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Thread: Classification of cameras: compact or P&S (point and shoot)?

  1. #1
    Panama Hat & Camera's Avatar
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    Classification of cameras: compact or P&S (point and shoot)?

    Is it correct to call P&S (point and shoot) a compact camera that has manual controls? Since almost all full frame cameras can take pictures in fully automatic mode, I think the P&S is primarily a mode of operation (which may be the only way in simpler compact cameras) than one type of camera.
    I believe that the following classification would be more correct:
    1 - no interchangeable lens cameras (compact cameras): simple compact cameras, travelzooms, superzooms, bridges;
    2 - interchangeable lens cameras: mirrorless and DSLR.
    Am I correct?
    Antonio.

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    Administrator Manfred M's Avatar
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    Re: Classification of cameras: compact or P&S (point and shoot)?

    I would suggest that a point & shoot camera has minimal, if any, manual controls. The ones I own have no capability for manual selection of aperture, shutter speed or ISO settings. Even the flash comes on without any prompting. I can makes some minimal adjustments identifying the type of scene, zoom in and out and I can make some minor modifications with flash behavior, and that's about it. In general, this type of camera has no viewfinder other than the LCD screen on the back of the camera.

    That is what point & shoot is all about. Pick up the camera, frame the shot and take a picture, no other user input is required.

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    Re: Classification of cameras: compact or P&S (point and shoot)?

    There's all the difference in the world between a bridge/superzoom for 450 dollars or so, and a compact P&S for 80. Of course you can use the latter like the former, but not vice versa. Only you're not likely to keep a superzoom in your coat pocket just in case.

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    Re: Classification of cameras: compact or P&S (point and shoot)?

    Personally, when I see the term, "P&S," the only thing that I expect to be true is that the camera does not have interchangeable lenses. Some people seem to distinguish between expensive non-interchangeable lens cameras and inexpensive ones (in which case the latter are "P&S"); some people may distinguish between an ultrazoom and a smaller-body cameras (again with the latter being "P&S"); etc. I am not aware of anyone referring to low-end DSLRs as P&S, but I don't really know why -- ISTM that the most common use of "P&S" is as a way of looking down on the tool so designated, and there is no shortage of folks who look down on DSLRs that cost less than the one they use. But "P&S" never seems to stretch quite that far. Go figure.

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    Re: Classification of cameras: compact or P&S (point and shoot)?

    I think that the term P&S can be rather loosely interpreted and unless the "nomenclature police" are called, it is unlikely that there will ever be a definition which all photograaphers can agree upon.

    My first digital camera was an Olympus C5050Z (early 21st Century) which I often refer to as a P&S. However this camera has some surprising bells and whistles for a camera of its basic type:

    It shoots in RAW
    It has two memory card slots **
    It has auto ISO or manual ISO selection from ISO 64 - ISO 400 (remember this was an early model camera)
    Hot shoe
    Optical or LCD viewfinder
    Manual, P, Aperture & Shutter Priority exposure control
    Spot metering caapability
    Exposure compensation
    Exposure bracketing
    Selectable white balance control
    Continuous burst of up to 3 FPS (remember this camera is over 10 years old)
    Video mode
    4-second audio recording capability after each shot **
    Spot meter capability
    Auto and manual focus
    Self timer and remote control (supplied)
    Custom button to allow control of settings at users choice (Sort of like Canon's User Selected Mode)

    This is a plethora of controls, and I probably should not call it a P&S. It is really more like an early bridge camera than a P&S, except that the optical zoom is rather short. There are even two capabilities that my 7D does not include and that I really wish it did include:

    1. Dual memory card slots
    2. Audio record capability to identify shots


    However, I still refer to this camera as my P&S.

    BTW: It cost, when new, more than many entry level DSLR cameras + kit lenses cost now. I remember paying in the area of $700 U.S. Dollars for this camera. However at the time, DSLR cameras cost in the several thousands...

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    Re: Classification of cameras: compact or P&S (point and shoot)?

    And let's not forget the point and shoot throw away film cameras where you basically can only point and shoot the camera. Most compact cameras do allow you to make pre-programmed changes (sports, night portrait) where apertures, shutter speeds, and ISO settings are changed, at least and this is where p&s photographers can learn how to make adjustments to their images beyond what the camera will typically allow them to do. Of course, the aperture adjustments on point and shoot cameras are usually limited (3.1-=5.6) depending on the model.
    Last edited by Shadowman; 31st December 2012 at 05:14 PM. Reason: added text

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    Re: Classification of cameras: compact or P&S (point and shoot)?

    Quote Originally Posted by tclune View Post
    Personally, when I see the term, "P&S," the only thing that I expect to be true is that the camera does not have interchangeable lenses...
    Ditto. Fixed lens is one hallmark. But I'll also assume a zoom lens and a smaller sensor, i.e., the sensor size is closer to 1/2.3"-format size than it is to APS-C. Once the sensor size hits 2/3" format and larger and the lens doesn't zoom is when the nomenclature changes for me.

    Manual control, to me, has nothing to do with it. All three of my P&S Canon Powershots, the S30, G9 and S90, have had RAW capability and all the PSAM modes. I still call them P&Ses (with a minor subclassification of being "enthusiast compacts").

    To me, P&S cameras break down into four subcategories, and I'll tend to use the following terminology to be more specific. There's 1) "digital compact" (i.e., small sensor, fewer controls, what most folks think of when you say P&S; 2.3" format sensor), 2) "bridge camera" (SLR body style, usually superzoom, may have PSAM, hotshoe, and RAW, but 1/2.3" sensor), 3) "enthusiast compact" (box style, usually smaller zoom range, but large max. aperture, PSAM, RAW, maybe a hotshoe, and slightly larger than 1/2.3" sensor (e.g., 1/1.7")), and 4) "large-sensor compact" with 1"-format all the way up to full frame-sized sensors (Sony RX-100, Fuji X-100, Canon GX-1, Sony RX-1, etc.)

    This fourth category is the only one where I'd mentally begin classing half the cameras as P&S and the other half as "mirrorless". And that's around whether the lens is a zoom (P&S: RX-100, GX-1) or a prime (Fuji X-100, Sony RX-1).

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    Moderator Dave Humphries's Avatar
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    Re: Classification of cameras: compact or P&S (point and shoot)?

    To me "P&S" means; small physical size (pocketable), small sensor, small fixed zoom lens (e.g. 5x zoom), so I classify my S100 as P&S even though it does have PASM and shoots RAW.

    "Bridge" means DSLR body style, small sensor, longer fixed zoom lens (e.g. 10x or more), so I classify my old Fuji S6500 and Nikon P510 as Bridge.

    "DSLR" means true DSLR and mirrorless, interchangeable lenses with a larger sensor (e.g. 4/3 (2x cf ) upwards).

    That leaves the mirrorless 2.7x cf Nikon 1 series (and similar interchangeable lens models), unclassified by me - because I don't own one.
    I am unlikely to get one, they seem to be smack in the middle of what I have and don't offer sufficient advantage over what I have now to be worth considering.

    The fixed lens digital retro rangefinder cameras are easier to classify, because of what they are.

    Cheers,

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    Panama Hat & Camera's Avatar
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    Re: Classification of cameras: compact or P&S (point and shoot)?

    I've been looking at tutorials and the cameras are classified into two groups: point and shoot and DSLR (the compact cameras are all classified as point and shoot).
    Actually, most of the low end compact cameras are point and shoot, but there are several good compact cameras that have full manual controls (eg Canon S100, Sony RX100, Canon G1X, Nikon P7100, Canon SX50, Nikon P510, Fujifilm X-S1 etc) and I think that classify them as point and shoot is somewhat depreciative (but I know that DSLR are, in general, better than compact cameras).
    For me "point and shoot" is a way to take snapshots: the photographer sets the camera in full automatic (which is possible in almost all cameras: compact or DSLR), point the subject and shoot.
    But English is not my native language and I have to accept the nickname "point and shoot" for all compact cameras, even finding it unfair.
    Thanks to all!
    Antonio.
    Last edited by Panama Hat & Camera; 4th January 2013 at 12:22 AM.

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    Re: Classification of cameras: compact or P&S (point and shoot)?

    Point and shoot is a technique which I have often used over the years when it wasn't convienient, or possible, to look through the viewfinder.
    Having three classifications or four in these days is better than two .... the basic small sensored cameras [ P&S ], the professional tools with small sensors [ bridge ], the smaller sensored mirrorless [ m4/3 ], and the medium or large sensored [ DSLR, Aps-c or Full Frame ].
    There is also a sub-group of profesional small sensor cameras with short zooms such as the Canon Gs which good as they are have never really fitted in anywhere. Becuase as bridge became super-zoom the Gs seem to have been left in their niche, and oddball cameras such as the NEX don't fit in any easy classification.

    But you are correct about the depreciative comments by snooty DSLR owners who simply don't know the capabilities of the cameras they sling off at and from time to time beat them in competition when used by people with ideas. You can from that probably detect the inverse snobbery of a bridge-M4/3 owner who looked at DSLRs and said 'no thankyou' a long time ago and has seen nothing to incline him to change his mind since If I was a professional I probably would have to use one, client and peer pressure, but thank goodness I am retired.

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