Cameras For Seniors

Cameras for Seniors (2014)

They’re getting smaller, aren’t they?

Small screens, small fonts

Electronic gadgets are becoming smaller and smaller, no doubt. Most cellular phones, for example, have tiny buttons for which most adult fingers are too large to hit without pressing adjacent ones as well.

For weary eyes, small LCD screens are no big help, either – showing fine detail and small fonts. Digital cameras are no exception in this regard.

Some models with touch screens could be more convenient, if you actually like using touch screens in the first place. I don’t know many people who do.

The best option, in my opinion, is to buy a camera with auto mode in mind. All cameras are designed to try and identify the scene, the subject’s location, the lighting, the color balance – and automatically change shot settings accordingly. Like always – some do it better than others.

One Button Cameras

There aren’t any cameras that actually have one button. That could have been useful, of course. If you intend to use the camera solely in fully automatic mode, you have a wider variety of models to choose from.

Paying more for manual controls isn’t necessary in that case – you could get auto sweep panorama instead, for example (hold down the shutter button and sweep across the view). Both Sony and Nikon have taken that path, giving emphasis to convenience rather than control.

The best such cameras are Sony’s x30 zoom Cyber-shot HX50V and Panasonic’s x20 zoom Lumix ZS40 (or its less expensive alternative – the Lumix ZS35).

Panasonic Lumix ZS40

Just plain simple

There is truth in the saying ‘less is more’. A small, simple camera could be excellent as a true point-and-shoot. Some examples are the Sony Cyber-shot WX80 and the Canon PowerShot ELPH 330.

They both have small buttons for extra menu control.
Nonetheless, restricting usage to just the main controls will still produce great results.

Canon PowerShot ELPH 340

Easy Mode

All cameras have a fully automatic mode, reducing button presses to the on/off, zoom and shutter release. However, some have an ‘Easy Mode’, which allows some control over the camera, without submerging into dozens of menu options. Moreover, it reduces the chance of any inadvertent setting changes.

The Sony Cyber-shot WX350, for example – has an excellent ‘Easy’ mode. It disables most buttons and menu options, leaving just the basic functionality. By doing so, it packs every bit of the WX350’s sophisticated mechanisms, which are designed to create an image as clean and sharp as possible, into a simple automatic point-and-shoot flow.

Sony Cyber-shot WX350

More buttons

The exact opposite is having more buttons. To be precise – dedicated, external buttons, rings and knobs which are easier to use than the usual context sensitive four-directional controller. There are two high-end cameras exhibiting such a design – the Nikon Coolpix P7800 and the Canon PowerShot G16.

They are both larger than most compact cameras and fit very nicely into your hands. In fact, the Canon G15 has the best ergonomics I know – I literally don’t want to put it away once I pick it up.

Canon PowerShot G16

The final word

If I had to choose one single model which delivers the best image quality when simply pointing and shooting – I’d take the Canon PowerShot_S120. Its larger imaging sensor and wider maximum aperture setting produce higher image quality than most other models, without much effort, especially in low light conditions.

Canon PowerShot S120Canon PowerShot S120

On top of that, it’s the least intimidating compact camera I know. Its controls are intuitive and take no time to learn. Moreover, there’s usually no need to control anything. Put it in full auto mode and fire away.

If its price is too high, though, you can most definitely settle for its predecessor – the S110 which costs just over have the premium price of the S120.

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