127 — Point and Shoot Cameras Suck for Learning Photography

Pho­tog­ra­phy pod­cast #127 goes into why point and shoot cam­eras suck for learn­ing pho­tog­ra­phy. I actu­ally rag on point and shoot cam­eras quite a bit in this pod­cast but it’s because pho­tog­ra­phy should be fun and learn­ing pho­tog­ra­phy on a point and shoot cam­era is rarely fun and almost never user-friendly. At the begin­ning stages of learn­ing pho­tog­ra­phy you need your cam­era to be user-friendly and it’s nice when your cam­era can han­dle any shoot­ing sit­u­a­tion. Point and shoots are infe­rior to any new DSLRs when it comes to pho­tograph­ing things that move. Given that pre­cious mem­o­ries (that involve move­ment) like your child walking/running are missed with a point and shoot, it’s an infe­rior tool.

That lovely intro aside, I do rec­om­mend a few user friendly Point and shoots for pho­tog­ra­phers that are com­fort­able with a Point and shoot’s lim­i­ta­tions. They def­i­nitely are portable and can be handy in capa­ble hands.

Click the player at the end of this post to lis­ten to (or down­load) the 13ish minute podcast.

Thanks to The Cam­era Store (The largest cam­era store in Cal­gary, Alberta, Canada)  for spon­sor­ing the Photography.ca podcast.

This point and shoot camera is not a good camera for learning photography

This point and shoot cam­era is not a good cam­era for learn­ing photography


Links /resources men­tioned in this podcast:

Pod­cast # 76 - Point and shoot cam­eras — Review of Canon G11
Expo­sure exposed — Eas­ily mas­ter cam­era expo­sure and make stun­ning pho­tos by Marko Kulik
Photo tours — pri­vate photo instruc­tion in Mon­treal
Canon G16 at The Cam­era Store
Nikon P7800 at The Cam­era Store
The Eos Rebel T5 at The Cam­era Store
The Nikon D3200 at The Cam­era Store

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You can down­load this pho­tog­ra­phy pod­cast directly by click­ing the pre­ced­ing link or lis­ten to it almost imme­di­ately with the embed­ded player.

Thanks for lis­ten­ing and keep on shooting!


  1. Hello Marko,

    I’m not too keen on P&S either. If you don’t pay a lot they tend to die all too fast (my expe­ri­ence any­way). And if you’re going to buy a good one, get an SLR instead.

    You men­tionned that a P&S is good for casual pho­tog­ra­phy, for exam­ple. I’m won­der­ing if the P&S will not die out soon. We all have cell phones with bet­ter than aver­age pho­tog­ra­phy capa­bil­i­ties, and they’re even giv­ing SLRs a run for their money! I have a Nexus 4 and can do sphere pho­tos, panos and HDRs. Why would I want to carry a P&S too?

    I have a Nikon D90 with a pretty good array of lenses, acces­sories and bags and I’ve had no prob­lems build­ing kits accord­ing to des­ti­na­tion and needs. I don’t need more. Well… maybe the D7100;-)

    Great show and keep recording!



  2. Lisa Osta says:

    I under­stand your dis­like of point&shoots but the only alter­na­tive you give is DSLR. How about mir­ror­less? The is a big new area where all kinds of for­ward mov­ing tech­nol­ogy is going. Olym­pus, Pana­sonic, Sony, Fuji­film and Sam­sung have inter­est­ing mod­els, Nikon and Canon on the other hand have made attempts but their efforts have been thwarted by the DSLR depart­ments which have made both of their effort not much more than point&shoots with inter­change­able lenses.
    Every­day I see more and more pho­tog­ra­phers mov­ing to mir­ror­less even if not to replace their DSLR but to make a lighter sys­tem to carry and travel with. Please do check them out.

  3. tOM Trottier says:

    Most DSLRs or big-sensor com­pacts are  bet­ter for
     - low light
     - get­ting a blurry back­ground
     - more frames per sec­ond
     - sharper pic­tures when enlarged to wall size
     - greater dynamic range, light to dark

    How­ever, a Canon IS p&s (like my A710IS which i bought used for $80) with CHDK — the Canon Hard­ware Devel­op­ment Kit has more fea­tures than most DSLRs, is only a but­ton click or three away from adjust­ing aper­ture, expo­sure com­pen­sa­tion, ISO, multi-exposures, pic­ture size, macro or man­ual focus with enlargement.

    To avoid dif­frac­tion or motion unsharp­ness I almost always use it aper­ture pri­or­ity at the max­i­mum aper­ture, and 8MP is good enough for almost any enlarge­ment — though it lim­its cropping.

    And with CHDK, I have light­ning flash detec­tion, inter­val­ome­ter, raw files, and much, much more!

    And small sen­sor cam­eras have the advan­tage of great depth of field, espe­cially for macro shots.
    The P&S does need a good lens.

    As for dif­frac­tion lim­its, the smaller the sen­sor, the wider the F/stop you need for sharp-appearing pic­tures:
    Dif­frac­tion lim­its (1/1500 Cir­cle of Con­fu­sion)
    Sensor/film Diagonal-MM f/stop CoC(microns)
    1/2.5” 7.18 3.5 4.8
    1/1.8” 8.93 4.4 5.9
    2/3” 11.00 5.4 7.3
    4/3” 22.50 11 15
    APS-C 28.40 14 19
    35mm (FF) 43.40 21 29
    6x7 92.20 45 61

    Unsharp­ness appears beyond dif­frac­tion lim­its, assum­ing ordi­nary eyes, no crop­ping and a stan­dard view­ing dis­tance equal to the diag­o­nal size of the image. (So even a 3MP pic­ture is good for any enlarge­ment size at ordi­nary (for the print) view­ing dis­tances.)  (Note, the dif­frac­tion limit F/stop is the same for all focal lengths for a given sen­sor size. A given aper­ture like f/2.8 may be wider for longer lenses, but it is fur­ther away, so the angle width is the same.)

    Of course, if you want it sharper, for crop­ping, or to take advan­tage of sen­sors with more than 1500 pix­els diag­o­nally, you need a wider aper­ture — assum­ing your lens is good and has few aber­ra­tions at wider aper­tures. For max­i­mum sharp­ness, you need to  bal­ance dif­frac­tion (all lenses) and aber­ra­tion effects(your lens). Process lenses for print­ing and chip mak­ing are often f/2 for max­i­mum sharp­ness. It helps that they usu­ally use a sin­gle wave­length to avoid chro­matic aberrations.

    The CoC prin­ci­ple also applies to depth of focus. Stop­ping down reduces max­i­mum sharp­ness, but increases what appears to be “sharp enough”.

    There is a nice dis­cus­sion at  http://www.rags-int-inc.com/PhotoTechStuff/DoF/

    Also, keep­ing your P&S at max­i­mum aper­ture and aper­ture pri­or­ity not only means max­i­mum sharp­ness of what is in focus, it also means a shorter shut­ter speed for more sharp­ness & max­imises  the  blur­ri­ness of other stuff, lead­ing to a sharper-feeling photo, with more con­cen­tra­tion on what you focused on.

    Do you want your stu­dents to make good pic­tures or make sharp, well exposed ones?
    Atget, Bres­son & Karsh (I worked for him) did pretty well with com­par­a­tively prim­i­tive equipment.

    Cam­era con­trols are just more ways for stu­dents to get the image they want.  Like all train­ing, you need to make the cam­era dis­ap­pear from the con­scious mind. Alas, mod­ern cam­eras mean a longer train­ing period the more demand­ing the pho­tog­ra­pher is. A P&S, though, can  be ideal for seeing.

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