How a Point-and-Shoot Became My New Best Friend

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Rumors of the point-and-shoot’s demise have been greatly exaggerated. If anything, the point-and-shoot has become an even more capable tool for photographers since it has decided to go a bit upmarket in features and design. Even I was caught off guard by this mini-comeback of the pocket camera, but I’m frankly a bit more surprised by the incredible variety that currently exists in this previously dwindling market, and the fact that a point-and-shoot is now my most used camera.

It started for me with the RX100 series, though I must give credit to the many powerful cameras that came before, such as the Ricoh GR (now GR II), or Canon’s G series, and even the myriad film options that existed decades before. But it was really the proliferation of the RX100, and specifically the RX100 III, that piqued my interest. With claims of impressive image quality, thanks to a relatively large sensor, full manual controls, raw shooting, a pop-up EVF, and the ability to just be popped into my pocket, I couldn’t pass it up.

Ricoh GR II Digital Camera

An RX100 is certainly no replacement for my a7R II, but it was still quickly becoming a much-loved camera that I would bring out while hanging with my friends or capturing beautiful landscapes in Iceland. It’s versatility and size meant it was a perfect supplement to all my other camera equipment; and the portability meant that I could up the quality—even of my snapshots—to a more satisfactory level. Sorry iPhone, but a real camera is almost always going to be better.

Then came the upgrades. First it was just the RX100 IV and V, but what I always had my eye on was the RX1R II. Eventually, I scrounged up the funds to pick one up, and saw firsthand that this is where point-and-shoots enter a whole new dimension. Cameras like the RX1R II and Leica Q could almost be offended by the term “point-and-shoot,” since, if you look at all their pieces individually, it would be hard to argue that you wouldn’t find these features attached to professional camera systems.

Leica Q (Typ 116) Digital Camera

For all intents and purposes, my RX1R II is just a miniature a7R II with a fixed lens: it offers the same image quality, numerous tactile controls, and even an impressive pop-up EVF. Also, if you haven’t heard this already, I’m a huge fan of the 35mm focal length, so the RX1R II was a natural choice. For one-lens days, it is a perfect camera that I can sling over my shoulder or pocket without issue and without sacrificing any quality. It also makes a perfect second camera that doesn’t carry much weight, and could easily serve as your second “lens.” A great kit for me would be my a7R II with the 90mm Macro alongside the RX1R II.

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX1R II Digital Camera

If you are more of traveler or someone who just wants one solid camera to do everything, you really can’t beat the superzoom options point-and-shoots have, especially when you consider their size. Nikon’s P900 is an obvious standout, with an insane 24-2000mm equivalent 84x zoom range. But for those with higher demands, the Sony RX10 III is a great pick, with a 1" sensor and still great 24-600mm equivalent range. This is just one specialized category in which P&S cameras excel. We haven’t even looked at the tough options, like the Olympus TG-5 or Leica X-U (Typ 113) and, for something you can’t easily do with your DSLR, there is the VR-ready 360° Ricoh Theta S.

Nikon COOLPIX P900 Digital Camera

So why did I bother telling you these stories? Well, I hope it is so that you will take a second look at a point-and-shoot the next time you want to add something to your kit. There are many situations where a second camera can be indispensable, even if it isn’t up to the same level as your go-to system. Perhaps, if you are looking at your first real camera after your smartphone, it is a great direction in which to go and learn, plus the built-in Wi-Fi of most models certainly helps keep you connected to Instagram and Facebook. With point-and-shoots headed upmarket these days, professionals also shouldn’t shy away from a more capable model, like the Fujifilm X100F. The point-and-shoot is a brilliant tool, which I highly recommend.

Fujifilm X100F Digital Camera

21 Comments

I have a few point and shoots and have enjoyed the images captured with them. The ease of carrying it around and with extra batteries. an outing isn't bogged down with a myriad of gear to essentially get the same on the go shot. I am not knocking the DSLR I have those as well. It comes down to getting an image quickly and discreetly. I love street shooting. It is a much better tool for the job. I have a Pansonic ZS50, Fuji X10, Olympus XZ-1 w/VF2 viewfinder and a Canon A630. I love the viewfinder in the ZS50 and the 30x zoom. The 1.8 in the Olympus with its macro capabilities is awesome along with the VF2 viewfinder that gives me a right angle view to take low level shots. The X10 is a marvelous piece of kit that takes great images straight out. The old but true A630 has that tilt and flip screen which gives me a capable shot at any angle as well as being able to use my eenloop AA batteries. I know there are others that take exceptional images and can't say I would want all that was mentioned. These that I have though have given me the joy I get out of photography and it doesn't have to be extremely expensive. I got all these cameras well after their launch date to get a deal on these. The Canon was half off in a basket at a local Goodwill for less than $8.00. I couldn't be more pleased.

The image is the thing, as Tom Loughlin Jr pointed out in his post.

The image is the thing. If you can get a customer- satisfying image out of a cheaper  equipment set, you make more money !
Talented folks can do that. Some customers think one has to have a neck-dislocating set of gear or a bag the size of a hockey player's or they think them..inadequate. that's dumb..but a fact one must deal with.

My main gear set is comprised of  a Canon 880 pointy shooty, and a Canon SX 40 HS. Bridge camera (and an A 55 Sony). Kickin it old school (and if anyone sasses me about my little lens, I'll extend my 40X Canon at em. That'll shut them up.! Keep onn clicking !!

Tom Loughlin Jr Utica NY

i really prefer a fixed lens camera. G1x m2 makes honorable mention. Sony could still catch up to canon touch screens. . I have rx1,3,5. Love all the above. The rx3 and 5 just seem to give my a6000 a good run in the stills dept., unless I use the 35 1.8. 

Tell b&h to ship my rx10/4 asap.  It's prepaid.  😉😎.  

While you have discussed some excellent cameras in the P&S lineup you failed to mention the Panasonic Lumix particularly the ZS100. I'm also a Canon SLR fan such as the 5D and 7D lineup. But portability in the National Parks is a must and the ZS100 provides that as well as excellent image quality with the 1" sensor and Leica lens.

Hi George,

Thanks for throwing the ZS100 into the mix, I also like the ZS70 if you want an even larger zoom range without going up in size. It didn't really fit into the story here which is why it didn't get a mention, but it is certainly one of the top 1" sensor compacts available today.

The ZS70 does NOT have a 1" sensor!  (Wish it did).  It is the more typical 1 2/3 sensor

This is simply a confusing sentence structure on my part. Sorry! The second sentence is referring to the ZS100 only.

The question I ask whenever anybody buys a high end pas is why not buy a compact m43 body instead? A GX85 with a 17mm lens, 4K video, faster focussing and stabilization isn't a worse camera than an RX1 - it's just different. And a lot cheaper. And you can put a 28mm equivalent lens on it or a portrait lens or a pancake zoom or a super zoom. So really, why bother with any super compact (except the Sigmas, which ironically didn't get a mention - pocket size A7r image quality at a low price is a definite niche.)

For me it comes down to simplicity. I already own an interchangeable lens system camera and adding another one is not what I need. If I'm going to do portraits I am going to use my a7R II and 85mm, but for everyday use I prefer the 35mm perspective and I just want to pick up my RX1R II and go. The focusing on it is also quite fast and the IQ far surpasses that of a MFT system. Additionally, many point-and-shoots are able to be smaller and lighter than many compact mirrorless cameras. Taking your example, the body of a GX85 is 426 g, add a compact prime lens for about 100 g and you are at ~525 g. An X100F is only ~470 g, a GR II is only ~220 g, and an RX1R II is ~510 g.

Sigma's cameras didn't get a mention because they are almost a niche within the niche due to their Foveon tech. While these sensors can produce sharp, vivid images with the stacked design they tend to struggle at higher ISOs and in my opinion I can't easily recommend them as a great everyday all purpose cameras unless you deeply understand when they work well and when they don't.

Many may feel that the smartphone has replaced the P&S but I find a phone far too limiting. I have to admit that I've seem some good smartphone pictures, but it's just not for me.

For years, I carried a Canon G9 and got many shots that I never would have gotten if all that I had was a full-sized camera that I would never have had with me at the time. These days, it's a Fujifilm X-30 which is a little larger than some P&S cameras, but puts out some of the best jpegs that I've ever seen right out of the camera.

Out of the 4 camera's I keep about, my Canon G16 is my go to and about 70% of my pics.  One of the many reasons, gotta have a view finder, gotta be one handed operaton due to many pics taken off a moving motorcycle.  

Despite Nikon's shortsideness in declaring the market for compacts not worthy of their further interest, there remains a thriving user base for them. If it's possible, which it is, to get your shot without being dominated by heavy, bulky equipment, then many like myself, prefer to do so. The industry classification of 'enthusiast' as opposed to professional is a marketing technique intended to shame those who are secure enough to use what they need rather than overspending for what they don't.

Agreed. I shoot a canon 7d Mkii and a 5d Mkiv, and I probably shoot twice to three times as many images with, first my G10, and now my G16. I love these little advanced compacts. Now if someone would make one with a bulb setting... I do a lot of very long exposure!

Hi Mick,

I understand the love for the G16, but if you need bulb mode I know the G7 X Mark II (and likely other current G-series cameras) offers a bulb mode. Might be time for an upgrade.

I'm surprised these cameras have been called point and shoots in this article, and I think the article is misleading. While point and shoot is indeed dead, thanks to Iphones, these cameras are not point and shoot cameras.  Calling them that makes it sound like they are in the same catagory as, say a Canon elph or some camera that only shoots on auto and all you can do is literally point, and shoot because you cant make any adjustments.

The cameras in this story have full manual override and you can pretty much adjust just about anything. Might as well call micro 4/3 and APSC systems point and shoots.

Hi Greg,

While the point you make is valid, by the general definition of point-and-shoot as any fixed lens camera these do all fall under the same category. We can break out the category into more specific areas, such as advanced compact in this case, but they are grouped together, much like how the Canon T3 is in the DSLR category with the 1D X Mark II. There is going to a be a huge difference between the cameras in the category, this just happens to focus on the top end.

Try a BIRUGEAR Black Anti-Slip DSLR Camera Neoprene Neck/Shoulder Strap

What camra strap is the lady on the main pic using? I reseved a used camera with that same strap and have not been able to discover who makes it. I would love to review the strap if someone could tell me were to find it. thanks!  (great artical by the way)

Hi John,

Hmm. I'm actually not quite sure which strap that is sorry. Hopefully someone else can jump in with an exact answer, but it looks like some kind of neoprene strap

Could be an Op/tech.  Bit of an overkill for a smaller camera, but perfect for the P900 or similar.

Try a PROMASTER and yes definitely neoprene. Very well made, ... use them on all my bodies. Straps also have quick release buckles for packing down. Very comfortable to wear and no slippage.

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