurate auto-exposure system (complete with exposure lock) and a fast (f1.7) lens, which means you can shoot ISO 100 film instead of ISO 400 much of the time. Better still, it has a leaf shutter (which means it flash-syncs at all speeds) and a manual film-speed dial so you control the amount of fill-flash more accurately as well as adjust exposure to your particular taste. Another nice touch is the filter ring, which I use fairly often, as well as the fact that the meter cell is located _inside_ the filter ring, just above the lens. This means that it meters through the filter and thus automatically compensates for the filter-factor of whatever filter you use.

On the downside, at 17 ounces, it's about twice as heavy as the typical p-n-s camera but it's still small enough to fit into a jacket pocket, if not a jeans pocket. Another plus is that the body is metal, not plastic, which means it will _dent_ instead of crack when it's accidentally dropped.

Overall, if -- like me -- you prefer your photographic automation in small doses and metal-bodied cameras to plastic ones, then a compact 35mm rangefinder from the 1970s may be a better choice for you than an auto-everything plastic wonder from the 1990s.

William Song , February 18, 2000; 08:13 P.M.

How about a used Contax G1 ? Its great little camera for you pocket, jacket that is. A little on the heavy side but if you want creative controls with interchangable lenes, this is it. I just wish Contax will make another pancake lens like their 45 f2.8 for it.

Jim Gemmill , February 28, 2000; 07:54 P.M.

Always wanted a quality point and shoot camera to take on trips instead of lugging the old Nikon N90 or Canon EOS 1 but was't sure which one to buy. I just bought TWO quality point and shoots, a Leica Minilux and Nikon 35TI to compare and get the feel. I can only keep one but since I bought them used, I'm sure I can always sell the one I don't want at auction. My choice after 3 rolls of film? It's the Nikon 35TI. First, I wear glasses and they must have gone all out to make the Leica Minilux viewfinder as small as possible and I like to see shutter speeds in the viewfinder to know what I'm doing. That only gave me one choice, the 35TI. As far as the pics, both were about equal, perhaps the Leica may be a tad sharper but, in my opinion, the "feel" and handling of the Nikon was better and I can see what I'm pointing at. Anybody want to be a nearly new Leica?

Yuriy Vilin , March 22, 2000; 02:31 A.M.

Yashica T4 Super. I have had it for several months, shot about 30 rolls of print film and couple rolls of Fuji Astia 100 (slide film, if you want to know what it is). I have only one word about it; this small camera is GREAT! Most of my pictures taken with T4 were enlarged up to 8x12". Slides were properly exposed and very sharp. Properly used "spot" meter allows me to cope with pretty tricky light conditions (like sunset in the mountains). Just aim camera at something with intermediate brightness (camera set at infinity mode), hold shutter button half pressed, recompose the picture, and shoot. Used with Kodak 400 CN (black & white film for C41 process, you can develop it in any one-hour minilab) camera shines with it's highly detailed contrasty images, even in murky light conditions (overcast winter day, for instance). I heard that people report inconsistent autofocus with T4 resulting in blurry images. It never happened to me. In fact, my second camera Olympus Stylus, which was purchased last year CONSTANTLY blurs two-three frames in each shot roll. Camera was sent back to Olympus and they returned it with verdict "camera is absolutely functional"... The superscope in T4 is another great feature.

Overall: My hat is off. T4 Super is waterproof, quiet camera with excellent Carl Zeiss optics. Great buy for $150.

Yuriy Vilin , March 30, 2000; 04:28 P.M.

Interesting ideas, Ian. But I'd like to see your pictures first.

Bob Yates , March 30, 2000; 10:50 P.M.

I must say that I respectfully disagree with the preceeding diatribe against point and shoots. As has been pointed out elsewhere, a camera is a tool. A wise artisan will learn the strengths and weaknesses of that tool, and adjust accordingly.

My own P&S experience has been most rewarding. First of all, if you view it as simple tool that can be used (with experience, and planning and reading the @#$@($* manual) you CAN take great shots. I know that some of my all time favorites were taken with an Olympus Stylus Epic. Framing, composition and having the maturity to realize that you're not going to get every shot, are part of the P&S experience. Also, if you have the camera with you, you can use it. A P&S, especially one with a spotmeter, that's with you beats all the fancy stuff sitting on the shelf at home.

It's equally true that a T4 or a Stylus Epic aren't, and won't be, a good substitute for a good quality SLR under every circumstance. Or even some circumstances. When I really, absolutely, positively have to be cetain of getting the picture, (like, say, confirmations, graduations, etc), I do use the old SLR. But the P&S can go in the briefcase, glovebox, etc. I mean, how can you get that picture of Elvis without a camera.

Greg Kandra , March 31, 2000; 12:23 P.M.

Amen, Bob.

If you know how to use a P&S, you can indeed get some gorgeous pictures -- and my experience has been that these little cameras succeed much more than they fail.

And, as others have pointed out, they keep getting better all the time. In the last decade, point and shoot cameras have taken a quantum leap forward in size, design, and optics. (You wouldn't have seen something like the Epic in 1990.) More of us can carry them more easily to more events, and thus get more shots we would have otherwise missed. And that's what puts the POINT in "point and shoot" cameras, isn't it?

These cameras are tools, designed for capturing moments on the fly. But someone with a little patience and persistance can also use them to more creative advantage -- and the results can be rewarding, indeed.

Tom Mandel , April 04, 2000; 10:06 A.M.

If you believe Ian Cruikshank's comment just above, then you must conclude that the images produced by practitioners like Henri Cartier-Bresson, Robert Frank, etc. etc. -- all produced by cameras with small viewfinders and slow lenses (old Leicas, mostly) -- are by definition uninteresting. That doesn't make sense. For that matter, a Yashica T4 is a better producer of images than a Leica IIIF! Better lens, w/ better film in it than was available in the old days.

That doesn't mean it has all the advantages, however. The viewfinder is small, and I can't adjust its focus to my (increasingly) bleary eyes. And, I'm never quite sure of the frame I'm seeing. So, I'm looking for a used Hexar (black, please). I also shoot with an old Olympus 35SP and a Canonet GIII -- autoexposure, manual focus, sharp lens, made in the '70s, the Canonet even has moving frame lines for parallax compensation.

Sitting in a big, heavy camera bag are my EOS Elan and EOS 620, my (very sharp) 28-105 USM, my 50 1.8 and a 19-35 zoom which isn't sharp but hey it sees interesting things. Why do they sit in the bag? You know why. They are heavy, intrusive devices. You can do great things with them, but if you shoot in a world full of people who you would prefer to remain unconscious of and undisturbed by your picture-taking, an SLR ain't the ticket.

RF Briggs , April 04, 2000; 09:15 P.M.

Does anyone know anything about the Lomo camera? I have heard great things about the portability and creativity of this camera, but wanted to get some more opinions from some more "serious" users. One thing that sounded really interesting about it was that it was not fully automatic, allowing a lot of leeway for creativity.

Thoughts?

Hernan Mapua , April 07, 2000; 06:02 A.M.

I loved the article! I just bought a Contax T2. My Nikon and it's 28-200 zoom is flying out the window! Phil Greenspun just answered why my photos lacked 'zing!' I learned a LOT from Phil, certainly enough to improve my photography and my equipment. THANK YOU, Phil!

David Killick , April 21, 2000; 02:57 A.M.

Fascinating comments on point and shoot cameras, SLRs etc, and an excellent site by Phil. As a newcomer to computers and the net but a camera nut since childhood, here are a few comments which may be useful (cf main site feedback): Cruikshank's comments seem elitist and unnecessarily inflammatory. I agree with all viewpoints. Surely the objective is the same: to create the best possible pictures by the simplest means - incidentally, the same philosophy which guided Oskar Barnack to invent the Leica. Thus the search for the ideal P&S seems perfectly valid. Phil is bang on. I agree, turn off the flash. It ruins mood lighting. I would like to see a P&S with an accessory flash and a bigger viewfinder - the bigger the better. How many pix to take? A film of one subject? Just one? Up to the individual. The goal should be to produce really good, memorable pictures. Thoughtfulness, not just firing off pictures as fast as possible, is the key. Comments on pre-focusing are helpful. Watching exposure is also critical. Even tilting the camera up to the sky to decrease exposure or down to the ground to increase exposure, then locking it in by half depressing the shutter (assuming your camera has no compensation) can help. Watch you don't throw the focus out of whack. Yes, a good 1.8 50mm lens on an SLR is an excellent choice for some pictures, but the SLR is still bigger and more fiddly - it is! And the moving mirror makes it very hard to hold the camera still below 1/30th sec. A rangefinder camera is a better choice for low light (no blackout either). I do find heavier cameras are more stable at slow speeds though - perhaps why readers on this site still like the good old classic cameras. Not just Leica, though if you buy one I'm sure you won't be disappointed. Have you tried an Olympus 35RC for example? Not perfect but very capable. This feedback is useful, both to users and hopefully the camera industry. It's up to us photographers to tell them what we want! David Killick, Christchurch, New Zealand.

Yuriy Vilin , April 28, 2000; 03:58 A.M.

Ian, just relax. If you don't use P&S thats your problem. Just leave this discussion along and let people choose their own path in photography. Your opinion is just one of hundreds and not valid in amateur photo world. I have lots of friends "amateurs" using all kinds of cameras (P&S, SLR, view cameras, rangefinder cameras...) at the same time with a great success and great pleasure. And, if you are a "professional", you do not need to read comments on this site.

Greg Kandra , April 28, 2000; 12:37 P.M.

Good point, Yuriy. Someone who clearly has no respect for point and shoot cameras -- and, in fact, expresses nothing but disdain for them -- has no business posting in a forum designed to help people use them better. What's the point? To make everyone feel bad? Or just to show off?

Mike Rossiter , April 30, 2000; 12:05 P.M.


My school pinhole. (c) Mike Rossiter.

Does it matter what camera you use or even if you use a camera at all? I certainly don't always use a camera. I do photomontage and photograms and I also create pinhole inages and digital work. THe fact of the matter is if an image is of any depth at all. Is the image good? Pretty soon we might all be using digital or maybe photography won't be fashionable anymore. Unlikely, but feasible.

T T , May 17, 2000; 08:11 P.M.

The Lomo camera is great, but it really depends on what you are looking for. It does colors very nicely and has a fast f2.8 lens. It tends to vignette a bit and it has many quirks about it. I like it because it's different, not 'technically' better. I already have a Nikon for my 'main' sharp photos, but I carry the Lomo around as a snap camera. I like the unique look it provides, as well as the unique feel of it. But it's certainly not for everyone.

If you are looking for a more everyday snap camera that takes good sharper pictures, I'd recommend you take a look at the Olympus Stylus Epic (under US $100.!). The non zoom version has a fast f2.8 lens and produces quite nice images. I've used the Yashica T-4 Super as well, and it was very sharp, however not f2.8 as I recall. [I tend to like faster lenses since I don't like using flash on a point and shoot]. I like the build quality and ergonomics of the Yaschia better than the Olympus though.

Jeff Sheng , May 22, 2000; 03:09 A.M.

OK, to Ian and anyone else who doesn't see Point and Shoots as a respectable camera to use, I'm an undergrad photo major at Harvard and Nan Goldin taught here for a semester last year and she was a big advocate of the T4 (she also shoots with a Leica (non-point and shoot)) and under her advice, I bought a T4 and my photography changed for the better immediately. I had been shooting with a Nikon N70 with a 35mm, f2 Nikkor lens and for awhile, I was using both cameras because I didn't trust the T4 so I could compare the two and the $150 T4 was so much better than the $700+ Nikon SLR outfit I had.

Technically, the T4 images were pinpoint sharp where the Nikon images weren't as sharp. I've had friends take 35mm slides taken with the T4 enlarged to 30x40 cibachromes and had the sharpness hold extremely well. The fill flash is also amazing and the 1 second exposure without a flash lends to some really great images in lowlight.

With a point and shoot, you begin to think more about the essentials to what make a good photograph, the photographic image itself. Henri Cartier-Bresson's negatives were terribly underexposed because he didn't care about every image being technically perfect as long as the photograph had a perfect image. Cartier-Bresson is arguably a much better photographer than Ansel Adams (I'm sorry but the amount of people who have your print in their downtown office building does not determine your greatness). When that 'decisive moment' does occur, I'd much rather have my instant point and shoot than fumble with exposure and focus and miss that moment. No, matter how good you are with an SLR, you'll never be faster than a point and shoot.

I've discovered that my subjects react differently to a point and shoot than to an SLR. It's nice to still see the face of the person photographing you and with my T4, I've gotten much more intimate portraits. There's just less of a barrier between you and the person you're photographing. I can carry my T4 everywhere, even to the beach where I wouldn't trust my Nikon. Sand has actually gotten into my T4 and I've been OK. I've run around in the rain in it, waded in pools with water inches below my camera, I've dropped the T4 on the ground once when I was drunk, and it still works like a charm. The unbelievably low price also allows me to not worry about it as much. I carry it around in my backpack or pocket without fear and literally have it everywhere I go. You never know when a perfect photographic moment can come. I actually own two T4s now so I can have two different slides films available at all times, an ASA 50 or 100 Fujichrome or Agfachrome for outdoor stuff, and a 200 ASA Kodachrome for indoor lighting... this way I don't have to run through a roll before switching films (I'll never be forced to use Velvia 50 inside in low light now).

I'll still use my SLR once in awhile but getting good at a point and shoot is what every photographer should learn how to do before they really consider themselves good. It just adds such a different level to their photography skills. I'm sure some of Nan Goldin's photographs that are hanging up in the Whitney right now or selling at Matthew Marks for thousand of dollars were taken with her T4. When you can take a museum-worthy photograph with a $150 point and shoot, that's when you know you're really good.

My two cents, Jeff

Jack Kratoville , July 23, 2000; 11:46 P.M.

Pretty heady stuff here, especially considering the subject of "point & shoot." For me, one of the great joys of photography is the ability to "capture and record" the moment. Something you can look back on a few years from now and enjoy.

Currently, I own a Pentax ZX-10, which takes great pictures for me. I recently purchased an Olympus Stylus Epic and have been both pleased and frustrated with the results. (In other words, still learning its capabilities and limitations.) But I learned basic photography on a "gasp" Olympus focus-free Trip MD camera (about 40 bucks in 1987). This was/is a true "point & shoot" camera.

Here's why: Because I didn't have to think about aperture and shutter speed, I learned how to compose a good photograph quickly. I learned how to balance subject with background. (Had to, DOF was 4 feet to infinity and background was ALWAYS a factor.) I learned about lighting and how to make the best use of the on-camera flash and other light sources. Most important, I learned what this basic camera wouldn't do and tried to figure out possible ways around it. Are these photos worthy of publication? Doubtfull, but I do enjoy looking at them immensely. Quality? I have to say, I had a couple blown up to 8X10 and they're quite sharp - even to the edge. But the one edge this camera has over the others, was the ability to pass it around to anyone in the room and get a decent framed (80%), focused (99%) picture. All I ever had to say was "just push the button."

Here's the best argument for a point and shoot I can think of, and it relates to Phil's MIT graduation "being there" theory. I went to a convention in New Orleans a few years back. During an off day, I went around with my Pentax SLR and took some beautiful shots of the city and surroundings. Later that night, I had the point & shoot in my pocket and had pictures taken at dinner with old friends, on Bourbon St. with colleagues I hadn't seen in years, heck - I even ran into my ex-wife and posed with her while someone snapped the moment! That camera was passed around while people were enjoying themselves and the pictures refect that.

Now when company comes over, I like to show off the photos of the city, but guess which ones I personally enjoy looking at more? Would those taken with the P&S have looked better had I used the SLR with the controls and better lense? - well, the one's I took early in the evening - probably. But the ones taken as the night went on, plus all the ones I'm in? - I really doubt it.

My point is, don't underestimate the uniqueness and allure of the snapshot. They capture great moments. And point and shoots capture great snapshots.

José Manuel Alvarez López , August 03, 2000; 04:24 A.M.

Hello! My experience with the P&S. Atention!!! I shot with print films.

I tried 6 Big Mini cameras (BM 202. The first camera of the Big Mini series) Metallic body.

First camera: Corners and side edges of the photogram (mainly the left one), completely fuzzy.

Second camera: 50% of the completely fuzzy photogram!!!

Third camera: idem!!!

Fourth camera: A little fuzzy side superior and wild corners of the photogram. More fuzzy to f. 3,5

Fifth and sixth camera: Lens: Very good of f.16 to f.5,6. Nevertheless, to f. 3.5 one slight fall of the sharpness from 15 mm of the photogram is appraised. Vignetting: Very slight. Distortion: Very sligth, in cushion. Exposure: Very good, CDS center weighted meter. Features: Very good: Flash Auto, Flash: Fill-in and Slow, (calibrated very well) Exposure compensation +1.5 and -1,5, Speed: 1/500 to 3.6 seconds (Excellent!!!). 25 to 3.600 ASA. I have proven the Kodak Ektar 25 ASA, brutal sharp!!! And also 1.600 Fuji ASA, contrasts very high, but good sharp!!!

Viewfinder: Good and clear. But does show a susceptibily to flare in extreme into-the-ligth... and the AF symbols cannot be watched... With less light the viewfinder is excellent.

I make extensions of my negatives up to 18 cm by 26 cm. The result is excellent. My friends are surprised. The maximum of extension has been 30 cm by 40 cm. The also very good result. With my Big Mini (BM 202) I have made photos in all the possible conditions and results excellents: in the high mountain, in the snow, in the beach, in the grottos and warehouses very little illuminated. Very good nocturnal photos. (Speed 3.6 seconds)

Big Mini (BM 302): Same problem with the optics that my four first Big Mini!!

I have tried 5 Olympus mju II (Stylus Epic) cameras: Apocalypse Now!!! Total disaster!!!!

The first camera (Made in Japan!!!): excellent lens, but to f.2,8 slight but appreciable loss of sharp in the corners. Accurately AF. Accurately exposure. But him lack EV +1.5 and -1.5, The camara spoiled to the 30 days to use it!!!!

Second camera: Horrible lens!!! (Parts Made in Japan, Assembled in Honk Kong!!!!)

Third camera: More horrible lens!!! Defective AF. (Parts Made in Japan, Assembled in Honk Kong!!!)

Fourth camera: When I extracted it of the box and I put the battery to him, it did not work correctly!!! Impossible to prove it!!!! (Made Parts in Japan, Assembled in Honk Kong!!!)

Fifth camera!!!!: (Too Parts Made in Japan, Assembled in Honk Kong) Good optics (Not as good as the first Made in Japan) But AF vague. I to sell my Olympus mju II to a person less demanding than I.

Pentax Mini Espio (UC1). Two proven cameras. No found problems. Viewfinder: Extraordinary, the best one of all the A & P!!! Lens: Very good. Nevertheless, to f. 3.5 one slight fall of the sharp in the corners and edges; and also in the central inferior part (!). Versatility: Good, although not as much as the Mini Big (BM 202)

Yashica T4. 20% of the photogram of the straight diffuse side!!!!

Konica A4. (Second-hand, but new) I to buy by 22.5$. Good optical of f.16 to f.8-5,6 but to 3,5 mediocre: one slight fall of the sharp in all the photogram. Versatility: Normal. The Konica A4 is a "prototype" of the Big Mini(BM 202). The Mini Big, is far better.

Leica Mini III: Impossible to prove it, the AF did not work...

Zeiss Lomo LC1: Three bought cameras. The three spoiled in a year... Made in Est Contry: crap!!!

Olympus, mju -1 (Stylus USA) (first mju series). Serious problems of sharp in the edges of the photogram. 30% to each side of the blurred photogram!!!

Olympus XA with unit of Flash A11. I to buy used to 58$. Excellent, robust, very good features, in many aspects the best one of all. The very good optics in all the diaphragms. But of f.2,8 to f.5,6, very appreciably vignetting. The cause is the design of the objective: invested retrofocus. Of the best thing of years ' 80.

I have been continuing using my old Big Mini (BM 202) for 8 years!!! No problems. And my brother also has a Big Mini (BM 202) and he is amazed.

I to be crazy if I want to obtain the same optical quality with a A&P that with a good optics SLR. (Nikkor, Canon, Zeiss, Leica, etc.) Only good optics SLR, is worth 2 or 3 times more than a Mini Big, or T4, or a Olympus mju II, It is impossible!!! If your you obtain equal quality with P & S that with a SLR (Nikkor, Canon, etc.), you must to bomb the factory of Nikkor, Canon, etc.!!!

The manufacturers of cameras P & S, design very well their cameras of the high range. With good specifications, but when they make the cameras, they forget to maintain the quality of his products!!! We are deceived by the manufacturers!!! The quality level of its products is discontinuous. If you have luck when to buy P & S, you can be very happy, but if you do not have luck when buying your P & S, you are very displeased and you have many frustrations.

I have wanted to be brief. I have more information of other simpler cameras: Super Olympus AF 10 Super, Canon AF 7, Rollei Prego 35-70...

Thank you very much and I wait for your answers. Excuse me, my English is very much deficient.

Jose M. A. L. (Spain)

Neil Cooke , December 20, 2000; 07:19 A.M.

I've just discovered this site but have owned a T4 since 1996 when my local camera shop recommended it for size & image quality.

I am umcomfortable though with the "buy a T4 or else!" sentiment I infer from this page. A person makes a picture, the camera just follows instructions! The T4 has a great lens....and that's it.

I've come to the following conclusions based on my pictures with the T4:

1) The lens produces sharp and detailed images(with exceptions - see 2&3) - better than zoom P&S. Sometimes the images are breathtaking.

2) The exposure system is not very smart or directional. For example, Landscape/building shots can appear underexposed due to a bright sky.

3) Frequently, say 5 pictures in every 36, the Autofocus system fails to lock onto the foreground images

4) The Fill in flash has a limited range - group portraits only work when there are 2 or 3 people close to the camera.

5) Film winding mechanism is dodgy in extreme humid conditions - fails to wind on after taking a picture, or catch on when loading new film.

Summary: It's a great camera for image quality but, lens aside, is cheap and cheerful with regards to everything else - and when one element fails (i.e. exposure) so does the picture!

Finally, I feel spoilt by the Zeiss lens and unable to sacrifice this quality for more the creativity that an SLR would give me on my limited budget (£400ish).

Jeff Warner , March 08, 2001; 01:51 A.M.

As several people have pointed out, P&S cameras have their own advantages that make them a tool that every photographer should possess. I have several cameras ranging from a Mamiya M645-1000s and Canon F-1N, to a Nikon Coolpix 990 and Pentax Zoom 90-WR. Of the five photographs that I've chosen to upload to Photo.net to date (I'm a relaitvely new user), it turns out that two of them were shot with the Pentax! I simply wouldn't have gotten the shot without it, because there are so many circumstances where I refuse to lug around a big rig.

Photography is so much more than Zeiss lenses and rock-solid tripods supporting 8-by-whatever cameras that cost enough to feed a family in India for three years. It's all about the image, and the vision one utilizes to produce that image.

Just as someone who actually goes out and *rides* a bike a lot can jump on a garage hoopty beater-bike and beat the pants off the neighbor down the block with the $5K titanium wonder bike, anyone can produce an image of worth with practically any camera/film/format. Just take a look at the pinhole camera section...

Cheers!

Jeffrey B , April 19, 2001; 07:13 P.M.

If you are looking for a great quality P&S at a decent price, I recommend the Minolta Explorer Freedom Zoom. Yes, I have seen a few comments about its reliability but I have experienced none of that. I bought my Minolta 2 years ago and it has given me some great pictures. I have found that using a tripod produces excellent pictures as well as also using the prefocus. I wouldn't trade my little Minolta for any other P&S at this point. Jeffrey from Nashville

John Carter , April 20, 2001; 08:48 A.M.

On Phil's "a good roll is 35 bad shots of the same subject and 1 good one" idea....

Digital P&S is ideal for this.

With my Fuji Finepix 2400 and a 32 Mb card I can waste 70 something hires shots and not spend a cent.

Where this pays huge dividends is in family shots. You simply cannot compose great shots of kids. You have to take them when and where they happen.

P&S is great for that in that your grab camera, set up and shoot time is minimal. Digital is great because you can point and shoot and not cry over the waste when the kid suddenly runs out of frame between the press and the click.

Besides, do you really want that hugely expensive SLR anywhere near mud coated, sugar encrusted, water flinging, tantrum throwing littles?

Even just for pure experimentation, the digital is fun.

Simon Mackay , June 25, 2001; 11:11 A.M.

I have mainly taken pictures with point-shoot cameras (whether using 35mm, APS or digital; and whether equipped with a zoom lens or not) and I find that you cannot just "point and shoot" your pictures. When I take pictures with these cameras, I make each shot a four-stage shot. First I make a "rough composotion" of what I want to capture. This is when I would operate the zoom control and, if using an APS camera or other "multi-aspect-ratio" camera, decide what aspect ratio suits the image I want to capture. Then I make sure that one of the key features is in the centre of the viewfinder. At this point, I then press the shutter release halfway and make sure that the "ready" lamp glows. Then I revert back to my original composition to finally take the picture.

Some people think that using anything other than an SLR with total manual control offends creativity and "proper technique". But these compact cameras encourage users to concentrate on what they are to photograph, rather than spending time fiddling with the camera.

There was also a time when I attended a wedding and took plenty of pictures with my Canon SureShot Zoom S compact camera. One of the shots that I thought about setting up was one of the bride about to climb into the wedding car (a mid-1970s Jaguar)after the ceremony. The professional photographer who was hired for this job didn't think about this as a possible wedding shot. But I organized the shot and he and I took it on our equipment. Later on, after the big day, I had the negatives from the wedding scanned to Photo CD and showed what I took of the wedding to the bride and I didn't realise that she was totally dissatisfied with the pictures taken by the professional photographer. She realised that I had some of the best pictures and I organised reprints of those pictures. Another good example was the one that I took of the "giving away the bride" procession with her with her father. She preferred my shot over the "official" shot; and I printed this shot off the Photo CD master using my computer and printer.

Lyndon Guy , July 18, 2001; 10:26 A.M.

I agree with Mr. Carter's comment regarding the digital P&S and would like to point out that a digital P&S can also be a wonderful tool for teaching photography. I bought A Fuji 2400 for my 13 year old daughter who has been interested in photography for several years. Digital gives her immediate feedback,approximately the same set of constraints and features as a film-based camera and virtually unlimited resources for experimentation at an amortized price of pennies a shot.

We can do "assignments" together, each using our own camera, and compare results on-the-spot, to see what worked and what didn't and in many cases, reshoot immediately to emphasize the point. This appears to be a very effective method. We both learn a lot.

Dave Hands , August 12, 2001; 05:36 P.M.

Well thats done it! I had to make a choice between taking my 1959 Praktica IV SLR (and limited experience) my Fuji digital or purchase a P&S for my Holiday to the Dominican Rep next week. I felt I had to go with the Yashica T5 after the positive feed back from a considerable knowledge base(you lot!).I'm taking 200 film and I'm looking foward to grabing some great moments in time. I've decided not to take my Fuji digital camera for the simple reason that I seem to edit too many pictures out. I want lots of memories of this trip rather than a few well composed ones.

Tony Samples , November 23, 2001; 01:43 A.M.

One of the most important concepts to remember with P/S, rangefinder and SLR cameras is that each lens has its own personality. I have a Yashica FX-103 SLR with three lenses, a Yashica MG-1 rangefinder with a fixed 45mm lens, a Canonet QL-19 with a fixed 45mm and an Olympus Accura with a 35-70mm zoom. I also have used several versions of Canon Sureshots and a couple of digitals. The sharpness varies much less than the overall color tone and esoteric "feel" of the images each produces and each lens' personality is consistent over the long haul. To sum it up, I say don't waste any time and energy quibbling over which format is best (a subjective term anyway) and use them all!!! I think most serious amatuers would find a depth and richness to their hobby that would never be there without experimenting with different cameras and most importantly different lenses.

I love the advice in this article. To add my own bit to the piece, I'd have to say, when using a point and shoot, treat it as though you're holding a Leica. Think before you shoot. Overthink until great composition and desired effects become second nature to your technique. Above all, enjoy it and develop a wide array of styles. I'm glad I did.

Peter Tower , December 31, 2001; 12:19 P.M.

Bit the bullet, bought a yashica T4 super through the classifieds here. $130 from Toronto, brand new in box with warranty. Dis-satisfied with the puny flash, although I do like all the flash options. Bought a Konica flash bracket with built-in sensor, specifically designed for point and shoot cameras. Best $30 I have ever spent, also through these classifieds. Went to Washington DC and spent the day at the Air and Space Museum and burned 11 rolls of film between my new point and shoot and my old Canon AE1-Program with a 50mm lens (vs the 35mm on the Yashica). Used the same flash for both cameras. On the point and shoot bracket, the upright hot shoe portion is placed slightly ahead of the front of the camera so that the built in sensor facing the side of the camera can tell when the on camera flash goes off and then fires the main flash. (Vivitar 285). On the Canon set up, I have an old Roberts bracket (also bought here) which places the flash in approximately the same position relative to the lens but I used a sync cord with that. I had to guess on what to set the 285 flash on using 400 ASA film on the Yashica T4 Super. (Yeah, I know, but it's a big space with lots of stuff, and it's not for their magazine, but my trip album) So, I set the flash on Red, which gave me the equivalent f4 and about 30 feet or so, plus whatever the P&S flash added. They don't allow tripods anymore, so I had my improvised monopod which is eyebolts screwed into the tripod sockets of the brackets with nylon rope attached, dangling down about 6 feet, and then I step on the end, marked with a black stripe, pull up to tension it, adjust the height of the viewfinder and get a nice, steady picture. Albeit some very strange looks and an occasional inquiry as to why. I think you will see more of these around, maybe... (God, he do go on don't he?) Bottom line, I shot several pictures with and without main flash on the point and shoot. These were not bounced, but direct! The difference was astonishing. I shot a panoply of large aircraft that hang in the main hall, using only the on-camera flash and with the automatic backlight compensation working perfectly (I was shooting against a 50'x200' window in sunlight), I got some crystal clear, dark outlines with some detail from the closest plane, a Ford Tri-Motor. You could see the propeller, but not much detail on the fuselage. Then I used the big flash on the bracket with the point and shoot. You could see every detail of the fuselage, the front engine, the landing gear, also the nose of the plane 30 feet behind was perfectly visible and the colors and some of the detail of the others, 50+ feet away were also visible. Then I shot another pair of an X-15 rocket plane with the Wright Brother's Flyer framed under it's wing. The nozzle of the X-15 was approximately 8 feet from the camera. Without add flash, the rocket plane was perfectly exposed, but the Flyer was a little dim. With added flash, the X-15 tail section was over-exposed, the Flyer was perfectly crisp and clear. Some thoughts: My Vivitar is a semi-manual flash, not TTL If you are going to use a manual flash, try to find out what the largest opening would be for your point and shoot when using flash. Since the Yashica has a f3.5 lens, f4 on the flash would match OK, provided you were going to illuminate further than 15-30 feet or more. Point and shoots tend to open their lenses as wide as possible and control the exposure through shutter speed, the print film can handle the added light just fine. The offset of the supplementary flash also tends to eliminate some of the shadows caused by the on-camera main flash. The entire set up is easy to hold, but looks strange, since my flash is heavier and bigger than the actual camera. I love the T4 Super! Pain in the ass trigger sensitivity, that can be mastered with some training, crystal clear images, edge to edge, I have not noticed any vignetting. Hate the lens racking, focusing and shutter trip delay, but, again, training helps (and my step on monopod. The AE1-Program took superb pictures, as expected, I have used it for 20 years, but considering the weight and the bulk, I will be using my T4 for most of my vacation stuff and light shooting duties. The slave flash bracket, judicious use of the flash, based on your distances and the ease of the T4 focusing has made a believer out of me. If you want to take superb group shots with natural color and none of the startled deer look, try using this type of fill flash to bounce off a white ceiling. My new sister in law preferred my candid pictures to the pro with the high bracket and Mamiya camera, although not in all instances, to be honest. (Why he didn't bounce and fill, I don't know)

Mark Atwell , February 11, 2002; 03:38 P.M.

I use a 5 yr old Olympus Stylus and love the results but I've found that these cameras can take terrible pics if you don't Think. Since P&S cameras are marketed to the simpletons among us I came up with a nice acronym (no Thinking involved) to help my spouse shoot the occasional picture of the primary household photog (ME). I call it the "Three F's". One, set the Flash (usually OFF or Fill). Two, Focus the camera by pointing it EXACTLY where you want it to focus then push halfway. Three, Frame the shot and shoot it. (I could probably add a fourth F, as in FILL UP the FRAME if you're shooting FOLKs) The 3F's seem to work well for my 5 year old son too. Teach your friends the 3F's and they'll take better pics of YOU...

David Bindle , February 14, 2002; 09:45 A.M.

I had a Yashica T4 super for about 4 years. Yes it was compact, weather proof, and fairly accurate with AF and AE. I sold it, and bought a Olympus 35SPn with a Zuiko 7 element 42mm 1.7 lens. Sweet. This is a much slower camera to operate (manual focus). Although it does do AE, I bought it to use it mainly in manual mode, spot meter, and of course MF. It is one tough (metal) camera. Very, very versatile... it slows me down and makes me think more about where I meter and what pinpoint I want to focus on. My Hexar gives me the best of both worlds... P&S and total manual. But I've been toying with the Olympus more lately and it's a gas. The flash system uses incorporates GN and distance automatically therefore really accurate flash exposure (with ISO 100... anything else and don't forget to change the guide no on the lens setting accordingly) Add to the mix a cheap mechanical cable release, no AF focus resetting between pictures, and almost no lag time between shutter release and firing, and flash sync to 1/500 and ability to use hot shoe or PC cord studio flash. I guess I was lucky... the SPn that I have is the last model produced... pristine condition, with everready case also in pristine condition and a new mecury battery and a great flash to boot. I miss the waistlevel finder of the T4 super though...

Dwight Looi , May 30, 2002; 12:02 A.M.

I mourn the departure of the Yashica T4 Super (aka T5 in some markets). That in my honest opinion is the finest compact ever made regardless of price. It has a great lens on par with the new Nikon pancake 45/2.8 Zeiss clone, it is actively focused, simple, has a relatively speedy 1/700 sec shutter, has sufficient features to cover most P&S photography needs, the look down scope is useful too, its reasonably small and its cheap. Sadly, Kyocera has seen it fit to discontinue the Yashica T4 Super and retire the T-series (which apart from the big, obtrusive T3 with its 35/2.8 Tessar packed the classic 35/3.5 Zeiss Tessar) family probably for good.

Now the only thing is available from Kyocera is the much more expensive and in my opinion inferior Contax T3 (because its passively focused). I think its a big mistake, for the T-series of Yashica P&S cameras was what makes Yashica look and sound respectable and desirable.

I have a T4 super and I hope it doesn't break anytime soon!

Wee Keng_Hor , July 02, 2002; 11:41 A.M.

Stylus & T5 Exposure Comparison
Stylus overexposes while T5 is right on. Thus the T5 appeared to be more contrasty.
Ricoh GR1s and the Leica Minilux Zoom are really excellent, exceeding T5 and Stylus.
I'm yet undecided on the T3. Yes, I've heard all the raves about its excellent lens performance. However, since it is so expensive, I've wouldn't really dare to bring it along to wet places, leave it in the car, keep it in my sweaty shirt and pants. The Stylus will be my go-everywhere-camera since it is sooo light and small and doesn't cost much to replace if it were lost, stolen or spoilt.

Photo Larry , July 25, 2002; 05:58 P.M.

I am a new photographer and own a Nikon 775. I totally agree with Phil about how the P&S cameras focus on the center object. It makes its predetermined exposure settings based on it. It can be tricky getting the camera to produce what you desire. But with some practice, depending on lighting situations, my camera has produced some very good results. Another tip I learned about using the flash (on my camera), only use the flash if your subject is within a few feet of you and the lighting is extremely dark. If there is enough light, manually turn off the flash. Most cameras can be too sensitive. An example is in a nightclub. It is hazy and dark...but if a few feet from your subject, it produces enough light for a terrific photo. Hope this helps others.

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Ben Rubinstein - Manchester UK , August 19, 2002; 04:25 P.M.

As a photo lab owner I HATE STREET NAME BRAND P&S CAMERAS. For the poor naive families out there who spend a fortune on the latest fancy looking P&S cameras, who haven't heard of contak, rollei or yashica, these cameras are a nightmare. The poor guy on the street doesn't know that his camera is slow speed to start with and will slow down at twilight to less than 1/30 causing horrible shake. He doesn't know that his flash will either burn or shadow badly the subject and that it isn't effective anyway after 3-4 yards max. Another thing, proffesionals know about adjusting their shutter speed to compensate for shake when zooming, professionals know about zooming a flash. How many complaints have I got about blurry dark pictures taken of a show where the stage appears so close but the picture is so bad. I would love to reccomend to everyone that they should use 400 ASA but half the P&S cameras out there don't compensate sufficiently in bright sunlight and kodak 400 is too grainy in my opinion when used on cheap p&s's. Now for quality, I sell the things, the fixed lenses arn't too bad but the zooms will not survive even the slightest knocks, I'm getting fed up of sending them back for repair. The Nikon P&S's are awful, I've never got a decent set of results from them, they break so easily, they're not sharp and the exposure is terrible. When I have proffesionals or at least older people coming in then suddenly the pictures come out beautifully. Way back then people knew about exposure, framing, light, etc. Now it's all automatic - automatically bad! Did you ever hear a manufacturer offer the advice given above, to never use the built in flash?? I hate it, time and time again I've seen the bad pictures, seen the disappointment, had to take back pictures, been shouted at, all because the manufacturers have said that the camera is fully automatic. Maybe digital will solve it, when they see what the picture looks like at the time they take it then they will take more care of lighting, framing and composition. Ironic isn't it, with the new technology people will go back to learning the old standards!

Guys, don't get me wrong, in the hands of someone who knows how a p&s is great. i've seen incredible stuff from disposables. My point is that the average punter in the street doesn't know and probably doesn't understand that a fully automatic camera doesn't mean fully automatic great pics, it's a shame thats they have been conned thats all.

Sigit Mursidi , August 22, 2002; 10:09 P.M.

I agree. I recently bought a P&S, but I am a regular user of camera for at least twenty years. I chose a Rolle1 35 AFM because is light, has a great lens (38, f:2.6, four element in four group ), and has an autofocus. The price is rather high for a P&S ($550), but I decided to treat myself. We went to a family holiday and the pictures that I got is so great I almost weep! The pictures that I took are at least 80% showable, colors and shapes are brutally sharp. The battery stay after 10 rolls of film or more (even with fill flash).

I have a digital camera as well, but my personal preference is film, because I like the framing, anticipation, recollection of the memory, and "Voila! - The great pictures." Use the camera realizing its limitation and you will not be disappointed. After several brands, this time I have to thank Rollei for making such a jewel camera. I never regretted spending my hard-earn money on this.

Sigit

Andrew Yue , November 09, 2002; 11:03 P.M.

I've been there done that with a point and shoot 35mm. I recommend staying away from the general purpose zooms. In all but full daylight they automatically select a slow shutter speed, which requires the camera to be held very still. The single focal length 28mm and 35mm lens offer better performance in low light.

In my opinion, the average point and shoot made today promises too much. I for one have gone retro with an Olympus 35 SP rangefinder, for when I want a superb photo, a smaller Olympus 35 RC rangefinder, for convenience and a pocketable Rollei 35 TE, for when I want the camera to be totally unobtrusive. To be honest except for the zoom, I haven't misssed the point and shoots at all. To top it off, all three were under a $100 at auction.

The upside to the above classic 35mm cameras is they will fit in a belt pouch, take a variety of filters and one can choose there own flash unit. Another benefit is there superior optics. Since they are mechanically operated, rather than electronically controlled, they will continue to function, sans a light meter, even without a battery. The downside is a typical mechanical camera could use a good CLA service, which will equal the cost of the camera.

A sound mind over technology sounds better than mindless technolgy.

Jim Bullock , November 23, 2002; 01:16 A.M.


Yashica T4 Zoom with Kodak shade

One limitation with P& S is flare when you shoot more "up-sun". I just made a lens shade by cutting a Kodak 35 mm film can. About 1/2" of it slips nicly onto the lens of my T4 zoom and C1.

Jim Bullock

Jim Bullock , March 08, 2003; 02:23 P.M.

My last vacation was in Greece. Wonderful place and very photogenic. We are going back and I decided to upgrade my cameras. My SLR rig is too heavy, so I bought my wife and myself a pair of quality zoom P&S cameras - a T4Zoom and a Leica CL1.

My initial impression is that the Leica over exposes about one stop, but that is no problem with ASA 400 print film. The T4Zoon was weak flash.

Recently, thanks to E-Bay, I picked up a Rollei 35 LE, a Canon MC and a Minox EL. All feature fixed length f 2.8 lenses of 35mm to 40mm.

The Canon can be purchased for less than $30. It is a true P & S. It was an expensive camera in its day. The Minox is auto-exposure and guess focus. I paid $60 for this very light and super quiet camera. Like the Canon, you can control exposure by changing the ASA setting. The Rollei is the heaviest, manual control of focus and exposure, but has an built-in meter system. It works just fine with a dead battery.

My nagging concern has been that a zoom lens will produce a less satisfactory image that a quality fixed lens. My logic tells me that it might take a lab analysis to actually "see" the difference and the zoom has the advantage of being able to better fill the frame.

Then I started to worry about film. The zoom lenses are slow, so ASA 400 is required whereas I have always used ASA 100 in my old fixed P & S. Would ASA 400 in a zoom lens add together two negative factors and then make the fixed lens with ASA 100 a clearly better camera?

A consumer test was called for. I selected 10 different picture opportunities inside and outside the house that would allow me to compare lens and film colour & sharpness. I used Kodak Max 400 and Fuji Superia 400 in the Minox EL and the T4Zoom.

The procedure was to shoot 10 pictures with the Minox and then manually re-wind the film until I heard the sound of the film releasing from the take-up spool. The film was then loaded into the T4 Zoom and advanced to picture 12 with the lens covered. I used the infinity mode with flash off to stop the flash and auto focus.

The film was processed by Costco and the 5 X 7 prints were each labeled on the back with camera and film used.

A series of picture-to-picture comparisons were charted. By comparing the same scene shot with only one film, it was easy to compare the two cameras. By comparing pictures shot with a single camera, it was easy to compare film results.

I thought that I would be able to go through the stack of prints and visually select the fixed lens over the zoom. Not so. I selected about 40% of the pictures as being better with the zoom. Same with the film. About 40% of the pictures were better with Kodak. My conclusion was I will use Fuji film, because it was slightly better, but would not hesitate to take advantage of the Zoom lens camera.

Today I shot another test. I used 36-exposure film and shot three cameras on each roll. A Rollei 35, a Canon MC and a Leica CL1. I used the Fuji Superia 400, the Konica VX 400 and Agfa Vista 100.

The test results will help me decided between Konica and Fuji 400 film and give me some test results to compare my two zoom cameras and three fixed lens cameras.

If I was just trying to compare the lenses, I would shoot the 10 pictures with slide film and then compare the slides with lots of magnification. I might still do that. My interest was in testing the cameras for what they will be used for - shooting negative film for 5 x 7's.

Bill Bryant , September 28, 2003; 08:44 P.M.

I recently purchased a Rollei AFM 35. Sturdy magnesium/aluminum alloy body, razor-sharp 2.6 38mm tessar-type lens with an aspherical element for superb color correction, aperture priority, 1/4" tripod mount, manual focus, passive auto focus, fill flash, bright viewfinder, bulb, self-timer, red-eye on/off, programable exposure bracketing, etc.

A very nice tool for a serious photographer who wants to always have something in his pocket. The 2.6 38mm lens has the limitations of its type, but my experience so far is that if the right lens is a 2.6 38mm you can't get a better picture with anything on the market. This little lens is good.

Of course if you need an 80mm or 28mm or something else to get the perspective you're after, the AFM 35 will disappoint. But, well, I wish I knew how to post some of the shots I'm taking.

Oh, and these jewels are selling now (Sept. 03) for under $300 US. A bargain IMO.

Dean G , April 27, 2004; 04:32 P.M.

Wow what a long lasting thread. What, like from '99 to sept 2003? Can't imagine anyone is still reading this, but just in case.. I don't know if anyone else has come back to PS film from this angle, but I went from MF to 35mm then onto the digital journey, now 5 digicams and about that many years later I'm using a canon 10D dSLR, and I've had an S230 digital elph for my P&S pocket camera. The 10D image quality has spoiled me for the elph, and so I just got a film P&S again! My idea being that scanned to CD, I've got the resolution (or more) and potential image quality on par with the 10D from a pocket sized camera, that I can use in the rain to boot. "Re-purposed" in this way, perhaps these little film cameras will prove more resilient than their film SLR cousins. Got a refurbed Olympus LT 105 zoom instead of my long lost stylus epic. Truly elegant design and operation, inexpensive in the extreme, and a lot of fun to use. Around and around it goes.

Andrew Marritt , July 30, 2004; 01:25 P.M.

Dean's comments are interesting. I am also the proud owner of a EOS 10D, in my case on almost permanent linkage to a 28-70 f2.8 L lens. Without doubt a lovely camera but far to big to be discrete.

Preparing for a recent trip to Latin America I wanted something smaller & less obvious. I also had a look at the digital P&S but realised quickly that none would have the quality of my wife's Contax T2 (truly great little camera).

In the end I went midway and picked up a Contax G2 kit (the images are so much better than the Canon.) However, there is no question - if I didn't have access (albeit limited) to the T2 I would have gone down that route.

If I am going to a sports event I will take the Canon (I see a 70-200 coming soon). Otherwise it will be one of the Contax's.

the best thing about the T2 is that it can fit in the pocket so can be always at hand.

Alex Hosking , March 12, 2006; 01:45 P.M.

It might be small, but sometimes I swear my SLR is easier, for street photography, It?s a really nice camera when it comes to image quality but it infuriates me especially when it fire the flash when I am trying to be discrete, or if it shoots wide open at 1/250th rather than F/4 1/125th etc.

People often say the Stylus Epic should not be criticized for its lack of control, I have to disagree, for a start the original Stylus was popular with enthusiasts I would have thought they would have taken this into account, I don?t think it would confuse and photographic air heads as long as it defaulted to Auto mode, I think Olympus may have under estimated the cameras appeal, hope over to Photography Review and it has more review than any other camera. I have a Digital P&S that has the full PASM. It?s so annoying, the lens is there inside that tiny body, its just that most of the time it wont do what I want it to, :( waste of a good camera.

So any way, I am looking for a very small camera with aperture priority. Trouble is I don?t think there is a modern tiny film camera along the size of the Stylus Epic that does have manual controls, All I can think of it the XA, I already have an XA2 its OK on its own but its old and has to have an external flash, ad the flash and it feels like a brick compared to a modern camera, and do I really have to turn the clock back 25 years to get what I want? I would not be so botherd if it were not for the fact that I cannot see an alternative.

Cheri Perry , October 23, 2006; 10:26 P.M.

With out reading thru all of these comments, does anyone have an Olympus C-60Zoom? I have one and totally like it. I am a new photographer and it works delightful for me. EXCEPT!!! I can not buy filters for it. It doesn not have the option for add on filters. I was wondering if anyone else has run into this with this camera Or any similar and what they do about it.. For instance, I really want a poloraizer. But ...Someone suggested I buy a filter that is larger than my lens and hold it over it. I was also wondering if there is such thing as small filters (ie: special papers) that I could make to hold over it? I think that woudl be ideal, but I'm not sure what papers would work or if there are such things. I guess I could go to the local shop, but I can't/don't get out much due to disablility so I depend on you guys to help me out first...LOL Help woudl be greatly appreciated if anyone has some, please feel free to email it to me or leave it on my portfolio, whatever works. Thak you so much in advance.

Cheri cheriperry

Andrew Goldman , January 25, 2007; 07:44 P.M.

I just have to say I strongly disagree with the statement that you need to take 50 shots to get one good one. I was told something similar when I was young and it just wrong, better shots come from more analyzing and less pressing! My advice is to spend the time moving around your subject, looking at the screen and saying to yourself how can I move to make this shot better. When you are finally convinced that you can't make the shot any better by moving then hold your breath, hold your camera as steady as you can press gently. Check your image the 4 or 8 second replay is not enough set your camera to play and study the image you just took, is there a way to make it better? If "yes" get to it, if no, start looking for the next shot. With people yes, you need to take a few shots but here I have a couple of suggestions too, set up your shot as described above, then when you have it, move your head away from the camera without moving the camera. Look your subject in the eyes and perhaps smile at them (if you want them to smile back), when you have eye contact and everything looks great click it! OK, now to groups. Choose your background and figure out where you are going to be. Then set up the group to be shot and here is the secret... Tell them all to close their eyes and open them and look at the camera when you say "Open", now you count backwards "three, two, one, Open." Do not click at the same time as you say Open, wait about two seconds and you will have a picture with all the eyes open and looking at you and no tongues sticking out! My images can be seen at www.circus.org almost all the images I have posted on the web were made with point and shoots.

Shawn Hinskey , March 14, 2007; 10:12 A.M.

PLEASE HELP!!!! Ok, so Im a little new to all of this. I used to do live concert photography and band promo shots with a high dollar 35mm camera. I no longer have that camera. I have an SLR like point and shoot. I have a Minolta Z6. It is a 6mp with a 12x optical zoom and Auto and ISO 50,100, 200, and 320 equivalents. I am looking to do entry level studio portriats. Im looking to get backgrounds and lighting. I would also be doing photography for local events like American Cancer Society, etc. Was wanting to get some feedback ASAP as to if you think this camera is good enough to do all of this. I dont have the money right now to upgrade to SLR, but from what I have seen so far from this camera....I think with practice it can perform just as well as low end SLR's. My BIG worry is would it be ok to use for studio portriats. Please help!!!

Qadir Sherif , November 09, 2007; 10:34 P.M.

It is really an irony of fate with the art of photography that in most sites and forums the art of photography, under its own caption, is replaced by a debate on camera thus becomes a commercial for different brands of camera. Camera is a tool not the tale.   The man behind the camera and the skill that he/she creates the image with is basically ignored.   No doubt that a good tool is of paramount importance in delivery yet the person behind it is even more important.  When it comes to Mona Lisa it implies the skill and virtue of Leonardo nor the brush and the material he used.  When it comes to the camera, I understand, any camera that may have the mechanism to deliver more bit depth is the better.   The quality of image, I believe, depends upon the bit depth of the image that comes from a camera in-put that supports more than 8 bits (1 byte) in single channel and more than 24 bits (3 bytes) in three channels of RGB.   Even if we calculate 256 shade of different colours in three channels, it equals (256x256x256=16 777216 ) or say 16.77 million colours as normally we hear.   In resolution we normally get bigger dimension not depth.  Commonly we take the resolution as depth not dimension.   Is it not so? Which camera can deliver more than 8 bits in single channel and more than 24 bits in 3 channels (RGB) is the question deserving appropriate answer? It would be nice if some one add more information on it as the best tool.  

Nevertheless the art of photography, in my opinion, should be discussed in the perspective of art itself not the camera. The camera should be placed in its own forum especially not under the Title of learning Photography. Hope it may make a sense. I would like to add a portrait which was taken with a common Camera in B/W but I added colour in post processing of changing the background alone as a demonstration of skill and quality.

Qadir Sherif , November 09, 2007; 10:36 P.M.

What I observe as a flaw especially in this site is the focus on the film photography that, I think, is obsolete now and instead digital photography with a greater dimension is in place.  Almost the majority, if not all, of the learning articles on this site and as well as on the others are contemplating on the film camera and process thereon.  The question of true colour and 16.77 million colours were rare in the past especially in film photography while it is a prevailing reality at the present time. The quality of image, I believe, depends upon the bit depth of the image that comes from a camera in-put that supports more than 8 bits (1 byte) in single channel and more than 24 bits (3 bytes) in three channels of RGB.   Even if we calculate 256 shade of different colours in three channels, it equals (256x256x256=16 777216 ) or say 16.77 million colours as normally we hear.  Things are not staying here and are ascending beyond.  This is only practicable in digital photography alone.   Now it is the prime time that we should understand and learn the mechanism and technicalities of digital world of photography that leads this art in future.   I believe that the forum may focus on the new ways and step forward.  

I added two images of film taken with a very famous Rollie and common digital Canon just to show the contrast/difference in between the most high class film camera of the time and a common digital camera.   Hope it may make a sense.  

The images above demonstrate a clear difference in between the film and digital photography

Jordan G. , January 25, 2008; 02:02 A.M.

I've found the Minolta tc-1 to be the ultimate tiny camera. To me, the best features are the negligible (comparable to a Leica M3) shutter delay once pre-focussed, the tiny size, and the sharp, 28mm lens as well as the spot metering and exposure lock function. Great camera!

Vineet Jacob Kuruvilla , February 02, 2008; 03:33 A.M.

i loved the article...it was really helpful.

i wanted to know whether canon powershot A420 is a good enough camera?

JOYCE JOHNSON , March 15, 2008; 12:33 P.M.

I feel so much better since I read this!!! I have just recently started taking pictures, and I find that I have to take almost a hundred pics of my subject to finally get a good take. At least now I dont feel like such a goof! THANK YOU!!!!

Tao-ming Lin , April 02, 2008; 02:57 A.M.

It's kind of strange reading the comments from almost a decade ago on this thread. I shoot with a point-and-shoot Canon all the time, because it's always with me, and I don't always have my 20D with me. However, there is such a thing as shooting too much. I have to control myself, evaluate my shots, and even censor myself from taking too many shots of the same thing or just taking bad, useless shots. What's worse, the more I learn about Photoshop the more I think, "I can fix this," which leads to even more useless shots if I let it get out of hand. I think there is a stage when you need to shoot a lot to get used to it, but as the old ones said, nothing in excess.

Levy Fulop , August 02, 2008; 08:14 A.M.

Great Article

First, Congratulation for the great article.

I`m using DMC-FZ8 and I`m more than satisfied with it. I agree very much with many things said in the article. Many of my friends using DLSRs are quite jealous because I get better shots then them with less trouble.


I even can give an example that YES, you can get some pretty nice pictures with a good P&S camera these days. I managed to get 1 very sharp and steady shot from a series of 14 blur and this is what I care about. Keep experimenting.

Please take a look as a life example and comment on it if you like:





Best details viewed in LARGE by clicking on the image and select size medium or large.

pradeep gill , December 03, 2008; 11:40 A.M.

i do agree about the topic that todays' p&s have some incredible capacity for the macros.. really awesome... and good contrast..

David Lewis , January 12, 2009; 06:38 P.M.

A good point and shoot article and I really enjoyed it.

David

Stringbean - , January 21, 2009; 01:56 P.M.

hi. i'm very pleased with my p+s olympus c-765 camera that i bought nearly 3 1/2 years ago. I love the 10x optical zoom on it, but it is only a 4 megapixel camera, and does not allow for more that a 5x7 image.

i was about to buy another p+s (the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ28 Digital Camera) which has 10.1megapixels and an 18x optical zoom, however, i am told by some editorial photographers the p+s camera photos won't be taken seriously by professionals, like art directors, magazine publishers. so i began looking at slr cameras, but anything i saw with a 10x optical zoom is over $2,000.00 and too expensive for me.

so my question is, if someone likes your photos, and wants to purchase the images, what does it matter that you used a p+s camera? i'm not talking about being hired by an ad agency or magazine when they send you out on a shoot, i'm talking about selling images you already took on a p+s or an old, traditional consumer camera such as a minolta srt201 w/a 50mm lens(which also takes great photos).

it seems to me there's always a ton of people who wish to thumb their nose at you for having or using something for which they deem is not "professional grade or up to snuff".

Ronilo Jasareno , January 22, 2009; 07:09 A.M.

CASIO EX-Z850

CASIO EX-Z850 is my first digital camera or point & shoot camera which i bought it September 03, 2006, now i am still using it without any problem, my CASIO EX-Z850 is now updated with firmware 1.3b, I've used it for video capture HQ/Normal/LP mode with unlimited video recording time it depends on the capacity of SD/Mini-SD with adapter or MicroSDHC with adapter i used, as a still camera picture quality is excellent for me as a beginner.

Here a script of overall conclusion for Casio Exilim EX-Z850 Review from DPreview.com

" EX-Z850 has more to recommend it than many sub-compact models - not least for the huge feature set (which will give you months of fun), and the comprehensive photographic control. It's beautifully made, fast, has a stunning screen and is really enjoyable in use. It's frustrating that Casio has come so near - and yet remained so far - from creating the perfect 'serious' sub-compact in both this model and its predecessor, but the fact remains that - in experienced hands - it still comes closer than any of its competitors. We can't give it a Highly Recommended for all the reasons mentioned above, but I have no qualms about recommending it to anyone wanting something that offers a lot more than just 'point and shoot' functionality in an attractive, and truly pocketable package"

Addison Gast , April 18, 2009; 12:39 A.M.

I've been using a small KodakLS743 forP&S for work in a crowd by adding an extender made from ( believe this?) a ceiling duster. My Minolta X-370 is aged but combined with my itsy-bitsy Aimex flash unit, we can move around pretty lightweight. Addison

Ajith S , May 25, 2009; 10:58 P.M.

I started experimenting with my Sony DSC W210, outdoor performance is pretty good; didn't try much in low light and in the dark yet.

pradeep gill , May 28, 2009; 09:34 A.M.

hi i have a simple olympus sp 570 uz and i am so happy and pleased with the results and it's lovely .. one has to keep in mind the limitations of the small sensor and then shoot with full confidence the results can be amazing and begner's dslr can be put to shame... eg: gulmohar the Pandavas flower here is another eg: Six Stamens And One Stigma Lily Lilium Stargazer flower hope you like these and contact me on flickr for any help.. or tips it would be my pleasure.. to give what i have..

Steve Mundy , September 24, 2009; 04:16 P.M.

I was taking photos at an air show recently and a guy with a P&S came up to me and tried the same nonsense on me.

"I used to carry around a large lens like that but this point and shoot takes just as good photos."

When I started laughing he went away. He was the exception though. Everyone else was kind and most just wanted to ask questions about my equipment. I would never go up to a stranger and imply that my camera is better, but he was the guy everyone has run into at some point. The know-it-all on a budget.

Anyone who thinks that P&S cameras are just as good, or <cough> better than SLRs are just out to lunch. If you want a camera that fits in your pocket, that doesn't make the camera better, but it may make it a better solution for your needs.

The jump in quality from a P&S to SLR is huge. The difference in SLRs going from the consumer glass to the pro glass is large, but not as large as the jump to an SLR. The lens does have a large impact on the end result.

Having an SLR and pro glass though is no guarantee that you have the skills to get the results that other people could with the same equipment. However, the P&S camera is not in the same league as an SLR. Period.

Brian Sprague , October 07, 2009; 01:08 P.M.

I was heartened by your opening comments. After buying my first DSLR I was completely disappointed because I compared it to my P&S. I gave my P&S to a friend and she routinely produces better shots than I do (for you photo snobs, please don't give me the old bull that I haven't learned how to use my DSLR... I am well schooled and experienced). Of course it takes a DSLR to get those unique shots but a P&S lets you get candid perspectives a DSLR often misses. For the price of a new lens, I could pick up a new high-end P&S and am giving serious thought to doing so, just for the fun of it.

Note: Many P&Ss are full functioning, allowing manual control of all everything (albeit through menus). If you are new to photography this is a great way to learn. If you're an experienced photographer, it's lots of fun.

Fred Braun , October 13, 2009; 10:46 P.M.

I have been using a Kodak z980 for the past few months and so far I am satisfied with it. It has a 24x optical zoom and 12 megapixel sensor. It has full manual controls in addition to the obligatory automatic and scene settings, ISO sensitivity ranging to 1600 at full resolution (and 6400 at 3.1MB), plus a RAW file shooting option. It has a Schneider-Kreuznach Variogon 24x zoom lens spanning the 26-624mm (equivalent) focal length range. It produces nice quality images with accurate and pleasing color at the default settings. There are low, natural and high color settings (also sepia and B&W) available in the manual shooting modes, as well as low, normal and high contrast. Normal is the default in each case. There are also soft, normal and sharp sharpness settings, with normal once again the default. So far I have been enjoying it and haven't had any problems. I will keep you updated on how it's doing as time goes on.

Lauren Vaughan , March 19, 2010; 06:48 P.M.

Wow, what a GREAT article. Thank you so much!! I'm such a newbie when it comes to cameras and with my new food blog, I really need to step up my game without dropping a bundle on a camera upgrade. This will help TONS!!!

Paul Zimmerman , April 17, 2012; 08:42 A.M.

Thoughts on the revered Yashica T4 Super is summed up as a very capable shooter. DOF issues can become somewhat diluted with this camera naturally because of the lack of manual controls. However, I find like any image you have to decide on what your after. With the T4, if I would like a more  shallow depth with bkgrd blur, I would shoot in flash off mode. If outdoors make sure you are not in bright sun. Get within 4 ft for chest to head portait. For outdoors with good DOF ex. flowers, still life etc. I use the fill flash which is on for every shot. This insures a smaller aperture for the shot. For distant landscape I would use the infinity setting...if taking more than one landscape, be careful because T4 will default back to auto.  With auto I feel it is when you have no time, a grab shot if you will. I would use this the least of the time. But it will not flash always unless you are indoors at night or very low light in shadow.

So with a little thought before you go shooting it will provide much of what you need in a very small package! I will try and post some shots in the future....

Shawn Brown , June 19, 2012; 01:02 P.M.

Thank you so much for your very informative and helpful article! I totally agree, but only since I began using my first point-and-shoot after 30 years of using strictly 35mm SLR cameras. When I got my first P&S it was because I had recently bought a Nikon N-80, several lenses, a Nikon flash, and lots more. I also had recently purchased a new motorcycle. Well, packing all my Nikon stuff around on my bike was out of the question. And yes, I got teased by all my riding buddies who always asked why I took pictures with my cell phone when I had so much nice camera equipment. I quickly realized they were right! I explained to them that I didn't feel comfortable packing my expensive equipment around with me on my bike for various reasons. It made me realize I needed a new camera to have with me on my rides, so I walked into a local retailer and purchased my first digital camera ever, an Olympis FE-20, which was on sale for $100. It took awesome pictures! Sure, I missed being able to zoom in like I could with my 70-300 lens and 2x teleconverter, but at least I had a camera with me at all times! And I never went back to 35mm photography since!

My FE-20 recently bit the dust. The rear screen wigged out and turned all sorts of weird colors, but I loved the camera. I wanted the same one, but was sick of recharging my battery all the time. So, I checked around and found an "updated" model, the Olympus FE-25, which uses AA batteries instead of the little flat rechargeable battery. I love the fact that when I used Energizer Ultimate Lithium batteries, they easily last several months or more! In fact I've only had to replace the batteries maybe 2 or 3 times in almost a year with this camera!

BUT, the fact that Olympus felt a need to change things when they introduced the FE-25 after the FE-20 has seriously ticked me off. Gone are the on-demand grid lines, and a few other features like there is no sound when recording videos. But the biggest problem I've found with the FE-25 is the huge amount of aliasing when I shoot car pictures or buildings or anything else with contrasting lines.

I always shoot at VGA (640 x 480) because I don't like to have to go in and resize every image I shoot when I load them to my computer. I've found helpful articles online to combat the aliasing issues that suggest shooting at the highest resolution possible. OMG, seriously? Resize even more?

So my question I've been trying to find an answer to is this: could I possibly fight the aliasing issues better by simply going to a lower resolution camera like maybe 6-8MP? The FE-25 is a 10MP camera. My FE-20 if I recall was an 8MP and it had very little (if any) aliasing problems. Since I like to shoot at 640x480 I hope to find a way to remedy the aliasing issues. Am I stuck with shooting at higher resolutions? Or can I just find a lower MP camera?

Well, I'll probably never go back to SLR film cameras, but of course when I win a lottery or something (LOL) I do plan to move up to a digital SLR. I know one thing, I'm going to find one with anti-aliasing built-in.

Thanks again for the article! I agree 100%.

Point and Shoot Photography Blog , November 17, 2012; 09:42 P.M.

Great post thanks for the tips. The ISO Sensitivity levels is definitely something I will look at in the future. Haven't really thought much of it. 

Cheers,

Sam (Point and Shoot Photography)

Yagnesh Desai , November 23, 2012; 08:47 P.M.

Article is old but useful. Recent point and shoot by canon sx150IS can be much better as it gives you Av / Tv / Manual mode in a very compact cam.

Image Attachment: fileGHCl1h.jpg

Aaron Cooper , December 28, 2012; 09:51 A.M.

It's now almost 2013 and I now have a Nikon P7100. This has all the controls of a DSLR camera but the point and shoot use-ability. This camera has a fill in flash option for use in the day and an adjustable flash output. It also have P A S & M modes. So you can be creative as much as you want. Okay it has a smaller sensor and only 10MP compaired to my D7000 16.2MP but I have it to hand everyday and am ready to catch the action. I went for the P7100 as it has an optical viewfinder compaired to the P7700 that doesn't, but the P7700 has an f2.0 and mine is only f2.8. But I can still get some bokeh (blurring of the background) at f2.8 so I'm happy. Just make sure you get a book to help you get used of the camera and not rely on the manual as this only tells you what buttons do and not how to master the camera in various situations. Check out http://www.amazon.co.uk/David-Buschs-Nikon-Digital-Photography/dp/1133592414/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1356706014&sr=8-2 for a good book to help you. Enjoy your photography whatever camera you use. Composition is key! The camera is just the tools and a good workman never blames his tools!

Lucas Vu , June 13, 2013; 06:12 A.M.

Wow, what a nice topic. I want to add some guide here. As I am in the office and cannot type a whole post. I have some guide to choosing point and shoot cameras here

madala chan , June 22, 2013; 12:41 A.M.

Well written article, loved it!

Dawn Leonard , July 25, 2013; 09:54 P.M.

I think this is my new favorite site! Plan to use some of the tips real soon as I am participating in a couple photo challenges! I am having no luck finding any kind of beginners photography classes around my area :(. I am currently working with a point and shoot but would like to some day upgrade.  Also looking forward to participating in some of the photo contests on here!


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