Updated: Feb 3, 2022
The smartphone has grown leaps in bounds in the past decade and when it included a camera it quickly spelled the end of the compact camera. After all, the convenience factor of always having your phone with you makes it your go to camera.
Here are few reasons why you might still want to carry a compact point and shoot camera in addition to your smartphone:
Gives your smartphone a break
Your smartphone has many jobs. It's a phone after all in addition to a camera, a media player, bill pay device, GPS units, and so on. Being a jack of all trades/master of none can be a a good thing or bad thing depending on what your desired outcome is. By using a dedicated device such as a compact point and shoot camera you can get better results because you will have much more control of your settings than what your smartphone can.
The benefit of a point and shoot camera such as the Canon G7X/G5X series or Sony's RX100 series is the performance to size ratio. While being relatively small they pack a lot of features that makes them a compelling alternative to larger interchangeable lens cameras (i.e DSLRs and mirrorless cameras). They have larger sensors than smartphones which helps in low light and usually has impressive zoom length to avoid the noisy digital zoom of a smartphone.
Learn to shoot manual
If you're curious about photography and want to take it another level than a compact camera is a good way to start. You get an all in one solution while maintaining a high level of quality. Learning the exposure triangle is a key component of learning photography. While some expensive flagship smartphones have the option to control it manually, it's usually not ideal with the lack of physical controls. Most will stick to full auto mode which is not taking full control of the artistic side of photography.
Buttons and Controls
Who doesn't love a touch screen these days. Most of us have grown up in the smartphone generation and likely can't live without it or prefer it. However, there some frustrations that can be had with touch screens that buttons, dials, and physical controls just makes much easier. Dedicated physical controls are good and having that tactile feel can make for a positive shooting experience. Most cameras have both a touch screen as well as good physical controls so you can shoot and access features the way you'd like.
If you're new to photography you're probably asking what is Raw? Raw is the proprietary file format by the camera manufacturer. Think of it like a film negative. It has the highest quality of data so when you edit the photos it doesn't degrade the image the way editing a JPG does.
A dedicated compact camera will have a higher quality sensor and lenses which will yield a higher quality image. The larger sensor will give you a shallower depth of field as well as better low light capabilities. And as mentioned above you can shoot Raw images which you can save for years to come and edit in unique ways in the future. Also most compact cameras as 20MP or more while even the flagship smartphones of today are toping out at 16MP. The increased resolution, sensor, and lenses makes for an unrivaled combination. However, composition will always play the bigger role in the final image.
Jason Logan is an event and portrait photographer from Jersey City, NJ and founder of JMT Photography & Media www.jmtphotographymedia.com.