The return of “point and shoots?”

It’s fitting that I start this post while watching the original Jurassic Park with my oldest kiddo.

Reason being, over the past few years we’ve seen point and shoot cameras start heading in the direction of the dinosaur.  As cameras in our smartphones continue to ‘evolve,’ they’re revolutionizing the entire photography industry.

In 2016, I even told people to stop buying point and shoots.  They just seemed rather useless given the point and shoot cameras in our pockets (smart phones).  I definitely saw dedicated point and shoot cameras going extinct.  It was just a matter of time.

Interestingly, the one point and shoot I recommended in the prior link was the Sony RX100 Mark V.  And today it’s the updated version of that same camera, the Sony RX100 Mark VI, that brings me to this post.

Why this camera might save point and shoots.

Okay okay, so it’s not that this specific camera will save point and shoots from extinction.  But it might hint at the direction point and shoots are headed.  And that direction might save point and shoots.

So what is the direction?

Simply put: ZOOM!

Stated more correctly: “reach.”  Meaning LONGER focal length.  Meaning, you’re probably calling it “zoom” ability.

Deal is: this fit-in-your-pocket camera has a 24-200 zoom lens.  2oomm is about 5x the typical “reach” of a standard point and shoot lens.  Most phone lenses have a focal length of about 29mm.  So this Sony point n shoot has about 7 TIMES the reach of your phone!

Just think of all the times you’ve wanted to “get closer” to your subject, be it at a sporting event, on vacation, or just about anywhere.  200mm will get you a LOT closer!

But wait, there’s more!

“Getting closer” isn’t the only advantage of 200mm worth of zoom.  Portrait photographers have long love longer focal lengths for other reasons:

Background Blur

The longer the focal length, the better chance you have of getting beautiful bokeh.  Bokeh = background blur.

The reason you’d want this: subject isolation.  When you have a lens that can blur the background, you can shoot virtually anywhere and get that look where your subject “pops” off the background.  Like this:

Photo by Emily Brunner: SPS Member

Background Compression

Another big deal with longer focal lengths is that they “compress” the background TO the subject.  Meaning deep backgrounds are brought near and large.  It’s just a neat look, and one that you associate with that “professional look.”

Here’s an illustration from the Photo Fix:

Here’s a pic at 24mm. Notice how far back all the houses in the background appear.
And here’s a shot at 200mm. Notice how the background is “compressed” (brought forward) to the subject.

Pleasing Face Shapes

Yep, you read that right.  Longer focal lengths don’t exhibit nearly as much lens barrel distortion at close distances as longer focal lengths.

The result: portraits taken with longer focal lengths give much more pleasing (and natural) face shapes.  This is why portrait photographers usually gravitate towards lenses that are 85mm and longer.

I’ve taken a LOT of pics at 200mm. Not just for the bokeh, but for the total lack of barrel distortion, which gives the most accurate and natural face shape to your subject.

Field of View

Field of view simply means how wide the lens sees.  The longer the focal length, the narrower the field of view.

Here’s another illustration from the Photo Fix.

  • The blue lines illustrate the typical field of view of your phone camera.
  • The green lines illustrate the typical field of view at 200mm.
  • The squares are buildings.
  • The orange thingy is a beautiful tree in full autumn colors.
  • The oval is the subject.
  • The square is you and your camera

The reason portrait photographer love narrow angles of view is simple: it eliminates distractions.  In the example above, you just see an orange tree as the background at 200mm.  But with the phone camera, you see all the other buildings.

Final Thoughts

As I hinted at earlier, I don’t necessarily think this exact camera will save the point and shoot from extinction.  But if the Mark VII version of this camera includes a faster lens (bigger max f-stop…which will have to be another post), then you can count on that one saving the point and shoot from the way of the dinosaur!

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