A touch screen camera is likely to bring oohs and ahhs from onlookers, but does it perform as well as it looks?
What Is a Touch Screen Camera?
Touch screen digital cameras combine cutting-edge technology with a traditional picture-taking device. The centerpiece of the high-tech tool is a high-resolution touch screen located on the back of the camera, which allows users to simply tap an icon with their fingertip to make fast setting changes.
The first touch screen camera was introduced to the general public in 2000, but it did not receive much attention because of its hefty price tag. However, in the years since its debut, the touch screen digital camera has gone mainstream. In addition to becoming more affordable, touch screen models are easier to use.
Pros and Cons of Touch Screen Digital Cameras
For some tech savvy photographers, the attraction to this cool gadget is irresistible. However, there is much more to a touch screen digital camera than just the wow factor.
One of the advantages of owning a touch screen digital camera is that you can control every function by a simple touch, without having to press all those keys. What's more, since the camera does not feature multiple keys, it is smaller, lighter and more compact. Another beneficial feature of a touch screen camera is the ability to select items that you want to focus on just by tapping on the subject in the display. In addition, the size of the screen is helpful for those who struggle to preview and review images on standard-sized digital LCDs. In playback mode, manufacturers have made it easy to flip through images by dragging your finger across the screen. Finally, some companies, including Nikon and Sony, give you the ability to write on a photo and save a copy, which can be both fun and practical.
While the price of touch screen digital cameras has gone down in the years since their release, the high-tech toys are still much more expensive than traditional point-and-shoot digital cameras. Another disadvantage of the camera is that it may not appeal to photographers who are technology challenged. Getting used to new technology can take a long time for those who are used to shooting with classic digital cameras. In addition, the interfaces of touch screen digital cameras can be slow, especially compared with physical controls. Finally, using the screen to control the camera's features puts a real strain on the battery, which means you will be burning batteries at a much faster rate than a traditional digital camera.
Popular Touch Screen Cameras
The following are the most popular touch screen picture takers on the market:
Nikon COOLPIX S60
The Coolpix S60 is Nikon's first touch screen digital camera. It is often referred to as the "Ashton Kutcher camera," thanks to the Hollywood hottie's involvement with the company's successful ad campaign.
The Coolpix S60 comes with a large 3.5-inch LCD screen and the following noteworthy features:
- 10 megapixels
- 5x optical zoom
- Image stabilization
- Smile shutter
- Blink warning
- Single touch autofocus and auto exposure
- Slideshow feature
- 17 different scene modes
In addition to the aforementioned features, the reason the Coolpix S60 is one of the hottest digital cameras on the market is its ability to add graphics or pre-selected frames to your photos. You can even write a personal message or draw directly onto the picture using your finger or the included stylus. The writing option also doubles as a notepad when used without a photo.
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX520
The DMC-FX520 offers a classic look from the front, but the back is where all the action takes place. Like its competitors, it also comes with a list of pros and cons:Pros:
- Large three-inch display that integrates touch screen technology
- Equipped with a stylus that can be attached to the strap for those who struggle to use a finger to control delicate and precise operations
- 10 megapixels
- 5x optical zoom
- Records high definition video images at a very good rate of 30 frames per second
- Wi-Fi enabled
- Slow start up time
- Short battery life
- Stylus is strangely shaped
Sony Cyber-shot T900
Sony is a pioneer in digital technology and the Cyber-shot T900 illustrates why the company is a leader in the industry. Sony's touch screen digital camera includes an extraordinary look. It is the most compact touch screen digital camera on the market, with a thickness of only 15.1 millimeters. In addition, it offers a stylish exterior available in four colors: black, silver, red and bronze.
The camera's other standout features include:
- 12.1 megapixels sensor
- 4x optical zoom
- Records video in high definition; 720p at 30 frames per second.
- Face recognition
- Steady shot technology
Unfortunately the camera also comes with a few drawbacks, including the fact that images taken at high ISO values are often blurry. In addition, the battery life is very poor.
Fuji FinePix Z300
As of June 2009, Fuji's touch screen digital camera was not yet available in the United States. The touch screen point-and-shoot is sold exclusively in Japan and has been embraced by customers there. The camera comes equipped with:
- 3.0-inch LCD with scratch-resistant glass
- 10 megapixels
- 5x optical zoom lens
- Available in pink, white, purple, and black
No other details are available yet on the Z300, including whether Fuji has any plans to eventually offer this model in the United States.