Know Yourself: How to Choose a Point and Shoot

Maria Sharapova and her Canon Powershot Diamond Collection

We’re in a recession, so consumers (and photographers) naturally have to rely upon themselves to make smarter financial decisions. This can be tough, especially when choosing a camera. You probably have a camera right now and are not happy with it or you’ve got the money for one and are looking to make a purchase without breaking the bank. Throw what you know about megapixels, zooms, features, colors and compactness out the window right now. It’s time to know how to ensure that you’ll be satisfied with your purchase for a long time.

How Patient Are You?

Many people are intimidated by lots of buttons and complex menu systems. Many are not tech-savvy or do not care or want to learn the different things about their camera. Different cameras have different learning curves. The easiest by far are what are called, “entry-level point and shoots.” You should keep this in mind when you’re purchasing your camera. They’ll have the quickest learning curve and will allow you to do what you want easily.

As a photography and camera instructor, I’ve seen people want to take their cameras and throw them right out the window on top of never wanting to read the manuals. Because of their impatience and sometime the complexity of the manuals, they get frustrated and never learn to use their camera to its fullest potential. Further they never get the most out of the money they spent.

If you don’t have a true willingness to learn about your camera, don’t buy a more advanced one.

What Do You Shoot/Want to Shoot?

Lots of people say, “I don’t know.” Well, try to figure it out. Do you have kids? Do they play soccer or football? Do you attend lots of parties, get drunk and spill beer on your camera? Are you going on lots of vacations? Are you using it for work? Do you like sitting around and taking photos of your cat playing with yarn for hours upon hours?

Keep these in mind: it’s all a part of knowing yourself. When you go to buy the camera, let your customer service rep know what you’ll be using the camera for. A good rep can help you.

How Will You Use it?

This is important as battery life is a major factor as well as durability amongst other issues. Maybe you go on a lot of hiking treks and need something tough. Perhaps you need a camera that will be able to upload photos straight to the web without you hooking it up to your computer. You need to figure this out before you make the purchase. Keep a checklist.

Who Will be Using it?

Many people have what is called ‘the family camera’. That means that when the daughter buys it so she can take cute pictures of herself, her brother may use it when he goes out. Similarly, her dad may use it when he’s golfing and mom may use it when the dog does something cute.

Different people in the family have different patience levels and learning curves. We should all know this as our families are dear to us and we know the members well.

What Can it Do to Help Me?

Also keep this little tidbit in mind. Does the zoom cover the range I need? Do I need one screen on the front and a giant LCD on the back? Do I need every photo of mine to have the GPS coordinates associated with it (called Geo-tagging)? Maybe I really don’t want a touch screen if it means a more complex menu.

In general, throw the megapixel rule out the window: camera companies have been using it as their main selling point for years. In truth, 8MP is all you’ll generally need.

What tips can you contribute?

Chris Gampat

Chris Gampat is the Editor in Chief, Founder, and Publisher of the Phoblographer. He also likes pizza.