Cameras for Seniors (2013)

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 ZS30 (or their less expensive alternative – the Lumix ZS25).

Nikon Coolpix S9100Panasonic Lumix ZS30

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.

However, they both have small buttons for extra menu control.
Restricting usage to just the main controls will produce great results.

Canon PowerShot ELPH 100Canon PowerShot ELPH 100
Canon PowerShot ELPH 330

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 WX300, 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 WX300′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 WX300Sony Cyber-shot WX300

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 G15.

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 G15

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_S110. Its larger imaging sensor and wider maximum aperture setting produce higher image quality than most other models, especially in low light conditions.

Canon PowerShot S110Canon PowerShot S100

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.

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-eyalg

 

9 Responses to Cameras for Seniors (2013)

  1. Lisa says:

    Have an aversion to round wheels on the backs of digital cameras.
    I simply cannot find a camera that I can use. Hammacher Schlemmer had one
    that almost fit the bill. Out of stock for now. Any ideas? At least 8 mp

  2. B says:

    As more of the population ages there’s a growing senior market out there! With all of the incredible camera electronics and lens quality features being better than ever, there are great features available! As I’m probably missing some ideas in the following notes, it would be nice to get a teacher who knows senior comprehension and functionality to help design some camera (with video) models.

    I’ve been hunting for hours to no avail and have grown to HATE the lack of labeling and the round rocker switch! One has to understand that for a number of seniors there’s a loss of short-term memory and going to the manual every single time to figure what the buttons mean is a hassle! Older people need raised buttons they can see, feel, easily pick, and with EVERY button labeled (in white square font) for visibility in low light. By the way: The word “Menu” is vague – “settings” might be better, however, for the more forgetful person; the labels may mean nothing because they don’t remember beyond what they see.

    For features: The zoom is nice and the screen is nice. Having a camera with a little bulk so it can held steadily in the hands (that can shake) is important too. The “5MP Easypix SC 500 Digital Camera – Slim & Easy to Use” by Cobra is a nice beginning in design but could use a few more features like optical zoom, video ability, and TV connection. The Kodak Sports C123 has great features for image stability and ruggedness (that survive a short camera drop too) and are nice concepts to put in a camera design. The Kodak PlayTouch is a nice design too, but the camera software needs to be verrrry simple and not go beyond one folder level, however it’s possibly better to have visible buttons (like email, print, etc) on the camera instead.

    For the other half of the situation; the software for the computer, they need to be simple to understand when read. The computer software initial utilities window at: http://www.dcresource.com/reviews/canon/powershot_elph_100hs-review (halfway down the page) is interesting, but the screens following might seem complex and confusing.

    With all the mentioned (and more) in mind; can someone please get together with a camera company and help design an enjoyable and enriching quality camera (or series of cameras) for seniors that’s inexpensive, very simple to comprehend, and easy to use? Many thanks :-)

  3. Kathy says:

    Please, i am just looking for a simple point and shoot camera with enough mp to make good pics. Lots of my pics are of my grandkids who are always in motion so some cameras just blurr—can you recommend 3 simple cameras that fit the bill so I can evaluate just a few?

  4. eyalg says:

    Kathy,

    It’s never easy getting sharp, blur-free photos of children running around.
    My best suggestion would be the Canon PowerShot S100, which would probably handle these situations better than most other compact cameras.
    A less expensive option is the Sony Cyber-shot WX10 I mentioned above, it’s quick and easy to control – in my opinion, a joy to use.
    The least expensive alternative is the Canon PowerShot ELPH 100 (or its bigger brother – the Canon PowerShot ELPH 300), which is fairly decent and has a great bang-for-the-buck value.

    Hope this helps,
    -eyalg

  5. Aldi says:

    My young kids were using an old Ricoh 500SE digital camera when to my surprise my 89 year old grandmother took a liking it. The Ricoh 500SE (like their newer G600 and G700 cameras) is an over-sized digital point and shoot made for heavy duty use, e.g. the construction industry, featuring a water and shock resistant case and over-sized high-contrast buttons and dials.

    Unlike many new cameras, thanks to easy to recognize shapes and large color coded controls, one look at the Ricoh and it’s obvious where to hold the camera, which direction the lens points in, and where the shutter button is. So grandma has commandeered the Ricoh 500SE and is comfortable using it thanks to its large rubberized hand grip and wide neck strap.

  6. MARTI FLEMING says:

    I AM TRYING TO FIND THE CHEAPEST AND EASIEST DIGITAL CAMERA. I AM A SENIOR BUT I DO NOT TAKE A LOT OF PICTURES.I WANT TO SIMPLY UNDERSTAND THE POINT AND SHOOT AND VIDEO TAKING. THAT IS ALL WE NEED.THE ONE WE HAVE NOW HAS TO MANY SMALL BUTTONS AND WHEELS. I DO NOT LIKE THAT AT ALL. IT IS A CASIOEX-S880 WITH 8.1 MEGAPIXALS.
    THANK YOU SO MUCH

    • eyalg says:

      Hi Marti,

      There are, indeed, many cameras to choose from, most of them with various controls and options.
      What I recommend is getting a camera that is fully automatic and that has a direct video button,
      such that you can take photos with one button and videos with another, without having to switch
      between specific shooting modes, etc.
      A very capable camera that could suit your needs is the Canon PowerShot ELPH 310.
      The Sony Cyber-shot WX50 is also a valid option.

      Good luck,
      -eyalg

  7. Jenni K says:

    My mother’s (age 78) issue with digital cameras is that there is often a delay — and it seems variable! — between pressing the button and the actual capture. Can you speak to that issue? I’m referring to all point-and-shoot digital cameras we’ve used in the past 8 years or so, all Nikon and Canon, I believe.

    • eyalg says:

      Hi Jenni,

      The delay you are speaking of consists of two parts – the time it takes for the camera to focus and the time it takes it to take a shot after the focus is locked.
      Cameras differ in their ability to perform these actions quickly – the better ones these days actually do quite a good job.
      The cameras I listed on this page are all relatively good performers in this area. Of course, you must bear in mind that these are all compact cameras, not mirrorless or DSLR’s, which are way better, but aren’t suited, in general, for older people.

      Good luck,
      Eyal

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