In the age of the smartphone, it's easy to overlook the benefits of owning a digital camera. Until you start a family, venture off to see the wonders of the world, or try to shoot the bride and groom's first dance in a dimly lit wedding hall, you don't truly appreciate the superior image quality and versatility that come with a well-designed Canon or Nikon. What you see instead is the price.

But if you're thinking about buying a digital camera, you should know that people who own them tend to be very pleased with their purchases. According to a 2016 Consumer Reports reliability survey, based on input from almost 70,000 subscribers, most professed to being highly satisfied with their digital cameras.

In fact, our survey found that 94 percent of digital camera owners were either completely satisfied (69 percent) or very satisfied (25 percent) with the reliability of their cameras. And 89 percent were completely satisfied (54 percent) or very satisfied (35 percent) with the performance of their cameras.

How do you explain such a high level of contentment?

Take a look at our reliability findings. For point-and-shoot cameras, the median estimated failure rate by the third year of ownership was only 5 percent. And for interchangeable-lens cameras (SLRs and mirrorless models), that rate was just 4 percent.

By contrast, the estimated failure rate for laptops by the third year of ownership ranges from 17 to 33 percent. And tablets? The rate by the second year of ownership is 6 to 24 percent.

Because of the differences in performance standards for those products, it's unfair to make too much of the comparison. But it does give you a general idea about why consumers view their cameras so favorably.

It's also possible that camera owners are benefiting from the increased pressure placed on camera manufacturers by smartphone manufacturers. As smartphone cameras have become more advanced and more popular, Canon, Nikon, and other manufacturers have had to raise their game, making cameras that are not only easy to use but also resilient.

And last, because consumers are using smartphones to take more photos, they might be less apt to experience problems with their stand-alone cameras. Unlike laptops and TVs, which are used daily, point-and-shoots and SLRs are often stowed away until the next big life event.

Still, the fact remains that when those cameras are used, the people who own them are mostly happy with the way they perform.  

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