Chinese Singles’ Day, Black Friday and Cyber Monday – November packed with special promotions on the net and in stores around the world. We have collected all the information for you.
The big shopping celebration of November is already here, and it seems that you are ready to take out your credit cards and storm the various shopping sites – in order to take advantage of the big deals. Just before you get lost between everything offered on the Internet, we decided to make things a bit more organized for you: what to expect and when, what discounts can be found, and most importantly – how to keep sanity and make no mistakes in this huge shopping celebration.
The temptation comes from the East. This is the Chinese Singles’ Day, which takes place every year at 11.11 (this year is coming on Saturday), during which all sites in China, known for their low prices, offer even bigger and more profitable deals. On this day it is recommended to browse sites such as Alibaba and Aliexpress.
About two weeks after this celebration ends, on November 23, comes Black Friday. In recent years, this day has become a worldwide demand, with most online and offline stores offering huge promotions.
This is a good day to go shopping in general for those who want to save but beware of the hustle and bustle of shopping centers in the entire Western world. If you focus on online shopping on the same day, you will find huge deals on American and European shopping sites such as eBay, AMAZON, NEXT, ASOS and a host of other sites.
If you did not have the time to stock up on that day, do not worry: all of these sites will also offer big deals on the following Monday – “Cyber Monday” which is a direct continuation of Black Friday.
So how do you manage to buy smart and keep yourself in the sea of temptations?
Here’s how to do it right: Make sure that the site you are purchasing from is shipping to your location, preferably free of charge.
Measure yourself in advance: make one good measurement and write down all the measurements so that you can continue shopping all year long without getting out of bed. While shopping, pay attention to the composition of the fabric that may affect the fit on the body, as well as images raised by other buyers.
Make sure to compare prices and note that many sites offer a special coupon code that sometimes appears only at the checkout or newsletter of the site. If you are planning a large purchase from a particular site, it pays to be updated and prepared in advance. Check the seller’s return policy in advance and know the consumer protections available to you. People indicated that they did not return a damaged or broken product due to the return process and the shipping costs.
Take into account shipping time and special delays around the holiday seasons and shopping, and note that there are various shipping options. People indicated that they ordered a product for a specific event but received it late so there was no longer any need.
People said they ordered a product on the Internet and regretted buying it when it arrived. Before buying, learn a little about the seller, read other customer testimonials, check how the seller is rated and how many purchases have already been made. Did you buy them anyway? Know that you can always change your mind. As long as you take care to protect yourself in advance: buy only on secure sites and use secure payment methods.
It is also important to follow certain safety precautions related to your safety. ESET says that just like at any other time of the year, transactions that seem to be too good, are probably not really like that. Because if it looks too good to be true, it’s probably too good to be true. Make sure that the site you purchase is secure: Check if the URL begins with https since most shopping sites encrypt traffic. In addition, on secure sites, there is a green lock on the left side of the address. Notice that the padlock appears in the URL line and not on the site itself – it can indicate a fictitious site. Also, make sure that your operating system is up-to-date and has the latest security fixes.
This is how secured URL looks like
Pay with a credit card or PayPal – Credit card companies allow buyers protection if something goes wrong while shopping. Bank transfers are usually not returned – be suspicious if the website asks you to make a bank transfer instead of paying by credit card. Set up alerts via your credit card company, they will send you an SMS or e-mail on every purchase made on your credit card. Set alarms starting at a low amount for each purchase. Also, set alerts for total purchases above a certain amount to protect multiple purchases of low amounts. Do not click unfamiliar links to sites that advertise promotions, coupons, etc. It can reach you via email, social networks, and even Google ads.
Finally, keep your personal and financial information. If you apply these tips during the upcoming shopping period, you can definitely significantly reduce your security risks.
Design of the Case
Thanks to cell phone cameras, small, versatile cameras are becoming ever more available and popular. Action cameras are among the smallest and most versatile cameras, and they have features developed for photographing and filming action sports that also are useful to those who photograph less extreme situations. GoPro is the top name in the action camera category, and the GoPro Hero 4 Silver Edition is a best buy in that category.
The GoPro Hero 4 Silver Edition records video in full HD at a resolution of 1080p with monaural sound. To improve video and sound quality, the camera is equipped with distortion correction and wind noise reduction.
The Hero 4 Silver records still images with a resolution of 12 MP, and you can capture video and still photos at the same time.
Use time lapse photography to record a series of images. Night Photo and Night Lapse let you take still photos at night, and Auto Low Light automatically changes the frames per second settings to adjust as you move from brightly lit areas to darker areas.
QuikCapture allows you to use one button to quickly turn on the camera and start filming, and HiLight Tag lets you mark the best parts of your videos so that you can locate them easily later.
While you can continue to use the Hero 4 Silver in automatic mode, you can use Protune to take more control of the camera’s functions as you become more experienced as a photographer.
Unlike many GoPro cameras, the Hero 4 Silver incudes a built-in, fixed video display that doubles as a touchscreen.
The Hero 4 Silver also offers both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connections.
The Hero 4 best buy is both shockproof and water resistant.
In general, action cameras are cameras used outdoors to film or photograph extreme or action sports. They are smaller than standard cameras so that they can be worn or mounted on sports equipment. Because they are most often used in rugged environments, they also are more durable than standard cameras. They are shockproof and either weatherproof, weather resistant, waterproof, or water resistant.
When you’re considering an action camera, it’s important to know how far the camera can fall, how waterproof or water resistant it is, how weatherproof or weather resistant it is, and the range of temperatures in which it can continue to operate.
While we were unable to find information about how far the Hero 4 Silver can safely fall, it is shockproof. Other cameras provide this information.
It’s also waterproof when it is inside its case with the waterproof door attached. It comes with the case and the case includes three interchangeable doors -- a touch screen door, a skeleton door which leaves the back of the camera open, and the waterproof door that protects the camera to a depth of 131.2 feet (39.99 meters).
Many action cameras list maximum and minimum operating temperatures, but we couldn’t find the officially listed maximum or minimum operating range for the GoPro Hero 4 Silver. GoPro cameras, however, are designed to automatically save your files and shut down if their internal operating temperature exceeds 120°F (C).
Recording at high frame rates, controlling the camera remotely with the GoPro app, and using BacPac accessories with the Hero 4 all increase the operating temperature. So to keep your camera from shutting down during hot weather, don’t use BacPac accessories, shoot at slower frame rates as much of the time as is possible, and use the GoPro remote to control your camera rather than the GoPro app. The remote can be purchased separately.
On the other hand, meet the barbecued GoPro in this YouTube video from fishycomics entitledGoPro Cooked Medium Well 350°.
The official word from GoPro regarding cold temperatures is that cold drains the battery, but that the operating temperature of the camera provides enough heat to keep the camera warm and operating. If you really want to know how well a GoPro withstands cold, though, meet Frosty the GoPro and his siblings in this YouTube video from TheKingofRandom.com entitledWill a Recording GoPro Survive Liquid Nitrogen?
If you’re wondering how cold liquid nitrogen is, it exists in its liquid state between the temperatures of -320.44°F and -346°F (-196°C and -210°C). When it’s exposed to temperatures above -320.44°F, it boils and becomes a gas, as it does in the video when the warm, operating GoPro cameras are immersed in it. At temperatures below -346°F, nitrogen freezes, like water does at 32°F (0°C), and becomes a solid.
While some vloggers (video bloggers) are beginning to record in 4K, the resolution of 1080p that is used by the Hero 4 Silver is the most common resolution for vlogs. Some people claim to be able to notice a difference in the quality of a video recorded in 4K versus one recorded in 1080p on a computer monitor or an HD television, but others say that, unless you have a 4K television, you have to be very close to the screen to see it.
Most people still sit the same distance from their television as they have for decades, so shooting videos in 1080p is fine.
If you share videos by email, though, recording in 720p or saving a video shot in 1080p in a 720p version reduces the size of the file so that it sends faster for you and opens more quickly for your recipient.
The video display screen can be used as a viewfinder while you shoot others in action or while someone shoots you in action. You also can replay your movie immediately to be sure that you captured exactly what you wanted to capture in the way that you wanted to capture it.
If you want to show off a trick that you or a friend has mastered, the video display lets you see how well it was recorded and gives you the chance to try again if you’re not happy with the first attempt.
The video display also functions as a touchscreen that you can use to review still photos and to access and navigate the camera’s menu instead of using the camera’s select button.
When you are wearing your GoPro or when you have it mounted while you are participating in some activity, you aren’t likely to have access to the touch screen, though. The video display on any camera adds to the drain on the battery, so use the option to turn off the display when you don’t need it.
The built-in Wi-Fi connection allows you to upload your photos and videos to social media, your internet cloud storage account, or to an email anywhere you have a Wi-Fi connection. You also can use either a Wi-Fi or Bluetooth connection and the free GoPro app to access all of your camera’s controls and operate it remotely from your smart phone or tablet. In addition, you can use these connections to share your videos and photos with other devices. You can upload your photos and videos to your computer wirelessly with a Wi-Fi connection.
When the Hero 4 Silver is set to Time Lapse mode, it takes a series of still images that can be set from one second to 60 seconds apart. So in effect, it captures the action in freeze frames.
Night Photo automatically adjusts the cameras settings to absorb more light. This includes slowing the shutter speed, increasing the lens opening or aperture, increasing the ISO setting or the camera’s sensitivity to light, and adjusting the white balance so that the camera does not identify a light gray as white, causing the image to be too dark with too little differentiation within the darkest areas of the image.
If the image still appears too dark in the viewfinder, adjusting the camera’s exposure value downward by half steps (-0.5, -1, -1.5, or -2) will cause the camera to recognize more differentiations in the darker areas of the image and bring it closer to distinguishing between white and light gray.
Conversely, in cases where you are shooting in normal, daylight mode and the image is so brightly lit that too much of the image shows as white, such as when your shooting in snow or near sand or water, set the exposure value higher by half steps. The exposure value setting actually simultaneously changes the three most important settings that determine the exposure of your image – the shutter speed, aperture, and ISO settings.
Auto Low Light is to filming what Night Photo is to still photography, but when you are using or wearing a GoPro, you are probably moving at the same time that your subject is moving. So for example, if you are visiting the sites while on vacation, you may leave a bright, outdoor scene to enter a museum, an historic building, or an exotic shop or restaurant. With your GoPro in Auto Low Light mode, the camera switches from a higher frame per second film speed to a lower one to allow it time to capture more light in each frame.
Protune lets you take over from the camera’s automatic settings and adjust them manually. It gives you access to the camera’s ISO, shutter seed, and aperture settings; the white balance setting; and the color settings.
The ISO settings for the Hero 4 Silver range from 100 to 6400, and they correspond to the light sensitivity of photographic film. Use lower numbers in brightly lit settings where the camera can easily capture plenty of light and might capture too much. Use the higher numbered settings for low light and nighttime settings where the camera needs to gather every bit of light available to capture the image. Also remember that, while your eyes may tell you that there s plenty of light, to your camera, any indoor setting is a low light setting.
The color settings allow you to use color creatively to add emotional impact. For example, you could emphasize the quiet solitude of the mountains or the ocean by shifting the colors to the cool or blue side of the spectrum while filming a lone skier, surfer, snowboarder, or rock climber or a small group of mountain climbers against the wall of the mountain. You could even film in gray scale to create the look of an old black and white movie or news reel. However, if you want to emphasize the fun and comradery of extreme sports, push the colors to the warm, red side of the spectrum.
If some exciting action breaks out and catches you with your Hero 4 turned off, just hit the QuikCapture button. It immediately turns the camera on and starts filming the scene.
Not everything that you capture with your Hero 4 Silver is going to be something that you want everyone online to see. You don’t want to bore viewers with rides on a ski slope lift or waits in line to enter a concert or sporting event. When you’re editing, you don’t want to see all of that stuff again either. The HiLight Tag is the remedy to all that. Just tag the most interesting bits of your video, and then you can skip directly to those sections when you’re ready to upload, share, replay, or edit your video.
The Hero 4 Silver comes with a dual battery charger, but you may not be using your GoPro where you have a USB port for charging. You can purchase a portable charger to take on camping trips that will allow you to charge your camera and other devices several times, but eventually, the charger will need to be recharged. You may also have USB ports in your car, SUV, truck, or camper, but you might not be near it when your battery starts running down, and you also might not want to stop to recharge. So, bring at least three extra batteries with you, more depending on how you are filming.
The video display is not the only feature that consumes battery power. Using the Wi-Fi or Bluetooth connections use more energy. Also, shooting at higher resolutions and higher film speeds consumes more energy than filming at lower resolutions and film speeds. Since you most likely will be filming at 1080p and faster daylight film speeds most of the time, you might want to bring more than three batteries, especially if you plan on using your video display or Wi-Fi connection to control your camera.
The Hero 4 Silver accepts Micro SD, Micro SDHC, Micro SDHC UHS-1, Micro SDXC, and Micro SDXC UHS-1 memory cards with up to 64 GB of storage. When you are going to be using high film speeds to capture fast moving water or snow skiers, snowboarders, or racing cars, dune buggies, or boats at 1080p, you should purchase the highest speed memory card with the largest amount of storage you can afford, and as with batteries, you might want to purchase extra cards.
Look for cards with reading and writing speeds of at least 90 MB per second. Cards that are too slow can cause the camera to shut down or stop filming or cause TimeLapse mode to fail.
The Problem With Pairing a Rolling Shutter With a CMOS Image Sensor
In short, the problem with pairing a rolling shutter with a CMOS image sensor is that both capture images in ways that are so similar that pairing them accentuates a distorting effect in both still photography and video, especially when you’re attempting to capture fast moving objects or short-lived phenomenon like lightning.
There are two types of image sensors – CMOS and CCD. CMOS sensors are less expensive to produce, so they are commonly found in cameras intended for mass marketing to the general public. While some mass marketed cameras have CCD sensors, these image sensors are more expensive to produce, so they are more often found in advanced cameras that are marketed to professional photographers.
The difference between the two lies in how they are wired to the camera’s image processor, and that effects how they capture an image.
The surface of each image sensor is covered by a certain number of photoreceptors, and each photoreceptor equals one pixel.
On a CCD image sensor, all of the photoreceptors are most commonly wired together and connected as a group to the image processor at one corner of the image sensor. So, all of the photoreceptors on a CCD image sensor capture the entire image in a photograph or a frame of a video at the same moment, and then the entire image is transferred as a whole to the image processor.
On a CMOS image sensor, each photoreceptor is connected to a separate image processor, so each pixel of the image is captured independently. They aren’t quite processed independently, though, because the camera’s image processing and correction software does make comparisons between the images received by adjacent photoreceptors to sharpen the image, eliminate overlap, and fill in any gaps between the parts of the image captured by each photoreceptor. Photoshop uses this same procedure when you enlarge an image that was taken at a low resolution.
There are two types of shutters, global shutters and rolling shutters.
Like CCD image sensors, global shutters open and then close. They capture the entire image at the same moment.
Rolling shutters, however, whether they are mechanical or digital, quickly roll horizontally or vertically across the image sensor in the same way that the sensor in an office scanner glides across below the object it is scanning. Then the image captured by the photoreceptors is reconstructed from the segments and displayed as a whole in the same way that a scanner reconstructs a scanned document, image, or object and displays it as whole.
Rolling shutters capture the image from the photoreceptors row by row or column by column, and that allows the photoreceptors more time to capture more light from the image. This increases the amount of detail that the image sensor is able to absorb, but the process also creates a very tiny time lapse between when the first, middle, and final sections of the image are captured. This time lapse, however, is long enough that it can create distortions in images of objects moving at high speeds or events of very short duration, and it can be aggravated by the way CMOS image sensors operate.
Some of the effects created by a rolling shutter include:
Skewing -- Skewing shifts the image to the right or the left as the camera pans or as the subject moves from one side of the image to the other because different parts of the image were exposed or captured at different times.
The Jello Effect -- The image in the video appears to be wobbling like jello due to camera movement. This can occur when you shoot video from inside of a moving vehicle of objects that are outside the vehicle.
This wobbling look can also occur when you focus tightly on a distant object while holding the camera in your hands. Because telephotography uses a narrow lens angle and limits the foreground and background to a narrow depth of field these images are particularly susceptible to the effects of movement by the photographer or the camera. It’s best to use a tripod or to stabilize the camera in some other way for this type of photography.
Aliasing – The term aliasing, in effect, makes a verb of the word “alias.” It comes from the idea of someone substituting a different name for their real name. Both images and sounds can suffer from aliasing. It occurs when the recording device incorrectly records the image or sound and substitutes the incorrectly recorded version for the accurate version that should have been recorded. Images can suffer from spatial aliasing and temporal aliasing.
Spatial aliasing occurs when an object that is being filmed moves horizontally at or close to the same speed as a rolling shutter that is moving vertically. When the object moves from right to left or left to right, it is skewed in the direction in which it is traveling.
Objects that rotate counterclockwise, such as the blades of a fan, are not only skewed, but they also will appear to be thicker on the left side of the image, and they may appear to float in the image as if they were never attached to the hub. On the other hand, the blades on the right side of the image will appear to be much thinner than they actually are.
The appearance of objects rotating clockwise will have this effect reversed.
Temporal aliasing occurs when quick, short-lived bursts of light or extremely fast movements occur within the time it takes a rolling shutter to pass over all the photoreceptors on a CMOS image sensor. The light or the movement will be captured by the photoreceptors being scanned by the rolling shutters when the burst of light or the movement occurs, but it will not be recorded by the photoreceptors scanned before or after the flash or movement occurred.
When temporal aliasing occurs, you may capture part of an object in motion, but not the entire object, or part of the image may be effected by a flash of light, but not the entire image. Partial exposures result when the rolling shutter moves too slowly to capture an entire image taken under low light or at night at the same time as your flash illuminates it. In this case, one section of the image will be illuminated by the flash from your camera, but other portions of the image will be dark.
Some cameras with rolling shutters have automatic corrections for the effect included in the image processing software built into the camera, but be certain that the camera does make that correction. While the Hero 4 Silver does have built-in distortion correction, some still find that their videos suffer from the jello effect.
To correct the rolling shutter effect when shooting with the Hero 4 Silver, stabilize the camera and protect it from vibrations when shooting with Sorbothane, a pad which is sold in music stores because it’s used by drummers; shoot at a higher frame rate or shutter speed, which means using Protune to take manual control of the camera’s settings; and/or use an ND (neutral density) filter. In addition, look for image and video editing software that allows you to correct for the rolling shutter effect on your computer. Shooting at a higher frame rate forces the camera to use a higher shutter speed, and a faster shutter speed means that the rolling shutter is capturing the image in a shorter period of time. That brings the camera closer to capturing the entire image at once as global shutters and CCD image sensors do.
You can set the Hero 4 Silver to wide for wide angle shots, close-up portraits, group portraits, and selfies; to medium when you want to capture a portrait or an object while also showing part of the background; or narrow when you want to capture a more distant subject or object.
While the Hero 4 offers only spot metering, which causes it to read or meter the lighting directly around your subject, having these settings roughly corresponds to the matrix, center-weighted, and spot metering settings offered by standard cameras.
Matrix metering is used for wide-angle shots in which you want the camera to choose the best settings for capturing the entire image.
Center-weighted metering is used for portraits and photographs of objects when you want the camera to choose the best settings for your subject, but you also want the background to be well lighted, sharp, and clearly visible.
Spot metering in standard cameras is used for telephoto images that focus in tightly on a distant or fast moving person or object so that the camera chooses the best settings for the subject without being influenced by either the foreground or background.
When you use the wide setting with your Hero 4 Silver, however, you may notice a slight fisheye lens effect. While the Hero 4 Silver captures a more panoramic view of the scene to the right and left thanks to this effect, if you want to eliminate it for certain videos or still photos, set the camera to medium. The medium setting crops the amount of the scene that you will capture in the foreground, background, and to each side, but it does eliminate the fisheye distortion.
The GoPro Hero 4 best buy stands up well against competitors in the action camera ring.
In addition to the JPEG format, GoPro added the RAW photo format to the Hero 5 Black and the Hero 6 Black. The Hero 4 offers only JPEG, but that is not much of an issuee when you have to save JPEG files before editing them anyway.
JPEG formatting compresses files every time they are edited and saved to conserve storage space while RAW captures and retains all of the details within the image, creating a larger file. Because of this, it’s best to wait to edit JPEG files until you have uploaded them to your computer and saved them as either PNG or TIFF files. Neither PNG or TIFF formatting will continue to further compress your files, eliminating more details with each compression.
On the other hand, while you should b able to edit RAW files with your photo editing software, you will have to save your files as PNG files before uploading them to the social media or other sites. While most sites accept either JPEG or PNG files, RAW files are too large and can take too long to upload, so most sites will not accept them.
The Hero 5 Black shoots video at resolutions of 1080p, 1440p, and 4K30 while the Hero 6 offers resolutions of 1080p, 2.7K120, and 4K60. Some say that videos shot at higher resolutions do look sharper, even on televisions, monitors, and displays with lower resolutions. However, 1080p remains the standard resolution for vlogging. It creates smaller files when you’re out shooting so that you have more room on your storage media to capture more of the action, and those smaller files upload more quickly.
GoPro has improved image stabilization on the Hero 6 Black. However, even though the rolling shutter effect is a potential problem for these cameras, GoPro’s cameras wouldn’t have become known for their spectacular videos if that effect consistently contributed to poor videos.
Both the Hero 5 Black and Hero 6 Black respond to simple voice commands, so that you can, for example, tell the camera to start filming just as you’re about to start your run down a slope or navigate some rapids while kayaking. This hands free feature is a useful one in such situations, but even though simply leaving the camera on and filming everything consumes more storage space and battery energy, if you’re on a budget and want an action camera, the Hero 4 Silver is more affordable. You can, after all, use the HiLight Tag to mark the most interesting sections of your videos.
The Polaroid Cube+ is Polaroid’s update to their Cube. Those who find the GoPro Hero 4 Silver and its functions intimidating may prefer the simplicity of the Cube+. The Cube+ chooses all of the camera’s settings automatically.
Although the Cube+ doesn’t have the range of mounting attachments that are available for GoPro cameras, it does have one advantage that’s not available with other action cameras. It has a strong magnet in its base that allows you to mount it on any metal surface. No other attachment device is needed, but it does come with clip mounts.
The Cube+ comes with an 8MP CMOS image sensor. It captures video at resolutions of 1080p and 1440p. It supports Micro SD cards up to 132GB, giving t more storage space than the other cameras, and with the app installed, you can control the camera from your phone or tablet and use it as a viewfinder. The camera itself does not have a viewfinder.
While the Cube+ comes with digital image stabilization, the jello effect can be visible along the right and left edges of videos, and some feel that the colors are over-saturated and too vivid.
It could be a good beginner’s camera.
The EK7000 comes with a 12MP image sensor, and it captures video at resolutions of 1080p, 2.7K, and 4K. It can use GoPro mounts. You can control the camera from your cell phone or tablet, but it comes with a number of accessories that GoPro sells separately, including two batteries, a remote control and a helmet mount, a bike mount, and a variety of other mounts and tethers. The EK7000 supports Micro SD cards up to 64 MB.
While these two cameras offer a variety of shooting modes, they lack many of the functions offered by the GoPro Hero 4 Silver Edition. The Hero 4 retains its status as the best buy.
Point-and-shoots are finding a place among the tools of professional photographers, so if you are considering upgrading from your cell phone camera to a point-and-shoot, you have good reason to do so. Advances in technology have improved image quality, and professionals now affirm in interviews that they carry point-and-shoot cameras with them on a daily basis. For capturing spur-of-the-moment occurrences, point-and-shoots are convenient, lighter in weight, and much more compact than their professional gear. In addition, a point-and-shoot with a versatile zoom lens eliminates the need to carry multiple lenses.
One of the issues with the autofocus system of any digital camera, not just a point-and-shoot, is that certain photographic situations make it difficult for the autofocus system to operate properly. Some of these include scenes with an off-center subject; scenes with bright lighting, low light, and nighttime scenes; and scenes with repetitive patterns. You can help the autofocus system achieve a sharp focus with a few adjustments.
Because most photographs are composed with the main subject at the center of the image, autofocus systems are set by default to focus on the person or object that is closest to the camera at the center of the image. However, to create a more interesting composition or for the sake of the story or emotion that you want the image to capture, you may want to compose your photograph with your main subject in one corner, to one side or the other, or at the top or bottom of the image.
There are two ways to change the camera’s default focus. You can change the camera’s focal point, or you can you can lock the camera’s focus on the subject.
Digital cameras divide your image into a grid with three rows and three columns. By default, the focus point is set to the center rectangle of the grid. You can use your camera’s menu to display this grid. If your camera’s LED display doubles as a touch screen control panel, all you have to do to change the focus point is to tap the rectangle on the grid where your main subject will be in your composition. Your camera then automatically focuses on the person or object that is closest to the camera in that section of your image.
If your camera doesn’t have a touch screen, then you will use the up/down and right/left directional arrows you use to navigate the camera’s menu to move the focus point to the rectangle where your main subject will be.
To lock the camera’s focus on an off-center subject, move the camera so that your subject is in the center of the image and push the shutter button halfway down. The camera will focus on your subject and adjust its settings. Then, continue to hold the shutter button halfway down as you move the camera so that your main subject is where you want it to be in your photograph. Now, you can push the shutter button the rest of the way down.
Locking the focus of the camera is the older method. It’s the solution created for capturing off-center subjects with film cameras before digital camera’s were invented.
If you might want to learn still photography with a film camera, you will need to become proficient with locking the focus, because it will be your only option. Practicing with a digital camera is easier because you can see immediately if you released the shutter button while moving the camera or if you depressed the shutter too soon.
However, moving the focus point is the easiest way to capture an off-center subject. Moving the focus point instead of moving the camera while trying to hold the shutter button halfway down eliminates any chance that you will accidentally release or depress the shutter button as you move. Nevertheless, there will still be some situations in which locking the camera’s focus is the only option that will work.
While some autofocus systems are better than others, if your camera’s manuals list settings in which your camera will have difficulty focusing, bright, low light, and nighttime scenes will be among them. However, most point-and-shoot cameras allow you enough control of your camera’s settings that you can assist your autofocus system.
The helpful settings that you most likely will be able to adjust include:
The autofocus assist lamp sends out a brief pulse of light to assist as the camera focuses. While some point-and-shoots use the camera’s built-in flash for this purpose, a separate infrared assist lamp is better. If you are trying to take a picture of a wild animal, a pet, or a sleeping child, the camera’s flash can startle your subject. An adult who is startled by the flash, even if they are knowingly posing for the picture, can become annoyed. The brief pulse of infrared light generally goes unnoticed.
Switch from autofocus to scene mode and choose an appropriate scene mode. Some of the common low light scene modes include indoors, party, nighttime portrait, and nighttime landscape. More specialized lowlight settings, such as museum, adjust the cameras settings for taking lowlight images through glass cases.
Scene modes for brightly lit settings include beach and snow. Setting for sunrises and sunsets also help the camera adjust to the brightness of the sun even though the areas of the scene beyond the rising or setting sun might be a dark or lowlight scene.
The white balance setting helps your camera make adjustments for the type of lighting in the scene. Most point-and-shoots will let you choose a setting for outdoor settings in bright sunlight, outdoor settings on a cloudy day, indoor scenes lit by incandescent bulbs, and indoor settings lit by fluorescent lights.
Some will let you set a custom white balance setting. To do this, with the camera set to white balance, focus the camera on a white sheet of paper or a photographer’s white board under the lighting in the setting where you will be taking pictures and press the shutter down. The camera uses that image to set what it recognizes as white in the photograph. Setting a custom white balance is especially useful in settings that are lit by two or more different types of light. For example, you may have energy saving fluorescent bulbs in a frequently used light, incandescent bubs in light you use less often, and sunlight coming in through a window.
The ISO settings in point-and-shoot cameras range from at least 100 to 800. Some have lower and/or higher settings. These settings are the equivalent to the films used in film cameras, and in digital cameras, they adjust the cameras sensitivity to the light it receives as the shutter is activated.
The lower settings are for brightly lit settings. These settings reduce the camera’s sensitivity to light, allowing it to capture a wider range of pale colors in the lighter areas of the image.
The higher settings are for capturing action shots or lowlight or nighttime images. They increase the camera’s sensitivity to light. Obviously, this is important in a lowlight or nighttime setting when there isn’t much light. To capture a person, an animal, or an object like a race car in motion, though, the camera will use a very high shutter speed. That means that, even though the scene may be a brightly lit daytime scene, not much of that available bright light is captured in the short exposure time allowed. So, taking an action shot at a high shutter speed is, in effect, the same as taking a lowlight photograph.
The meter settings tell the camera what area of the picture should have priority when it takes the light meter readings that it uses to choose its settings. Regardless of the type of camera you have, you will have three choices – matrix, center-weighted, and spot focus.
Matrix is used for landscapes and other images that you want to be equally well lighted from objects in the foreground to objects in the background. It tells the camera to use a light meter setting that is an average of readings taken from all areas of the image from the darkest to the lightest.
Center-weighted metering is used for portraits and still life mages. The weighting can be adjusted by changing the camera’s focus point or locking the focus on an off-center subject, but this meter reading gives priority to the readings taken from the area of the image where the main subject is located while also providing sufficient lighting so that background objects are also focused and distinct.
Spot focus metering is used for action shots and long distance subjects. The camera takes the meter readings from an area that is tightly focused around the main subject. Spot focus prevents the meter readings from being influenced by the lighting of the foreground or background because the lighting in those areas can be very different from the lighting directly around the subject.
Within the scene modes, you may see that you have the option of changing the camera’s settings up or down by three settings. These settings are the exposure value or EV settings.
In autofocus mode, your camera takes a reading of the light levels from different areas of the scene, and it selects a midpoint between the lightest and darkest areas and uses that midpoint as if it represents white.
In brightly lit scenes like a snow scene where the darkest areas might actually be a light gray, your camera may select an area to represent white when that area actually contains a range of very pale colors. In this situation, the camera fails to distinguish between these pale tints, and those colors are lost from the image. In the photograph, that entire area of delicate tints appears as white.
Conversely, in dark scenes where the brightest areas might be the mid-tones of the various colors in the scene. In a case such as this one, the camera might select a light gray to represent white. In the photograph, the areas of mid-tone colors will look like darker shades of the colors.
Using an appropriate scene mode helps to tell the camera to adjust its settings to detect very pale colors in brightly lit scenes or to detect mid-tones in a lowlight or nighttime image. In either case, the camera shifts the area it selects to represent white. In some situations, the adjustments made by the preset scene modes isn’t enough to completely correct the problem. Changing the EV settings can help.
In a brightly lit scene, the camera is choosing an area of the image to represent white that isn’t bright enough. The image needs to brightened in order for the camera to detect more of the range of lighter colors in the image. So, if the image still lacks the lighter colors even after you have switched to scene mode, change the EV setting to +1, +2, or +3.
In a dark scene, the camera is choosing an area of the image to represent white that is too dark. The image needs to be darkened so that the camera can detect more of the darker colors within the shadows of the image. So, if the colors in the image still look dark and muddy even though you have switched to a lowlight or nighttime scene mode, change the EV setting to -1, -2, or -3.
This tip is not only useful for helping your camera to focus on scenes with repetitive patterns but also for helping your camera to focus on nighttime scenes.
An image with a repetitive pattern can include a building with a series of identical columns or windows, a mosaic or a section of tiles on a wall or floor, or a still life with a row of identical objects. When shooting a scene with a repetitive images, without moving your zoom lens in or out, lock the camera’s focus on a part of the image that is the same distance from you as the part of the image that contains the repetitive image, such as a door of the building that has the windows. Then, recompose your image to include the repetitive pattern and take your photograph.
For nighttime photography, lock the camera’s focus on the edge of an area where there is a sharp division between dark and light that is the same distance from you as your subject. Then, turn back to your subject to recompose your image and take the picture.
The reason that you should not zoom in to focus on one section of an image with a repetitive pattern and then zoom out again to capture the entire image is because zoom lenses are now designed to automatically refocus the image whenever you change the zoom.
Some point-and-shoot cameras offer P or program mode. This mode lets you fine tune the preset scene modes to better suit the photographic conditions of your setting. Depending on the camera, P mode may allow you to change the metering and the preset ISO, EV, and white balance settings.
When you are ready to take more control of you camera’s settings, you can set your camera to shutter priority mode to select a slower or faster shutter speed or to aperture priority mode to select a wider or narrower lens or aperture opening. These settings help you better control the amount of light your image receives. In shutter mode, the camera selects the aperture setting and ISO sensitivity that correspond to your chosen shutter speed. In aperture mode, the camera selects the shutter speed and ISO sensitivity.
If your camera offers M or manual mode, you will be able to take full control of all of your camera’s settings, including selecting your own combinations of shutter speed, aperture, and ISO sensitivity.
While that may be an overwhelming thought if you are just beginning to look at point-and-shoot cameras, having a point-and-shoot that offers manual control means that you have a camera that you can grow with as you become a more accomplished photographer. You don’t have to use any of these advanced settings right away, but when you are ready to experiment them they will be there waiting for you. You won’t need to invest in another camera to have them.
Another feature that your point-and-shoot may offer is the ability to save one or more custom settings. If you take a lot of photos of similar subjects under similar photographic conditions, you can save the setting you use for that type of photography. Then, when you want to shoot more of those similar subjects, you can simply set your camera to custom mode, and it will be ready to shoot with your saved settings.
To find a camera and begin experimenting with the tips suggested above, choose one from our list of the best point and shoot cameras under 500.
The Panasonic Lumix ZS60 features an 18.1 MP 1/2.3 High Sensitivity MOS image sensor, and a Venus Engine image processor. High sensitivity MOS image sensors reportedly use more power than CMOS image sensors but are more sensitivity to light and produce pictures of more uniform quality by suppressing areas of uneven color and brightness. Panasonic’s five-axis hybrid O. I. S. (optical image stabilization) system reduces camera shake vertically, horizontally, and toward and away from your subject. The ZS60’s Leica DC Vario-Elmarit optical zoom lens features a range from 24mm for wide angle shots to 720mm for narrowly focused long distance and action shots.
Intelligent Auto Mode and Intelligent Auto Plus Mode can be set to track moving subjects with Auto Focus. Both modes automatically recognize portraits, baby photos, night portraits, landscapes, nighttime landscapes, hand held nighttime shots, sunsets, food shots, and macro photography. The camera uses HDMI Mode to compensate for scenes with high contrasts between dark and light areas.
Compensation for backlit subjects activates automatically, so there are no specific scene modes for backlit portraits or objects.
Intelligent Auto Plus Mode allows you to adjust the brightness from EV -5 to EV +5 and to adjust the color tone to make the colors warmer and more golden or cooler by adding more cyan.
In P Mode (Program Mode), you can use Program Shift to adjust the automatically selected paired combination of the shutter speed and aperture width to a different paired combination within a limited range of allowed combinations.
In S Mode (Shutter Priority Mode), you can select the shutter speed, and the camera will automatically select a corresponding, complementary setting for the aperture opening and ISO sensitivity setting.
In A Mode (Aperture Priority Mode), you can select the aperture setting, and the camera will select a corresponding, complementary setting for the shutter sped and ISO sensitivity.
In M Mode (Manual Exposure Mode), you can completely control the camera’s exposure settings by selecting the shutter speed, aperture opening, and ISO sensitivity independently of each other.
While most point-and-shoots only allow you to save one custom setting at a time in C Mode, the Lumix ZS60 saves up to three custom settings.
You can use Preview Mode to see the effects of the settings you choose in most of the camera’s recording modes.
Other scene modes are available, such as Glistening Water, Vivid Sunset, and Bright Blue Sky. Many of these achieve their effects by automatically applying some of the cameras artistic or special effects to the image.
Panorama Mode provides two options. When set to standard width, you can take 180° panoramas, but when set to wide, you can take full 360° panoramas.
For Time Lapse Photography, you can choose to start the photography up to 23 hours and 59 minutes from when you setup the camera. Then, you can set the time over which the camera will record images from 1 second to 99 minutes and 59 seconds at intervals of 1 second. You can also set the number pf pictures to be taken from one to 9,999.
When you are shooting movies in Intelligent Auto Mode, the camera automatically recognizes portrait shots (close ups), landscapes, low light settings, and macro photography. You can use the Lumix ZS60 to create slow motion movies by setting the camera to High Speed Video. Set the camera to Silent to minimize the camera’s operating noise while filming.
With the Lumix ZS60, you can use either the digital image finder or the touch-sensitive LCD screen to compose your image. You also can use the LCD touch screen to trigger the shutter.
You can use up to three photos to register the faces of up to six people on the Lumix ZS60.
The Lumix ZS60 captures still images in both RAW and jpg file formats, and it captures movies in full HD with stereo sound at resolutions of both 4K and 1080p.
The ZS60’s built-in Wi-Fi connection allows you to upload 1080p and lower resolution movies and jpg images to the internet and stream movies live as you shoot. You can also control the camera with your Android or iOS device using Panasonic’s Image App. However, some features of Image App, such as Snap Movie, aren’t compatible with iOS as of the date of this review.
While 4K movies and RAW photos can be displayed on HDTVs directly from the camera, whether or not the TV is 4K compatible, these movies and images can be uploaded only to a computer. They can’t, as yet, be uploaded to the internet. Before uploading photos, convert them to TIFF format as this format saves all the details and color gradations. It does not continually compress images with each new save as jpg does.
While some YouTube hosts are converting to 4K videos, most sites still accept only 1080p MP4 files or smaller. Also, while you can burn 4K movies on a CD, you can not save them to a Blu-Blu-Ray disc. So, for sharing movies by email or on most social media sites and for transferring movies to Blu-Ray, you will need to convert them to 1080p. You can use the Image App to make this conversion in your camera, though. This camera is just a bit ahead of the curve.
The bundle that comes with this camera includes a replacement battery and an AC/DC Rapid Charger, a SanDisk 32 MB SDHC memory card, both a full size and a table top tripod, a micro HDMI cable, a DigitalAndMore cleaning cloth, and a carrying case.
Canon’s PowerShot G9 X Mark II comes with the company’s 20.1 MP 1-inch high sensitivity CMOS image sensor and pairs it with Canon’s Digic 7 image processor and an optical zoom lens that ranges from a wide angle 28mm to a mid-range 84mm. In macro mode, you can get as close as 5mm or 2 inches. The digital zoom adds an additional 4x of magnification to the 3x of the optical zoom.
The G9 X Mark II also employs Canon’s optical Intelligent Image Stabilization which selects the type of image stabilization required for the photographic situation. It adjusts for movies made while you are walking and holding the camera, movies and images taken while using a tripod, nighttime images taken while you are holding the camera, and panning scene mode that allows you to move the camera as your main subject moves creating a blurred background that suggests speed. In this latter mode, the camera allows for movement in the direction you are panning, but adjusts the image stabilization to correct for movement in other directions.
In addition to panning mode, the Canon PowerShot G9 offers portrait mode, nighttime mode, fireworks mode, and a nighttime portrait mode for starlit backgrounds that shoots the portrait shot first with the flash and then takes two more shots without the flash to capture the stars. You will need to use a tripod with this mode, and you should tell the person whose portrait you are taking not to move until they have seen the focus assist lamp flash three times.
High dynamic range or HDR mode is another option. In HDR mode, the camera takes three successive shots at different EV or brightness settings and blends them into a single image. When you are taking a photograph of a scene with both very bright and very dark areas, HDR mode helps the camera distinguish the areas that are truly black and truly white so that it accurately captures light grays and pale colors as well as dark grays and very dark colors.
The PowerShot G9 also offers a fish eye lens effect, a miniature model effect, a toy camera effect, and artistic modes that give your photographs the look of oil paintings, water colors, old photos, and vivid illustrations.
One handy feature that will help the camera focus on people who are moving or who may not be facing the camera is the ability to register up to 12 people on the camera. Take a photo of the person as he or she faces the camera, press register, and then enter the person’s name and birthday. Entering the person’s birthday lets the camera recognize infants and young children. You can add a total of five images of the person, so add a photograph of the person looking away from the camera at a slight angle, a photograph of the person smiling or not smiling depending on whether or not they were smiling in the first photograph, and indoor and outdoor pictures. You can register up to 12 people in this way.
When you are taking photographs, the camera will recognize up to three of the people whom you have registered and optimize its lighting settings for the best image of them. It will also record their names on still photographs, so if you don’t want the image labeled, you will need to turn that feature off before taking the photograph. To keep up with the facial changes of growing babies and toddlers, you should re-register their images frequently.
Canon’s Servo Autofocus enables the camera to track a moving subject. The LCD screen of the PowerShot G9 functions as a touch screen for easy access to the cameras features. If you want to change the focus point of the camera, all you have to do is tap the object or the face of the person whom you want to be main subject.
The PowerShot G9 X offers P mode, Tv mode (shutter priority mode), Av mode (aperture priority mode), M mode (manual mode), and C mode (custom mode).
The G9 X captures still shots as either jpg or RAW files. In addition to capturing still images, the G9 X captures movies in full HD at a resolution of 1080p in MP4 format so that you can show your movies on a big screen HDTV. The G9 X also can be set for time lapse photography, and it has a hybrid mode that stores two to four seconds of the action prior to the activation of the shutter. When you’re done shooting the event, the camera will meld all of the images into a highlight reel for sharing with others.
The PowerShot G9 can connect to Wi-Fi networks and hotspots and Bluetooth and NFC devices. You can upload your movies and images directly to the internet, print directly to PictBridge compatible printers, and when you have the CameraConnect app installed, you can control the camera remotely from your cell phone.
The bundle that comes with this camera includes a camera case, a Hi-Speed SD USB card reader, a SanDisk Ultra SDXC 64GB 80MB/S C10 Flash Memory Card, a tri-fold wallet to hold your memory cards, a 12 inch table top tripod with flexible legs, a bubble lever and quick release plate, LCD screen protectors, a lens cleaning pen, and a five piece cleaning kit.
The Sony DSCHX80 contains an 18.2 GB 1/2.3 inch CMOS image sensor, which is the size commonly found in point-and -shoots. It comes with a ZEISS Vario-Sonnar optical zoom lens with a range from 24mm for wide angle photography to 720mm for narrowly focused, long range photography. In macro mode, you can shoot from as close as 5 cm.
The camera offers two fully automatic modes, Intelligent Auto and Superior Auto. Both modes recognize the scene and automatically choose an appropriate scene mode. However, you should use Superior Auto when you are shooting scenes in low light or when your subject is backlit.
When the camera recognizes either of these two photographic situations, if it is set to Superior Auto, it takes multiple shots of the image and blends them into a composite image to capture all of the highlights and shadows. When the camera takes multiple images of the scene, it displays an overlay icon that resembles three stacked sheets of paper. To avoid camera blur, you should use a tripod or avoid moving until the camera has finished shooting.
In either Intelligent Auto or Superior Auto, the Sony DSCHX80 recognizes and uses scene modes for landscapes, night scenes, low light scenes, photos of backlit objects, and photographs of spotlit objects.
When face detection is turned on, it also recognizes and uses the scene modes for portraits, backlit portraits, night portraits, and photos of infants. You can register the faces of up to eight people in the camera.
If you choose to select the scene mode yourself, you can choose from these modes plus iSweep Panorama, Advanced Sports Shooting mode which tracks the main subject, sunset mode, anti-motion blur scenes which allow you to take indoor scenes in the available light without using the flash, twilight scenes photographed without a tripod, pet mode, gourmet mode for photographing food, snow scenes, beach scenes, photographs of fireworks, a skin-softening mode for portraits, and a high-sensitivity ISO mode for shooting scenes in very low light which is especially helpful for capturing movies.
In Intelligent Auto and Superior Auto mode, the camera can tell if you are using a tripod or if you are moving, moving while shooting a brightly lit scene, or moving while shooting a scene in low light. If you have SteadyShot set to Active mode or Intelligent Active mode while shooting a movie, the camera can tell if you are walking while shooting. The camera subsequently adjusts the image stabilization and camera settings to compensate for the movement and lighting.
As with the Canon PowerShot G9 X above, P, or program mode, lets you adjust settings such as brightness or EV settings and the ISO sensitivity in Intelligent Auto, Superior Auto, and scene mode. If you want to adjust the shutter speed, set the camera to S mode. To adjust the aperture, set the camera to A mode. Setting the camera to M for manual mode allows you to take full control of all of the camera's functions. If you want to save custom settings, set the camera to MR, or Memory Recall.
If you are shooting a moving subject, using a faster shutter speed keeps your subject in focus as if frozen in motion. A slower shutter speed displays a trail behind your subject showing its path during the movement.
The aperture setting affects the depth of field. A wider aperture setting or F number keeps more of the foreground and background in focus. A narrower aperture narrows the depth of field and focuses more tightly on your subject.
With the Sony DSCHX80, you can choose whether to compose your shot using the pop-up digital viewfinder or the flip-up LCD screen. The LCD screen offers advantages when you need to hold the camera high or low to take your photograph. You can also flip the screen clear up so that you can see your own image as you take a selfie.
The Sony DSCHX80 captures still images in jpg format and movies in full HD at a resolution of 1080p in stereo sound with the ability to reduce wind noise. It can connect directly to Wi-Fi hotspots and upload your images and movies with an Eye-Fi card. You also can control the camera remotely from your cell phone with the PlayMemories Mobile app and share images with NFC compatible devices.
The Canon PowerShot SX730 includes a 20.3 MP 1/2.3 CMOS image sensor and an optical zoom lens with a range that extends from 24mm for wide angle shots to 960mm for tightly focused action and long distance photography. The digital zoom adds an additional 4X of magnification. The SX 730 does not have a viewfinder. It uses the LCD screen for composing shots. The LCD screen flips up to approximately 180°, however, so that you can see your image on the screen as you compose a selfie. A flip out LCD screen also lets you see your shot when you are holding the camera up high, down low, or to one side or the other.
The timer delay on the shutter can be set to wait until it recognizes that a new face has entered the photo or until it detects a wink, as well as waiting until it detects a smile. Face detection and wink detection both allow the photographer to enter the picture, and wink detection could be used to trigger the shutter to capture the subject’s immediate reaction to a surprise.
As with the Canon PowerShot G9, when you shoot in Auto mode, the camera takes full control of the camera’s settings. In Hybrid Auto Mode, the camera captures the few seconds of action that occur just before you depress the shutter. When you are finished shooting the event, the camera uses the movie/still hybrid photos to create a newsreel highlight of the event that you can share on social media.
In Auto mode, the camera automatically adjusts the settings for shooting people, pets, and objects under normal lighting, when they are backlit, when they are in low light settings, and when they are under a spotlight. It adjusts the settings for shooting moving adults, children, pets, and objects when they are under normal lighting or when they are backlit. It also adjusts the settings when it detects shadows on a person’s face as well as photos of people and babies when they are sleeping or smiling under normal light or when they are backlit. It adjusts the settings for objects shot in the light of a sunset, and it can adjust settings in macro photography mode for normal lighting, for backlit subjects, and for subjects under a spotlight.
As with the PowerShot G7, you can register up to five images of the faces of up to 12 people. The process is identical on both cameras. The SX730 also has the same scene modes and shooting modes – P mode, Tv mode, Av mode, Servo AF, and M mode -- as the G7.
The SX730 also can connect to Wi-Fi networks and hotspots and Bluetooth and NFC devices. You can upload your movies and images directly to the internet, print directly to PictBridge compatible printers, and when you have the CameraConnect app installed, you can control the camera remotely from your cell phone.
The bundle that comes with this camera includes a Canon NB-13L battery, Canon battery charger CB-2LH, a 64 GB Ultraspeed SDHC/SDXC UHS-1 memory card, a tabletop tripod with an ergonomic handgrip, a camera case, and an 8-piece starter kit with a blower and lens pen.
The Canon PowerShot SX620 combines a 20.2 MP 1/2.3 CMOS image sensor with Canon’s DIGIC 4+ image processor, Canon’s Intelligent IS Image Stabilization, and an optical zoom lens with a range of 25mm for wide angle image to 625mm for action and long distance photography.
For those who feel overwhelmed by all of the features of the above cameras, the PowerShot SX620 is a simpler, more basic camera. It offers Auto mode, Servo AF for tracking moving subjects, and P mode that allows you to adjust some of the scene mode settings. It omits shutter priority mode, aperture priority mode, and full manual mode. The SX620 also omits face registration. It can connect to Wi-Fi as well as Bluetooth and NFC devices. If you install CameraConnect on your Android or iOS device, you will be able to control this camera with your cell phone. All of the features that it does have in common with the G9 and the SX730 function in the same way on all three cameras. The SX620 comes with the same bundle as the SX730.
We actually have two winners for the best point and shoot camera under 500.
For those who want a camera they can continue to use as they become more skilled at photography, we recommend the Panasonic DMC-ZS60. You can start using Panasonic’s Intelligent Auto Mode and advance to P-Mode, A and S mode, and finally M Mode. The ZS60 offers a zoom lens that ranges from 24mm to 720mm. It provides automatic scene modes that are comparable to those offered by most point-and-shoot cameras. It shoots still photos in both RAW and jpg formats, and it shoots movies with stereo sound in both 4K and 1080p formats. You can capture time lapse images, 180° and 360° panoramas, and slow motion movies. While the LCD screen is fixed and doesn’t flip up, it does function as a touch screen and can be used to trigger the shutter. This camera also saves up to three custom settings and registers the faces of up to six people. Bluetooth and NFC connectivity would be nice features, but the ZS60 does have built in Wi-Fi. With all the other features it includes, we can forgive its limited shortcomings.
For those who want a simple to operate point-and-shoot camera without a lot of confusing options, we recommend the Canon PowerShot SX620. The range of the zoom lens, from 25mm to 625mm, allows the versatility needed to capture landscape, long distance, and action shots. Servo AF tracks moving targets, and P Mode enables some minor adjustments to assist the camera with difficult photographic situations. The camera offers Wi-Fi, NFC, and Bluetooth connectivity so that the camera can upload movies and images directly to the internet. The CameraConnect app allows you to remotely control the camera from your Android or iOS device, which is handy when you want to include yourself in the picture or trigger the shutter without touching the camera to avoid causing camera movement.
It’s easy to say that the best camera for YouTube or the best video camera for YouTube depends on your reasons for wanting to create and post videos. It’s true, but . . . . At the same time, anyone who wants to post videos on YouTube will share a common desire for sharp, clear, well-lighted videos with clear sound or audio. So, whether you‘re posting family videos to share with distant relatives, sharing your knowledge through how-to videos, supporting a cause, reviewing products or services, starting or promoting a business, or recording life as it happens, quirks and all; you’ll want certain basic features, but you will need other, more advanced features to create a professional aura that enhances confidence in the information you present if you’re starting a vlogging business.
YouTube videos and vlogs cover every topic that can legally be posted online.
These videos might be shared on YouTube, but they are probably more commonly shared on Facebook or by email. They might be made at a scheduled family event, such as a birthday party or a reunion, but they also might be made on the spur of the moment when a child or pet does something that simply has to be shared. Whether it’s a scheduled event or spur-of-the-moment happening, these videos are usually shot on the move as the person taking the video follows the action. They might be captured under any kind of lighting, from incandescent or fluorescent indoor lighting, to a mix of indoor lighting types combined with sunlight from a window, to bright sun, or to scenes where bright sunlight is compounded as it reflects off of snow or water.
You will definitely want optical image stabilization, and possibly digital image stabilization as well.
If the event is a scheduled one, you’ll have a better idea of what the lighting will be, so you might want some access to the camera’s settings so that you can choose the settings that best match the lighting. If you really don’t want to learn that much about the camera settings, you can choose a scene mode that matches the lighting that you expect.
If you shoot a lot of impromptu videos, you might not have time to change the camera settings. In that case, you can use the camera’s auto-focus mode and let it choose the settings from its light meter readings.
For capturing spur-of-the-moment videos, you’ll want a small, lightweight camera that you can easily carry with you wherever you go.
An attached or fixed zoom lens will serve you better than removable, interchangeable lenses.
If you plan to share these videos by email, you’ll want small size files, so a resolution of 720p is sufficient. HD video at 1080p has become the standard, though, and you will want at least this resolution if you want to show your videos on an HD TV.
That’s Life and travel vlogs record life, or a vacation, as it happens.
For this type of vlog, you might wear an action type camera like the ones used by action vloggers who capture videos of themselves as they surf, snowboard, ski, parachute, or participate in some other activity. These cameras operate hands-free and use the camera’s autofocus system to adjust the settings.
You also might carry a small, lightweight camera to selectively record the things and events that you encounter. Don’t necessarily dismiss anything because it’s commonplace.
Photographer Peter Funch went to the same location in Grand Central Station every morning between 8:30 to 9:30 from 2007 to 2016 and shot the scene from exactly the same location. Eventually, he realized that he was repeatedly capturing the same people walking alone or in the same group and creating a record of their morning routine.
Another photographer stepped outside the door of either his house or his studio at the same time every morning to photograph the street over a period of years. When he reviewed his images, he realized that he had captured the subtle changes in the street, the houses, and the people that had occurred day-to-day over time.
For this type of vlog, if you’re not using an action cam and you’re shooting impromptu scenes, you’ll want the same features that someone would want for capturing impromptu family videos – optical image stabilization, small size, and a fixed zoom lens.
If you are planning a study like the ones described above and you want professional, artistic quality, you’ll want manual access to all of the camera’s settings. You will know when and what you are going to shoot and the general type of lighting you will have, so you’ll be able to adjust the settings in advance for the highest quality images.
For a travel vlog, you will most likely need a camera with an optical zoom lens that ranges from 24mm or 28mm for landscapes and architecture to 200mm to 400mm or higher for focusing on distant subjects such as wild animals or a castle on a mountaintop. A fixed zoom lens saves you from having to pack and tote multiple interchangeable lenses with you wherever you go. Because you will be carrying your camera with you, you’ll want a small, lightweight one. Depending on the type of vacation you prefer, having scene settings for shooting in museums or through glass might be important. On the other hand, if you engage in active sports, you might want a waterproof camera, a camera with a waterproof case, or even a hands-free action camera with settings for taking photographs underwater.
If you are vlogging video of yourself in action, you’ll want an action cam that you can strap to yourself or attach to a helmet or some of your equipment. Some of these either are waterproof or have waterproof containers available so that you can use them in, on, and around water.
If you are shooting others as they participate in a sporting event, you’ll want a zoom lens with an optical zoom that ranges from wide angle shots of 24mm or 28mm for capturing the entire scene to narrowly focused shots of 200mm or even 400mm or higher for close ups of individuals. Long range zoom shots magnify camera shake, so you will need optical image stabilization, even if you are watching from your seat and not following the action on foot. You can use the camera’s action or sports scene setting, but to ensure the highest quality images, you’ll want to be able to adjust the camera’s white balance, aperture, and ISO or film sensitivity settings yourself.
While these blogs have very different topics, most of the time, they are shot indoors and consist of the vlogger talking into the camera or, possibly, interviewing a guest. For professional lighting and sound, look for a camera with jacks or hot-shoe attachments for connecting external lighting and an external microphone to the camera. Set the camera on a tripod, and look for a camera that allows you to control the camera’s functions remotely from an app on your cell phone or tablet. For the best quality video, you will want to be able to create a custom white balance setting and select the camera’s ISO setting.
If you are shooting your video on location, such as for a review of a store or a restaurant or a how-to sports, gardening, or repair video, it’s best if you have manual access to the camera’s settings so that you can adjust them, especially for low, indoor lighting, but you may have to rely on choosing one of the camera’s scene options or using autofocus.
The main difference between the best camera for YouTube and the best video camera for YouTube is that DSLR cameras can take still photos as well as videos while most video cameras still shoot only videos. However, some manufacturers do have video cameras that can take still images. For that reason, both can be discussed together.
Both DSLR cameras and video cameras use either CCD or CMOS image sensors to capture video. Both of these image sensors use photoreceptors to capture the image, and each photoreceptor equals one pixel.
The main difference between these two sensors, as far as capturing video is concerned, is that CCD image sensors are wired so that the photoreceptors are connected to the camera’s image processing software as a group. So all of the information from that group, which might even include all of the photoreceptors on the image sensor, is processed at the same time.
CMOS image sensors are wired so that each photoreceptor is surrounded by its own network of image processing software. This individual processing creates an effect called shutter roll in video captured by video cameras. It’s similar to what you see when the picture on your television rolls when you are trying to receive an over-the-air signal that’s not quite tuned in clearly. It’s more pronounced in some cameras than others. Most video editing software has a built-in correction for the effect however, just as there’s a correction for red eye.
Another point to keep in mind is that image sensors come in several sizes, and, in order to make DSLR cameras smaller and easier to carry with you everyday, manufacturer’s tend to use smaller image sensors. Video cameras, however, may have larger image sensors, which means that the image sensors can have larger photoreceptors than the smaller photoreceptors on the image sensors in DSLR cameras. Larger image sensors may, then, have fewer photoreceptors than smaller image sensors and fewer megapixels per inch. If all you see is the smaller number of megapixels per inch, you could think that video cameras have much lower resolutions than DSLR cameras, and that is misleading. The larger size of the photoreceptors on the larger image sensor means that video cameras can produce video at resolutions of 1080p, 1080i, or 4k with fewer megapixels per inch.
The best autofocus system will use a combination of phase detection and contrast detection. Phase detection tracks your subject’s movements and uses the subject’s current direction and speed to predict where the subject is most likely to move next. Contrast detection compares the information from adjacent photoreceptors to reduce the overlap in the image falling on each photoreceptor until each photoreceptor has a distinct part of the image to record, thus sharpening the image. Your camera also uses contrast detection to recognize human and pet faces.
Some DSLR cameras record video in very short segments while other DSLRs and some video cameras record in 10-minute segments because that is the limit YouTube sets on uploaded videos. However, to be certain that you have captured the best images or content for your vlog, you might want to record longer segments and edit them down to 10 minutes. So, when you’re buying a camera for vlogging, see if the camera limits the length of segments.
The built-in microphones will pick up extraneous noise that you won’t notice. Built-in microphones also can pick up the sound of the zoom lens as it operates. So, for the best sound quality, you should use an external microphone. If you purchase one that attaches to the camera’s hot-shoe, you can treat the microphone and camera as if you’re carrying one piece of equipment, not two.
While most cameras record monaural sound, some record stereo.
If your camera has a built-in Wi-Fi connection or is compatible with Eye-Fi storage cards, you will be able to upload your videos to social media sites like YouTube anywhere you have a Wi-Fi connection. If your camera has built-in Wi-Fi and an app that allows you to control at least some of your camera’s functions remotely from your smart phone or tablet, you can set your camera on a tripod and include yourself in your video. With NFC or Near Field Communication, you can share videos between phones or tablets by simply tapping them together. Bluetooth allows you to connect accessories to your camera wirelessly.
If you are recording while holding your camera above your head, to the side, or down low, a flip-out LCD screen will let you see what you are recording. Some act as touch screens so that you can use them to control your camera as you shoot.
It can be difficult to use LCD screens in bright sunlight, but many manufacturers are eliminating them to produce slimmer, lighter weight cameras.
You’ll find two kinds of viewfinders, optical and digital.
Optical viewfinders use mirrors to transfer the image as seen through the lens of the camera to the viewfinder. This is the type of viewfinder used in film cameras when the image captured by the camera was the image seen through the lens.
Digital viewfinders, however, display the image as it is captured by the image sensor, just as the LCD display does. In digital cameras, it’s the image from the image sensor that is actually recorded.
It’s your preference as to whether you would rather see the image from the lens or the one from the image sensor.
You’ll want to shoot the highest quality video possible, which means HD or full HD at 1080p or 4k video. Shooting high quality video means large files, though. So, you will want to buy the storage cards with the largest capacity that your camera will accept.
Shooting video can drain batteries quickly, especially if you are starting and stopping, turning the camera on and off, using the zoom lens, or using an external microphone or light source that uses your camera’s battery as a power source. You don’t want to drain a battery in the middle of shooting, so have extra batteries on hand.
The Canon Vixia HF R80 Camcorder includes a 3.28 MP 1/4.85 CMOS image sensor that produces video with a resolution of 1080p.
The LCD screen flips out and rotates, and it can be used as a touch screen to control the camera as you shoot.
The zoom lens on the Vixia HF R80 ranges from 38.5mm to 1,232mm.
The camera is set to autofocus mode as the default, but you also have a wide selection of scene modes and Superior mode which chooses settings for brightly lit and backlit scenes so that the details of dark areas and of backlit subjects appear. The Vixia HF R80 uses face recognition to automatically track your subject. Use mode P mode to take manual control of the camera’s settings.
You can add filters to your videos to achieve a number of effects, such as the look of an old movie. You can also record all or part of a scene in slow or fast motion. For example, if you are recording your child’s sporting event and he or she is about to score, you could record the dramatic moment in slow motion. If you are shooting a how-to video and you come to a simple but tedious or repetitive, time-consuming step, rather than starting and stopping the camera, you could film it in fast motion, creating a time-lapse effect. However, no sound is recorded in these two modes. Viewers would know that they hadn’t missed a thing.
You can add stamps, animated stamps, and your own free-hand drawings or comments to your videos as you record them.
You also can use the camera to take still photos, even while you are shooting video.
The Vixia HF R80 uses both optical and digital image stabilization. Canon’s Dynamic Image 5-Axis Stabilization system corrects camera movement in general, and the SuperRange Optical Image Stabilizer corrects camera shake on super sensitive zoom shots. The Vixia HF R80 has a HDMI mini-receptacle for connecting the camera to your TV.
The camera has a jack to connect an external microphone for better quality sound.
The built-in Wi-Fi lets you upload your videos anywhere you have a Wi-Fi connection, and, with Canon’s Camera Connect app, you can control the Vixia HF R80, or any other Canon camera that you own, from your Android or iOS phone or tablet.
The Vixia HF R80 doesn’t limit recordings into short segments, so recording length depends on the resolution and speed at which you are filming and the amount of storage space you have. At 1080p and 35 MBPS, you could record for 30 minutes with 8 GB of storage up to four hours with 64 GB of storage. If you use the camera to monitor a single scene, it will record for 12 hours, take three seconds to reset, and then begin recording for another 12 hours.
GoPro’s Hero6 includes a 12 MP 1/2.3 CMOS image sensor and GoPro’s advanced digital image stabilization.
As with the Hero 2018, the Hero6 has an LCD touch screen that you can use to control the camera or to playback your videos.
Like other GoPro cameras, the Hero6 also responds to voice commands.
It is waterproof to a depth of 33 feet (10 meters).
Unlike the other cameras on this list, the Hero6 shoots video in full HD 4k as well as 2.7k and 1080p with stereo sound.
As with the Hero 2018, you can set the Hero 6 for narrow, standard, and wide angles. The Hero6 also captures time lapse images, but it shoots burst mode at 30fps.
The Hero6 has three microphones, and the external microphone is designed to reduce wind noise.
The Hero6 captures both still photos and video, and it uses both JPEG and RAW file formats. This gives you the choice of capturing and preserving all of the details in your images, resulting in larger files taking up storage space, or allowing the camera to compress the image, sacrificing details but saving storage space. The JPEG format is designed to compress files each time you save them, so before editing them on your computer, you should save your still photos as PNG or TIFF files.
Like the Hero 2018 and other GoPros, the Hero6 comes with a frame, flat and curved adhesive mounts, and a mounting buckle. With the GoPro app, you can control your Hero6 from your iOS or Android phone or tablet. When the Hero6 connects to the GoPro app and the Quik app, it can automatically edit your videos and add special effects and music to transform them into QuikStories.
Like the Hero 2018, the Hero6 has built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth which allows you to upload your videos to the internet, share videos with other devices, and connect other devices to your Hero6.
One pro photographer reports attaching the Hero6 to the hot-shoe of a still camera and setting it to narrow focus and 1080p at 30fps to capture video and still photographs at the same time.
As of this writing, April 12, 2018, the GoPro Hero 2018, released earlier in 2018, is so new that it does not yet even have a user’s manual, and its specs are hard to impossible to find.
It appears to have a 10 MP 1/2.3 CMOS image sensor, and it uses GoPro’s image stabilization system.
The Hero shoots still photos as well as videos in full HD at a resolution of either 1440p or 1080p, and it has three microphones. It captures stereo sound, and the external microphone is designed to reduce wind noise. While the Hero 2018 uses auto focus, you can choose from wide angle for landscapes and selfies, standard for mid-range shots and portraits, and narrow to focus more tightly on your subject. The Hero 2018 also takes time lapse photographs and shoots in burst mode at 10fps.
Unlike most GoPros, the Hero 2018 has an LCD screen that serves as a touch screen to control the camera, but the it also responds to voice commands for hands-free operation.
The GoPro Hero is waterproof to a depth of 33 feet (10 meters).
It has built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth which allows you to upload your videos and photos to the internet wherever you have a Wi-Fi connection, share your images with other devices, and connect other devices to your Hero 2018. You can use the GoPro app to control the GoPro Hero 2018 from your iOS or Android phone or tablet. When the GoPro 2018 is connected to the GoPro and Quik apps, it automatically transfers its videos to the apps, which automatically transforms them into QuikStories that are edited with special effects and music.
It comes with a frame, curved and flat adhesive mounts, and a mounting buckle.
The Canon PowerShot SX620 comes with a 20.2 MP 1/2.3 CMOS image sensor and a zoom lens that ranges from 25mm to 625mm.
It does not have a viewfinder but instead uses the fixed LCD screen for composing your videos.
It offers scene modes and Smart Auto mode in which the camera chooses the settings, but switch to P or program mode when you want to take manual control of the settings. Use Tracking Auto Focus to lock onto moving subjects.
Intelligent Image Stabilization, Canon’s optical image stabilization system, uses different stabilization settings when you are recording video in a wide angle shot, a long-distance zoom shot, in macro mode, or when you are using a tripod. The standard advice is to turn image stabilization off when you are using a tripod because the movements of the stabilizing elements in the lens could introduce camera shake, but Canon’s tripod stabilization is designed to correct for movement created by wind.
The SX620 shoots video in full HD mode at a resolution of 1080p. You can connect it to your HDTV using an HDMI cable. With the built-in Wi-Fi, you can upload your video directly to the internet. The Canon Camera Connect app lets you control the camera from Android and iOS devices. You also can share video instantly with NFC compatible devices.
The camera shoots video in 30 minute segments, and the battery will last from approximately 65 minutes to 105 minutes depending on whether you are shooting steadily or whether you are stopping and starting, using the zoom lens, and turning the camera on and off.
The Sony DSCHX80 pairs an 18.1 MP 1/2.3 CMOS image sensor with a Carl Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T lens that zooms from a wide angle 24mm to a long distance range of 720mm.
It comes with both a flip up digital viewfinder and a 180° flip up LCD screen.
Manual mode allows you to take full control of all of the camera’s settings, but you also can choose a scene mode yourself or set the camera to Intelligent Auto and let it choose. Set the camera to Lock-On Auto Focus and it tracks your subject for you.
The Sony DSCHX80 combines Sony’s Optical SteadyShot 5-axis image stabilization system with Intelligent Active Mode’s advanced frame analysis technology so that you can move wherever the action takes you. The camera even senses when you are moving and automatically chooses the correct type of compensation.
It shoots video in full HD at a resolution of 1080p or 1080i, which allows you to burn your videos on Blu-ray disk. Use the HDMI connection to play your videos on your HD TV.
With the built-in Wi-Fi, you can upload videos directly to the internet, and with the PlayMemories Mobile app, you can control this camera from your Android or iPhone or your iPad when you are shooting still images, but it’s not clear that you can use the app for shooting video.
You can share your movies instantly with NFC devices.
You can connect the camera to other micro-USB devices through the micro-USB port.
The Sony DSCHX80 shoots in 29 minute segments, and batteries last from 70 minutes to 115 minutes depending upon whether or not you are shooting constantly, whether you are using the viewfinder or the LCD screen, and other factors that drain more or less power.
In the best video camera category, the title goes to the Canon Vixia HF R80. The range of its zoom lens far surpasses the other cameras on this list. With its selection of scene modes and with Superior mode, beginning vloggers can learn to use it to create high quality videos quickly. However, with P mode, it’s a camera that beginning vloggers can grow with as they become more experienced. Experienced vloggers can take advantage of the manual controls immediately, and any vlogger at any level can have fun with the stickers, the animated stickers, and the ability to draw and write on the video while filming. In addition, the Vixia HF R80, unlike any of the other cameras listed, allows vloggers to film in both slow and fast motion. This capability could have serious applications, but it also can be used to have some fun as well.
In the best camera category, we were torn between the GoPro Hero 2018 and the Hero6. The Hero 2018 has a lower price that would appeal to beginning and family vloggers, but in the end we awarded the title to the Hero6 for its advanced image stabilization and its ability to shoot in 4k as well as 2.7k and 1080p. Producing the highest quality videos possible is important, so we felt the added sharpness and clarity of the images created by the Hero6 better serve most vloggers.
Cell phone cameras might be fine for grabbing a quick image or video of something you see during the day that you want to share on social media. You might wish that you could share some of those videos on your large screen TV, though, or enlarge a portrait or a landscape into a poster size print to hang on your wall or to give as a gift. However, the image might be blurred or the sharpness and resolution of a cell phone image might not be high enough to make that transition successfully. When you begin to yearn for higher quality images, you should consider making the transition from your cell phone camera to an easy-to-use, lightweight, dedicated camera with features that let you focus on creating those better quality images that you want.
Here are five cameras on our list for best point and shoot camera under 200 that will help you to make the transition successfully:
Point-and-shoot cameras have several features that contribute to creating a sharper, more detailed image -- the tracking system that focuses the camera, the settings that determine how sensitive the camera is to the light let in through the shutter, and the systems that control the speed at which the shutter operates and how wide of an opening, or aperture, the shutter creates when it opens.
All digital cameras have a fully automatic, point-and-shoot mode that allows you to rely on the camera’s focusing and light metering systems to select the right scene mode and focal point for the image received by the image sensor. All digital cameras also have scene modes with preselected settings that, in most situations, are the standard settings for that particular lighting or photographic situation. Even advanced photographers may sometimes rely on these modes to capture an image when they don’t have time to adjust the settings.
Some point-and-shoot cameras have a manual setting option that will let you take full control of the camera’s settings. While you may be wary of taking full control of the manual settings while you are learning how to operate the camera and improve your photography, having that manual option will allow you to explore those settings when you’re ready. That option means you can keep that same camera as you continue to grow as a photographer.
Image sensors come in two types, CMOS and CCD, and they range in size from 1/1.7 inches, which are the larger ones, to 1/2.3 inches measured across the diagonal. Cell phones pack a lot of features into a slim, compact case, so most use the smaller 1/2.3” image sensors. Camera’s, too, are becoming more compact, so point-and-shoot cameras, and others, now use the same size image sensors as cell phones.
A detailed, and fairly technical, article on image sensors on Wikipedi has a link at the top of the page which leads to a chart farther down in the article that shows the sizes of image sensors used in various cell phones and cameras (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image_sensor_format).
Both types of image sensors use photoreceptors to receive the image from the camera’s lens. In digital cameras, photoreceptors take the place of film, and each photoreceptor represents one pixel in the image. So the more photoreceptors and pixels there are, the more fine details and subtle gradations between colors the image will display. In addition, the more photoreceptors and pixels there are, the higher the resolution of the image and, as long as you are starting with a clear, sharp, well-focused image, the more you can enlarge the image.
Photoreceptors on CCD image sensors are connected to the image processing circuitry in groups. All of the photoreceptors in a single row, or even all of the photoreceptors on the image sensor, might be wired together before being connected to the image processing circuitry. This leaves room for more photoreceptors on the image sensor, but it also means that all the information from all the photoreceptors that have been wired together is processed in a large batch, which can take longer. Consequently, CCD image sensors may capture more actual details from the image, but they also may operate more slowly.
On the other hand, each photoreceptor on a CMOS photoreceptor is connected to the image processing circuitry separately. The information from each photoreceptor is processed more quickly, so CMOS image sensors operate more quickly than CCD image sensors. However, the image processing circuitry that surrounds each individual photoreceptor on a CMOS image sensor takes up space that would be occupied by more photoreceptors on a CCD image sensor.
That means two things:
While all this might seem technical and complicated, its worth keeping in mind when choosing a camera. If you take a lot of photographs of active pets or of your kids as they play sports, or just play, you might notice the lag time, however slight, as a CCD image sensor processes the image. On the other hand, if you enjoy nature or artistic photography and you want fine details with subtle, realistic gradations of light, shade, and color, then you might be unhappy with the way the image processing circuitry fills in the details that are missing from the spaces between the photoreceptors on a CMOS image sensor, however small the space.
Most digital cameras, point-and-shoot cameras included, now use hybrid focusing systems that combine phase detection systems, or motion tracking, with contrast detection systems that make features such as face detection and smile detection possible.
The phase detection system splits the image from the image sensor into two images in a way similar to the way your optometrist splits the image that you are looking at into two images during an eye exam. The camera then measures the changes in the separation between the images from side to side and front to back to track movement by the subject and bring the subject into focus. If you have a stationary subject, then the camera simply adjusts the focus until the two images merge. If you have set the camera to continuous tracking mode to capture an active subject, the camera uses its measurements of the changes in the speed and direction of the two images of the subject to predict where the subject will move in order to keep the subject generally in focus.
The contrast detection system takes over from the phase detection system to achieve an even sharper focus. The contrast detection system compares the part of the image received by each adjacent photoreceptor as it checks for and eliminates overlaps. Contrast detection systems sharpen the focus by making the part of each image received by each photoreceptor as clear and distinct as possible, so it works by detecting and heightening the distinctiveness or contrast of each pixel contained in image. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Autofocus)
Contrast detection systems can have problems focusing when a person isn’t facing the camera, when you compose your photograph with the subject off-center, or when contrast between areas of the image is difficult to detect. Many times, you can correct this by locking the camera’s focus and then recomposing your image. Simply turn your camera toward your subject or toward an object that is the same distance from your camera as your subject, press the shutter button halfway down to lock the camera’s focus and continue to hold the shutter button halfway down as you turn back and recompose your image, and then push the shutter all the way down to take the picture. Alternately, for an off-center subject, you can select one of your camera’s focus points that is directly over your subject rather than allowing the camera to choose a focus point at the center of the image.
If a point-and-shoot camera does not offer a setting that allows you to take full control of the camera’s settings, you won’t be able to take direct control of your camera’s choice of lighting settings. You can use scene mode to take control of the scene selection yourself.
Point-and-shoot cameras commonly have scene modes for daylight portraits, daylight landscapes, beach scenes, snow scenes, sunrises and sunsets, food, sports scenes, and indoor or party scenes. Scene modes for fireworks, nighttime portraits, backlit portraits, pet portraits, and nighttime landscapes also are common. It’s less common, but not unusual, to find scene modes for taking photographs in a museum or through glass.
Even point-and-shoot cameras that don’t have a manual option will allow you to lighten or darken the overall lighting of the image by three settings up or down and control some other settings such as:
Flash settings – auto, red-eye correction, fill flash, slow sync, and off
White balance – auto, daylight, cloudy, fluorescent, incandescent, flash, and, usually, custom which allows you to focus the camera on a white card or sheet of paper and set the white balance for the scene yourself when you have two or more different types of light sources
ISO sensitivity – compares to film speeds of 200 or lower for bright light to 1000 or higher for low light and action photography
Metering – spot to create a narrow depth of field and focus tightly on a distant subject so that the camera reads only the lighting conditions surrounding the subject and is not influenced by the foreground or background; matrix for landscapes to create the widest possible depth of field so that the camera reads the lighting conditions across the entire scene; and center-weighted for portraits and still lifes so that the camera gives priority to the lighting conditions immediately surrounding the subject but also reads the lighting conditions for the background and foreground so that the subject is well-lit with sufficient lighting for the background and foreground so that objects in those areas are distinct, sharp, and appropriately vibrant.
Aperture priority – for low light, widen the aperture; for bright light, narrow the aperture; for telephoto subjects that lack sharpness, narrow the aperture to widen the depth of field so that the subject is completely inside the box defined by the depth of field; the camera chooses the shutter speed and ISO sensitivity based on the aperture setting.
Shutter priority – slow the shutter speed to let in low light settings; use higher shutter speeds in bright sunlight, in snow, or at the beach where sand and water reflect bright sunlight; also use high shutter speeds for fast, action shots; the camera chooses the aperture opening and ISO sensitivity based on the shutter speed.
Learning how to use these settings will help you adjust your camera when it has difficulty focusing, improve your photography, and help you to take the clearest, sharpest images your camera can produce.
The Sony DSCW830 pairs a 20.1 MP 1/2.3 CCD image sensor with a Carl Zeiss Vario-Tessar optical zoom lens that ranges from a wide angle 28mm to 200mm for tightly focused long-distance shots. For macro photography, the Sony DSCW830 closes in to 5 cm.
The Sony DSCW830 offers smile detection and recognizes up to eight faces in group shots. The timer can be set to wait until it recognizes a smile before tripping the shutter. For portraits, you can set the smile detection priority to either a child’s face or an adult’s face. The DSCW830 also can continuously track the movements of one subject. For panoramas, simply sweep the camera across the scene up to 360° as you hold the shutter button down. The camera matches the images up and weaves them together.
Vertical and horizontal optical image stabilization lets you walk or run as you shoot movies or still images. ISO sensitivity compares to film speeds from 80 to 3200, covering a wide range of lighting situations. The DSCW830 captures still images in JPEG format and movies in HD 720p meg-4 format.
The Canon PowerShot ELPH 190 contains a 20.0 MP 1/2.3 inch CCD image sensor and includes an optical zoom lens that ranges from a wide angle of 24mm to a telephoto range of 240mm. In macro mode, you can shoot from as close as 1 cm. The Digic 4+ Image Processor enhances the processing speed and the photographic results from the CCD image sensor. The ELPH 190’s ISO sensitivity settings range from 100 to 1600. In addition to the monitor screen, the ELPH 190 also has an LCD viewfinder.
The ELPH 190 recognizes up to 9 faces for well-focused group shots, and the timer can be set to delay shooting until the camera detects the appearance of an additional face entering the group so that the photographer can join the group. It can also track the movements of a single subject. The ELPH also offers a long exposure mode that allows time-lapse photography of, for example, nighttime urban street scenes. This Canon PowerShot also has “P” or program mode which allows you to take manual control of more of the camera’s settings, so this is a camera that allows you to grow as a photographer.
Canon’s optical Intelligent Stabilization system can be fine-tuned for shooting while walking or running, while panning the camera in panorama mode, or while using a tripod for shooting still images or movies among other situations. The ELPH 190 captures HD movies with monaural sound at a resolution of 720p in MP4 format. It captures still images in JPEG. It offers both Wi-Fi and NFC connectivity. You can print directly to PictBridge printers, share images between NFC devices, and directly upload images and movies to social media sites for sharing or to your internet storage site for later editing. You also can take complete remote control of the ELPH 190 from your Android or iOS or phone.
Use ECO mode when you’re out for extended periods without access to a way to charge the camera’s battery. ECO mode conserves battery power while preserving your ability to store a high number of images.
The Canon PowerShot ELPH 360 offers a 20.2 MP 1/2.3 CMOS image sensor, rather than the CCD image sensor contained in the ELPH 190. The optical zoom lens also has a wider range – 25mm to 300mm. Like the ELPH 190, the 360 has both a monitor screen and an LCD viewfinder and macro mode on both cameras enables you to get as close as 1 cm.
Together, the CMOS image sensor and the Digic 4+ Image Processor improve the ELPH 360’s lowlight performance and power more advanced features such as Hybrid Auto and Full HD video with monaural sound at a resolution of 1080p in MP4 format. ISO sensitivity settings range from 80 to 3200, further enhancing the camera’s versatility. The ELPH 360 captures still images in JPEG format.
Use Hybrid Auto when you are shooting special occasions such as birthdays, graduations weddings, anniversaries, and family reunions among others. When you take a photo, the camera records up to 4 seconds of video along with the still image and then combines all of the Hybrid Auto images of the day into an HD highlight reel of the event with a resolution of 720p that you can share or give as a commemorative gift. When you take a group portrait, the ELPH 360 recognizes up to nine faces, and the shutter timer can be tied to smile detection, wink detection, or new face detection. The ELPH 360 also tracks single subjects.
As with the ELPH 190, the 360 offers a long exposure, time-lapse mode. Switching to P mode gives manual access to the camera settings so that you will not outgrow this camera as you grow as a photographer. Canon’s Intelligent Stabilization system can be adjusted to cover a wide range of shooting conditions. Wi-Fi and NFC connectivity allow you to immediately share photos and videos with other NFC devices, upload videos and photos directly to the internet, print directly to PictBridge printers, and control your ELPH 360 from your iOS or Android phone or tablet.
If you shoot portraits, selfies, landscapes, and architecture, but you don’t zoom in on distant or fast moving subjects, then the wide angle lens of the Nikon COOLPIX L32, with its range of 26mm to 130mm, is exactly right for you. The COOLPIX L32 comes with a 20.1 MP 1/2.3 inch CCD image sensor.
The L32 automatically recognizes faces, and when in Smart Portrait mode, it detects smiles and shoots automatically. In blink-proof mode, the Nikon L32 recognizes when your subject blinks and takes two shots, saving the image in which your subject’s eyes were open. It can track a single active subject, and it uses Nikon’s electronic Vibration Reduction (VR) to stabilize images. It captures images in JPEG format and HD videos at a resolution of 720p in Motion JPEG AVI format for compact files you can share by email or on the internet. With an ISO sensitivity range of 80 to 1600, it can handle most lighting situations.
The Kodak AZ361-WH PIXPRO Astro combines a 16 MP 1/2.3 inch CCD image sensor with an optical zoom lens that ranges from 24mm to 864mm, so this camera captures wide-angle group selfies, architecture, and landscapes as well as zooming in for tightly focused action shots or for nature photography that lets you catch wild animals and birds without disturbing them. With macro mode, you can shoot from as close as 5 cm.
In addition to the standard modes, the Kodak AZ361 offers separate pet portrait modes for dogs and cats, a mode for photographing text, a mode for taking ID photographs, a mode for shooting inside of a museum, and a mode for shooting through glass. It can shoot panoramas up to 180°, and in panning mode, you can pan to follow a fast moving object, creating a blurred background that demonstrates the movement and speed. The ISO sensitivity settings range from 80 to 3200, covering almost all lighting conditions.
It can be set for up to nine focal points and includes face detection, smile detection, and blink detection. The shutter timer can be tied to smile detection. The Astro can track a single subject.
Like the ELPH 190 and 360, you can take full manual control of the AZ361 Astro. Unlike any of the above cameras, though, you can create and save your own custom setting. So, if you will be taking a lot of pictures under fairly consistent lighting and photographic conditions, once you find the perfect setting for that scene, you can simply save those settings and, when you’re ready to take more pictures, you can then select your custom setting just as you would a scene mode. With this feature, you can simply start shooting without having to set up the camera each time. The Kodak Astro retains the last custom settings that you saved in its memory until you replace it with a new set.
The Kodak Astro uses Kodak’s optical image stabilization system. It captures images in JPEG format and movies in at a resolution of 720p. With an Eye-fi SD card, which you will need to purchase separately, the Kodak Astro can print to PictBridge printers and upload images and movies to the internet.
Actually, that should be “Our Two Best Point and Shoots Under 200” because we have chosen co-winners – the Canon PowerShot ELPH 360 and the Kodak AZ361-WH PIXPRO Astro. Both cameras have manual options, so if you or someone in your family wants to grow as a photographer and experiment with the camera’s settings, these cameras allow that. These aren’t cameras that you will outgrow, and yet anyone in the family can still take quality photographs using these cameras in automatic point-and-shoot mode.
The ELPH 360 does have the edge when it comes to its built in Wi-Fi and NFC connectivity and its ability to capture movies in full HD with a resolution of 1080p in MPEG format. The Kodak Astro’s movies with a resolution of 720p in MOV format are fine for sharing in emails or on the internet, but they will not display well on a big screen TV. In addition, as far as we are concerned, people are accustomed to being able to share their videos and photos on social media immediately from their cell phones, so any camera that wants to compete with cell phones should have Wi-Fi and NFC built in.
What gives the Kodak Astro an edge, though, are its super zoom optical lens that extends over a range from 24mm to 864mm and its less common scene modes, such as the one designed to take photographs through glass, not only display cases, but also windows. You could capture candid shots of your kids as they play outdoors, birds at your birdfeeder, wildlife in your yard, or snow scenes without having to be out in the snow. Finally, the Astra lets you store a custom setting, so once you find a setting that works for the location you’re in, you can just select it and keep using it as long as the shooting conditions remain unchanged.
Are you an established photographer or just getting started? Regardless of your experience level, everyone needs a good action camera in their bag. Today we will be discussing action cameras that are optimal for people who are on a budget. Specifically, we will be looking for the best action camera under 100 dollars.
The first question to ask yourself before you begin your search for the best action camera is “what do I plan to use this action camera for?”. Asking yourself this question will help you to figure out if an action camera is the best type of camera for your photography needs. For example, if you plan to use your new camera at sporting events or to capture wildlife, an action camera is probably what you are looking for. If you are looking for a camera to do things such as portraits, you may want to do research on other types of cameras.
Once you have determined that an action camera is the right camera for you, you may have a few questions on how to go about selecting the perfect camera for your needs. One question you may have is what is the difference between cameras that are used for intense action and cameras that are used for daily activities. A typical digital camera may be able to do the job capturing images at a child’s sporting event or even for capturing quality wildlife photos in nature. However, if you are looking for a camera that you can take with you into the heart of the action, such as in the white water raft with you while on vacation, you may want to opt for an action-camera with a waterproof and sturdy body that can be attached to a helmet or car.
This brings us right into discussing the advantages of shooting with an action camera. The main advantage is the flexibility of this product. As previously mentioned, the camera can be worn on you or mounted somewhere to capture the best images and videos. Action cameras are also typically built strong to hold up to most conditions you would have them out in which is not typical for standard cameras unless you purchase separate protective cases and assemble them correctly. Another advantage is, of course, the content that you are able to achieve with this type of camera. The small build makes it easy to get different angles that would not be typical from a bulky DSLR camera.
Another question you may have regarding your action camera is about the quality of images produced. Is it worth it to commit to an action camera that can go on all of your adventures with you if you are not sure how the image quality will turn out? The short answer to this is that technology has progressed a lot and those tiny action cameras can produce quality photographs that normal cameras cannot simply because of their size and build. The best way to gain insight into the image quality of a particular action camera is to look at the specs. Look at the resolution for still photos as well as videos and determine if it would be up to your desired quality standards.
The software needed for an action camera will vary depending on what you plan to do with your images and videos. If you simply want to plug in the camera to your computer to transfer and save the images, you likely will not need a special software. However, if you wish to edit your images or perhaps add in audio to your videos, you may need to look into an editing software. Some computers come with a basic software and others do not so do your research before purchasing one.
The answer is that you may not need to purchase accessories, but will probably want to! You can purchase a variety of accessories depending on the make and model of the action camera you purchase. Some potential accessories may include straps so that you can wear the camera on your body or mounts that can be used to mount the camera to surfaces such as your car. Other accessories include cases and extra memory cards for the camera. A lot of these accessories can be purchased in accessory kits that are often a better value if you are in the market for more than one accessory!
This camera produces professional quality images and videos and it features a long battery life of 130 minutes at 1080p/60fps to help you focus on shooting instead of worrying for your battery life. This camera has a dual band Wi-Fi of 2.4G/5G that allows you to download your videos or your photos to your smartphone, or control the camera up to 100m. the YI Lite Action Camera is NOT waterproof, but you can add a waterproof case as an additional accessory. This camera also features a 2.0-inch- LCD touch screen that make it super easy to control.
This action camera features super 4K recording and a Sony sensor. It allows the user to shoot at 4K/30 fps and takes photos at 16m. It includes a 2 inch HD screen and a 170-degree ultra wide angle lens so that you will not miss any details in your photos or videos. Something unique to this camera is that you can control the camera with your iOS or Android device via wifi. this also means that you can instantly share your photos and videos with others.
This action camera focuses full HD video and photo resolution. At 12 MP and 1080P, you can capture quality pictures and videos with ease. It features a wide 170-degree-wide-angle lens which will allow you to shoot wider scenes such as landscapes. This camera can perform in waters up to 98 feet deep. It also features wireless remote control connection using an app on your phone. The camera comes with two re-chargeable high-capacity batteries so you will have the power to take photos whenever inspiration strikes.
This action camera is an upgraded series of the AKASO EK7000 and features K/24fps, 2K/30fps and 1080P/60FPS video resolution and 20MP photo capabilities. This camera has a unique feature where you can adjust the view angle to your needs between 170, 140, 110 and 70 degrees. It also has anti-shaking and image stability features. This camera features WiFi and HDMI so that sharing images with friends is easy. This camera is waterproof, has an IPS screen, and comes with accessories.
This action camera features 20MP and up to 4K 24 fps ultra HD video. It contains a Son image sensor that will guarantee that you capture the smallest details of your photos. It is waterproof up to 100 feet underwater and supports WiFi and HDMI to make sharing and editing your images a breeze. It features an additional screen in the front which promotes a better knowledge of the conditions of the camera without too much battery consumption. You can also connect with an HDMI cable which is not included with the camera. The company also claims to provide world-class customer service.
The clear winner of best action camera under 100 dollars is the YI Lite Action Camera. This camera is the winner of the best action camera under 100 dollars because of it's easy functionality, Additionally, it has a very long battery life of 130 minutes to help you focus on shooting instead of counting backward. This camera is a great sports action camera under $100. This camera exhibits the advantages discussed earlier in this article including the ability to be worn or mounted in a variety of places. It is also compact enough to be tucked into any bag so you are ready to capture any special moment life throws your way. Another reason this camera is at the top of the list is that it is easy to use for beginners in action photography. Ease of use is especially important when first getting into action photography because you want to be focusing on your surroundings and subjects instead of trying to get the perfect settings on your camera each for each photo.
Regardless of the action camera, you choose to go with, keep in mind the tips that have been mentioned here when doing your research and purchasing a camera.
Point and shoot cameras take up the largest segment of the digital camera market and understandably. They offer an affordable and simple way to take great pictures. After all, you just need to press the shutter button to automatically adjust the aperture, shutter speed, light sensitivity and focus. Compared to digital DSLRs that offer interchangeable lens, larger image sensors and more manual control, point and shoots can easily slip into jeans pocket and are cheaper. With hundreds of models available on the market, knowing which is the best point and shoot camera under 300 isn't the easiest task. This post explores the factors to consider when making your purchase and reviews the best models to ease your search.
The size of an image sensor directly impacts on the level of detail on photographs. The reason why images taken with smartphones appear grainy is that mobile devices have a sensor that's roughly the size of the nail on your small finger. Point and shoot cameras are a nice upgrade, with the high models offering a full frame 35 mm sensor. This makes a huge difference in image quality.
Some of the most basic point and shoots offer some assistance when it comes to shooting moving objects. This often comes in the form of autofocus that locks to keep sharp focus on the subject. Other models have a continuous shooting mode that allows you to capture several photos per second. Faster shutter speeds are a nice bonus as they make it easy to freeze moments in time.
You will be using the LCD screen to review and frame your shots and as such, quality is crucial. Go for a camera that has a display of at least 2.5" although a larger size would be better. In terms of resolution, 230K-dots should suffice. Cameras with a 460K or 921K LCD will provide better performance when shooting outdoors. You can also consider larger and high-end models that are equipped with articulating screens that rotate 360 degrees, thus allowing for angle shots. A touch screen, on the other hand, eliminates the need for physical control buttons.
The focal length tells you more about the field of view and is generally expressed as a 35mm equivalent value. On the other hand, zoom expresses how far the lens reaches. If two cameras have a 5x zoom factor but one covers 28-140mm while the other covers 28-120mm, the latter will perform better when shooting in tight spaces while the former will offer a longer telephoto lens. The downside of a budget camera with 35mm focal length is that it has difficulties framing shots with several people in a tight space.
Optical image stabilization compensates for the shakiness of your hands when capturing photos. Unless you plan on shooting on tripod all the time, it's important that your point and shoot camera have an optical image stabilizer. Almost every camera on the market has this feature so finding one with a less than $300 budget should be easy.
Almost every point and shoot camera on the market has the ability to record video. Aim for a camera that can record HD videos. Some include a micro HDMI output port for high definition playback on your television or computer. Don't forget to check whether a camera has an inbuilt microphone and allows for zoom when recording.
ISO is a measure of a camera's sensitivity to light. The amount of light passing through the sensor increases with increase in the ISO setting. A camera that allows for higher ISO settings will allow you to shoot blur-free images in low light conditions. It's important to remember that an increased ISO setting also means more image noise.
This is a basic camera that's worth considering if you are looking for great features at a budget cost. Its main selling point is the 20 MP optical zoom that equates to 25-500mm focal range. The S7000 also offers full HD video recording, a back-illuminated CMOS sensor as well as Wi-Fi an NFC connectivity. It has a fairly standard construction, with the control buttons located at the far right hand side.
This camera performs best when shooting bright light, which is to be expected for a small sensor. The colors are vibrant and if you zoom to 100%, you will notice some image smoothing at any sensitivity level. There is a noticeable loss of detail when you shoot at higher ISO sensitivities but the good thing is that image noise is kept to a minimum.
The Nikon Coolpix L340 is a low budget camera designed as an upgrade of the L330. It is equipped with 28x optical lens zoom with a focal range of 22.5 – 630mm. The 20.2 megapixel sensor is capable of a maximum light sensitivity of ISO 1600. You can use the L340 to record 1280 x 720 HD video. There are six special picture effects to customize your shots. Other unique features include the scene-detecting automatic mode and Smart Portrait Mode, which softens the skin and even warn you if someone blinks.
This is a relatively compact camera that weighs 430 grams. It boasts a chunky design, rear thumb rest and large rubberized hand grip. While it is styled like a bridge camera, the L340 has much more in common with a compact point and shoot snapper. The controls are restricted to the essentials like scene modes, flash mode, self timer, video recording and macro mode. The 3" LCD screen offers a good viewing experience with decent color reproduction and 460K-dot resolution.
First introduced in January 2016, the Canon Powershot ELPH 160 offers a lot for a low-cost point and shoot. It boasts a 20 MP sensor that pairs nicely with a 10x zoom lens covering 24-240 mm field of view. Its on/off button, zoom control and shutter release are found on the top plate while the record, menu, Wi-Fi and play buttons are on the rear of the camera.
This camera uses the Elph face detection to automatically frame portrait shots. It doesn't have a true manual exposure mode but you can use the Program Shooting feature to adjust the white balance, ISO, exposure compensation and other settings. There are also a variety of Scene modes an artistic filters that give you increased freedom to customize your photos. At 2.7 inches, the 230K-dot LCD monitor is quite small but that's to be expected given the small frame. The inbuilt WiFi and NFC connectivity allows you to connect your camera to a smartphone via the free Canon Camera Connect app.
This is an entry-level Cyber-shot camera that offers great features at low price. It is equipped with a 20.1 megapixel CCD sensor with an ISO range of 100-3200. The 5x optical lens offers a focal range of 26-130mm and allows for a 5cm minimum macro focusing ability. The camera doesn't have an image stabilization feature, which isn't much of a surprise considering the limited zoom lens reach not to mention the less than $100 price tag.
If you love taking control, you can easily adjust the white balance, ISO sensitivity and exposure compensation. There are four Picture Effect filters to customize your shots. Controls are kept at a minimum for ease of use and the body is quite sleek with black/grey finishes. The 2.7" screen has a 230K-dot resolution and isn't touch sensitive, but that's as much as you can expect at the price.
If you are a casual photographer looking to spend little on your equipment, the FZ53 is a good contender. It comes with a sleek, attractive design and a familiar brand name. You get a 5x zoom lens, which lags behind every model on this list. At just 3.7 ounces, it is lightweight and has a compact design that slips easily into your pockets.
Control buttons include Zoom, Play Mode, Set button and menu button. There is a 4-way control pad with directional buttons that allow you delete images, control the flash, set focus and adjust display settings. The 2.7" 230K-dot LCD screen is smaller than what you get with most point and shoots but at less than $90, this isn't a big deal.
Choosing the best point and shoot camera under 300 comes down to your personal needs and what features you're willing to forego at such a low budget. The trick is to find what strikes the best balance of zoom range, ISO sensitivity, video recording capabilities and other important features.
With your cell phone camera, you can easily capture a quick selfie or snapshot to share on the internet. You can even make small prints from cell phone photos, but your cell phone camera may not provide enough resolution for poster size images. Fortunately, small, portable digital cameras offer poster quality images at budget-mindful prices. The five listed below are among the best:
When you are taking a photo, the image on your digital display or digital image finder comes from the image sensor. Unlike film in a film camera, the image sensor receives an image constantly. Pressing the shutter simply tells your camera or phone to store the image in memory. So, cell phones and digital cameras take photos in the same way.
The type, size, and “wiring” of the image sensor determines how many actual pixels per inch an image has. That means that the image sensor is a more important indicator of image quality than the effective number of pixels per inch that is sometimes listed.
There are two types of image sensors – CCD sensors and CMOS sensors. Both types use photoreceptors to capture images, and each photoreceptor equals one pixel. The size of the image sensor is one factor in determining how many photoreceptors can be placed on a sensor.
With all of the circuitry and microchips that support all of the functions that a cell phone performs crowded together in compact case, most cell phones use a smaller image sensor measuring 1/2.3 inches on the diagonal. Compact mirrorless cameras also use smaller image sensors. Larger cameras have room for image sensors ranging from 1/2.3 to 1/1.7 inches on the diagonal. At the top of an extremely technical article on image sensor formats, Wikipedia provides a link to a chart where you can find information about the size of the image sensors in various cameras and mobile devices.
To use an old school term, wiring is another factor that determines how many photoreceptors can be placed on an image sensor.
On CCD sensors, the photoreceptors are wired together in a series, and the circuitry that processes the part of the image received by each photoreceptor might be at the end of each row or even at one corner of the image sensor. This means that the pixels that make up the image are processed in batches. With the processing circuitry out of the way, CCD sensors have room for more photoreceptors, and every part of the image is captured by a photoreceptor. However, processing all of the information received by each photoreceptor as part of a batch slows the speed at which CCD sensors operate.
On a CMOS image processor, each photoreceptor is surrounded by circuitry that processes the photo information received by that photoreceptor individually. CMOS sensors operate more quickly than CCD sensors, but the processing circuitry takes up space that would be used for more photoreceptors on a CCD sensor. In addition, on a CMOS sensor, parts of the image fall on the space occupied by the circuitry instead of on a photoreceptor. So, the actual information about that part of the image is lost. The camera's image processing circuitry and software compensate by using the captured information from adjacent photoreceptors to fill in the gaps between them.
One other factor that contributes to image quality is related to how many photoreceptors the image sensor contains. On sensors with larger numbers of photoreceptors, individual photoreceptors receive a smaller portion of the overall image and can capture more of the details, textures, and gradations of color in that portion of the image. On sensors with fewer photoreceptors, individual photoreceptors must capture a larger portion of the image. Consequently, fine details are lost.
There is one exception that gives an advantage to smaller image sensors, and that is zoom photography. Smaller image sensors sacrifice foreground and background detail that extends much in front of or behind the camera’s focal point which gives them a narrow depth of field. This narrow field depth improves the focus on the subject when you are using zoom photography.
SLR cameras use a mirror that reflects the image from the camera's lens to an optical viewfinder. This arrangement enables you to see the image directly through the camera's lens. However, both digital SLRs and mirrorless cameras take the photo from the image captured by the image sensor. So, mirrorless cameras dispense with the added weight and bulk of the mirror arrangement to provide a lighter weight, slimmer, easily transportable camera that can fit in a pocket, a purse, a backpack, or your luggage. Some mirrorless cameras also dispense with a digital viewfinder, using the LCD screen for composing the picture. There is no difference in how the image is captured. The only difference is in how you view the image when composing your shot.
Optical zoom is a measure of how physically close a lens can zoom in on a subject. When a subject is beyond the physical range of the camera's lens, digital zoom takes over and crops the image from the image sensor to enlarge the area that contains the subject just as you might use software to crop a photo to eliminate distracting foreground and background detail to center attention on your subject. How closely digital zoom can focus without distorting the image depends, in part, on the resolution of the camera, but it does have limits.
Lens magnification only tells you how much larger the subject looks when you view it through the camera as compared to when you look at it with your eyes. The focal length tells you the width of the view taken in by the lens compared to lenses for film cameras. The lower the number, the wider the view, but the higher the number, the more distant the subject the camera can focus on for zoom photography.
General purpose zoom lenses have a range from 35mm to 100mm or 150mm. Those lenses can handle portraits, photos of small groups, and mid-range telephoto shots, but they can leave people out of group selfies. For that reason, cameras now come with wider angle lenses. In fact, 28mm lenses do better at capturing family portraits and other group shots while either 28mm or 24mm can capture panoramic shots and photos of skyscrapers, sequoias, castles, villas, plazas, and landmarks like Big Ben or the Eiffel Tower when you're traveling. So, wide angle lenses are versatile in their own right. However, to zoom in on distant wildlife subjects or athletes on the court or field, ArsTechnica.com recommends zoom lenses with a range of at least 200mm, or even super zoom lenses with a range of 40mm or more.
The best autofocus systems are hybrids that combine a tracking system and a system that recognizes contrasts between pixels.
The tracking system, called phase detection, quickly determines the distance to the subject, detects changes in the distance that indicate motion, and then uses general details like size, shape, and color to keep the focus on the subject. Some tracking systems can even track multiple moving targets.
The contrast detection system fine tunes the focus of the tracking system by recognizing contrasts between adjacent pixels that indicate the difference between a more lighted area and a more shaded one, the difference between the color of clothing and skin tones, the difference between lip or lipstick color and teeth, and so on. This system then brings those contrasting areas into more distinct focus. The contrast detection system provides face and smile recognition, among other camera features.
An autofocus assist lamp aids focusing at night and in low light conditions. Red light autofocus assist lamps are the least noticeable to live subjects. Strobe autofocus assist lamps can startle subjects, sending wildlife running, putting subjects of a candid shot on alert, and annoying some people.
Focusing is enhanced by image stabilization. Optical stabilization occurs in the lens as tiny gyroscopes sense changes in the position of the camera and move the pieces inside the lens to compensate. Digital stabilization is performed electronically by the camera's image processing circuitry and software after the image is captured. Because optical stabilization occurs before the image is captured, it does a better job of preventing blurred still photos and jittery movies.
If your camera offers both RAW and jpeg, take your pictures in RAW when you can. RAW takes more storage space in memory, but that's because it preserves all the detail in the photograph. It can take longer for a camera to process RAW images, though, so you may need to switch to jpeg for burst mode or action shots. You may also need to use jpeg for shooting in low light conditions.
The one important thing you should know about jpeg is that it was created to save memory storage space. It does that by condensing the image file, and it will condense the file again each time you open it for editing and then save it. That means that each time you open and then save the image, you lose more and more details. To prevent this, when you upload your images to your computer, use your image editing software to save your files in either png or tiff format. These file formats will preserve the details in your images, and many sites allow you upload png files just as you do jpg files.
When shooting HD movies, a resolution of 1080p is best for playback on large screen TVs, but 720p is fine for the internet.
Other Features that will add to your enjoyment of your camera include:
HD movie mode with sound
Ability to use the zoom lens while filming
Microphone jack to eliminate the operating noise of the zoom lens for better movie sound quality
Image stabilization to eliminate blurred still photos and jittery movie shots
Timer delay settings so everyone can get into the picture and for time lapse photography
A tripod socket for time delay settings, time lapse photography, and movies
Autofocus settings to use while you and your family learn photography
Manual controls that enable you to take more control over your photography as you learn
Face and smile recognition software, multiple focus points, and multiple tracking focus
Lighting jack to connect external flashes
ISO settings from at least 100 to 1000 which compare to standard film speeds
Burst mode to rapidly shoot a series of still images for photographing kids and pets
PictBridge printer compatibility
The Kodak Pixpro FZ4 is a mirrorless camera that comes with a 16 MP 1/2.3" CCD image sensor, a lens that zooms from 28mm to 140mm, an autofocus assist lamp, a tripod socket, and digital image stabilization. The lens provides 5X magnification with an additional 8X magnification from the digital zoom. The self timer can be set for delays of two seconds and 10 seconds or tied to smile detection. In continuous shooting mode, the PixPro will capture images for as long as the shutter is depressed, or you can set the camera to time lapse mode to capture images for 30 seconds, one minute, five minutes, or ten minutes. The Pixpro FZ4 captures jpeg stills and HD movies with sound in MOV (motion jpeg) at a resolution of 720p. ISO sensitivities equal film speeds ranging from 80 to 1600. It offers macro mode, panorama mode, landscape and night landscape mode, and portrait mode, backlit portrait mode, and night portrait mode among a selection of 21 pre-set scene modes. The camera can be set for up to nine focus points, and using continuous autofocus turns on tracking. The FZ4 includes face recognition, blink recognition, and smile recognition. As you learn, the camera's manual mode let's you take control of the settings. The settings for the built-in flash include a fill flash and red eye reduction. The camera comes in red or black. It is compatible with PictBridge wireless printers and uses Eye-Fi for Wi-Fi connection to upload photos to your computer. It has 8 MB of internal storage and accepts SD cards up to 32 GB but does not support MMC cards. It uses a rechargeable li-ion battery and has a battery life of approximately two hours or 200 pictures, so carrying an extra battery or two is probably a good idea.
The Nikon Coolpix L32 is a mirrorless camera. It uses a 20.1 MP 1/2.3 CCD image sensor. The Nikkor lens zooms from 26mm to 130mm with an optical magnification of 5X and an additional 4X of digital zoom. The L32 shoots still photos in jpeg and HD movies with sound in MOV (motion jpeg) with a resolution of 720p. ISO sensitivities equal film speeds ranging from 80 to 1600. The Coolpix offers digital image stabilization, tracking of a single subject with the use of full time focus, face detection, smile detection, and pet detection. The self timer can be set for smile detection or to delay the shutter for 10 seconds. Even when the timer is not set, the camera fires automatically when it detects a smile on someone's face. When it detects a pet's face, it automatically shoots a series of three pictures in a row. The Smart Portrait system includes a skin softening mode. Other options include macro mode and pre-set scene settings such as night modes for landscape and portrait mode, and backlit mode. When you hold the shutter down, the camera shoots continuously. The camera does not provide an option for choosing photo settings manually, but settings for the built-in flash include fill and red eye reduction. The Coolpix L32 does have a tripod socket and an autofocus assist lamp, but it does not have a microphone or lighting jack or Wi-Fi capabilities. The Coolpix uses either two AA alkaline batteries that have an average life of 320 photos, two AA size FR6/L91 lithium batteries with an average life of 950 photos, or rechargeable EN-MH1 Ni-MH batteries with an average life of 570 photos.
The Canon PowerShot SX600 HS Digital Camera uses a 1/2.3" CMOS image sensor with an effective resolution of 16.1 MP. With a zoom range from 25mm to 450mm for a magnification of 18X with an additional digital zoom magnification of 4X, this mirrorless Canon PowerShot can handle a wide range of subjects. The Canon SX600 offers optical image stabilization, nine focus points in face recognition mode, smile recognition, red eye reduction, an autofocus assist lamp, the HS system for enhanced low light performance, and continuous tracking. ISO sensitivities equal film speeds from 100 to 3200. The self timer can be set to a custom setting, tied to smile recognition, or set to two seconds or 10 seconds. The PowerShot SX600 captures photos in jpeg and full HD movies in stereo sound with resolutions of 1080p, 720p, and 480p in MP4 format. In addition to macro and portrait mode, the SX600 includes a setting that compensates for camera movement if you take a photo at night while holding the camera, and long shutter mode lets you blur moving objects for capturing city street scenes at night. The built-in Wi-Fi allows you to upload still shots and videos to storage or social media sites or send photos to your computer or your iOS or Android phone or tablet. You can also control all of the camera's features from your phone or tablet. The camera is compatible with Canon SELPHY and inkjet printers and all PictBridge printers. It uses rechargeable NB-6LH Li-ion batteries with an average battery life of 290 shots in normal mode or 430 shots in power conserving Eco mode. The camera comes in red, black, or silver.
The Nikon Coolpix L320 comes uses a 16.1 MP 1/2.3" CCD image sensor. The lens zooms from 4mm to 104mm for an optical magnification of 26X with an additional digital zoom magnification of 4X. The camera provides both optical and digital image stabilization. It captures still images in jpeg and HD movies with sound in MOV (motion jpeg) at a resolution of 720p. ISO sensitivities equal film speeds from 80 to 1600. The Coolpix L320 offers pet detection, face detection, smile detection, skin softening, panorama mode, landscape and night landscape mode, portrait and night portrait mode, and macro mode. In portrait mode, the camera can recognize three faces and adjust the settings to produce the best skin tones. The self timer can be set to 10 seconds or tied to smile detection. The camera shoots automatically when it detects a smile. In pet portrait mode, the camera can automatically recognize one or more pet faces and shoot three pictures in a row. The L320 has an autofocus assist lamp and tripod socket but does not have a lighting or microphone jack. It also does not appear to have tracking. It can use Eye-Fi to wirelessly upload photos to your computer. It uses four AA alkaline batteries with an average life of 310 shots, four AA lithium batteries with an average life of 810 shots, or four EN-MH2 Ni-MH rechargeable batteries with an average life of 450 shots.
The Sony DSCW800/B is a mirrorless camera that comes with a 20.1 MP 1/2.3” CCD image sensor. The Carl Zeiss Vario-Tessar lens zooms from 26mm to 130mm for an optical magnification of 5X with an additional digital zoom of 10X. The Sony DSCW800/B uses optical image stabilization and features face detection, smile detection, and tracking of a single subject. The built-in flash has a fill mode, but red eye reduction is controlled by the camera's automatic settings. This Sony camera captures still images in jpeg and HD movies with sound in AVI MPEG4 at 720p. ISO sensitivities equal film speeds from 100 to 3200. The self timer can be set to two seconds or 10 seconds, but the smile detection shutter is a separate mode not connected to the self timer. When smile detection mode is set, the camera automatically shoots a burst of up to six pictures. Portrait mode applies a softer focus not only to soften skin for portraits but also to any other subjects you choose such as nostalgic shots or flowers. In panorama mode, instead of taking a number of separate pictures, hold the shutter button down and sweep the camera across the scene up to a full 360°. The camera shoots continuously as you sweep and then stitches the pictures together into one image. The camera also includes macro mode, pet mode, backlit mode, landscape mode, night scene mode, and settings for portraits, backlit portraits, and night portraits. While the Sony DSCW800/B has an autofocus assist lamp and tripod socket, it does not have a microphone or lighting jack. All of the settings appear to be automatic with no option for manual control. This camera comes in back or silver and uses a rechargeable NP-BN lithium ion battery pack.
For those who want an easy to use camera that takes care of all of the settings, we recommend either the Nikon Coolpix L32 or the Nikon Coolpix L320. These two cameras not only take care of all the settings, but they also shoot automatically when they detect a smiling face in portrait mode or a pet face in pet mode. Both cameras take multiple shots in pet mode while the Coolpix L320 also takes multiple shots in portrait mode.
For everyone else, we recommend the versatile Canon PowerShot SX600 HS. It does use a CMOS image sensor instead of the CCD sensor, but the PowerShot offers continuous tracking of up to nine focus points, optical image stabilization, and an optical zoom range that extends from 25mm to 450mm. You can use it to capture everything from large group selfies to architecture or panoramic landscapes to sporting events, performers on a stage, or distant wildlife.
With the Canon PowerShot SX600 HS, you can capture full HD movies with stereo sound at a resolution of 1080p that will look good when you play them back on a big screen TV, or you can capture still photos and vlog posts at 720p and use the built-in Wi-Fi to upload them to the internet from anywhere you have a connection. The built-in Wi-Fi also allows you to transfer your images and movies wirelessly to your computer or to your iOS or Android phone or tablet. You can even control all of the camera's functions remotely from your iOS or Android phone or tablet.
If you have been studying the settings on your smart phone or point-and-shoot camera to learn how to improve the pictures you’ve been taking, you might have begun thinking about how you could fine tune the settings to improve your photos even more. Automatic settings are helpful for taking a quick shot on the go, at times when you might miss the picture if you took time to adjust the settings, but they are limiting when you are ready to begin experimenting on your own. There are several things to consider when purchasing a more advanced camera.
The number of pixels per inch is one indication of image quality, but it is the type and size of image sensor that determines how many pixels per inch your camera has.
There are two types of image sensors – CCD and CMOS, and they can range in size from 1/2.3 inches to 1/1.7 inches, measured on the diagonal. Cell phone cameras and compact mirrorless cameras use smaller image sensors, while larger digital cameras have room for larger image sensors. At the beginning of a detailed, technical article on image sensor formats, Wikipedia includes a link to a chart showing the sizes of the image sensors used in various devices.
Both types of image sensors use photoreceptors to constantly record the image from the camera's lens, and each photoreceptor equals one pixel.
The more photoreceptors the image sensor contains, the more pixels per inch the images contain and the more details each photoreceptor records. The fewer photoreceptors there are, the larger the portion of the image that each photoreceptor receives and the less detail it contains. The difference between the two types of image sensors lies in the way the photoreceptors are placed on the image sensor and in the way the image is processed.
On CCD image sensors, the photoreceptors are connected to the image processing software in batches. The connection may be at the end of each row or at one corner of the sensor. This allows more photoreceptors to be placed on CCD image sensors, but the batch processing of the image slows the operation of the sensors.
On CMOS image sensors, each photoreceptor is surrounded by image processing circuitry, and the part of the image received by each photoreceptor is processed independently. That speeds up the operation of the sensors, but the circuitry takes up space that would be used for more photoreceptors on a CCD sensor. Further, part of the image falls on spaces occupied by circuitry rather than on a photoreceptor. To compensate, the image processing software must use the parts of the image provided by adjacent photoreceptors to fill in what is missing. However, miniaturizing circuitry and more advanced image processing software both continue to improve CMOS image sensors, making these more affordable, mass-produced sensors more common.
The magnification factor only reveals how much larger the subject appears when you look at it through the lens as compared to how large it looks when you look at it with your eyes. Focal length, on the other hand, tells you how wide of an angle the lens will capture in a picture. So focal length provides you with an idea of how much will be included in the image.
Lenses with smaller focal lengths capture wider angles and are the best choice for group portraits and selfies, panoramas, and photographs of skyscrapers and other tall or expansive buildings. Although it used to be common for digital cameras to come with general purpose lenses with focal length ranges of from 35mm to 100mm or 150mm, that has changed with the popularity of selfies. Cameras now are more likely to come with a zoom lens with a wider angle that can capture selfies of large groups and even crowds. Arstechnica.com and PC Magazine's online edition, PCMag.com, both recommend zoom lenses with a wide angle range of at least 28mm for group portraits of family and friends. ArsTechnica.com suggests lenses of 24mm for landscapes, panoramas, and photographs of architecture.
Lenses with longer focal lengths have smaller angles that allow them to zoom in tightly on distant subjects. These lenses are best for capturing candid shots, wildlife, or athletes or performers in action. To capture these images, ArsTechnica.com suggests zoom lenses with a range of at least 200mm or even super-zoom lenses with a range of 400mm or more.
Image stabilization systems compensate for camera movement while you are taking a picture or filming a movie. These systems even can allow you to walk while shooting so that you can keep up with active subjects.
Optical image stabilization occurs in the camera lens as tiny gyroscopes sense movement and adjust the elements within the lens to compensate. Because the corrections occur before the picture is ever taken, optical image stabilization is less likely to introduce noise or distortions into the image.
Digital image stabilization consists of corrections applied to the image by the camera's image processing software after the photo is taken. Some image editing software has adjustments for movement that allow you to make corrections similar to those applied by the camera.
If you have attempted to make corrections for movement yourself, you may have discovered how easy it is to introduce noise or distortion into the image. For that reason, optical image stabilization is a better solution for eliminating camera movement, although some cameras offer both.
Optical zoom simply refers to the physical range of the angles that the zoom lens can photograph. Digital cameras then add digital zoom to help focus on subjects that are so far distant that they are beyond the physical range of the lens.
Digital zoom uses the same process as image editing software uses when you crop a picture to better focus on the intended subject and eliminate distractions in the background or to either side. Consequently, just as there is a point when you cannot crop in on your intended subject any more tightly because the image loses focus and becomes blurred and indistinct, there is also a point when the image will become blurred and indistinct when using digital zoom.
It's better to choose a camera or lens with a longer optical zoom range than to rely too much on digital zoom if you want to practice wildlife photography or capture your kids in action performing on stage or in the middle of a competition.
Even if you are ready to take more control of your camera's settings, a camera with a continuous or tracking autofocus, makes it easier to capture images of moving targets. Wikipedia provides a thorough if sometimes technical article outlining how various autofocus systems work, how they evolved, and how they compare with each other.
The best autofocus system is a hybrid that combines a tracking, or phase recognition system, with a contrast recognition system.
Phase recognition or tracking systems let you set one or more focus points, which the camera then identifies by features such as comparative size, shape, and color. The camera uses predictive software to track the speed and direction of the subject or subjects to keep them in focus in general.
To bring the subject or subjects into the sharpest focus, the camera uses contrast detection. The contrast detection system measures how blurred the image is by determining the amount of distinct contrast between adjacent photoreceptors on the image sensor. It continues to improve the focus until it achieves a clear distinction between each pixel received by the photoreceptors. This is also the system that cameras use for features such as face detection, pet detection, smile detection, and blink detection.
Cameras that use optical focus systems, such as phase and contrast recognition systems, rely on an autofocus assist lamp to operate in low light.
The best type of lamp uses red light, which is the least likely to be noticed by your subjects. It won't startle wildlife subjects and frighten them away, and it won't awaken a sleeping pet, child, friend, partner, or spouse if you happen to capture one of these subjects in a cute, goofy, odd, or otherwise priceless pose.
Some cameras use a quick strobe-like flash of white light. This will definitely startle wildlife, and it is likely to startle people as well. These types of assist lamps can ruin photo opportunities, especially if you are trying to capture a candid shot.
With the continuing popularity of sharing photos on social media, some cameras come with the ability to connect to the internet on their own. As long as you have a Wi-Fi connection, you can upload your photos as soon as you take them. Some cameras also allow you to use the Wi-Fi connection to control some or all of your camera’s functions remotely from your smart phone or tablet. This capability makes it easy to include yourself in a group shot, make sure that every person in a large group is in included, or film yourself giving a demonstration or engaging in some other activity for a vlog post. A Wi-Fi ready camera also may allow you to transfer pictures directly to wireless printers.
NFC capabilities allow you to share photos from your camera with friends and family members who have phones, tablets, or cameras that also have NFC capabilities. Simply touch the devices together.
At one time, cameras offered the choice of taking photos in RAW or JPEG. The RAW, TIFF, and PNG formats preserve all of the details in your photographs, but that means they also require more storage space on your camera, computer, tablet, or phone. JPEG, on the other hand, conserves space by condensing the image as it saves it. However, each time you open a JPEG image to edit it and then resave it, it is condensed yet again. So, each time you resave an image in JPEG, you are losing more and more of the image. For that reason, before editing your images, you should use your photo editing software to save them as either TIFF or PNG files. The PNG format has become one that is commonly used, and images in that format can be uploaded to most sites.
MP4 is a popular format for movies, and HD movies with resolutions of 720p are fine for sharing on the internet. If you want to show your movies to family or friends on a widescreen TV, though, they will look better in full HD with a resolution of 1080p.
The Canon PowerShot SX-620 comes with a 1/2.3 inch 20.2 MP CMOS image sensor, optical image stabilization, an LCD viewfinder, a tripod socket, an autofocus assist lamp, and a zoom lens with a range of focal lengths from 25mm to 620mm for an optical zoom magnification of 25X with an additional digital zoom magnification of 4X. With macro mode, you can come as close as 1 cm to your subject. You can fine tune the image stabilization by choosing settings for shooting stills, for shooting stills as you pan the camera, for shooting movies as you walk, or for shooting movies or stills while using a tripod.
The SX-620 can track up to nine subjects, and the camera can be set to automatically take the picture when someone smiles, signals the camera with a wink, or when an additional face, the photographer’s face, enters a group shot. It captures still images in JPEG and movies in full HD in MP4 format with monaural sound at a resolution of 1080p.
In addition to burst mode, the SX-620 offers a combination of video and still photography, hybrid auto mode, that shoots up to four seconds of video before capturing the still shot. At the end of the day, the camera then edits these hybrid auto mode shots into a highlight reel in HD format with a resolution of 720p, which would be a perfect way to commemorate holidays and family gatherings, vacations, birthdays and anniversaries, and weddings, graduations, and other special occasions.
You can use the automatic settings or take increasing control of the settings yourself through “P” or program mode.
The Wi-Fi connection lets you upload photos to social media sites, store them for sharing later, wirelessly transfer images to your computer or wireless printer, or control all of your camera’s functions from your iOS or Android smart phone or tablet. The NFC connection allows sharing between NFC devices.
The SX-620 uses rechargeable lithium ion NB-13L batteries with an approximate battery life of 295 shots in standard mode or 405 in Eco (economy) mode. An external, high-powered flash is available as an optional accessory.
The Canon PowerShot ELPH 190 includes a 20.0 MP 1/2.3 inch CCD image sensor, an autofocus assist lamp, an LCD viewfinder, a tripod socket, and a zoom lens with a focus length ranging from 24mm to 240mm for an optical magnification of 10X with an additional digital zoom magnification of 4X. The ELPH 190 provides optical image stabilization that can be fine-tuned for specific shooting situations, such as shooting or filming while walking, shooting while panning the camera, or filming while using a tripod.
The ELPH 190 captures still images in JPEG format and shoots HD movies with sound in MP4 format at a resolution of 720p. It can track up to three subjects and recognize up to nine faces, and you can tie face detection to the self-timer to delay the shutter until the face of the designated photographer enters the shot. In macro mode, you can capture your subject from as close as 1 cm.
When you’re ready to start experimenting with the camera settings on your own, simply switch to “P” mode.
With the ELPH 190, you can connect to the internet to store images, upload them to social media, or send them to a wireless printer. You can also control the camera from your iOS or Android smart phone or tablet. The camera’s NFC capabilities allow you to send photos to other NFC devices with just a touch.
The ELPH 190 uses rechargeable Canon NB-11L lithium ion batteries with a battery life of approximately 190 photos in regular mode or 245 in Eco mode. An external high-powered flash is available as an accessory.
The Canon PowerShot ELPH 360 comes equipped with a 20.2 MP 1/2.3 inch CMOS image sensor, an LCD viewfinder, an autofocus assist lamp, and a lens with a focal length that ranges from 25mm to 300mm for an optical magnification of 12X with an additional digital zoom magnification of 4X. As with the SX-620 and the ELPH 190, the optical image stabilization system can be set to compensate for a variety specific of shooting situations.
The ELPH 360 can track up to nine subjects and the self-timer can be tied to smile detection, wink detection, and to the recognition of a new face entering the shot, like the photographer’s face. The camera captures still photos in JPEG and movies in full HD with sound in MP4 format with a resolution of 1080p. Macro mode allows you to shoot small subjects at a distance as close as 1 cm.
Like the SX-620, the ELPH 360 comes with hybrid auto mode. You can set the camera to shoot up to four seconds of video before it captures the still image. At the end of the day, the camera compiles all of the files together into an HD highlight movie at a resolution of 720p.
As with the SX-620 and the ELPH 190, switching to "P” mode allows you to experiment with the camera settings and change them to suit your preferences.
The ELPH 360’s NFC connection allows you to share photos and movies with other NFC devices just by touching them together. The Wi-Fi connection allows you control your camera remotely from your iOS or Android phone or tablet, upload images and movies to share on social media sites, store them for editing or sharing later, or send them to wireless printers.
Like the ELPH 190, the ELPH 360 uses rechargeable Canon NB-11L lithium ion batteries with a battery life of approximately 180 photos in regular mode or 265 in Eco mode. An external high-powered flash is available as an accessory.
The Sony DSCWX220 offers an 18.2 MP 1/2 .3 inch CMOS image sensor, an autofocus assist lamp, an LCD viewfinder, a tripod socket, and a zoom lens with a focal length range of 25mm to 250mm for an optical zoom magnification of 10X with an additional 4X of digital zoom. It includes optical image stabilization that supports sweep panorama shots of up to 360° in panorama mode.
The camera captures still images in JPEG and movies in full HD with sound in MP4 at a resolution of 1080p. When you are shooting a movie, you can use a control on the camera to reduce the wind noise picked up by the microphone.
Motion shot video captures the subject in motion in a series of superimposed images displayed in isolation against a single background. Imagine your child leaping with the basketball to make a basket; passing a football; making a goal or a touchdown; leaping a track hurdle; completing a triple axle; or racing across a finish line.
Face recognition can be tied to the self-timer to delay shooting until everyone is in the picture. The DSCWX220 also uses face recognition when shooting in sweep panorama mode to reduce distortions when stitching the individual images together, even if the owners of the faces happen to be moving as the sweep panorama shot is being taken.
The DSCWX220 allows you to choose some camera settings, such as selecting the white balance setting to compensate for shade, fluorescent or incandescent lighting, or other lighting conditions. You can also choose among ISO settings from 100 to 3200. This camera doesn’t allow photographers full manual access to the settings, however.
You can create Blu-Ray discs with the DSCWX220, and the Wi-Fi connection allows you to control the camera’s shutter remotely from your Android phone or tablet. You can also use either the Wi-Fi or NFC connection to share photos with Android devices.
The DSCWX220 uses rechargeable NP-BN lithium ion batteries with a battery life of approximately 210 photos.
The Nikon CoolPix B500 comes with a 16.0 MP 1/2.3 inch CMOS image sensor; optical image stabilization; a tripod socket; a flexible, pop-up LCD viewfinder; an autofocus assist lamp; and a Nikkor lens with a focal length range from 22.5mm to 900mm for an optical magnification of 40X with an additional digital zoom of 4X. With macro mode, you can shoot from as close as 1 cm away from small subjects.
The automatic focus uses face recognition to give priority to the faces it detects. If it detects more than one face, it gives priority to the closest face. If it does not detect any faces, it divides the frame into nine focal points and gives priority to those with objects that are closest to the camera. If your true subject is not one of the objects closest to the camera, move one of the focal points to your subject to select it, push the shutter halfway down to lock the focus settings, compose your shot, and press the shutter all the way down to take the picture.
The CoolPix B500 captures still photos in JPEG and movies in full HD with stereo sound in MP4 with a resolution of 1080p. Nikon’s Snapbridge app connects the camera to your iOS or Android smart phone or tablet, allowing you to take remote control of the camera, transfer pictures to your devices, or upload your images to the storage space Nikon provides to Nikon camera purchasers. In addition to Wi-Fi and NFC connections, the Coolpix B500 also connects to Bluetooth devices.
Like the Sony DSCWX220, the CoolPix B500 does not provide photographers with many options for taking manual control of the camera’s settings.
The camera uses four AA batteries which can be LR6/L40 alkaline batteries, FR6/L91 lithium batteries, or rechargeable EN/MH2 batteries. The alkaline batteries have an approximate battery life of 600 photos, the lithium batteries have an approximate battery life of 1240 photos, and the EN/MH2 batteries have an approximate battery life of 750 photos.
While each of these cameras have unique and interesting features, we award the title of best camera under 300 to, drum roll please, the Canon PowerShot SX-620. The SX-620 offers automatic controls to those just starting to learn about photography, while giving developing photographers the most access to the camera settings, which allows them to experiment and continue to learn. The range of focal lengths provided by the zoom lens comes close to ArsTechnica.com’s recommendation of 24mm for landscapes and architecture and exceeds their recommendations for wildlife, sports, and other types of long distance or telephoto photography. Being able to fine tune the image stabilization for different situations is a definite plus. The ability to tie the self timer to face recognition, smile recognition, or wink recognition is another plus. We like the idea of the video highlight reel for commemorating special occasions. The ability to control the camera remotely is a great asset to those who include themselves in the action. The ability to connect directly to social media sites to upload videos and photos provides freshness, immediacy, and a you-are-there feel, not only for those sharing memorable events with distant friends and family members but also for vloggers and citizen journalists. The features of this camera benefit a wide range of users, and that is why we recommend it.
Defiantly not easy to be a photographer! 🙂