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Many photographers – whether amateur or professional – still opt for pocket-sized point-and-shoot cameras over their smartphones. Sure, smartphone cameras are now very advanced, but they still can’t match the image quality, control and feel of the real thing.
Point-and-shoots are the most straight-forward type of camera, making them especially attractive for novices. Chronicling vacations, capturing family memories and photo-journaling daily life becomes much easier thanks to the compact size, higher resolution images and zoom capabilities of a point-and-shoot. This convenience has also earned point-and-shoots a spot in the camera bags of many professional photographers.
If you’re looking to dip a toe into photography or upgrade your camera arsenal with a point-and-shoot, read on. We’ve rounded up some of the best point-and-shoot cameras on Amazon, as well as a few key specs to check before purchasing.
What to Know Before Buying a Point and Shoot Camera
Confusing specification sheets and endless photography jargon can make buying a new camera intimidating. However, even total newbies can make an educated purchase by cross-checking a few important features.
Image Quality: Digital cameras measure their image quality by the number of megapixels (MP) a sensor can capture. The higher the resolution, the better the image quality. This means you can crop and blow-up images without blurriness.
Zoom: One of the primary benefits of real cameras over a smartphone is zoom ability. While smartphone cameras employ digital zoom (which is essentially just cropping), point-and-shoot cameras use optical zoom. High-quality point-and-shoot lenses can zoom anywhere from 3x to 40x. But longer optical zoom requires a longer lens that’s less-suited for easy transportation in a pocket.
Auto Focus: As the name suggests, point-and-shoot cameras are typically used for quick snaps instead of meticulous manual photography. This means the auto-focus capability of a point-and-shoot camera is paramount.
Low-Light Ability: If you want to capture any night-time activities from dinners to bar crawls, you’ll need a camera with good low-light performance. This is where ISO comes in. The higher the ISO range of a camera, the more sensitive the sensor can become, therefore making it better in low-light.
Continuous Shooting: If you want to capture fast-moving action (I.e. sporting events or wildlife), continuous shooting speed is important. This indicates how fast the camera can capture pictures in rapid succession.
Video Quality: It’s always handy to have decent video capability at-the-ready. Although video isn’t the main concern of most point-and-shoot buyers, it’s still a good idea to check.
Design: Chances are you’re buying a point-and-shoot for easy transportation while going about your day or traveling. A good point-and-shoot should be easy to carry in a large pocket or small bag without weighing you down. Plus, a large screen is usually handy as well.
1. Canon PowerShot G9 X Mark II
Our favorite point-and-shoot camera is this do-it-all Canon PowerShot G9. The compact camera packs a one-inch, 20.1 MP sensor for high-quality images, while a large, three-inch touchscreen allows easy navigation. Nightlife is beautifully captured with an impressive ISO range of 125–12800.
The camera also comes with smartphone connectivity for quickly viewing, editing and sharing, plus top-notch 1080p HD video at 60 frames per second. The only downside is a less-than-stellar 3x optical zoom, but the PowerShot’s attractive looks make up for that.
2. Sony RX100
The Sony RX100 is another popular point-and-shoot that delivers professional specs and novice approachability. Like the Canon PowerShot, Sony’s RX100 boasts a large, one-inch CMOS sensor that produces crisp 20.2 MP images. Although control is analog, well-learned photographers have tons of controls and settings to work with. And if you’re just getting into photography, fast auto focus and image stabilization ensure pictures that’ll make you feel like a pro.
3. Canon PowerShot ELPH 180
Canon’s PowerShot ELPH 180 takes the already efficient point-and-shoot camera and makes it even easier. At less than an inch thick, the ELPH 180 is the smallest camera on our list, making it ideal as an everyday carry or travel companion.
The CCD sensor isn’t as nice as a CMOS sensor, but it’s still capable of 20 MP images. Despite its small size, the ELPH’s collapsing lens has good 8x optical zoom. Overall, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a more capable yet bare-bones daily camera.
4. Nikon COOLPIX B500
If you’re less concerned about size and in need of more adjustability, check out Nikon’s COOLPIX. It has a real telephoto lens that boasts an incredible 40x optical zoom and a convenient tilting screen for tricky angles.
Continuous shooting is very impressive at 74 fps, which is great for sports or wildlife photography. The camera also features Nikon’s Snapbridge, allowing connection to your smartphone for uploading and sharing pictures immediately after they’re taken.