1 May 2022
When I retired from the Navy in 1993 I went to work in Seattle at various camera stores and was invited to teach at the junior college level. We started with the basics of cameras and then digital cameras began to become more and more popular. Digital cameras were wonderful because the settings on the camera were numerous and wonderful. BUT, digital cameras were hard to learn because they had so many settings. Almost everyone had their cameras set on "A" which stood for automatic and then began to wonder why certain shots just didn't look "perfect'!
Well, that was the drawback of digital cameras because manufacturers didn't explain things clearly in their owner's manuals and most people didn't know that the owner's manuals were there for them to use! The big drawback with digital cameras, especially point-and-shoot cameras, is that the lens focused on the nearest object and had no depth-of-field. If there was a bright object closer to the camera, that was what was in focus. People didn't know about aiming at what they wanted in focus, pushing the shutter button down about half-way, holding it, and then reframing the shot so that the in-focus object was not in the center of the frame.
Also, the flash in point-and-shoot cameras was good to about 12 feet maximum and would come on at in appropriate times because the camera sensed lower light conditions. This happened to tourists in Europe who went into museums where the ambient light levels were notoriously low and the signs at the front door said "NO FLASH PHOTOGRAPHY". Well, because the camera was on automatic, the flash would go off and the officials would escort the offender out the door.
The "P" setting was for "Programmable" and this was automatic without the flash popping up automatically. If you needed the flash, you would have to physically raise the flash to the shooting position. The focus still worked the same way as automatic.
Most point-and-shoot cameras did not have the capability of changing f/stops or shutter speeds and you would have to pay more money for those capabilities. If you needed to set shutter speeds and f/stops, you would have to move up to a DSLR, Digital Single Lens Reflex, or spend more money for a more advanced point-and-shoot which had manual settings. Being able to set shutter speeds and f/stops comes in handy when doing sports photography and scenery. Higher shutter speeds allows the capability of "stop action" as well as shooting under lower-light conditions. F/stops open or close the diameter of the lens which allows for more detail in depth or less detail in depth from the camera. The wider the lens opening, the less detail. Picture a flower in a field of flowers and all you want as your major point of interest is that one flower. You need a very large aperture opening to focus on that one flower and leave all the flowers in the background out-of-focus.