Nothing to fear with machine flat, incline and decline benches. In most gyms you can just wheel an adjustable bench to a smith machine and bench away.
Smith machine benches give you the confidence to press heavier weight, but there is something to be said for the benefits that the instability of barbells and dumbells can provide. My favorite substitute for both is a bench machine that allows you to work each arm independently (like dumbells), safely offering the same benefits, including the ability to load a bit more weight on your weaker side (if you have one) without the fear of losing control:
In order of frequency of use for chest I use:
- independent-arm bench machines (most)
- smith machines
- free weight barbells
- free weight dumbells (least)
For the sake of mixing things up, or depending on which equipment is being used by others at the time, I occasionally completely flip that order.