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I'm canon 7D shooter and I feel completely uncertain when buying a camera for my dad. Tech specs are not a good indicator of how user friendly a camera is.

Does a point and shoot camera exist that allows you to put the camera in Auto mode and simply get good pictures? I don't want one with bazillion shooting modes, however I'm looking for a camera with:

  • Quick start up time.
  • Has great 'A' mode.
  • Feels solid, doesn't have flimsy buttons.
  • Small enough to fit in fanny-pack :) but not big enough to need a separate bag.
  • Decent videos, 720p is fine.
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1  
You can always use the Auto mode on the 7D... –  Billy ONeal Jul 21 '11 at 23:49
3  
Billy ONeal: Please read my question. I need a P&S camera for my dad. He lives on the other side of the globe and I'm not giving my 7D to him. –  Sridhar Iyer Jul 21 '11 at 23:56
    
I did read the question. My point is that any camera that has lots of buttons almost always has a good "Auto" mode. My D7000 certainly does. (I did not downvote the question, I just wanted to explain why it might have been downvoted.) –  Billy ONeal Jul 21 '11 at 23:57
1  
Is there anything great about Auto mode? :-P –  Nick Bedford Jul 22 '11 at 1:36
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Great question. If I had a penny for everytime a muggle asked me this exact question... I would have at least a couple of pence. I'm only sorry I don't know a good answer. I'll be watching the answers with interest! @Juhele makes a good point: what is your price range? (Or are you so rich that you don't care?) –  AJ Finch Jul 22 '11 at 9:39

3 Answers 3

up vote 3 down vote accepted

you did not tell us about accepted price range, so I cannot recommend you exact camera.

However, (although I am DSLR user too) I have some experience with P&S cameras. I would recommend one of the Panasonic Lumix compact cameras - they have good construction and lenses (some have Leica lenses), are very user friendly and have good Auto mode with intelligent AF. I was surprised how good photos can they produce (in this camera category, of course). They also have some "more advanced" settings and programs.

Other candidate could be Nikon P300 (which I am going to buy as second camera to my DSLR) - it also has the priority programs etc. - maybe your dad would later dive more deeply in photography...

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the DMC-ZS10 does look good.. –  Sridhar Iyer Jul 22 '11 at 22:04

Most mainline compact cameras concentrate on having an auto mode where you can just shoot and get good pictures. To the mainstream audience, that's selling-point number one.

It's when you go off of this mission that picking between cameras really becomes a weighty matter. All of the things you've listed can be easily double-checked by reading a technical review or two. (In addition to timing numbers and the like, most reviews will mention basic subjective feel, like solid vs. flimsy.)

So the answer to this question is: pick a recent popular offering from a major brand which fits your price range, double check the user reviews, and there you go.

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A GF1 (discontinued?) is a nice piece of kit. Sure it's interchangeable lens but the 20mm/1.7 which gives 40mm eqiv fov is amazing optically and is really tiny. I got it to play with but dad loved it very much.

The flash is actually sufficient and pops up quite high. Auto mode is excellent for parental usage, and functionally its just a slightly enlarged p&s, but feels extremely solid in the hand.

You get all the typical compact camera stuff like face autofocus and all that jazz but the lens is super fast and iq pretty good so its probably "easier" to use because you'd get more keepers.

The current GF2 is even more suited for this purpose being simpler and a bit smaller but I have not tried one let alone let dad play with. If the GF2 feels as solid in hand as it's bigger brother than it would be an awesome gift item if but only for the quality build feel in hand.

Of course now there's a GF3 coming out which is more consumer oriented and super compact as it's the exact same size as a p&s so maybe that's what will hit the spot for your case. Definitely worth investigating the GF 1/2/3 and they all work with nice pancake prime or zooms and of course have the nice sensors.

All three do 720p AVCHD.

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