How to buy a compact camera

by | Digital Photography Tips | 9 comments

panasonic lumix camera
One of my best friends needs a new camera. He hesitated to ask me for advice, since I like to carry a 7lb bag full of a giant camera, lenses, a mini tripod and cleaning supplies. He wants one that will fit in his pocket. I totally understand. DSLRs are not for everyone and are certainly not always convenient.

I told him there are a lot of really fantastic options these days and more reviews than he could ever read. There are also numerous guides that walk you through the thought process. This fact was overwhelming to him, as I expect it is to many of you. So let’s collaborate to help each other, and my friend, out.

If you’re looking to buy a new camera, tell us what you’re looking for and what models you’re contemplating.

If you’ve just recently made a purchase, tell us what review sources you trust and what model you decided on.

Your comments will help simplify a time-intensive process for many readers.

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  1. Barbara

    I have a Pentax Optio A40, a replacement for an Optio A20 which was lost/stolen. I got the same camera again because I so liked the original. It’s easy to use, small enough for a purse or pocket, and takes wonderful, clear pictures. It has some manual-like adjustments, too. I’d buy another one tomorrow if I had to.

  2. DrGranma

    I have a DMC-FZ5 and I like it but I know there are things I want in my next camera, First, this has a great lens 55mm but I would like greater range for manual controls… this one goes from 2.8 to 8.0 and ISO from 80-200. I see there is often a choice of RAW which apparently gives greater control over management of images. I would like to learn more about that and would like that capability in my next camera. This does have great flash control in that you must open it to use it and can’t flash be accident. That is a nice touch.

    This is also a little large. Got it cause I thought I needed it for hand arthritis but think I would like smaller if it came with all I want to do. I am not certain I need a slr if I can accomplish what I need to in a smaller camera.

    Would love some feedback on what is available and also from those who use this same camera.

  3. photojenic

    My best piece of advice is do NOT purchase a camera as a gift. My wonderful family bought a pocket camera for me, and while I appreciate their thoughtfulness, I absolutely *hate* the camera. I wish they had taken me to the store instead, or given me a GC. I know I sound ungrateful, but it’s frustrating to have a crappy camera. *lol*

    • Jennifer

      That is especially true if you know the person enjoys photography or scrapbooking, making it more likely they will have specific tastes and preferences.

      On the other hand, I think an easy-to-use compact digital camera is a great gift for someone who is less tech savvy.

  4. breeoxd

    Im checking out cameras and the one that keeps catching my eye is the canon powershot sx200 IS.
    The zoom is really big for a pocket camera ( i think 12 x?) its technically wide angle, decent mega pixel, some mid range manual controls while still having good auto modes. the color test shots look really nice. I love that its a super zoom that can fit in my pocket for around 300 or so!

  5. Sheila

    I have a 2 year old Kodak Easyshare 712 (7 megapizel, 12x optical zoom) and the flash is broken. I’m mulling over what to do. I want lots of zoom, stabilization, a viewfinder is a must, auto and manual functions both, all of which I had in that camera. I think I’d like a faster recovery between shots if I can find it. My husband liked the size of that Kodak, an older digital camera that was smaller he found hard to use, but a dslr is too big for me (and too pricey!).

    • Jennifer

      There are a lot of bridge cameras now. They have bodies that look more like a DSLR, but are smaller overall. They have a lot of manual functions, but retain the sensor size (and price point) of a point & shoot. Since they aren’t pocket size, they might feel better in your husband’s hands.

      I had a Fuji digital camera for many years (well, still do) and its a great compromise.

  6. Stan

    While I don’t have a specific model recommendation I find you can’t go wrong with any of the Canon P&S. Great lenses, a good mix of cool features and good prices. We’ve owned several over the year and have always been happy.

    Stan at Scrappers Workshop

    • Jennifer

      It seems the Canon PowerShot and the Panasonic Lumix are two of the best selling lines on Amazon.


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