We've done several posts here recently on point-and-shoots, a subject which is, despite all the attention, not near and dear to my heart. We have learned, among other things, that some people like the little stinkers; that the best ones are made by a company (Ricoh) that doesn't sell its products in North America; and that, in any case, no one can agree on the definition of just what a point-and-shoot is.

Here, for the record, and in hard-to-read rainbow colors (sue me, I'm bored), is a description of Ten Features an ideal point-and-shoot would have, in no particular order.

Feature 1: True shirt-pocket size
Reason: Many serious photogs who use p/s cameras do so because they're portable and painless to pack.

Feature 2: No more than 8 megapixels—6 would be better
Reason: Where too-tiny sensors are concerned, more pixels mean lower image quality, past a certain point.

Feature 3: RAW capability
Reason: Using a RAW converter is the best way to extract more image quality out of any given sensor, and eliminates the worry and fuss of setting white balance while shooting.

Feature 4: Waterproof, shockproof, and freeze-proof
Reason: A take-anywhere camera should be able to be taken anywhere.

Feature 5: A zoom lens of no more than 3X, 28–85mm equivalent, ƒ/2.8 or faster on the short end.
Reason: Greater magnification zooms compromise on image quality, and are slower. Most photographers can do anything that needs doing with these focal lengths.

Feature 6: Reasonably noise-free to ISO 400.
Reason: I know, it's asking a lot of a small sensor. Still, Fuji manages.

Feature 7: An articulated LCD
Reason: Many tinycam users use the LCD as a viewfinder.

Feature 8: An optical viewfinder
Reason: Many tinycam users prefer not to use the LCD as a viewfinder.

Feature 9: Anti-Shake/Image Stabilization/Whatever Yawanna Callit
Reason: It's a very useful feature, especially in low light and with tiny cameras that are hard to hold. (I'm still impressed with this technology.)

Feature 10: Must be fast, responsive, and very quiet, with excellent shutter lag and shutter release feel.
Reason: Because this is a criterion that should be met by any camera that is meant to take pictures with.

I might point out, modestly, that I've also just devised the perfect point-and-shoot rating system. Any camera can be evaluated by simply awarding ten points for any of the above features it has. Zero is worst, 100 is best. I am a genius. Modest, too.

The 100-point camera described above will most likely never be made, because cameras of this type aren't made for photographers and never have been. Still, a number of existing cameras actually come pretty close on various fronts—there might even be some cameras out there that score a 50 or a 60—so there's no point in complaining.


Featured Comment by OK-1K: "If you ask a random teenager who's browsing through Best Buy for XBox 360 games what they require from a point and shoot camera, you essentially receive the instructions that millions of dollars of marketing acumen and sampling tell the camera companies every year:

1. It has to be small, futuristic, and shiny so that it will look cool when I non-chalantly show it off to friends.
2. It has to be able to zoom in really close, just in case a girl is looking super hot and I'm too far away to see anything with my own eyes.
3. It has to be able to have enough shutter lag for me to blame my lack of photo talent on the camera.
4. It must have a flash so that people will know I've taken their picture, because otherwise they don't know to stop posing until I tell them. And I hate talking.
5. It must be able to take pictures in the dark, because I'm mostly nocturnal and spend most of my time in basements or clubs.
6. The LCD display needs to be big so that I never have to print anything and can just show people the back of my camera for 95% of what I take. The rest I'll just upload lo-res to Photobucket for my MySpace page.
7. If my parents have to spend more than the cost of an iPod on it, I'll never hear the end of it when I inevitably lose it or drop it in a pool.
8. I need it to do HD video, too. Again, just in case that hot girl is around.
9. The fewer buttons the better. I only have one belly button and that's the way I roll, so that's how I want my camera to roll.
10. And, finally, could I just subscribe to your company for an annual fee and receive the latest model every 6 months, because these things are disposable, right?

"Anyhow, hats off to you Mike for keeping this POS topic rolling. I hope the powers that be read your blog."


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