CameraTron 2000: Get an advanced point-and-shoot camera
Why you should get an advanced point-and-shoot camera
For the best balance of optics and manual controls in a fixed-lens camera, look to a "premium" or "advanced" point-and-shoot camera. Keep in mind that these cameras have much shorter optical-zoom ranges than a pocket megazoom camera, and some even have fixed focal lengths, which means you'll need to zoom with your feet.
The reason why an advanced point-and-shoot might be the best fit for your needs is that it usually offers a wider aperture than any other pocketable camera (usually around F2.0) and a larger sensor than a long-zoom camera, two factors that improve the camera's capabilities in low-light situations. Because they have manual controls, these are also great cameras for learning the ropes of shutter, aperture, and focus adjustments.
They're more portable than DSLRs and compact interchangeable-lens cameras, but they offer many of the same controls and features. Of course, they're pricier than your average point-and-shoot, too, with prices starting at about $400 for new models and at about $300 for older or used models.
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