People frequently ask me for suggestions on what kind of camera they should buy. The question is incredibly simple or complex - I think it depends on my mood, their internal bias, marketing, budget, style, and several other factors.
The reality usually is that for a basic point and shoot camera you go with the sex appeal nowadays. Buy what looks and feels right when you pick it up and shoot it. Of course if shopping online that is harder to do - but you get the idea. Today's (under $350) cameras are very good in most cases. Of course there are performance differences in a few categories, some more noticeable than others.
Today I am sharing a few shots made in almost identical fashion to show how different an image can be captured. Software and other factors play into the final look of the image. These are basically straight from the camera to you. After capture of course all bets are off and things can be tweaked to taste.
I know it's a lot to absorb and perhaps just a bunch of pink things (except for the B&W infrared)- but look into the saturation, contrast, hue and you will begin to see some differences which make up the characteristics of each camera. In some cases high saturation is great, in others it may not be as desirable.
I didn't get super technical - so this is a just a quick look at an image shot with many cameras in an almost identical fashion. It was all hand held and done to take a look at how each chip and software renders the scene. Tthe phone shot in is way over saturated - but the HDR looks more natural.