The lowest-end point-and-shoot film cameras are similar to disposable cameras, but can be reloaded. These cameras have focus-free lenses, with fixed apertures. They may or may not have a light meter. Most have a wheel or lever for advancing the film and cocking the shutter, and a crank for returning the film to the canister for unloading. Because of the fixed apertures, models with flash have no way of controlling the exposure from the flash. Therefore flash pictures have to be taken within a narrow range of distance from the subject.
Advanced models use automatic focus and have variable apertures. They all have light meters. They use electric motors to advance and rewind the film. They are much more versatile than the low-end models. They are also likely to have zoom lenses, more advanced auto-focus systems, exposure systems with manual controls, larger apertures and sharper lenses. They may have special lamps or pre-flash systems designed to reduce red eye in flash pictures of people.
Not including digital backs, the first digital cameras were of this type, with DSLRs coming later. The image sensor used in digital point-and-shoots tends to be smaller than their DSLR counterparts, but might be have larger sensor than Four Thirds system sensor. The non-interchangeable lenses allow the coverage of the lens to be matched to the sensor, an advantage given the non-standardization of sensor sizes. Low end digital cameras lacking zoom, autofocus and flash are less common, their niche having been taken by camera phones.
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