23rd September 2023

A Virtual World of Live Pictures

Technology and Computer

How to Find a Good Used Point-and-Shoot Digital Camera

Your family has probably had a pocketable point-and-shoot camera before, and it’s back in fashion. People have been discovering that those small cameras have an almost film-like quality to their images without the inconvenience of film.

If you’re looking for an old digital camera, we’re here to guide you when buying a used one online or from a thrift store.

What Is a Point-and-Shoot Digital Camera?

Canon digicam with lens extended beside keyboard
Image Credit: Jhet Borja

Point-and-shoot digital cameras, colloquially known as “digicams,” are easy-to-use, pocketable cameras that don’t require a lot of technical knowledge to operate. They’re quite popular as it’s easy to do one-handed photography with them.

They were popular from the early 2000s all the way up to the early 2010s. They weren’t taken seriously and were mainly used as travel and family documentation cameras. However, due to smartphone cameras becoming really good, their popularity has massively decreased over the past decade.

a woman holding a camera and taking photos of someone else with a cliff in the background

In early 2022, TikTok made these cameras popular again because of their unique image aesthetic; embracing the limitations of the old CCD sensors instead of trying to get the most accurate image, just like why people loved vintage film cameras. Film cameras without the fuss and expense of dealing with film? There’s a lot to like.

Vintage digicams are the new film cameras. Despite the TikTok trend settling down, the digicam market is still steady and growing.

What to Look for in a Used Point-and-Shoot Digital Camera

Tray of old point and shoot cameras
Image Credit: Jhet Borja

We are going to focus on used point-and-shoot digicams here because they are quite old and most likely discontinued. If you want to buy a used digicam for that vintage aesthetic, here’s what you need to look out for.


Canon digital cameras on ebay

While there are cameras like the Fuji X100 series that have great film simulation, they’re just way too expensive as a hobby camera. It’s also quite big and not very pocketable.

If you’re looking online, it’s best to look for cameras under $40. TikTok has increased the demand for point-and-shoot digital cameras, which has resulted in price spikes, but if you look hard enough, you’ll be able to find ones for great prices.

Buying in-person is probably best. Go to your local thrift shop and you just might find treasures from brands like Canon, Kodak, Nikon, Sony, and even Samsung for less than $10.

Accessory Availability

Canon SX610 HS with first and third party accessories
Image Credit: Jhet Borja

One of the most important things when it comes to buying old tech are the accessories like batteries, chargers, and memory cards.

If they’re all still there, then make sure they work. If they’re not, you’re going to have to check online if there are any aftermarket batteries, chargers, or memory cards for it. This will be another expense, so take that into consideration when setting a budget.

Wasabi Power chargers and batteries

Amazon and Alibaba can be great places to find those accessories. If the camera you’re looking for doesn’t use generic AA batteries, you’ll want to search for the model name of the camera and figure out the battery model; like this NB-6L that my Canon PowerShot SX610 HS uses. We suggest a brand like Wasabi Power as they sell all sorts of batteries and chargers for digital cameras.

Before SD cards became the new standard, there were many memory card formats from different brands; Memory Stick, xD cards, Fuji MC, CF cards, etc. Some are easier to find than others; but just like the batteries, you can search for the model name and find out what cards they used and whether you can still buy them or not.

Common Issues

Canon digicam with screen vignetting
Image Credit: Jhet Borja

A vintage camera will almost always come with issues. If you’re buying a camera that’s more than eight years old, you will find problems, and those problems may get worse over time with use.

Moreover, these cameras were never made to last long. They were supposed to be affordable and easy to use, which is why not overspending on a used camera is a big part of this hobby.

You should watch out for these issues and be ready to face them when buying a used digicam:

  • Screen vignetting
  • Bloated battery
  • Brittle/sticky plastic or rubber parts
  • Broken wires/connections
  • Stuck/broken lens covers

Some you might be able to repair, but others might be impossible. Try to find a good balance between age and accessibility.

Image Quality

Image of house with trees with red leaves surrounding it
Image Credit: Jhet Borja

Quality is a weird word to use as compared to modern cameras, these old digital cameras are terrible, especially in poor lighting. However, we’re going to use the word “quality” here to mean the unique feel it gives your images. After all, these cameras are sought after for their unique, film-like quality. Of course, there are big differences between film and digital photography, but both have their quirks.

If you can test the camera live, you should. If you can’t, there are websites like DPReview which have reviews of all sorts of point-and-shoot digital cameras, going back as far as 1996. They also have sample photos for you to gauge whether the camera you’re looking at achieves the quality you want.

Using the flash in poorly-lit situations can also give an interesting aesthetic, so it’s not completely impossible to do nighttime shooting.

Features and Filters

Canon digicam connected to phone
Image Credit: Jhet Borja

There’s a reason why one of the most sought-after point-and-shoot digital cameras is either from Fuji or from Canon, and that’s their filters. Back in the day, these filters were often ignored as they were seen as cheesy, or gimmicky.

Canon SX610 HS color presets
Image Credit: Jhet Borja

However, these filters are now some of the easiest ways to take film-like photos without needing to edit them afterward. Here are some examples of some photos I took with my Canon SX610 HS that looked great without editing, just the built-in filters and some cropping:

Features like being able to connect it to your phone and easily transfer files might be important to you. Of course, you wouldn’t be able to find that on cameras that are really old, but cameras from 2012-2016 are where you’ll find convenient features while still giving you that modern film aesthetic.

Point-and-Shoot Digital Cameras Are the New Film Cameras

As film gets more expensive, it gets harder to enter the hobby. However, digital point-and-shoots are making a comeback and it’s looking like they’re becoming the film cameras of newer generations. They were seen as bad cameras, but what was considered bad at the time is now being seen as an aesthetic.

Film photography will always have its place, but it’s inconvenient and expensive. Point-and-shoot digital cameras are easy to use and much more convenient while having their own unique aesthetic as well. If you know what to look for, you can get great digital cameras for cheap.