How to choose a compact cameraIf we’re looking for a compact camera, there’s no better time to get one, because there’s a whole range of them available from all manufacturers. The problem is just that: there’s a little too many of them – how can anyone choose the best camera for his/her needs? One of the criteria that help us opt for a camera is simplicity of operation.

Good and bad in a compact camera

This simplicity is an advantage especially for those who don’t want to complicate their life with too many settings, for those who just want the memory of a point in time and want to do that as trouble-free as it can get. Under auspicious lighting conditions, with a well taken frame, even a point-and-shoot camera can achieve brilliant images.

Other obvious advantages of these compact devices are their size and weight. They are small, lightweight, fit in any pocket and so you can carry them around all the time. But why would anyone carry a camera when nowadays most everybody has a smartphone with a camera in their pocket? This question is difficult to answer for everyone … I will just give you my take: I’m one of those who will carry both a smartphone and a compact camera or even a D-SLR, to be prepared for any eventuality.

One of the major disadvantages of a compact camera is the quality of the images in dim light. I now have a Sony camera that when shooting outdoors in normal lighting, can produce very accurate photos, but indoors in dim light, even with a flash, the images are no longer great.

In addition to the classic ‘cigarette cases’ (as compacts are referred to), some manufacturers have released, for the most exigent and with wide pockets, compact models with full frame sensors. The folks at Sony apparently were the first with the Cyber-shot DSC-RX1 (,00 lei to 13.449 F64).

Leaving aside the Sony model, you can find a compact type camera in a range of prices that’s more reasonable. With a budget between the $100 and $300, you can buy with ease a model that suits your requirements.

Although there are too many models and too many manufacturers for this range of devices, I will take the chance and make some specific recommendations:

Sony DSC-WX60.
Nikon COOLPIX S3500.
Canon PowerShot A3500 IS.

Of the three models, selected from the middle range, I’d choose the Sony for its Carl Zeiss optics and the 8x manual zoom (35 mm equivalent: 25-200 mm) and that despite the fact that the lens of the Canon is the brightest.

Selecting a compact camera

Do not let yourself drawn too much into the megapixel magic because the cramming in of too many megapixels on a small sensor doesn’t really bring any benefit.

Check the technical specifications to see if the chosen model can shoot videos and especially check out at what resolution – make sure it’s at least 720p, which is a minimum for shooting in HD quality.

Choose a camera with a minimum of 4x optical zoom because sometimes it’s necessary to be able to zoom in on a subject, and keep an eye on lens brightness (the brighter the better-2.8 is much brighter than 4.5)

A compact camera with its own battery can be, in time, more cost-efficient than one that uses AA batteries. Unfortunately there is the reverse of the medal – when the proprietary battery discharges, you’re out of luck. Whereas AA batteries are available everywhere – but on the other hand, a pack of AA batteries is heavier to carry than the proprietary battery.

As a final piece of advice in connection with the purchase of a compact camera-choose a well-known brand and don’t buy the cheaper model, especially if it is produced by unknown companies.

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-update- you can see a comparative test done by the Max Nash photography blog on 6 compact cameras (about the same price range).