Often the best for family snapshots, vacations, special events, children, & memories, - perhaps because they are so easy to use - 35mm point and shoots are the most popular camera by far.
If you are looking at a point and shoot, don't go anywhere without a zoom. Everyone knows they help by allowing you to get closer to your subject - whether it be your child, you dog, or a flower. They do much more than this, though; they make it easier to recompose your photo. If a distracting tree branch is getting in the way of your main subject, you may be able to simply zoom in a bit to eliminate it from the scene.
There is, of course, another side to the argument. Some say that zooms do not offer the same photographic quality as a fixed focal length lens. This is true but the difference - for most people - is negligible.
Excellent, inexpensive point and shoots - there are too many to number them all - include the Yashica T4, the Olympus Stylus line, and the Fuji Discovery cameras. The Fuji point and shoots have an additional feature; when you insert the film, the whole roll is unwound into the camera. As you shoot, the film is wound back into the film cannister. This means that as soon as you take a picture, it is moved along into the protective space of the cannister. If you accidentally open the back of your camera, only unexposed film will be ruined; your precious pictures will be safely hid from the light.
Are Single-Use Cameras Any Good?
These little cheapos (AKA throwaway or box cameras) are great... in certain situations. They will do a great job at recording fun memories but usually don't have what it takes to capture quality photographs.
For example, let's say you are heading out to the surf to do a little snorkeling and you want some snapshots to put in your album or show your friends. You're not really interested in getting National Geographic photographs of sea cucumbers or anemones. All your really want is that classic, fun shot of yourself floating half in and half out of the water looking like a fat and happy seal (like in Jaws).
This is once instance when a single-use camera may be your best bet. The waterproof single-use cameras offer a great, inexpensive way to get fun pics in the top 10-15 feet of water.
Another example of appropriate single-use camera utilization comes from my dad and his appreciation for a good panoramic. Whenever he travels - and he loves to travel - he takes along a Pentax point and shoot for normal shooting and a few panoramic box cameras for those occasional awe-inspiring vistas. This way he gets the best of both world without having to buy a new or specialized panoramic camera. The pictures turn out surprisingly well considering the simple technology that is being used.
Just remember to have low expectations when you pick up your prints from the photo lab. That way, you will always be pleasantly surprised.
Point and Shoot with a Twist - APS
Check out the APS (that stands for 'Advanced Photo System') choices if you want a camera with additional simplicity, some extra features, and often a more compact package. The film can only be loaded one particular way - by popping the cartridge into a hole. There is no strip of film sticking out and virtual no way to mess up the loading process.
Because it is so easy to load and operate, many people have turned to APS. Also, with a flip of a switch, you can choose between three different film formats: panoramic for taking those long, stretched-out photos and two versions of your more traditional, rectangular pictures.
The most well-known examples in the APS camera market are the Canon Elph models and the Kodak Advantix cameras.
Point and Shoot with a Byte - Digital
Digital cameras are quickly gaining in popularity. They feature the simplicity of point and shoots. They additionally feature such qualities as the ability to immediately view your image (if your camera has a monitor) and to delete bad photos as soon as you take them (if your camera has a delete function). These cameras are extremely convenient and save you a bundle on film and developing costs. To get photo quality results from digital cameras currently on the market, though, you have to spend a bit more money than you would on a 35mm point and shoot.
Visit the digital cameras section of the BetterPhoto Reviews to learn more about your choices along this route. Alternatively, check out the Buyer's Guide and the Digital Camera Comparison Chart for additional guidance.