Now that most of us are carrying around smartphones with great cameras, the market for point and shoot cameras is in decline. Yet there are lots of ways that a point and shoot is still the better option. They have zoom lenses and better battery life, for example. While for high-end models, the images will be noticeably superior.
So if you’re in the market for a quality, yet easy to use, camera, which is the right one for you? Let’s take a look at the best point and shoot camera regardless of your budget.
Before Buying a Point and Shoot Camera
Your budget won’t just affect the features you get in a camera—it’ll affect the performance too. As a general rule, the more you pay for your camera, the better images it will produce.
Cheaper cameras have smaller sensors. They are less able to shoot well in low light or high contrast scenes.
They also tend to be slower. Not just in general functioning speed, but shutter lag and focussing speed, too. This may not matter if you’re primarily shooting landscapes or scenes with limited movement. But budget point and shoots are rarely suitable for action photography.
The Best Point and Shoot Camera Under $100:
Sony DSC W800
Your options are limited if you’re on the tightest of budgets. If your smartphone isn’t up to the job the Sony DSC W800 stands out as a solid pick. It’s a good choice for beginners thanks to an Easy mode that means you don’t have to worry about any of the settings. It also charges conveniently via USB.
At this price it’s inevitably a no-frills camera. You’re limited to 720p for video shooting, and the small sensor and slow lens mean it won’t be good for low light photography (although the built-in flash will help).
One thing the Sony W800 offers that your smartphone doesn’t is a 5x optical zoom. You can zoom in for closeups and zoom out for wide shots without needing to move, and with no loss in quality.
The Best Point and Shoot Camera Under $200:
Canon PowerShot ELPH 360 HS
For a little more money you can get a lot more camera. The Canon PowerShot ELPH 360 HS is very compact—it’s less than an inch thick—yet manages to pack in a hefty 12x optical zoom. It supports image stabilization, too, so your photos should always be sharp.
There’s more. It uses a high resolution 20.2-megapixel sensor, and can shoot full HD video at 1080p. The PowerShot 360 also has NFC and Wi-Fi. You can connect it wirelessly to a compatible Android phone, or upload images straight from the camera to Facebook, Twitter, and more.
The Best Point and Shoot Camera Under $300:
Canon PowerShot SX720 HS
The Canon PowerShot SX720 HS is a compact camera, but this does not stop it sporting an extraordinary 40x zoom. It ranges from an ultra wide 24 mm to an incredible 960 mm at the long end. If you’re looking to travel light on your next vacation, this may be the camera for you.
While it isn’t ideal for shooting in low light, there is a pop up flash and image stabilization to help. It has a 20.3-megapixel sensor, and can shoot 1080p video. It also has Wi-Fi and NFC support, so you can share photos direct from the camera.
The PowerShot SX720 is for the more casual end of the market, but it provides full manual controls alongside the various Auto modes. This gives you full creative control over your photos, if you know what you’re doing.
The Best Point and Shoot Camera Under $400:
Panasonic Lumix FZ80
The Panasonic Lumix FZ80 has a mini-DSLR style body, and some incredible specs. The standout is the 60x zoom lens that stretches from 20 to 1200 mm, and is aided by optical image stabilization to ensure all your photos come out crisp.
It has an 18.1-megapixel sensor and a touchscreen for easy control and use. You can compose your shots via the 3-inch display, or use the electronic viewfinder.
It also shoots 4K video at 30fps, and has a clever 4K Photo mode that enables you to extract a high quality 8-megapixel shot from your video footage. Never again will you need to make the choice between shooting stills or video.
If you aren’t ready to take the leap to a DSLR, the FZ80 is a versatile and powerful first step.
The Best Point and Shoot Camera Under $500:
Canon PowerShot G9 X Mark II
The Canon PowerShot G9 X Mark II is a steal in the sub-$500 bracket.
Yes, the headline specs are not especially eye catching—it has a 3x zoom, a 20.1-megapixel sensor, shoots only 1080p video, it supports Wi-Fi and NFC, and has a touchscreen. But it has one thing that makes it better than all the cameras we’ve looked at so far. It has a 1-inch sensor.
What makes this so important? It’s four times larger than the 1/2.3-inch sensors that are common in lower priced cameras. This means it captures more detail, has better dynamic range, and is significantly better in low light. The low light performance is also aided by a bright lens that shoots at f2.0 at its widest angle.
The Canon G9 X Mark II is where we move from the casual to the enthusiast market. You can shoot in RAW, using manual controls, but the camera remains small and pocketable.
The Best Point and Shoot Camera Under $700:
Sony Cyber-Shot RX100 III
The Sony Cyber-Shot RX100 III is one of several in a much-loved series of premium compact point and shoot cameras. It has models at various price points, with the third generation providing the best bang for your buck.
Despite being several years old, the specs are still rock solid. There’s a large, 1-inch, 20.9-megapixel sensor. A fast, bright f1.8-2.8 Zeiss lens with 2.9x zoom that’s great in low light conditions. There’s a pop up OLED viewfinder, as well as a tiltable touchscreen. You can shoot in RAW, with manual controls. And you can shoot uncompressed 1080p video, which makes the RX100 one of the best vlogging cameras.
And did we mention it’s small enough to fit in your pocket? The RX100 III is an upgrade to your smartphone camera. And like your smartphone, it’s a camera you can take anywhere.
The Best Point and Shoot Camera Under $1,000:
Panasonic Lumix FZ2500
At first glance the Panasonic Lumix FZ2500 looks like a DSLR. It isn’t, it’s still a point and shoot, albeit one that gives you a lot of power and control.
The FZ2500 uses a 1-inch, 21.1-megapixel sensor, and offers a 20x zoom on a f2.8-4.5 Leica lens. The lens may not be the longest or brightest on the market, but reviews show that it’s high quality throughout its full range. It’s also good for shooting in low light up to ISO 3200.
One interesting extra feature is the built in neutral density filter. This enables you to shoot at longer shutter speeds or at wider apertures without overexposing your shots.
Video features are strong, too, on the FZ2500. Panasonic describes it as professional quality. You can shoot in Cinema 4K at 24fps, add an external microphone, and output video to a monitor in real time through an HDMI cable.
The Best Point and Shoot Camera Under $1,200:
Technically a mirrorless camera, the FujiFilm X100F has a fixed lens, auto controls, and fantastic Jpeg processing that outputs beautiful images straight from the camera.
But the main thing that makes the X100F stand out is its APS-C sized sensor. This is three times larger than the 1-inch sensors in the most high end point and shoots. It provides yet another upgrade in low light performance and dynamic range.
The X100 range is very popular among photography purists. The lens is a fixed 35 mm prime (it doesn’t zoom), there’s an optical viewfinder, and it’s packed with retro styled dials and controls. A more niche offering, perhaps, but you won’t be unhappy with the quality of images it produces.
The Best Point and Shoot Camera Under $1,800:
Sony Cyber-Shot RX10 IV
Beyond a certain price point you get the choice of some of the best mirrorless and DSLR cameras around. But if you still want the simplicity and convenience of a point and shoot without any of the compromises, then the Sony Cyber-Shot RX10 IV is unbeatable.
It has a 20.1-megapixel, 1-inch sensor. There’s a 20x zoom Zeiss lens that stretches from 24 to 600 mm. You can shoot uncompressed 4K video, or 1080p at up 960fps for super slo-mo footage.
It’s also fast. Sony claims the world’s fastest autofocus speed of just 0.03 seconds. And with fast focus tracking, shutter speeds of up to 1/32000, and a burst mode of up to 24fps this is a camera you can use for action and sport. The RX10 IV may be pricey, but it has pretty much everything you’d want in a camera.
The Best Point and Shoot Camera for You
There are a lot of great cameras at every price point. The trick to finding the best one for you is to decide what your shooting priorities are. Do you need great video features? The low light benefits of a larger 1-inch sensor? Will you be shooting wildlife with a long zoom? Or maybe you just need something that you can slip into your pocket or bag. Deciding this will determine your search for the perfect camera.
And if you aren’t sure that a point and shoot is right for you at all, you could consider upgrading to a mirrorless camera instead.