Cameras for Seniors (2016)
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 HX90V and Panasonic’s x30 zoom Lumix ZS60 (or its predecessor and less expensive alternative – the Lumix ZS50), all of which also have viewfinders if you prefer that any better than using the back LCD screen.
Just plain simple
They both have small buttons for extra menu control.
Nonetheless, restricting usage to just the main controls will still produce great results.
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.
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.
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 Panasonic Lumix ZS100. Its much larger imaging sensor coupled with a x10 zoom in a compact body is second to none. It will produce high image quality with the ability to catch any type of scene in any lighting condition without much effort. On top of all that goodness, it has an excellent electronic viewfinder.
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.