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09-27-2011, 01:12 PM   #1
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What is, and what is NOT, a "Point and shoot?"

Following a discussion in Point and Shoot contests #33 and #46, some people, myself included, have called into question what a point and shoot camera is.

In order not to distract any more from the actual contest, and additionally so that I can maybe discuss this at further length than usual, I'd like to ask the community: What defines a point and shoot to you?

There's a number of criteria people point to. Physical size, sensor or film frame size, presence of automation, lack of manual overrides, and whether or not the user is viewing through the taking lens.

The easiest thing to do is to point to something that is unequivocally a point and shoot, and go from there. Take a Vivitar VS28B for example:



With a 2.1mp sensor the size of a grain of sand (or nearly so), it is focus-free, has an external finder, a tiny, low-resolution sensor, and pretty much one control: The shutter button. Okay, it probably has a flash on/off too. Retailing for under $20, it's definitely a point and shoot.

I, personally, think that a point and shoot is a camera with non-TTL viewing that lacks interchangeable lenses. It may or may not have manual controls, it may or may not have automated features.

So let me hear it, and let me have it. What makes a point and shoot? What is one? What isn't one? Is the Pentax Q a point and shoot? What about a Leica M9? What about a Pentax Optio A40?

09-27-2011, 01:28 PM   #2
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um... I don't have a duck in this race.... but I would say a point and shoot should not be confused with small form factor or compact cameras... point and shoot means just that P&S, not point, focus and shoot...

I would use a test... with a back-lit subject... take a picture... if you can get details in the subject by changing something vs ending up with a black face and white sunrise you are perhaps not using a point and shoot.
09-27-2011, 01:38 PM   #3
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It's any camera that features a high degree of automation, doesn't support interchangeable lenses, and isn't a phone. I think that's a pretty solid definition

Optio/Espio/IQZoom = P&S
Q = mirrorless interchangeable lens
Others = SLR

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09-27-2011, 02:09 PM   #4
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Mirrorless, small sensor, fixed lens, single purpose (i.e. not a phone or ipad).

09-27-2011, 02:09 PM   #5
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to me, a point and shoot camera is one using all automatic settings so as to make taking a photo a no brainer. It has a fixed lens ie non interchangeable, automated controls and sensor size really doesn't matter. you turn it on, point at the subject and depress the shutter. the camera does all the work.
09-27-2011, 02:16 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by ivoire Quote
to me, a point and shoot camera is one using all automatic settings so as to make taking a photo a no brainer. It has a fixed lens ie non interchangeable, automated controls and sensor size really doesn't matter. you turn it on, point at the subject and depress the shutter. the camera does all the work.
I have a small Canon A720 IS that has all the normal auto functions and allows fully manual operation (M-mode). Lots of cameras do, Canon G models for example, some bridge cams. Are they not p&s to you? My wife uses the K100DS like a p&s, Green mode all the way.
09-27-2011, 02:28 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by audiobomber Quote
I have a small Canon A720 IS that has all the normal auto functions and allows fully manual operation (M-mode). Lots of cameras do, Canon G models for example, some bridge cams. Are they not p&s to you? My wife uses the K100DS like a p&s, Green mode all the way.
See and I would think there is a difference between a P&S and using a camera like a point and shoot... the Canon G, I would not consider P&S... ie have full manual controls... and bridge cameras are bridge cameras not a P&S nor a DSLR/Rangefinder

From google review of G "RAW mode for the ultimate in creative control" creative control does not equal P&S

From google review of A720 "It is a clear step up from a standard point and shoot camera"
09-27-2011, 02:40 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by audiobomber Quote
I have a small Canon A720 IS that has all the normal auto functions and allows fully manual operation (M-mode). Lots of cameras do, Canon G models for example, some bridge cams. Are they not p&s to you? My wife uses the K100DS like a p&s, Green mode all the way.
I alluded to that in contest#46 and the discussion was moved here (fortunately and wisely). I think with the multitude of cameras that exist it is difficult to define. If i were running a "point n shoot" competition instead of a "point n shoot camera" competition the issue would not arise. just state any camera in "P" mode, lens set at a fixed mm, with auto aperture, turn on, point n shoot. even my K5 gets used that way on occasion.

09-27-2011, 03:10 PM   #9
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Nah, I can't agree. Bridge cams and compacts with manual controls are p&s cams to me because of sensor size and fixed lenses. The only difference between a bridge camera superzoom and a regular point and shoot is the amount of zoom, it still has all the same limitations. Manual controls are very limited in what they can do because of difraction and sensor noise.

Using a DSLR like a point & shoot doesn't make it a point and shoot. Using a G12 like a DSLR doesn't change what it is, a small sensor fixed lens compact camera.
09-27-2011, 03:23 PM   #10
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My personal definition would be.

-Non-removable lens
-Push button zoom
-Automatic focus

I realize this is not by any means a "technical definition" but I think this is the most basic way to identify a P&S. I would go so far as to say Cell Phone, should the user want to use one. I think when it has a removable lens, manual focus, manual zoom, thats when it goes to the next level...





09-27-2011, 03:58 PM   #11
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If you own a dSLR, then a P&S is what you're ashamed of, but still derive guilty pleasure from.

Other than that, we can say that a P&S (fixed-lens) usually has minimal controls NECESSARY to operate it. So I can grab my venerable 5mpx Sony DSC-V1 and switch it on, and it's ready to go, complete with the toggle-switch zoom. Or I can flick it into manual or priority modes or NightShot, and do my own thinking; but just to power up and shoot, no thought is needed. Even simpler is my older 1mpx DSC-P20 with a normal-FL prime and no controls except the night-day-review-cine switch, and the macro switch, and the menu system. Really basic. It's also good for tossing around for artistic blur shots, you betcha.

Of course P&S's aren't new. The original Kodak Brownie ("You press the button and we do the rest") goes back 120 years. Box cams and Polaroids and Instamatics; my Canon Dial-35 and SS80u; and don't forget the Holga, eh? If you don't NEED to push more than two buttons to use it, and can't change lenses, it's a P&S. I guess my TracFone FotoMoto qualifies too.
09-27-2011, 04:22 PM   #12
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I think the defining condition is the first one that I mentioned in the contest thread: no advanced controls - i.e. no Av, Tv, M. A P&S is a camera that does not allow a smarter way of using it than point and shoot - maybe after selecting a scene mode. Once you get manual controls, you have a compact camera, but it's not just a P&S.

Another way of restricting the category would be by IQ, which in turn would get down to sensor size. This is a wider definition, because now we would include more competent cameras like superzooms or the Pentax Q. Still, in terms of subject isolation/DOF, these would be similar.

But if we want to go beyond that and qualify cameras like X100 or E-P3 as P&S, then the term P&S would become pretty meaningless.
09-27-2011, 04:30 PM   #13
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That guy at the tourist spot with the full-frame Canon with the white lens? You know, the one in P-mode with no sense of composition and lacking even a basic understanding of what's happening when his presses the shutter? That's a point & shoot.

P&S is a state of mind.
09-27-2011, 04:49 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by johnmflores Quote
That guy at the tourist spot with the full-frame Canon with the white lens? You know, the one in P-mode with no sense of composition and lacking even a basic understanding of what's happening when his presses the shutter? That's a point & shoot.

P&S is a state of mind.
That'll make it tricky for the P&S contests.

"Alright guys, new rules. We want you to go out there, set your cameras on auto-picture mode, and take oddly composed pictures of buildings, friends, and flowers. Make sure the lighting is terrible."
09-27-2011, 05:49 PM   #15
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to me, if you can point and shoot it, its a point and shoot. so following that logic, my k-5 with an AF lens equipped and set to P mode with auto iso is a point and shoot.
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