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The smartphone cameras’ extraordinary image quality and performance leap over the past few years has made entry-level point-and-shoot snappers redundant — I’ve relied on an iPhone, a Samsung Galaxy, or a Google Pixel as my go-to camera for a while. After more than a decade of covering consumer tech, the thought that I have a seriously capable camera in my pocket instead of needing to lug another device in my bag puts a smile on my face every single time.
That said, a mainstream smartphone is still no match for a top-tier point-and-shoot camera for two main reasons — sensor size and optics. By rocking larger image sensors and lenses with superior zoom range, today’s best point-and-shoot cameras will capture cherished memories like family vacations, music festivals, and sports events with more detail.
I spent a week parsing through products from leading makers like Sony, Panasonic, Nikon, and Canon to handpick the best point-and-shoot cameras to outdo your smartphone. I evaluated specs and sifted through consumer and expert reviews before making my final selection.
The Best Point-and-Shoot Cameras
What to Consider
The sensor size of any camera is essential for its overall image quality, dynamic range, and low-light performance, to name a few important bits. The bigger it is, the better.
Nowadays, for the best experience, I highly recommend buying a camera with a 1-inch sensor that's vastly bigger than the one inside your phone. Cameras with smaller sensors are worth considering if zoom range is a priority. This handy expert guide will help you navigate the differences between camera sensor types and sizes.
This tech term relates to the camera’s image stabilization, maximum lens aperture, and zoom capabilities. Optical image stabilization is a must-have because it will allow you to capture crisp photos by offsetting hand movements and other dynamic scenes via hardware components, not just a digital algorithm.
Measuring the lens aperture is counter-intuitive initially, as lower numbers mean a wider opening. A lens with a high aperture will perform better in low–light scenarios and when capturing portrait shots. If such scenarios are a priority for you, consider a camera whose lens has a maximum aperture of f/1.4 and lower.
Zoom range relates to the ability of a camera lens to capture faraway objects by relying on its onboard hardware instead of digital sorcery. A camera with double-digit zoom magnification is essential in delivering better pictures than any phone.
It is important to pick a camera that best suits your needs and lifestyle. A compact camera is best if you're looking to take photos while out socializing with friends or of your restaurant meals. On the other hand, if you like taking nature and wildlife photos, consider a superzoom camera. It’s much bigger, but the zoom range and additional controls it packs are worth it in such scenes
With the above fundamentals in your mind, find the best point-and-shoot digital cameras for your lifestyle among these picks.
Panasonic DC-ZS200D Digital Camera
The Panasonic Lumix DC-ZS200D is the best point-and-shoot camera for most consumers, offering an appealing mixture of a large sensor with sophisticated optical image stabilization, stellar zoom range, and an elaborate set of controls that include hardware buttons and a touchscreen. With a price tag that hovers around $600, the product is also reasonably priced, given its performance and features.
A big sensor and advanced optics also make the Lumix DC-ZS200D a more capable tool for capturing 4K video than just any smartphone. On the other hand, the camera’s electronic viewfinder and 3-inch OLED screen make it equally suitable for beginner and advanced shutterbugs.
Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 VII Digital Camera
The seventh iteration of a legendary product, the Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 VII by Sony is the point-and-shoot camera to get if you want the best image and video quality, and your budget has no limits. It fits in a jacket pocket, yet it can shoot 4K video and capture images whose quality rivals a pro-grade DSLR, courtesy of a large sensor, blisteringly fast autofocus, and a cutting-edge processing engine.
Beautifully crafted and easy to use, the DSC-RX100 VII also has a versatile zoom range, an intuitive set of controls with a tilting touchscreen (a must for incredible selfies), and an excellent set of wired and wireless connectivity features. Overall, the product is pricey but truly amazing and worth investing in by beginner and advanced photographers.
Lumix DMC-ZS60 Digital Camera
Look no further than the Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS60 if you want a compact camera that doesn’t skimp on zoom capabilities. The well-priced (for this product category) snapper has a versatile zoom range and reliable image stabilization, allowing you to capture faraway objects with minimum effort. It also rocks a touchscreen, an electronic viewfinder, and wireless connectivity for easily transferring photos to your phone.
The Lumix DMC-ZS60 captures great photos and 4K video for a pocket-friendly point-and-shoot camera. However, its f/3.3 maximum lens aperture limits its best performance to scenes with good lighting. I’d rely on my iPhone for nighttime cityscape and landscape shots.
TG-6 Digital Camera
The Olympus TG-6 is the best waterproof camera worth your attention. It can capture vivid photos and crisp 4K video up to 50 feet underwater. The product offers various underwater photography modes, including a microscope setting for capturing objects from impossibly close-up distances.
In addition to being fully waterproof, the gadget is dust-, crush-, and freezeproof. Other key features of the TG-6 include Wi-Fi for smartphone connectivity, GPS, eCompass, and a temperature sensor are also on board. You can order the compact camera in black or red.
COOLPIX P1000 Digital Camera
Even though it’s undeniably expensive and bulky, the Nikon COOLPIX P1000 is worth splurging on if you want a point-and-shoot camera with the biggest zoom range. Its 125-times maximum optical magnification leaves the competitors in the dust, making it a must-have for wildlife photography and, remarkably, capturing celestial objects. To put the product’s value in perspective, a DSLR zoom lens with a lower range by Sony — the product category’s leader — will set you back around $2,000 without factoring in the four-digit sum you need to drop on a camera body.
Other noteworthy highlights of the Nikon COOLPIX P1000 include an elaborate set of controls with a fully articulating screen, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity, and an optional Bluetooth remote for taking advantage of the zoom range from a tripod.
Lumix DMC-LX10 Digital Camera
The Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX10 will snap memories in low-light scenes better than any rival, thanks to a large sensor and a lens with a best-in-class maximum aperture. When wide open, the camera’s f/1.4 lens can accurately capture the ambiance without the help of a flash. This Lumix iteration is cheaper than our top pick from the same maker and worth considering if you prioritize low-light performance over zoom capabilities.
The bright aperture mentioned above is also handy for capturing stunning portraits with a blurred background behind the person or object. In addition to commendable image and video quality, the DMC-LX10 has a sleek design, intuitive controls, and a rich set of wired and wireless connectivity features.
Lumix DMC-FZ80 Digital Camera
The Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ80 is the best affordable superzoom camera worth your attention. It has a fantastic 60-times magnification optical zoom, as well as the ability to capture 18MP photos and 4K video with solid quality via a 1/2.3-inch image sensor. The product has a lesser zoom range but costs less than half its Nikon rival we mentioned.
The camera sensor is sitting behind a lens with optical image stabilization and a bright f/2.8 aperture. A great set of manual controls, Wi-Fi connectivity, and the ability to capture burst shots of up to 30 frames per second round up the camera's key features. Overall, this is a great starter point-and-shoot camera for nature photographers.
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