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What's the best camera for a technophobic dad?

What's the best camera for a technophobic dad?

My dad wants a mobile phone with a camera so that he can take photos of things when he is out and about. Trouble is, he is technophobic. Giving him a smartphone would, I think, be an expensive waste as the camera functions seem to be buried deep within various apps and finger swipes. Is there is a simple point-and-shoot camera that can also function as a mobile phone? So far, I have come up with the Kodak Ektra, but I haven't held one to see how accessible the camera function is. Jayme The simplest way to take photos when you are out and about is to use a point-and-shoot camera. Smartphones can do lots of things, but they are not as good for taking pictures as cameras designed for the job. So, the question is: why does he want to take photos with a smartphone? There are two obvious answers. First, he may prefer to carry one device rather than two. Second, he may want to post images to social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter and so on. It's much easier to do this from a smartphone because the apps are easy to download and the communications network is already built in. Ask your father what he plans to do with the photos. If he wants to post them straight to Facebook or Instagram while he's out, he should learn how to use smartphone. If he wants to edit photos on a PC and create albums to post later, he would be better off with a camera. Smartphone shutter releases Not all camera functions are deeply buried in smartphones. Several early models had shutter release buttons, and some still do. Some smartphones in Sony's Xperia range, for example, have shutter buttons partly because the touch screen doesn't work under water. All the early Windows smartphones had some form of shutter release button, and they made it easy to post snaps to social media. If your father uses Windows 8/8.1/10, he should find it easy to use a Windows smartphone. They're cheap, too, and he probably won't mind the shortage of apps. However, there's an Android convention that the volume control works as a shutter release when the camera app is loaded. I've seen descriptions that say "volume down" takes snaps, but on my Google Nexus 6, the whole volume control (both up and down) takes snaps. It is badly placed for shutter-release purposes, but it does work. Another advantage is that the images are automatically uploaded to Google Drive. If your father is extremely technophobic, you could also consider a Doro 6050 (£69.99), a 2G clamshell-style feature phone. Doro designs mobiles for senior citizens, and the 6050 has a shutter-release button. Unfortunately, it's only a 3-megapixel camera, so I wouldn't expect the image quality to be particularly good. Otherwise, smartphone manufacturers think the fewer buttons they have, the better, so the dedicated shutter release button must be on the way out ... Smartphone cameras On 25 May, I answered another question: Which smartphone has the best camera? The final paragraph covers smartphones that gave priority to camera functions, including the Kodak Ektra mentioned in your email. From these, I think your best bet would be the Samsung Galaxy K Zoom. It has a dedicated camera button, and it uses the volume rocker to control its 10x optical zoom lens. (Most smartphone cameras only provide digital zooming, ie they enlarge a section of the image, degrading the quality.) The 1/2.3in sensor provides 20.7mp, which puts it in the compact camera class. The Galaxy K Zoom is about three years old now, so you can pick them up relatively cheaply second hand. However, it runs Android version 4.4.2 (KitKat) and there's no upgrade to v5.0 (Lollipop). It doesn't sound as though your father needs the latest and greatest smartphone, but a cheap Moto G5 or G5 Plus might be a better long-term bet. There's also a smartphone camera combo that I missed last time, so I'm pleased to get it in today. If you buy a Moto Z (£479.00) or Moto Z Play (£369.98), then a Hasselblad True Zoom mod (£199.99) adds a 10x optical zoom lens with a shutter release and flash. It's expensive, but it's still cheaper than a Samsung Galaxy S8 (£689) or Apple iPhone 7 Plus (£719 to £919). Compact cameras Your dad might be happy to carry a compact camera as well as a mobile phone. Yes, it means carrying two devices, but feature phones are small, and so are many compact cameras. For example, the Sony Cybershot W830 (aka DSCW830) is a great little camera with a 20mp sensor, 8x optical zoom, face detection and image stabilisation for only £89 at Argos. It weighs 104g. The Canon Ixus 177 has much the same spec for £74.99 but weighs 126g. The Nikon Coolpix A100 has a 5x zoom and weighs 119g for £89.99, but I'd go for the equivalent Sony DSCW800 instead (£69). Compacts with wifi Compact digital cameras usually take SD memory cards and they usually come with a USB cable. Both provide ways to move photos to a PC for editing and long-term storage. However, there are now quite a few compacts with built-in wifi, which can be used to transfer photos to other devices. This does require setting up, but I assume you could do that. Wifi cameras naturally tend to be more expensive, but they are cost roughly what you would pay for a good and cheap smartphone. Sony and Canon have several suitable models. The Sony DSCWX350 is an 18.2mp camera with 20x zoom lens, wifi and NFC, and it's currently available on Amazon for £159. The nicer DSCHX60 is a 20.4mp model with a 30x optical zoom for £199.99, but it's also much heavier (246g vs 137g). The Canon PowerShot SX620 is a fine 20.2mp compact with a 25x zoom lens, wifi and NFC for £179. It weighs 180g. The slightly older SX710 (£230) and the newer SX720 (£283.99) are also worth a look, depending on your budget. If money is no object, there's the Sony RX100. The four-year-old M2 version had wifi and is still available for £449.99. The newer M3 (£569) and the latest M4 (£729) cost more. While this is a stunningly small camera for the quality of its results, it's also not the lightest wifi camera at 254g to 271g, depending on the model. Summing up There's no clear answer because we don't know what your dad has now, what he really wants to do, or how much you want to spend. If he already has a phone he likes, I'd just go for a Sony Cybershot W830 or, if he needs wifi, a Sony DSCWX350 or Canon PowerShot SX620. If he doesn't have a PC and wants to upload photos from a smartphone, the Moto G5 is good value at £164.99 with 3GB of memory instead of the usual 2GB. It has a 13mp autofocus camera with flash, and ships with Android 7 (Nougat). You can wiggle the G5 to activate the camera - it's a common feature on Moto smartphones - so your dad won't even have to find the camera app on the home screen.

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