The above photo was taken on a tiny point and shoot 35mm camera called a Yashica T5. I traded that very camera today for a something different, a little faster and better built after 2 years - a P&S camera called a Konica Hexar AF. I picked it up at this year's Photographica camera fair in London (which was SUCH a fun event but a) you really need to know what you're looking for and b) to know your prices to get a good deal - something i've found more and more is the less experienced shop owners, with the more hit and miss gear, are the people who you will walk away with a steal of a camera from.
BACK to the post. So firstly, my opinion is PREMIUM POINT AND SHOOT CAMERAS ARE FUCKING AMAZING (and you should have one in your bag). If you want a total brain holiday from photography (when you're going on holiday), and want results 85% as good as your pro gear in daylight, you should invest in a P&S camera. And the truth of it is, they are an investment now so you need to be careful as the prices can be silly and unjustified.
If you're like me, you'll want the best P&S you can get without A) Feeling duped by elevated hype pricing B) if you're going to leave your professional cameras at home, you want to feel like you have some guarantees that you'll get good shots and your standards feel upheld C) dare i say something pretty and small. Once i've committed to just bringing a P&S, i feel my photography improve as i focus on framing up interesting things - they are a real masterclass with composition - the whole photo process is simplified into worrying less about how to use the camera and the shift of importance is to what's in front of you and framing the best that you can.
Enter the Yashica T4, T5, Contax T2, T3, Olympus MJU 1 & 2, Nikon 35 TI and the Konica Hexar AF. The Contax are pretty at least. There are probably others but these are the ones i've tried and they are all way way more expensive than they should be (Contax T2's used to be 200-250 and now start at 550.. Konica's are 500, Yashica's used to be 100 and now are 250 upwards etc. BUT if you're patient and look around.. you can find them cheap and, given that they are difficult to get repaired, you don't want to bomb the top prices on them.
Back to why you should get one:
1) Begineers to Pros - they make you focus on composition...what's in front of camera.
2) They're fast enough and simple - You are more likely to catch the moment.
3) They are sharp as anything - Each of the named above P&S cameras have amazing lenses (the MJU 1 is a little soft and slower at F3.5) but it's still great
4) They require very little knowledge if any to get started and take good photos.
5) They're small enough to have with you anywhere.
6) They're a good mid-step into film and great for confidence building shooting film.
P&S cameras are a step up from a disposable and there is no reason why you shouldn't get a 5-20 pound P&S and see how you roll. They are everywhere from charity shops to eBay but i do recommend you check them over in person as for every 1 great P&S are 20 broken ones. Car boot sales are a really good shout and i've found many Olympus Trip 35's and Olympus Pen EE's in places like that. The premium point and shoots, however, are a little harder to find and are snapped up quickly at all prices.
IMPORTANT - I would really recommend working out if you like the 35mm focal length before you plunge your hard earned money into a premium P&S. The Contax are 38mm which is a little closer and some prefer it.
Little tips from me would be.. the Contax cameras are beautiful but have a very temperamental Autofocus.. I'd turn your love to a Yashica T3 - T5 - and T3's are a real steal with their lower prices. The Olympus MJU 1 is also a steal often sub 35 pounds but you lose a tiny bit of depth of field at F3.5 instead of F2.8 (the lower the number, the more blurred one can make the background and separate subject from background)
What if you're already in love with P&S's but want to move to the next step. Where next ? I suggest taking a step into slightly more manual settings like the Olympus Trip 35, the Rollei 35's, Contax G series (which is still very automated) etc - These sit as a mid point between the manual cameras and the automated P&S's whilst maintaining a smaller form factor - And if you're already there, i can't recommend enough the Leica M6 TTL, Leica M3, Nikon F3.. nope, that's it.. those are my favourite manual 35mm cameras and i'd leave the rest.
Big love and if you have any questions or are worried about pricing, just drop me a message