The best camera is the one you have with you. And these days, that’s usually our smartphones. But, there’s only so much you can capture with even the latest flagship phone. And in recent years, the point and shoot segment has taken off, holding a distinct space in the current market. And for a good reason.
Manufacturers are pushing the bounds to remain competitive in an ever-changing smartphone age. And these days, technology has improved significantly. So much so we now have access to the best point and shoot cameras to date. Today, there’s now plenty of options with powerful optical zooms, image stabilization, large sensors, and comfortable controls.
Table of Contents
Not to mention, these cameras have a full suite of advanced pro-level features, typically reserved for pricier DSLRs. Point and shoots, as a class of camera, offer quite an interesting middle ground. They have all of the power of an entry-level DSLR, with similar image quality, customization, and convenience.
But, they’re substantially smaller, less bulky, without the steep learning curve, making them a better alternative for novice photographers or hobbyists. And even the entry-level options continue to outclass even the best mobile devices. Now, whether you’re looking for your first dedicated camera to develop your photography skills or a middle ground between a DSLR, point and shoots are a solid option.
And in this post, we’ve compiled a list of the top ten best point and shoot cameras. We’ve also created a detailed guide on what to consider when shopping for a point and shoot camera, which you can find below.
Nikon’s P1000 is the company’s latest mega-zoom camera. Released in the fall of 2018, it features a 1/2.3-inch 16-megapixel sensor, a 24-3,000mm lens, 4K video up to 30 fps, and 1080p video up to 60 fps. It also has a 3.2-inch articulating screen, an EVF, optical stabilization, a built-in flash, time-lapse, a microphone input, HDR, and wireless connectivity.
The P1000 uses Nikon’s standard contrast-detect AF system with Face Priority and Subject Tracking, which works well given enough light. But it offers enormous upgrades in several areas over the earlier P900. Namely, it now provides 5 stops of stabilization and full RAW shooting. But, easily, it’s standout feature is the updated 2x Dynamic Fine Zoom, which doubles the camera’s range to 6,000mm, with minimal loss in quality.
And you can even push things to 12,000mm with the optional Digital Zoom, easily capturing subjects as far as the moon.
Overall, Nikon’s P1000 remains the current leader in the mega-zoom category. While it may be one of the larger and heavier bridge cameras, it offers standout zooming capabilities and superior handling. And it’ll guarantee you’ll get the shot, no matter the distance.
Ricoh GR III
Ricoh’s GR III is the latest iteration of the long-standing GR lineup. Released in the spring of 2019, it features an APS-C sized 24-megapixel sensor, a 28mm lens, and 1080p 60 FPS video. It also has a 3-inch touchscreen, a built-in ND filter, stabilization, 2 GBs of internal storage, multi-exposures, interval composite, HDR, time-lapse, and wireless connectivity.
The GR III uses their brand new hybrid AF system now with Face Detection. But, Richo’s also updated the sensor, which is 1.5x larger than before. And this change significantly increases the camera’s image quality and low light performance. Yet, the camera now even has stabilization, debuts a touchscreen for easier operation, and its fast 28mm lens offers an interesting perspective. But, if that’s too wide, you can use either the 35 or 50mm crop modes to narrow the field of view.
Overall, the GR III is quite a powerhouse release. Yet, it remains palm-sized and easy to store into a jacket pocket. Sure, it’s more minimal than other compacts, but it’s discrete and offers a masterful balance between function and size.
Canon PowerShot G5 X Mark II
Canon’s G5X Mark II is Canon’s latest mid-range compact. Released in the fall of 2019, it features a 1-inch 20-megapixel sensor, a 24-120mm lens, 4K 30 FPS video, and 1080p 120 FPS video. It also has a 3-inch flip touchscreen, an EVF, stabilization, a built-in flash, time-lapse, panorama, HDR, a built-in ND filter, and wireless connectivity.
The G5X uses Canon’s 31-point contrast AF system with Face Detection. Unlike many rivals in this class, it offers a 180º flipping touchscreen, making it a great option for selfies or blogging. Advanced shooters will also be pleased knowing the camera has full RAW support, yet surprisingly does so boasting 20 FPS continuous shooting or 30 using the RAW burst mode. And not only is it a strong option for capturing action, but its large sensor, fast f/2.8 lens, and versatile zoom make it well suited for virtually any application.
Overall, the G5X Mark II takes many high-end features from the premium compacts of the field. And, it combines a longer than average zoom with a supremely fast lens, making it quite a strong all-rounder given the price.
Canon PowerShot SX740 HS
Canon’s Powershot SX740 is their latest mega-zoom compact camera. Released in the fall of 2018, it features a 1/2.3-inch 20.3-megapixel sensor, a 24-960mm lens, 4K 30 FPS, and 1080p 60 FPS video. It also has a 3-inch flipping screen, optical stabilization, a built-in flash, time-lapse, and wireless connectivity.
The SX740 uses Canon’s TTL Autofocus system with Face Detection. But the latest processor now brings along 4K video and the 4K Frame Grab feature, which allows you to extract images from the video. But, notably, it’s highlight feature is its enormous 40x optical zoom, allowing you to get incredibly close to the action.
Yet, it even boasts an 80x ZoomPlus mode to get twice as close, plus the Zoom Framing Assist, to make it easy to relocate subjects when fully extended. The only drawback is that the camera shoots JPEGs strictly and doesn’t offer RAW shooting for added flexibility. But, it does make it easier for those wanting a simple point-and-shoot experience without the fuss.
Overall, Canon’s SX740 is an excellent option for capturing sports and far off subjects, particularly so given its ambitious zoom and pocket-friendly form factor. And it’s a strong choice for budget-conscious shooters not needed RAW flexibility who want a versatile travel-ready camera.
Panasonic ZS200 (TZ200)
Panasonic’s ZS200 is their direct response to Sony’s popular RX100 series. Released in the spring of 2018, it features a 1-inch 20.1-megapixel sensor, a 24-360 mm lens, 4K 30 FPS, and 1080p 120 FPS video. It also has a 3″ touchscreen, an EVF, stabilization, a built-in flash, 4K photo, focus bracketing, HDR, and wireless connectivity.
The ZS200 uses Panasonic’s 49-point AF system, which includes both Face and eye-detection. And compared to earlier models, Panasonic’s managed to squeeze in a much large 1″ sensor. And this change substantially improves the camera’s low light performance. They’ve also redesigned the lens, which now offers a 15x optical zoom or the 30x intelligent zoom, class-leading features at this price point.
Overall, the ZS200 is a strong all-in-one option that offers plenty of manual control and outstanding versatility. And as a challenger to the RX100 lineup, it’s quite a compelling alternative without its demanding price.
Canon PowerShot G7X Mark III
Canon’s G7 X Mark III charges forward with new video-centric features aimed at content creators. Released in 2019, it features a 1-inch 20.1-megapixel sensor, a 24-100mm lens, 4K 30 fps video, and 1080p 120 fps video. It also has a 3-inch tilting touchscreen, stabilization, a microphone input, a built-in flash, a built-in ND filter, and wireless connectivity.
The G7 X uses a similar TTL Autofocus system with Face Detection as the G5 X. And it also obtains the 30 FPS RAW burst mode or 20 FPS in regular shooting, which nearly doubles its predecessor. However, Canon’s added some video-centric features with this particular model. In this case, it now provides vertical video support for proper playback on smartphones or social media. Additionally, it’s live stream capable and can directly stream to Youtube, a first in the Powershot line.
Overall, Canon’s G7 X Mark III makes a strong video-first option. And it offers several bonuses that make it a great choice for vloggers and content creators looking for a pocketable option without opting for the pricier G5 X.
Panasonic ZS80 / TZ95
Panasonic’s ZS80 continues their popular TZ lineup of superzoom compact cameras. Released in the spring of 2019, it features a 1/2.3-inch 20-megapixel sensor, a 24-720mm lens, 4K 30 fps video, and 1080p 60 fps video. It also has a 3-inch flipping touchscreen, a built-in flash, an EVF, hybrid stabilization, HDR, Post Focus, Focus stacking, time-lapse, stop motion, panorama, and wireless connectivity.
The ZS80 uses Panasonic’s contrast-detect AF system with DFD technology and Face Detection. And it receives the new Sequence Composition feature, which allows you to combine a series of images in-camera. But, it also obtains Panasonic’s popular 4K Photo mode, which lets you pull photos from a 30 FPS 15 minute long video. Plus, it has the Intelligent Zoom function, doubling its 30x optical zoom to 60x, extending the lens to 1050mm in the 4K Photo mode.
Overall the ZS80 is an excellent compact with a longer than average zoom range. And while it’s only an incremental update over the earlier ZS70, it continues with the superior build quality and feature set known in this lineup. And it remains a strong option for capturing sports and action.
Fujifilm’s X100V is their latest premium street camera. Released in the spring of 2020, it features an APS-C sized 26-megapixel sensor, a fixed 23mm lens, 4K 30 FPS, and 1080p 120 FPS video. It also has a 3.0-inch tilting touchscreen, weather sealing, an EVF, a built-in ND filter, panorama, HDR, multi-exposures, time-lapse, and wireless connectivity.
With this latest installment now comes an overhauled sensor and autofocusing system. And the X100V uses Fuji’s high-end 425-point AF system from their acclaimed X-T3. Fuji’s also updated the lens, which provides substantially better image quality and macro performance. Yet, the camera also offers 11 FPS burst natively or steps up to 30 FPS, all the while capturing nostalgic images using its 17 classic film simulations.
Overall, the X100V is quite an extensively polished release on Fuji’s end, and it’s the ideal option for street photographers. But one that delivers a timeless design coupled with superior refinements that continues the line’s success.
Olympus Tough TG-6
Olympus’ TG-6 continues dominating the adventure photography segment. Released in the summer of 2019, it features a 1/2.3-inch 12-megapixel sensor, a 25-100mm lens, 4K 30 FPS, and 1080 120 FPS video. It also has a 3-inch LCD, stabilization, Live Composite, HDR, focus stacking, time-lapse, panorama, a 2x teleconverter, and wireless connectivity.
The TG-6 uses a 25-point contrast-based AF system with Face Detection. And while it only offers a 4x optical zoom lens, the lens does have a fast f/2 aperture, which is quite bright for this segment. But, it’s a feature that greatly improves the camera’s low light performance. The lens also offers superior macro abilities, focusing in as little as 1 cm. However, the TG-6 shines as the toughest camera around.
Not only is it crushproof to 100 KGs, but it’s also shock-resistant, dustproof, freezeproof, and waterproof. In short, it’s close to indestructible. Not to mention, it also offers full RAW shooting, 4K video, and 20 FPS burst, ratites for underwater cameras.
Overall, the TG-6 is ideal for adventure photographers requiring class-leading toughness. While it lacks a long zoom or large sensor, it remains the top option in the segment otherwise. And it’s a must given its quality, durability, and strength.
Sony RX100 VII
Sony’s RX100 VII is their latest premium compact camera and the flagship of the RX100 lineup. Released in the fall of 2019, it features a 1-inch 20-megapixel sensor, a 24-100mm lens, 4K 30 FPS, and 1080p 120 FPS video. It also has a 3-inch flip touchscreen, stabilization, an EVF, vertical video, time-lapse, panorama, HDR, a microphone input, a built-in flash, and wireless connectivity.
The RX100 VII uses Sony’s 425-point Fast Hybrid AF system, which delivers the fastest focusing of all compacts at just 0.02 seconds. But, it also obtains Real-Time AF, which provides advanced eye-detection and tracking for humans and animals. Yet, it’s even the fastest compact to date. Sony’s added their latest sensor, which calculates focus 60x per second, allowing the camera to deliver 20 FPS bursts with AF. And you can even push things to 90 FPS using the single burst mode. Previously, getting this kind of speed required spending 3x times the price on their flagship a9 sports camera. But, not anymore.
Overall, Sony’s RX100 VII is the top point-and-shoot camera. Not only does it offer remarkable telephoto capabilities, but it also receives several class-leading pro features for their flagship camera. Yet it remains small enough to fit into a jacket pocket. Sure, it’s not cheap, but this is your camera if you want the best.
Why buy a point and shoot camera?
So, why even buy a dedicated point and shoot? Especially considering everyone has a reasonably capable camera in their smartphone. Well, while cheap point and shoots may have fallen off the consumer market in recent years, the higher-end segments remain competitive. And these cameras still offer several distinct advantages, easily outpacing the best smartphones today.
Really, the main disadvantage of a smartphone is their limited zoom range, unless you opt for a flagship model with multiple cameras. But, doing so, you pay an arm and a leg, easily more than the majority of compact cameras. Additionally, they also have poor battery life since you’ll likely use them for other things than the camera alone. But, arguably their ultimate disadvantage, is the smaller sensor, limiting their overall image quality and detail.
Simply put, while smartphones are great and the tool of choice for many, their limitations often mean many will opt for another camera to capture high-quality photos.
Pro’s and Con’s of Point and Shoot Cameras
Compact cameras offer distinct advantages over smartphones.
Firstly, they provide superior lenses, primarily in their zoom capabilities. Even while several phones today offer three or more lenses, none can match a compact camera offering a 30x optical zoom, much less a 100x zoom. And compact cameras allow you to have an equally portable camera in size but get you much closer to the action.
Secondly, they have substantially larger sensors, particularly the mid-range or enthusiast options. A larger sensor means better image quality and more depth of field so you can blur the background. They also help improve image quality in low light situations. The reality is that even the best smartphones still have 1/2.3-inch or smaller sensors, which aren’t nearly as strong as a 1-inch compact camera.
Compact cameras also have a distinct edge over DSLRs in that they’re more portable and much lighter. No one enjoys lugging around a heavy load, suffering the pain just to capture a photo. And their portability is a key selling point.
But, they’re not perfect. And perhaps the primary disadvantage is the lack of an electronic viewfinder. Without this feature, composing using the rear screen alone can prove challenging in harsh sunlight, where the right angle causes glare and washes out the screen.
Another consideration is you cannot change lenses like you can with a DSLR or mirrorless camera. Instead, you’re stuck with the lens installed, which often isn’t the fastest lens around. Lastly, they don’t offer much in the room for physical accommodations. Many cameras lack front grips for comfortable handling. And many also lack a similar level of physical control and customization as larger cameras. But, these are the trade-offs.
Types of Point and Shoot Cameras
Entry-level point and shoot cameras range from $200-500 in price. In some ways, your smartphone may be the more convenient camera in the vast majority of cases than an entry-level camera. And depending on the phone you have, it may also be more powerful in many respects. However, if you want a superior zoom range or a more comfortable shooting experience, then these are your best bet.
Mid-range point and shoot cameras range from $500-800 in price. And these cameras offer more advanced features and sometimes larger 1-inch sensors. They’re an excellent option for enthusiast photographers wanting a more capable camera with better image quality without being too expensive.
Enthusiasts point and shoot cameras are the higher-end models ranging from $800 on up. These cameras offer large 1-inch sensors by default and a full range of professional-level features. Most also have fast lenses and better ergonomics. These cameras are best for advanced photographers looking for a direct replacement for a DSLR or mirrorless camera. But one that’s portable, discrete, and not as bulky.
How to Choose a Point and Shoot Camera?
When looking at these cameras, there’s quite a list of things to consider beforehand. And it’s essential you have a solid understanding of what kind of photography you’d like to do, as it will help you narrow the essential factors. For example, are you looking for a versatile and well-rounded camera for traveling? Or perhaps wanting to shoot far off subjects and capture wildlife? Or, instead, are you looking for a pocketable camera that easily stores in a jacket pocket? These are the kinds of general questions to consider before looking at each factor specifically.
But, with that in mind, let’s cover the main factors.
Today’s point and shoot cameras have one of two sensor sizes: the standard 1/2.3-inch or the “larger” 1-inch. And the standard for a “large” sensor is this 1-inch size, which is approximately 4x larger than a 1/2.3-inch sensor.
Now, most marketers will claim that megapixels are the central factor in determining image quality. But, this isn’t the reality. Instead, the size of the sensor is what ultimately dictates a camera’s image quality. And typically, larger sensors or better than smaller ones. So know this, a 20-megapixel camera with a 1-inch sensor will always outperform a 40-megapixel camera with a smaller 1/2-inch sensor, especially in low light. Thus, for this reason, many will argue that 1/2.3-inch sensors are subpar to a certain extent, but they do offer other advantages.
But, if image quality is what you’re after, then a larger sensor camera is best. Thankfully, compact cameras have evolved significantly in recent years, and there’s plenty of large sensor options available. But, the reality is that most entry-level options still have 1/2.3-inch sensors. And typically, only mid-range pricier models have large 1-inch or larger sensors. So there’s a trade-off here in price, which is often of $200 or more.
The lens aperture is equally as important as the camera’s sensor size. And it’s a major differentiation point between entry-level and enthusiast point and shoot cameras. A general rule of thumb here, the larger the maximum aperture (a small f/number), the more light the camera can see. And if the camera can see more light, it’ll produce better images with less noise and more detail, especially when shooting in low light situations. Generally, a lens that has a maximum aperture of f/2.8 or lower is ideal. But, the more expensive cameras do offer apertures as large as f/1.8, which is even better.
Stabilization is also paramount, be it Optical Stabilization (O.IS) or Electronic Stabilization (E.IS). Generally, when we take photos, most of the time, we hold the camera in our hands. And it’s usually difficult to hold the camera completely steady. So stabilization allows you to capture sharp images when shooting handheld by compensating for your handshake. And it’s even more critical when shooting in low light or using long shutter speeds, as small movements become even more apparent. Additionally, it also helps when shooting fully zoomed in, as zoom exacerbates movement.
All point and shoot cameras have fixed lenses, unlike the interchangeable lenses found on mirrorless or DSLR cameras. And unlike smartphones, which are notoriously poor at zooming, this is a way manufacturers continue to sway users to dedicated cameras. And it’s one of the main reason people initially invest in point and shoots. Here, the optical zoom number (i.e., 5x or 10x) indicates the difference between zoomed out and fully zoomed in. And we have two major options.
Firstly, standard zoom ranges, typically ranging from 24mm to 300mm or 10x optical zoom. Secondly, superzoom ranges, which have incredibly long ranges of 1000mm+ or 30x optical zoom.
There are pro’s and con’s of each type of zoom range, however. Standard zoom ranges don’t offer a huge range. But, instead, they provide better image quality, where many cameras include 1-inch sensors instead. Superzooms, however, provide a superior range. But, to do so, they’re considerably heavier and quite bulky, and they have 1/2.3-inch sensors instead. So there’s an interesting trade-off here.
Ease of Use
If you’re shopping for this kind of camera, you likely want one that’s easy to use. And while many are straightforward and relatively simple, some offer more advanced features that can overwhelm you. Depending on your skill level, it may be best to stick with entry-level options to get more comfortable with the camera first. Then, later upgrade to a more advanced camera once you’ve mastered the fundamentals.
Although most people don’t want an overly complicated camera, it’s still wise to look for options that offer full manual control. The automatic modes work great, but every once in awhile, you’ll find yourself in a situation where things don’t work out as expected. And in these situations, having manual control is the ideal way to get the photos you want.
Being able to capture and save RAW photos is crucial if you want to edit images in post-processing. Without RAW support, you’ll only have access to JPEG files, which don’t offer much room for changes. With RAW, however, you can make more adjustments to white balance and exposure with far greater flexibility. And for long-term growth, this is a must-have feature.
Battery life is also critical, as the last thing you want is your camera dying right before you capture a precious moment. Generally, most point and shoot cameras offer 250-350 shots per charge. However, added features like viewfinders, touchscreens, and Bluetooth connectivity quickly drain batteries. So, we recommend getting at least one spare with all of the camera’s featured on this list.
If some of the extra features discuss in this post sound appealing, consider them when shopping around. Extras include time-lapse, 4K photo, in-camera composition, HDR, panorama, microphone inputs, and other niche features. Not all point and shoots offer all of these features, but they can become deal-breakers when deciding between two options.
Last Updated on September 22, 2023 by Photography PX Published October 28, 2020