Photo Tips: Don’t Be Afraid to Point-and-Shoot

Reflection After the Rain - San Cristobal, Chiapas by Ralph Velasco

Walking all day with a big, heavy D-SLR around your neck or shoulder can become a real pain after a while, so I’ll often leave “the big gear” at home or in the hotel room (secured, of course) and venture out with only my point-and-shoot camera.

On this particular day in San Cristobal de las Casas, in Chiapas, Mexico, where the above image was made, I’d been out shooting all day with my D-SLR, a Nikon D300s, but later that afternoon when we decided to go out for a bite to eat, I chose to bring along just my pocket camera.  In this particular instance, the reason I did is because it was raining intermittently and I didn’t want to chance my gear getting unneccesarily wet.

At present I’m using the Canon S90 point-and-shoot camera, which is a few years old, but they’re up to the Canon S100 (currently $429.00 at B&H Photo).  The tiny but powerful S90 that I use shoots RAW files and SD video (the newer Canon S95, a great deal at just $299.00 and S100 models shoot HD video and have other more robust features) and allows for a lot of other custom settings that as a professional photographer I need.  You certainly don’t need to spend $300 to $400 on a point-and-shoot, but these are very capable cameras that come highly recommended.

“A point-and-shoot in your hands is worth more than the perfect D-SLR in your bag.”

~ Seamus Murphy

My main point, however, goes back to the old adage “the best camera is the one you have with you at the time.”   Nowadays this might even be one of the new camera phones that are increasing in quality all the time.  I currently use the Apple iPhone 3Gs, but look forward to upgrading to the next generation when my contract runs out with AT&T.

A camera phone is something you likely have with you all the time, so be sure you’re taking advantage of all that power in your pocket.

I guarantee you’ll miss 100 percent of shots when you don’t have your camera with you.

Here are a couple of questions for you:

  1. Do you always have a camera with you?
  2. Are you bringing along a point-and-shoot camera when you hit the road?
  3. How about a smart phone with camera, do you have one of those?
  4. If so, what make and model are you using?
By the way, if you’re in the market for any photo or video gear and you’d like to support the blog, I’d appreciate if you’d use the B&H Photo and/or ThinkTank Photo affiliate badges along the right side of the Home page.  There’s no extra charge to you, but for the referral these companies provide me with a small commission on each sale.  As full disclosure, the camera links in this post are affiliate links.


Ralph Velasco is an Orange County-based photography instructor, international photo tour guide and author.  

He’s an award-winning blogger and the creator of the My Shot Lists for Travel app for iPhone.


  1. I am really happy I bought a good point-and-shoot when I took a quick trip back home because there was no way I could always have my D-SLR out with me during my travels. One of the best investments I have made.

    • RalphVelasco says:

      Glad you agree, Stephanie. And another good thing about a point-and-shoot is that I don’t feel bad giving it to someone else to take pictures of me doing something because all they have to do is point, and shoot. If I give them my D-SLR, it’s a bit more intimidating as not all people are comfortable using that type of gear.

  2. I have a small Canon Ixus 210 (PowerShot SD3500 IS) which I have on me most days. Very small (size of a smartphone), but IQ is not very impressive (above ISO 200-400!) and having to use a touchscreen to change all settings is a real pain. Not a very versatile tool.

    I am not convinced that smartphones have good IQ. Miniature sensor and poor lens…

    The Canon S90, S95 and now S100 are very capable cameras if you do not want to lug around a DSLR. However…their battery life sucks. 200 shots/battery. Criminal! Keep a spare with you.

    I like to use a Panasonic Lumix LX5 but it is not so pocketable (because I am not a large person with capacious pockets and also I have the camera in a Gariz half case for some protection).

    I would love a S100 for a pocketable EDC but the battery life is abysmal.

    • RalphVelasco says:

      Mark, I haven’t noticed the battery life on the S90 being so bad, although I’m usually not walking around all day with it shooting, mainly for short periods of time when the weather is bad or I’m going out at night. I don’t have an extra battery, but the battery charger is relatively small and if I needed to, I could bring that along and charge it if necessary, but you’re right, short battery life can be a real pain, and if you ask me, the only real negative of digital photography is that we always have to be thinking about POWER.

  3. I use a Fuji Film xp and its waterproof. I can say it is not the best camera for point and shoot but the images that I can capture in the rain, or in action shots or underwater, are unbelievable!! The trade off is well worth it and I am happy to see a post that brings to light the benefit of point and shoots.

    • RalphVelasco says:

      Waterproof cameras are a great idea, especially for more extreme sports like rafting and kayaking. Thanks for taking the time to comment!

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Ralph Velasco is a professional photographer and instructor who has traveled extensively and taken photographs in over 40 countries. Ralph Velasco Cultural Tours offers unique cultural touring opportunities that combine compelling locations with breathtaking views, relevant local history, scheduled activities and time to explore on your own. His events are available in dazzling international locations around the globe and his services include public speaking, corporate cultural tours and events, corporate photo walks, photo walking tours, photography eBooks, photography classes and group training seminars. His photo walking tours provide the opportunity for hands-on photography experience with a professional instructor to develop the skills necessary to capture a variety of photo subjects, settings and lighting. Ralph gives private photography lessons and his photography boot camp includes a seminar and training on camera basics, elements of composition, and a personal review of your own photography. United States and international locations; Corona del Mar & Orange County CA.

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