Compact digital cameras (or point-and-shoot cameras) are very small and totally portable, designed to
fit in your pocket or handbag easily so you can take it with you everywhere you go. Casio compact cameras were
among the smallest and thinnest when they started the ball rolling around 2002 but today many
other manufacturers are producing lightweight, slim and elegant point-and-shoot cameras. The slimmest
compact digital currently available is the newly released Sony DSC-TX55 which is 0.5 inches thick (mouse-over image below
for current price).
Point-and-shoots are the best-selling type of camera there is, and are designed for simplicity of use. Most
of them have either focus-free lenses or built-in autofocus plus an automatic system of calculating
the exposure. They nearly always have a built-in flash unit for use in low-level light.
Point and shoot cameras differ from single lens reflex cameras (SLRs) in several ways: firstly, point
and shoot cameras use a viewfinder. What you see through the viewfinder is not absolutely identical with
the image that is recorded through the lens. SLRs use a mirror to reflect the image that passes
through the lens to the viewer so that what you see through the viewer is identical to
the picture that the camera captures.
The other major difference is that SLRs allow you to change lenses whereas a compact digital
camera has a fixed lens. This lens retracts into the body of the camera which means that even
with the smallest point-and-shoot, the focal length can be relatively long allowing you to
zoom in on your subject.
If your compact camera is in your pocket or handbag, keys and other loose objects become a danger to the optics!
To counter this, the lens usually has a built-in lens cap which automatically closes when the camera
is shut down to protect the optics.
Compact cameras come with a wrist strap. If you keep the strap wound around your wrist when
shooting, it helps to protect against accidentally dropping it. Some of the thicker compacts allow
you to attach a neck strap for extra security.
The picture quality is not as high as it would be with an SLR but ease-of-use and small size make them an
attractive buy. Compact cameras are great for holiday, parties, weddings, in fact just about every situation
you find yourself and the beauty of them is you need never miss a shot as they are so lightweight you
can always keep your camera with you.
In 2011 some manufacturers started producing compact digital cameras which can take 3D still
photos which can be played back on a 3D television, an exciting development for the future.