We've had a few different compact cameras - mostly Nikon Coolpix compacts - and have loved the simplicity of a camera that reliably takes good pictures without a lot of fuss. I've got cameras with more manual controls, but for most ordinary situations where we take photos with the family or outdoors on a walk the ease of a point-and-shoot compact is preferable. The problem is that many of these situations require a lot more zoom power than you'd normally get with a compact (but where it's sometimes awkward to lug a big camera with a long lens and a tripod). Sometimes you just can't get very close, but you still need to get good pictures, and you still want a camera that's convenient enough to carry in a small bag or purse. School plays, soccer games, swim meets, even birdwatching. We wanted something that was simple to use, fairly inexpensive, but had a bigger lens with more zooming power than our older Nikon Coolpix. This meets our needs exactly. One of the main reasons we bought this was for my wife, a volunteer at a local bird sanctuary on the beach. She wanted a camera that she could use to shoot bird pictures, that gave her some serious optical zoom (21x!), but that wouldn't be too heavy to lug around. We went to an elementary school graduation the other day, for example, and with this camera we were able to get closeups of our daughter even from the back of the auditorium.
It shoots very good pictures (as in, much better than you can expect from a camera phone, but not nearly as good as you'd expect from a DSLR) and good quality HD video at 720p. The sound on the video is okay, but not great, so it's best for something you might include in a vacation album or something like that. I've been quite impressed by its macro capabilities - and by how easy it is to switch into macro mode for extreme close up shots of bugs or flowers and the like. Pretty much the only manual controls you get here are the zoom and the flash (as in, you can decide whether or not to zoom and whether or not to use the flash). Beyond that, it's got the adjustments you'd expect from a compact camera. You can select a scene type and the camera will make some adjustments for you, or you can set the exposure higher or lower than what the camera calculates, and you can select white balance as needed. We've been quite happy with it. (One minor irritation: if you turn it on and you've forgotten to remove the lens cap, you have to remove the cap and then turn it back off and then on again. My Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX5
- the compact I tend to carry around, that doesn't zoom like this one - lets you just remove the cap and then press any button.)