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Time was when you had a consumer film camera, the film came in only one size, one speed and one type - prints or slides. So you were somewhat limited but also free in the sense that you had few decisions to make about the camera. Most folks bought a point and shoot; a few got an SLR.

Now with digicams, it seems that you are always trying to make compromises or hit that "sweet spot" when all your needs are met. Basically you have three considerations:

  1. Portability - nobody wants to haul around a huge camera and lens kit on vacation today. Not when most people are using their smartphone, you don't. Not unless you work for Sports Illustrated or National Geographic.
  2. Sensor size - the bigger the sensor, the better ISO speed, low light performance and less noise in the image.
  3. Zoom range - for most of my photography something in the 24mm- 300mm (on the old 35mm scale) will suit me.

So right now given the state of the art and science, you can have a big sensor, a lightweight unit, or a decent zoom - pick two. There is really no sweet spot and no a smartphone isn't anywhere close to it yet.


I have sort of solved my problem by having two different types of camera.

  • Rather large DSLR with a lens kit. This has the big sensor and fast speed for keeping up with grandkids on the run, plus I can use a decent flash to get family portraits. Not about to take it on vacation though. And my kit is relatively compact. Check out those Canon shooters at NFL games.
  • Tiny box with a huge zoom range. This is great as long as the light is bright but it has a tiny sensor that sucks in dim light. I better avoid those cathedrals in Europe and stick to the beach with this baby.

Lately I've seen something that might do both jobs but neither one as well as my two cameras in hand. However, I already have a fair bit invested in my legacy cameras and the one I discovered would probably cost as much as the other two - given that I'd have to sell both at a loss. Digital cameras have come a long way, but for me that sweet spot is still elusive.

Edited by raymac46
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