What Makes a Good Happy Snap Camera

The qualities of a good snap camera?

If it is going to be your sole camera then you need to think about each situation it needs to function for. I have the luxury of currently owning many cameras so I can select the best tool for the best job, however, many people want just one camera, in which case I would look to a quality compact with a decent all round lens such as the Canon G12 or Canon S95. Only think about a SLR camera if you are prepared to lug it around everywhere with you, buy decent lenses for it and learn how to use it. Otherwise, dare I say this, for most people a compact camera such as the S95 may be sharper and may outperform the latest more expensive SLR.

For me, my happy snap camera is not my sole camera and therefore the qualities I look for are

  • Must be inexpensive so that I can share it with my kids, friends and family  and not overly care about the camera too much
  • Must be small so that I can take it most everywhere in my pocket
  • Must be able to cope with real life situations such as low light
  • Must be ok quality to be able to print a decent 12×8 inch print

My general rule of thumb, if you are in doubt of what happy snap camera to buy, you would not go too wrong with a Sony or a Canon.

Can mobile phones make a good happy snap Camera?

I once presented a talk for Brisbane Camera Group and asked “what manufacturer makes the most cameras?”. About half of the attendees said Nikon and the other half said Canon. I revealed the answer was Nokia. So mobile phones have a great advantage of being with us most of the time and if it’s the only camera we have on our person, then it’s the best camera for us at that time. That said, I personally do not like camera phones to take snap photographs as I find them very clumsy and slow to use. Another issue for me is that quality is often too substandard. There is no use having a 12 Mega pixel phone camera if the tiny lens can not resolve 12 mega pixels. I would be more inclined in the future to use a phone camera if it could outperform my old 2004 Canon IXUS which is only 4 mega pixels … and I think we are many years off this.

Advantages of phone cameras

  • With us most of the time so usually within reach
  • Easy to upload and share photos

Disadvantages of Phone Cameras

  • Photos often do not print well even through it may look reasonable on screen.
  • The phone camera lens optics design is poor due to lack of space and no doubt cost restrictions
  • Manufacturers claims and sample photos most often be taken with a huge pinch of salt
  • Often clumsy or slow to use
  • The photo Camera sensor is far too tiny yielding too much noise and lowering the quality of each pixel in anything that is less than ideal light
  • It is no use if a phone has more mega pixels than a compact camera if the quality of each pixel is poor. Its not the quantity of pixels but the quality of pixels that count.

Is a film camera or a digital camera better for snaps?

Usually a film camera is better because that encourages us to print out the photos and put the best ones in an album. This automatically give us 2 versions of the photo (print and negative). Digital is scary because a lot people fail to back up their photos and therefore risk losing photos due to a PC fault or even theft. The other problem with digital photos are they need to be filed in a way for easy retrieval and need to be easily viewable which was never a problem with film as we used photo albums (remember them?). I would guess that 99% of all digital snaps are never printed.

The advantage with digital is that we take more photos in the first place as we are no constrained by the cost of film developing. With digital it is also easy to share and view the photos online, albeit with no guarantee that the photos will remain online into the future. Digital photo frames that show a slide show of digital photos DO NOT WORK. Every time I see a digital frame in someone’s house it is turned off and shows a ugly blank screen. Why people want to display a blank screen beats me when they could just print a photo and put it in a frame which works 24 hours a day 365 days a year. That said, I shoot all my snaps these days in digital due to convenience and volume and store three versions of the photos in 2 separate locations which I consider safe against hardware failure, fire, theft and flood

If you want to know what makes a good happy snap click here.


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Janae Touchdown! That’s a rlelay cool way of putting it!

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