Best Point-and-Shoot Cameras

Updated September 2019
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
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How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

24 Models Considered
8 Hours Researched
1 Experts Interviewed
376 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.

Buying guide for best point-and-shoot cameras

Last Updated September 2019

As smartphone cameras have become popular, they’ve absorbed a large chunk of the entry-level section of the digital camera market. As a result, point-and-shoot cameras are less common than they were several years ago. However, you can still purchase these simple cameras, which are easy to use and perfect for traveling, at an affordable price.

The biggest benefit? Point-and-shoot cameras come with an optical zoom lens, giving you clear pictures even when you zoom in — something your smartphone can’t do. But before you buy, there’s plenty to consider. Do you want a camera that can fit in your pocket, or is a bulkier option with a larger optical zoom lens more important? Are you interested in features such as special effects, high-resolution videos, and WiFi connectivity, or is a simpler, more affordable model more your speed? 

To better understand the advantages of a point-and-shoot camera, our handy guide has all the information you’ll need. When you’re ready to buy, check out our top picks.

Point-and-shoot cameras are easy to use, as photographers can just place them in fully automatic mode and start shooting.

Key considerations

Lens

A point-and-shoot camera is also known as a fixed-lens camera. Because the lens is built into the camera body, you cannot change it out for another lens. You should give serious consideration to the lens at the time of purchase, because, if you decide you’re unhappy with it later, you’re stuck.

This type of camera will have an optical zoom lens measurement, designated with an x. A larger optical zoom measurement means you can significantly magnify the scene. One of the advantages of a point-and-shoot is that, unlike the digital zoom found in a smartphone camera, the optical zoom on a point-and-shoot doesn’t cause a loss in image quality. Optical zooms of 5x, 10x, and 20x are common, but some cameras have optical zooms up to 50x or higher.

Body

Point-and-shoot cameras sometimes have bodies close to the size of a deck of playing cards. A thin digital camera may fit in a pocket, making it easy to carry with you anywhere.

Those with a big optical zoom lens are quite a bit bigger and closer in size to a DSLR camera.

Huge zoom-lens camera

With the Nikon Coolpix P900’s 83x optical zoom lens, you can easily record photos of far-off objects. It has an electronic viewfinder for framing photos, which simplifies using the camera. With the viewfinder, it looks a bit like a DSLR, which means it’s a little bigger than many point-and-shoot cameras and won’t fit in a pocket.

Megapixels

The term megapixels, or MP, refers to the number of pixels in each photograph. Pixels are tiny dots that, when combined together, create the photo. As a general rule, the more megapixels available in the camera, the better. Anywhere from 12 megapixels to 24 megapixels is common. However, if you’re looking for the best photo quality, a larger image sensor (in physical size) is more important than megapixel count. Point-and-shoot cameras often have a 1/2.3-inch sized image sensor. Larger options include 1/1.7 inches and 1/2 inches.

Screen

Display screen size is an important feature for certain photographers. A screen that measures 3 inches diagonally is a common size for a fixed-lens camera. Some screens are able to tilt or swivel away from the camera body, which allows for odd-angle photos or selfies.

EXPERT TIP

You typically will not need to purchase add-ons to begin using a point-and-shoot camera, as everything you need is built into the camera body.


Staff  | BestReviews

Features

  • Modes. Typically, a beginning photographer will operate the point-and-shoot camera in automatic mode. However, if you are looking for more control, many offer manual settings as well.
  • Special effects. Point-and-shoot cameras often include multiple special-effect options. For example, you can turn a color photo into a black-and-white image, or you can blur certain parts of the scene.
  • Movies. All point-and-shoot cameras can record videos as well as photographs. Inexpensive point-and-shoot cameras may be limited to 720p or 1080p HD recording. Newer, higher-priced fixed-lens cameras can record at 4K video resolution.
  • Wireless connections. Certain point-and-shoot digital cameras have WiFi connectivity capabilities. With WiFi, you can share your photos on social media sites as soon as you shoot them. Others will be able to make a connection over NFC or Bluetooth.
DID YOU KNOW?

The majority of point-and-shoot cameras run on rechargeable lithium-ion batteries, but some models can use alkaline disposable batteries.

Point-and-shoot camera prices

Inexpensive: One nice thing about point-and-shoot cameras is that they often have a low price point. This is important for beginners who are seeking an inexpensive way to start with photography. The least expensive point-and-shoot cameras will cost $25 to $125. These will be thin cameras with tiny image sensors of 1/2.3 inches or less. Image quality will be spotty, especially in low-light situations.

Mid-range: For $125 to $300, you can find some point-and-shoots with mid-range zoom lenses. Occasionally, you’ll find a 1/1.7-inch image sensor in this price range, but oftentimes, these cameras have 1/2.3-inch image sensors.

Expensive: The priciest point-and-shoot cameras run from $300 to $1,000. These will have at least one high-end feature. You may find a large zoom lens in this price range, such as 30x or greater. Image sensors often will be 1/1.7 inches in size, but some will be as large as 1 inch.

In addition to the camera, there will be some extra costs as well, such as a memory card to store your photographs on (about $5 to $25, depending on storage size). You may also want to purchase a second rechargeable battery for the camera (about $30 to $50, depending on the model).

EXPERT TIP

A point-and-shoot camera differs from a DSLR camera. With the DSLR, you can swap out lenses and fully control the camera settings for premium image quality.


Staff  | BestReviews

Tips

To have more fun with your point-and-shoot camera, it’s important to maximize image quality. Here are some tips we’ve collected to help you have better success when shooting photos with your fixed-lens camera.

  • Brace yourself when shooting. A point-and-shoot camera is susceptible to camera shake. This occurs when the photographer slightly jostles the camera while recording a photo. To avoid this issue, tuck your elbows tight to your body and lean against a door frame or tree when shooting.
  • Use a tripod with the camera. When shooting with a big zoom lens, having a tripod is important. Large zoom lenses magnify any shaking that may occur in the hands of the photographer. The tripod holds the camera steady.
  • Shoot plenty of photos. Unlike with a film camera, you can store an almost unlimited number of photos with a fixed-lens camera on a memory card. Take plenty of shots and sort out the best images later.
  • Pay attention to the handgrip. Extremely thin point-and-shoot digital cameras can be difficult to hold comfortably. Larger fixed-lens cameras, on the other hand, have a curved grip area for the right hand, which helps you hold the camera steady.
  • Using WiFi drains the battery quickly. Having WiFi connectivity in your fixed-lens camera is handy for sharing photos as soon as you shoot them. However, using WiFi continuously will greatly shorten the battery life of your point-and-shoot.

Affordable 20MP camera

The Sony DSCW830 isn’t the most powerful camera on the market. However, it provides a nice value for beginning photographers, delivering good image quality at a low price. With an 8x optical zoom lens, it outperforms smartphone camera lenses. The Sony camera is small enough to slide into a pocket, which allows you to take it anywhere.

Other products we considered

The GordVE Digital Camera is very inexpensive, making it a good option for rugged activities, such as hiking, or if you plan to let children use it. Another low-priced point-and-shoot is the Canon PowerShot ELPH 190, which comes in fun colors, such as blue and red, and has a 10x optical zoom lens. The Canon PowerShot G9 X Mark II has a 1-inch image sensor. This is much larger than typical point-and-shoot cameras, giving it excellent image quality. The Nikon Coolpix P1000 is one of the priciest point-and-shoot cameras available. But it has amazing features, including a 125x optical zoom lens and 4K video recording.

One of the biggest weaknesses of a point-and-shoot camera is its performance in low-light conditions. These images will sometimes have a bit of a blur.

FAQ

Q. Why would I want a point-and-shoot camera when I have a smartphone camera?
A.
Smartphone cameras have replaced a majority of the point-and-shoot cameras at the beginner end of the market. Smartphone cameras certainly have a lot of nice features. However, point-and-shoot cameras give you an optical zoom lens, something smartphone cameras cannot duplicate. Dedicated digital cameras give you a bit more control over the shooting settings than smartphone cameras, too.

Q. What type of flash do I want with my point-and-shoot camera?
A.
A flash unit embedded in the corner of the camera body is typical in a lower-priced camera, but its image quality is uneven. Slightly more expensive models may have a pop-up flash that extends out of the top of the camera body. These work nicely for good image quality. Occasionally, a point-and-shoot camera has a hot shoe bracket on top, which allows you to add an external flash unit. This is the best quality you’ll receive from a flash.

Q. Can I move a memory card from one camera to another?
A.
Yes, as long as the memory card is the proper size for both cameras. You may want to format the memory card when using it with the new camera. Formatting the card will erase all pictures from the card, giving you a clean slate in the new camera.

The team that worked on this review
  • Angela
    Angela
    Editor
  • Elaine
    Elaine
    Writer
  • Eliza
    Eliza
    Production Manager
  • Enid
    Enid
    Editor
  • Kyle
    Kyle
    Writer
  • Melinda
    Melinda
    Web Producer

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