The point and shoot market has faced some stiff competition in recent years. As smartphone cameras have become more powerful, camera companies have had to continually improve their products in order to stay ahead of the curve. This is good news for consumers! Today’s point and shoots are incredibly capable little machines that can produce stunning images.
Why buy or rent a point and shoot camera instead of using the smartphone that you’re already carrying around? While most smartphone cameras work very well, they don’t give you the versatility and customization that a dedicated camera can. Most point and shoots offer different shooting modes, the ability to record RAW files, better low light performance, the ability to zoom, and improved low light capabilities.
All point and shoots are not created equal and they are designed with different users in mind. To help you make sense of all of this, and hopefully make choosing a point and shoot a little bit easier, we’ve compiled some suggestions on things to consider when choosing a camera and given you a list of some of our favorites.
The 10 Best Point and Shoot Cameras
Here are some things to think about when picking a point and shoot camera:
The Type of Shooting You Plan to Do
Having a good idea of what kind of shooting you want to do will go a long way toward helping you figure out which camera is best for you. Are you looking for a camera you can throw in your pocket or a small purse when you’re out on the town? You’re going to want something very small. Do you want to use your camera to take photos of subjects that are far away? You want something that can zoom well. Are you looking for something that takes professional quality photos? You want to make sure your camera can do it.
Size and Portability
While point and shoots are generally smaller than DSLRs, they do vary greatly in size. Some point and shoots, especially those with a lot of zoom, are just a little bit smaller than a DSLR. Others are tiny enough to slide into your pocket for maximum portability. How you intend to use your camera will have a huge impact on how small you want it to be.
One of the biggest benefits of a point and shoot over most phones is the ability to shoot in different modes. While smartphone cameras typically shoot in fully automatic mode only, an actual camera lets you dial in things like ISO, aperture, and shutter speed. If you like to have control over your photos, look for a camera with options like aperture priority, shutter priority, and full manual shooting.
This is an area where point and shoots have a big leg up on their camera phone competition. While not all point and shoots have the ability to zoom, many have wide focal length ranges, some even surpassing that of a DSLR with a long lens on it. If you are looking to upgrade from a smartphone to an actual camera because you want the ability to zoom, look for a point and shoot that fits that bill.
The ability to save photos as RAW files as opposed to just JPEGs is very important for people who like to edit their images. RAW files include a lot more data than a JPEG, which means that post-processing capabilities are greatly improved. Being able to capture images in RAW format will let you make more adjustments to things like white balance and exposure and provide you with way more flexibility when it comes to adjusting the shadows and highlights.
Low Light Performance
One of the things that point and shoots have over smartphone cameras is the ability to take better photos in low light. Phone cameras work great under ideal situations but they struggle when things get dark. If you plan to do any sort of night photography or you want to use your camera to take pictures in dark places, look for one that performs well in low light. While low light capabilities vary, cameras with higher maximum ISOs and larger sensors will generally perform better in the dark.
Most modern cameras can take video but some are more capable than others. Video resolution has a strong impact on how clear and sharp a video is as well as how much flexibility you have in post-processing. 1080p has long been the standard for video but cameras with 4K are on the rise. 4K video may not be absolutely necessary but it is a useful feature to have if you plan to take video.
With all that in mind, here are some of our favorites:
The Super Zooms
Not all point and shoots are pocket size. Some are only slightly smaller than their DSLR counterparts but have zoom capabilities that far exceed what a similar sized DSLR can do. These are the “Super Zooms”.
($78 weekly rental, $1,200 MSRP)
With 4K video capabilities, an effective maximum focal length of 480mm, and the ability to shoot at up to 12 FPS, the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ2500 is a very good choice for both photography and videography. This camera has built-in 2 and 4 stop ND filters (which can be used together for a total of 6 stops) for when you want a slow shutter speed.
The image quality and low light performance that this camera produces is very good. The LUMIX DMC-FZ2500 produces usable images at ISOs up to 3200. But what really stands out with this camera is its Post Focus feature which takes a burst of frames at different focus distances, allowing you to pick the one that is properly focused when you’re back at your computer. It’s an incredibly powerful tool and ensures you never miss a shot. The Lumix DMC-FZ2500 is a great option for people who want a camera that excels at both photos and videos and aren’t afraid of a bit of bulk.
($55 weekly rental, $600 MSRP)
If you need a camera with extreme zoom capability, the Nikon Coolpix P900 is the option for you. This camera has an effective focal range of 24-2000mm. No, that is not a typo. You can’t even get a lens that long for a DSLR and if you could it would be so heavy that you wouldn’t want to use it. At just under 2 lbs this isn’t the lightest camera on our list, but for the amount of reach you can get with it the weight can be overlooked.
This 16MP camera has a rear tilting LCD and the ability to shoot stills at up to 7 FPS. If the P900 has a downside it’s that it can’t shoot in RAW format and the images it produces don’t have quite as much detail as some shooters might like. But don’t let that dissuade you. If you need a camera with extreme zoom capabilities, the P900 is the best option on the market.
($93 weekly rental, $1,500 MSRP)
The Cybershot DSC-RX10 III is Sony’s point and shoot entry into the long focal length world and it’s a worthy competitor. This 20.1 MP camera has an effective focal range of 24-600mm and a maximum aperture of f/2.8. Built in image stabilization allows you to get sharp shots at 600mm, even when shooting handheld. The build quality on this camera is very good and it feels comfortable in your hands. This camera has a maximum burst rate of 14 FPS and can shoot 4K video at up to 30 FPS, both of which are excellent.
The image quality from the RX10 III is impressive—the images it produces are sharp, clear, and bright. This camera is great for everything from family photos to sports to landscapes. Its an excellent option for people who want a capable point and shoot with a very long reach.
Pocket Size Point and Shoots
If what you want a camera that is more powerful than your smartphone, fits in your pocket, and isn’t incredibly expensive, these are the options for you.
($68 weekly rental, $1,000 MSRP)
The Sony RX100 V was designed for photographers who want a tiny camera that is easy to carry, fun to use, and takes beautiful photos. This camera has an effective focal range of 24-70mm, which can’t match the stunning reach of the super zooms but is still very versatile for a lot of applications. The RX100 V can shoot at 24 FPS in both JPEG and RAW formats so that you never miss a shot. With a high-quality Zeiss lens, the RX100 V takes incredibly sharp images.
This camera’s biggest claim to fame may be its robust autofocus system, which offers 315 phase-detection autofocus points spread across 65% of its 1-inch sensor. This is a camera that is fun, easy to use, and will work in a variety of situations for everyone from casual shooters taking photos of their pets and kids to serious photographers who want to leave their heavy equipment at home when they are out and about.
($56 weekly rental, $680 MSRP)
Canon’s Powershot G7X Mark II was designed to compete with Sony’s popular RX100 line and it does a mighty job of it. This 20MP camera can record 1080p video at 60 FPS and capture stills at a max burst rate of 8 FPS. With maximum apertures of f/1.8-f/2.8 and a focal range of 24-100mm, the G7X is able to nicely isolate subjects. The G7X is able to produce usable images at up to 3,200 ISO, making it a good option for low light shooting.
This camera is designed with comfort and ease of use in mind and it shows in how intuitive and enjoyable it is to operate. With its slick design and light, 11.3-ounce build, this is a camera that can be easily slipped into a pocket. The G7X Mark II is a perfect option for hobbyist shooters who want a light, capable camera for travel and day to day shooting.
6. Fuji X70
($56 weekly rental, $700 MSRP)
Fuji’s acclaimed X100T is one of the most impressive point and shoots around and the X70 gives you a lot of the same features in a smaller, less expensive package. This APS-C camera has a 16 MP sensor, the ability to shoot 1080p video at 60 FPS, and a max burst rate of 8 FPS. Like its big brother the X100T, the X70 produces images that are incredibly sharp. Its 28mm fixed focal length lens is nice and wide, allowing you to capture most scenes with ease.
The X70 doesn’t have a viewfinder like the X100T but it does have a tilting touchscreen. A switch on the camera allows you to easily change to fully automatic mode, which beginners will appreciate. The X70 is a fantastic, portable camera for amateurs who love fixed focal length point and shoots. It is ideal for travel, street photography, and day to day shooting.
($45 weekly rental, $650 MSRP)
The Powershot G1X isn’t the tiniest camera on this list but it is a good, affordable option for shooters who want a relatively small camera at an accessible price point. This 12.8 MP camera has an effective focal range of 24-120mm, making it versatile. Weighing in a 1.2 lbs, it’s a little heavier than some of our other options but this isn’t necessarily bad news. The G1X feels solid in your hands and the rubber grip helps to prevent slips.
The G1X can handle ISOs up to 12,800. The G1X is a good choice for photographers who want a reasonably small point and shoot that is useful in most situations. It is great for travel, events, and any instance in which you want a small, powerful camera.
The Professional Level Point and Shoots
Not all point and shoots were designed for hobbyists. These cameras offer the features and optics that allow serious shooters to leave their heavy rigs at home.
8. Leica Q
($236 weekly rental, $4,250 MSRP)
Leica cameras are the stuff dreams are made of for many a serious photographer and the Leica Q gives you all that drool-worthy goodness into a tiny point and shoot package. The Leica Q has a 24MP full frame sensor, 28mm focal length lens, and excellent image quality—but those stats don’t tell the whole story. This camera is a piece of art and feels like a dream in your hands. The ergonomics and feel of the Leica Q are unparalleled—and the pictures it takes match its high-end feel.
While this camera’s steep price point probably puts it out of the running for most hobbyist photographers (and even many professionals) it is the leader of the pack when it comes to quality. The Leica is an ideal travel camera for serious shooters who want the best fixed focal length camera money can buy.
9. Fuji X100T
($83 weekly rental, $1,100 MSRP)
The Fuji X100T has been called the “Poor Man’s Leica” and it’s a pretty appropriate description. This camera holds its own against the Leica Q and does it for a fraction of the price. The X100T’s 16.3 MP APS-C sensor and 35mm (effective) lens capture incredibly sharp images in all conditions, including low light. The X100T can work with ISOs up to 6,400 well. The fixed focal length may feel a bit limiting but the lack of a zoom lens allows this camera to pack a large sensor (although conversion lenses are available) and loads of technology into a relatively small body. Its small size and silent shutter make the X100T an incognito choice for street photographers.
What isn’t incognito about this camera is its design. The X100T has a stylish, retro vibe that just looks cool. The X100T is a great choice for photographers who like the idea of a professional quality fixed focal length point and shoot but don’t want to drop several thousands of dollars to get one. It is a favorite among street photographers and excellent for shooting everything from buildings to people.
($186 weekly rental, $3,300 MSRP)
The Cybershot DSC-RX1R II is an excellent fixed focal length option for people who want a very high quality point and shoot camera and have some money to spend. This 42 MP camera has the same full frame sensor as Sony’s lust-worthy a7R II. The 35mm lens can shoot as wide as f/2 and offers incredibly sharp, clear images even in low light conditions. The RX1R II’s hybrid autofocus system is very good and does an excellent job of locking focus in all conditions.
While this camera feels good in your hands, it can’t quite match the smooth lines or inherent allure of the Leica Q—but it’s also a thousand dollars less. The RX1R II is an excellent camera that works well for serious shooters who want a small but capable camera for travel, street photography, and everyday shooting.
|Camera||Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ2500||Nikon CoolPix P900
f/2.8 A Mount Lens
|Sony Cybershot DSC-RX10 III||Sony Cybershot DSC-RX 100 V||Canon Powershot G7X Mark II||Fuji X70||Canon Powershot G1X||Leica Q||Fuji X100T||Sony Cybershot DSC-RX1R II|
|Resolution||20.1 MP||16 MP||20.1 MP||20.1 MP||20.1 MP||16.3 MP||12.8 MP||24.2 MP||16.3 MP||42 MP|
|Sensor Size||1″||1.23″||1″||1″||1″||APS-C||1.5″||Full Frame||APS-C||Full Frame|
|Video Resolution||4k at 24 FPS||1080p at 60 FPS||4k at 30 FPS||4k at 30 FPS||1080p at 60 FPS||1080p at 60 FPS||1080p at 30 FPS||1080p at 60 FPS||1080p at 60 FPS||1080p at 60 FPS|
|Max Burst Rate||12 FPS||7 FPS||14 FPS||24 FPS||8 FPS||8 FPS||5.2 FPS||10 FPS||6 FPS||5 FPS|
|File Types||JPEG, RAW||JPEG||JPEG, RAW||JPEG, RAW||JPEG, RAW||JPEG, RAW||JPEG, RAW||JPEG, DNG||JPEG, RAW||JPEG, RAW|
|Shooting Modes||Av, Tv, A, M, P + Custom||Av, A, M, + Custom||Av, A, M, + Custom||Av, Tv, A, M + Custom||Tv, M + Custom||Av, Tv, M + Custom||Av, Tv, A, M + Custom||Av, Tv, M + Custom||Av, Tv, M + Custom||Av, Tv, A, M + Custom|
|Effective Focal Length||24-480mm||24-2000mm||24-600mm||24-70mm||24-100mm||28mm||24-120mm||28mm||35mm||35mm|
|Display Screen||3″ articulating LCD||3″ rear LCD||3″ rear LCD||3″ tilting LCD||3″ tilting LCD||3″ tilting LCD||3″ tilting touchscreen||3″ rear LCD||3″ rear LCD||3″ tilting LCD|
|Weight||2.1 lbs||1.9 lbs||10.3 ounces||10.5 ounces||11.3 ounces||10.7 ounces||1.2 lbs||1.4 lbs||15.6 ounces||1.1 lbs|
With so many options on the market, choosing the right point and shoot camera can be a challenge. We hope that this article has helped to make your decision a little bit easier. If you’re still not sure which camera is right for you, renting one to take for a spin is a great idea. Few things will make your decision easier than getting your hands on a camera before you buy it!