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Glossary Terms

Point and shoot cameras are fully automatic cameras intended to be used without any concern for settings. The concept of point-and-shoot applies to both film and digital cameras. Indeed, it could be argued that some of the earliest box cameras from Kodak - marketed with the phrase "You press the button, we do the rest"[1] - were the original point-and-shoot cameras, although the term was not in existence at the time. Such cameras were not automatic as such, but had little in the way of manual controls.

With a modern point-and-shoot camera, the user does not need to set the shutter speed or aperture, does not have to be aware of film speed, use a light meter, or even worry about focusing. Film loading and advance are typically motorized; and the film speed is detected automatically using DX coding.

The size of the compact point and shoot market increased rapidly in the 1970s and 1980s, as new electronic technology allowed the layperson to take good quality snapshot images with little thought, using cameras that were relatively inexpensive. Among the most successful series of point-and-shoot cameras were Canon's Sure Shot range, and the Olympus mju/Stylus series. Sometimes these cameras are simply called compact cameras, as they tend to be small.

Most modern point-and-shoot cameras use autofocus (a feature pioneered in 1977 with the Konica C35AF). However, there are still some point-and-shoot cameras produced today (as there were years ago) that use a lens with fixed focus. Such cameras are often marketed as "focus free", since they use a small aperture and a wider lens focal length to extend the depth of field, thus giving acceptable focus over a wide distance range.