I just wrapped up reviewing Canon's second go-round using a touch-screen LCD on a compact camera, the PowerShot SD3500 IS. Unlike its first one, the SD980 IS, this model has few physical controls for operating the camera, so it relies almost entirely on pokes and swipes with your fingers. While I liked the camera overall, the touch-screen interface doesn't add much to the experience of using it and ends up feeling unnecessary. About the only benefit is the ability to tap on your subject for focus and exposure--something all touch-screen cameras do.
Other touch-screen models from Sony, Samsung, and Nikon go beyond the basic tap-to-focus and swipe-to-advance options, including setting off self-timers, tapping to focus and shoot, and writing/drawing on photos (something that can be both fun and practical). While none of these things are necessary, they do add to the usability of the camera and give more purpose to having a touch screen.
Also, getting rid of those pesky buttons gives manufacturers room for a large 3.5-inch screen or the option to have a smaller camera without going too small on the display size. And if you're already using other touch-screen devices, why not add your compact camera to the list?
On the Canon, the touch screen feels tacked on for gee-whiz upselling and little else. On others, it seems to be both flash and function. Which brings me to my question: are touch screens at all needed on digital cameras? Though I like them, I find they can slow me down when trying to change settings. Then again, I change settings more than most snapshot camera users.
I also don't do a lot of playback and sharing on my camera's screen; those features are definitely enhanced on touch-screen models so they'd be lost on me for the most part. It's not a must-have for me. How about you?