COMPLICATED compact cameras are redefined by current digital models. Initial instruction manuals are printed but the advanced guide is on a CD. Olympus' FE170 selling at £99 is one such model. What about the happy snapper without a computer?
During the 1970s fully featured pocket cameras with sharp, fast fixed lenses and semi-automatic exposure appeared on the market. The ultimate for size and user control being models like the Rollei 35s. This was the equivalent of many of today's digitals all it was missing was auto-focus and a zoom lens.
Autofocus appeared the next decade and manufacturers such as Minolta made simple models such pocket models as the AFE. User control seemed to disappear overnight. Ignoring the various dodo such as disc, 110 and APS perhaps the ultimate simple compact was Olympus' MJU II with a tack sharp 35mm/2.8 lens and a range of six flash choices.
Up till two years ago I was able to persuade customers that it was a viable alternative to a similar digital model. Its price was down to about £60 and it is simple to use straight out of the box. Even a cheap digital was about double the money. £60 bought a fair bit of processing with prints and a CD offering the best of both worlds. Whether to enter the 21st century was a decision delayed.
Unless you are young, a quick learner and buy a camera phone, it would be foolish to expect great results with today's £99 pocket cameras unless you are prepared to fiddle and play with it or buy a computer to read CD instructions.
Almost all sub-£100 cameras have a 3 x Optical zoom lens, non-rechargeable AA batteries and without salesman instruction are a complicated minefield. Often the supplied batteries run out before the user has had a chance to really get the device going. A person who has not been told to use rechargeables with a minimum of 1800 Milliamp/hours (Mah) may put in cheapies from the supermarket to have them fail even quicker. Canon still use AAs in the excellent Powershot A710IS so the system must be good! Canon's smaller devices use Li-ion 730 mah phone type batteries but that's to keep the size down.
The instruction book, if at all, usually covers batteries in the final chapter. This is all before you discover that it will produce wonderful party pics with no red-eyes.