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Why digital point and shoot cameras are “all shit”

The May 12 entry How To Choose a Digital Point-and-Shoot at The Online Photographer is excellent, and a must-read for anyone considering a digital point and shoot camera.

My only regret is that I didn’t write the article, because it’s oh-so-true—I’ve owned about 8 digital point and shoot cameras now, after researching carefully, and guess what? They all suck. The only reason I have them is to be able to fit one in a cycling jersey pocket or pants pocket. Perhaps when the self-defeating race to cram ever more more megapixels into ever-tinier sensors is over (shortly after hell freezes over), camera manufacturers will realize that all we need to make beautiful 13X19 prints is 3 to 5 high quality megapixels, not 7, 8 or 10 noisy and blurry ones. Oh, and one must be able to actually take the picture—so that 1/2 second shutter delay has got to be engineered out. And the focusing hunting, etc.

The reason to waste $250 - $400 on a point-and-shoot Crap Camera boils down to convenience. For me, this means a pleasing high resolution screen (since that’s what I must shoot with), and a form factor that won’t dissuade me from carrying the dang thing. The $540 Nikon D40 (including 18-55 zoom) is a vastly superior camera, and it works far better as a point-and-shoot than a point-and-shoot Crap Camera does! (though without a rear live-view screen). Ditto for the Canon Digital Rebel XT.

After trying many models over the past several years, I’ve settled on the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX30 (about $280) and its slightly larger sibling, the Lumix DMC-FX50 (about $300) which sports a 3" display instead of a 2.5" display. I’ve had the predecessor FX10 and FX01 models also, the FX30 and FX50 are the best current choices. Both models look great in black; I’ve gotten a number of compliments and queries about them. You can also pay another $200 or so to change the letters “Panasonic” to read “Leica” (though Leica claims to “cherry pick” the best units, and also offers a longer warranty).

Note that Panasonic’s model lineup display is designed by morons; it appears that there are dozens of choices when in fact most are just variants of the camera body color. A letter such as “K”, “A”, “S”, etc is appended to the model (eg FX50K) to indicate the body color.

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