The Top Ten Best Point-and-Shoot Cameras for Folks on a Budget
Immortalising memories has always been a pretty big thing for humans, and throughout history, we’ve done everything we can to ensure that memorable things are given a concrete form which can be viewed, touched, and re-experienced not just by oneself, but by others, for generations to come. From sculpture to painting, and later, to photographs, keeping and treasuring memories are an integral part of what makes us human. In our modern age, capturing moments for the sake of posterity is now as easy as whipping out a smartphone from one’s pocket and turning on its camera. From an expensive marvel that first came about in the mid-1800s, photography has become on the one hand a very commonplace novelty for some, and on the other a very serious art-form and artistic medium in its own right. While serious photographers stake their lives on DSLR (digital single-lens reflex) cameras, they are notoriously expensive and require expert care and maintenance. Casual hobbyists and enthusiasts are often content with employing their smartphones or a cheap disposable camera to take photographs. While there is essentially nothing wrong with opting for smartphones, there comes a time when you need a proper camera to do the job without necessarily having to invest in a high-end one, especially if it’s only for casual picture-taking, or as an introductory tool to master photography techniques with the goal of later obtaining a better (and far more expensive model). That’s where point-and-shoot cameras come in!
What are Point-and-Shoot Cameras?
Point-and-shoot cameras are a variety of mid-range cameras that are specifically designed to be compact and lightweight. Designed with the bare minimum of operations and pre-set with fully-automated functions for focus, shutter speed, and aperture, they are made for the express purpose of making photography easier for the casual hobbyist and the beginner enthusiast. Some versions do come with additional setting options, like a built-in flash for dark environments, and limited but still useful zoom capabilities that range from 30x optial zoom to 160x dynamic zoom variations. They are aptly named because they allow a photographer to simply point at a chosen subject and take a photo – the camera does all of the work for you! Nearly all marketed versions that are popular today come with PSAM modes which you can adjust manually, and is perfect for playing around with things like exposure or speed photography. Older versions used film reels, but the new varieties that are commonly marketed today save all the photos in a digitized format that can easily be uploaded onto a computer, tablet, smartphone or similar device for instant sharing and/or editing. Nearly all point-and-shoot cameras of late have built-in WiFi, Bluetooth, and NFC capabilities to make it easier to share and post photos on social media.
Why Should I Invest in One?
If you’re an aspiring photographer on a budget or someone who likes to travel a lot and take photos of the places you’ve visited or if you’re just an average person who likes to commemorate events and occasions, point-and-shoot cameras make for a good investment. Not only is there a vast array of different models to choose from, but the automated nature of most of its functions make taking photos easier, faster, and more consistent. Perfect as introductory equipment for newbies, or as a go-to alternative to more expensive cameras for when you’re on the go, they offer the following advantages that make them ideal must-haves for anybody who loves to take photographs:
- Lightweight body – most point-and-shoot cameras are designed to be portable and are far better alternatives to DSLR cameras if you’re on the move.
- Pre-set functions – having to adjust everything for that perfect shot can be bothersome especially if you’re in a rush. Point-and-shoot cameras have everything pre-set for you, so can spend more time taking pictures and less time fussing over a camera.
- Significant durability – compared to DSLR cameras, point-and-shoot varieties are less finicky and can take a little bit of a beating. Light bangs wouldn’t compromise its efficiency or performance compared to the more sensitive DSLR, thanks in part to its fixed lens. Some models are even designed to be shock-proof and waterproof!
- PSAM modes – if you love playing with exposure, shutter speed, and contrasts, point-and-shoots also allow some degree of operability in those respective fields (just don’t expect too much!)
- Ease of data sharing/transfer – point-and-shoot cameras make it easier for you to share high-quality photos to your social media or to save it on any compatible device. Most models are multi-platform compatible and have WiFi, Bluetooth, and NFC capabilities.
That being said, a point-and-shoot cannot ever compare to a high-end DSLR, but if you don’t need specialized equipment for your photography projects, why would you even want to go bust in the first place?
If you’re having a hard time choosing a decent point-and-shoot thanks to the sheer plethora of choices that are out in the market today, here’s a quick look at our top ten best picks for point-and-shoot cameras that are well below $500:
Top 10 Best-Value Point-and-Shoot Cameras:
10. Sony DSC-RX100/B 20.2 MP Digital Camera
If you’re looking for a great point-and-shoot to carry around when you’re touring the bustling streets or the hectic crush of the city, the Sony DSC-RX100/B 20.2 MP Digital Camera is an excellent choice! Featuring its Steady-Shot image stabilization, it’s specially designed to take the perfect shot while on the go. Its ultra-slim and lightweight aluminum body is perfectly suited for the casual hobbyist, while the 1″ Exmore CMOS Sensor provides the best image fidelity for your photos. It also doesn’t fall behind on useful features like a customizable function button, ratio recording, auto portrait framing, face detection, a built-in pop-up flash and memory recall. Its state-of-the-art registration technology promises pristine images with every shot.
Why Should You Get It?
- Steady-Shot image stabilization.
- PASM mode
- Dual noise reduction
- Customisable front control rings
- Rear control dial
- Lightweight, but durable aluminum body.
09. Nikon 1 J5 Mirrorless Digital Camera
If you prize the ability to take good shots even at high-speeds, or if amateur speed photography is your thing, the Nikon 1 J5 Mirrorless Digital Camera is a good investment well below $500 that should serve you well. With a 20.8mp, 20fps continuous shooting ability that is made possible thanks to an AF-C and EXPEED 5A processing engine, this camera may be small, but it packs a heavy-hitting punch. Excellent for getting clear, crisp shots of your kids or relatives, and even better for taking it to your local ballgame or sporting event, this high-speed camera has a state-of-the-art autofocus system which boasts 105 phase-detect AF points that help to identify, focus, and capture your subject with near-instantaneous efficiency. It even has an additional ‘Sports Mode’ with even better high-speed capabilities. Its 12800 ISO offers crisp, highly detailed images even under low lighting conditions, with the added bonus of noise reduction. It even comes with time-lapse, slow-motion, and HDR image and filming capacities, with a built-in WiFi and NFC so you can share things on the go.
Why Should You Get It?
- 12800 ISO for pristine image quality
- 105 phase-detect AF points, perfect for moving subjects
- 8 mp, 20fps continuous shooting capabilities
- EXPEED 5A high-speed processing engine
- Built-in WiFi and NFC for equally instantaneous sharing.
- 180 degree LCD touch screen for ease of use.
08. Canon PowerShot G9 X Mark II Compact Digital Camera
If you’re a stickler for high-quality images and videos but have often found it difficult to shoot excellent photos in low light conditions, the Canon PowerShot G9 X Mark II Compact Digital Camera is the right tool for the job. Perfect for intermediate and serious photography enthusiasts who need an affordable but high-quality camera, it is equipped with a DIGIC 7 Image Processor that delivers excellent photos even under less ideal lighting. With a user-friendly interface and control, a fully-customizable menu, quick start-up, and an LCD touch panel screen, this little wonder delivers one of the best continuous shooting capabilities for its price range.
Why Should You Get It?
- DIGIC 7 Image Processor, perfect for low-lighting conditions
- High ISO for flawless continuous shooting
- 1″ 20.1mp CMOS Sensor delivers crisp images with good contrast
- Fully customisable and user-friendly interface for ease-of-use
- Built-in WiFi, NFC, and Bluetooth connectivity for easy sharing on the go
- Compact size, perfect for travel.
07. Olympus TG-5 Waterproof Camera
Cameras are rarely employed for rugged conditions by their very nature. If you’re the adventurous sort and are looking for a hardy, durable camera that is excellent for tough, unforgiving conditions, the Olympus TG-5 Waterproof Camera is right choice for you. Designed to be used for all-terrain conditions, it is made to be waterproof to up to 50 feet, and is crushproof, shockproof, freezeproof and dustproof. It is also equipped with an anti-fog lens that allows you to shoot in all lighting conditions, rain or shine. With its 12mp high-speed image sensor, advanced dual quad-core TruePic VIII Processor, and a F2.0 high-speed lens, it is excellent for both regular and low-lighting situations, and can be used for high-speed photography. A 20fps burst shooting capability allows you to capture all the action in RAW image with its Pro Capture Mode. Its video capacity doesn’t disappoint either, and is capable of Ultra-High Definition 4k resolution. What’s more, it even affords a time lapse function and a quality-oriented Action Track Sensor. Designed explicitly for the intrepid adventurer, it even has a built-in GPS system that keeps track of your longitude and latitude, with an accompanying Data Log Mode so you’ll always be kept abreast of where you are at the click of a button. Fully optimised for social media sharing, it has built-in WiFi capability that allows you to transfer your images to your smartphone. If you want to go on an adventure, you should not be without this!
Why Should You Get It?
- 12mp high-speed image sensor for pristine shots
- 0 high-speed lens for maximum quality photos
- Pro Capture Mode to capture the best of the action
- Action Track Sensors for unrivaled subject focus
- Built-in GPS
06. Canon EOS Rebel T6 Digital SLR Camera Kit
If you want a handy camera for casual photography that delivers the bare essentials but doesn’t skimp on quality, the Canon EOS Rebel T6 Digital SLR Camera Kit is an excellent choice. Designed to be portable, it features an 18mp CMOS (APS-C) image sensor and a DIGIC 4+ Image processor that delivers high-quality shots without compromising on speed. Both of these, combined with an ISO 100-6400 and a 9 point AF system plus Al Servo AF allows you to shoot in different lighting conditions with ease, while simultaneously delivering perfect normal-to-high-definition focus each and every time. It also has a Scene Intelligent Auto mode and EOS Scene Analysis System that adapts to different environments, subjects, and lighting conditions, allowing your work to be as easy as merely having to capture the chosen scene or subject. If you want a good camera that isn’t finicky, this one is a good bet!
Why Should You Get It?
- 9 point AF system for flawless focus
- EOS Scene Analysis System for ease of usage
- Scene Intelligent Auto mode makes taking pictures a breeze
- 18mp CMOS (APS-C) image sensor provides excellent image quality
- DIGIC 4+ Image Processor for speed shots
- Built in WiFi, Bluetooth and NCP connective for easy sharing of files.
05. Canon PowerShot G9 X Mark II Compact Digital Camera
While fully-automated and compact point-and-shoot cameras are the norm, there comes a time for any photographer when they want to experiment with their tools to improve their skills. If you’re an intermediate photographer who wants a camera that is affordable, but which allows you a little freedom to tweak and experiment, the Canon PowerShot G9 X Mark II Compact Digital Camera is the right one for you! Fully equipped with a customizable menu and a control ring for you to freely tweak, this camera is an excellent investment for when you want to branch out towards more skillful methods of photography, but aren’t quite sure if taking a full plunge to DSLR cameras is the best choice budget-wise. With a 1″ 20.1mp CMOS Sensor and a built-in 3x optical zoom, it offers the best combination of control and ease-of-use, providing you with the range and dynamism to ensure optimal image quality with a proper balance of light and dark hues, making it ideal for low-light situations where quality is still of paramount importance.
Why Should You Get It?
- High ISO for image fidelity
- 1″ 20.1mp CMOS Sensor delivers excellent image focus and control.
- DIGIC 7 Image Processor guarantees quick startup and smooth function.
- Canon Camera Connect App with WiFi, Bluetooth, and NFC for instant sharing.
04. Canon PowerShot SX730 Digital Camera
If you’re a stickler for efficiency, organization, and precision, investing in a point-and-shoot camera might not count as being among the best sort of investments to make, but not if Canon PowerShot SX730 Digital Camera is what you’re buying! True to its name the Canon PowerShot SX730 Digital Camera promises (and delivers!) stunningly pristine images and flawless video recording – all below $500. Boasting a 40x optical zoom and a 180-degree user-friendly LCD monitor, this is a camera that will make the most meticulous of people jump with glee. With its Intelligent IS which automatically stabilizes the image and video quality depending on the external conditions, down to the Smooth Skin effect that makes already gorgeous you (and everybody else) far more beautiful, this continuous-shot 5.9fps camera is definitely something you’ll be thankful to carry around. Whether you choose to take high-quality images or if you’d rather record memories via video, the Canon PowerShot SX730 Digital Camera offers it in 60p or in full 1080p HD. Thanks to its built-in 5-axis image stabilization system, you’ll never have to worry about your videos looking like a shoddy attempt at a Blair Witch Project remake ever again.
Why Should You Get It?
- 5-axis image stabilization system – ensures that your videos are always on-focus, even while in motion.
- Full HD or MP4 recording option – because the lossless detail is what counts.
- 40x optical zoom – because if lossless and pristine detail weren’t enough, it’s got more!
- Smooth Skin effect – because you and your subjects always deserve to look your best.
03. Panasonic DC-ZS70K Lumix 4K Digital Camera
If you thought number four on our list was one of the best, it only gets better! If you’re looking for something that is a cut above pick number four, the Panasonic DC-ZS70K Lumix 4K Digital Camera is your go-to choice. Not only does it boast of a finer stabilization system in the 5-axis hybrid O.I.S. Level Shot function, but it also comes at a close second to the previous pick with its own Leica DC Vario-Elmar lens with a 30x optical zoom capability. But where this point-and-shoot truly shines is in the 4K QFHD and 4K footage and photo quality that it can capture. Its 20.3 megapixel MOS sensor and Venus Engine is specially designed to bring out the best in any subject irrespective of the lighting conditions, especially if coupled with the 4k post focus stacking feature. Overall, it does not fall short on what it should pride itself on: quality.
Why Should You Get It?
- 3 megapixel MOS sensor – to capture the finest details.
- 4K OFHD recording – because high-quality videos are always welcome.
- Control Ring – provides maximum control whenever you need it; is fully customizable
- Eye viewfinder – perfect for over-exposure in brightly-lit areas.
02. Nikon COOLPIX B700 Digital Camera
If you want a camera that comes as close to a DSLR without the hefty price-tag, the Nikon COOLPIX B700 Digital Camera delivers everything that you could ever need (and then some more!). Designed for the more serious enthusiast or the professional who wants a more portable alternative to their trusty DSLR, the Nikon COOLPIX B700 Digital Camera offers a 20.2MP ½.3″ BSI COMOS Sensor along with a 160x Dynamic zoom capacity made possible through the Nikkor Super ED 60x Optical Zoom lens. Ideal for long-distance shots, it is also versatile enough for portrait shots thanks to a 3″ vari-angle LCD monitor and Face-priority AF that not only allows you to frame your pictures with exacting precision, but ensures that your subjects remain in focus, even while moving. Perfectly suitable for moderate lighting conditions, its 5fps high-speed sequence does allow you to record or shoot things even in less-than-ideal lighting environments. It also offers precise control and accuracy with the addition of the PSAM mode dial, so you can freely play with exposure, shutter speed, zoom, and so much more! Capable of recording videos in 4K complete with sound in stereo, its built-in vibration technology ensures that you get flawless recordings each and every time. With built-in WiFi, NFC, and low-energy Bluetooth connectivity, you can share things online or transfer files across different devices and platforms with ease.
Why Should You Get It?
- Nikkor Super ED 60x Optical Zoom lens – because you wouldn’t want to miss out on the finest details.
- PSAM mode dial – additional functionality and control; perfect for professional applications.
- Vibration Reduction Technology – so captured moments are always pristine.
01. Nikon COOLPIX A900 Digital Camera
If you thought the second pic was the best that it could ever get, our top pick promises the best value for your money – so much so that you probably won’t even consider investing in a DSLR if you have this baby with you. The Nikon COOLPIX A900 Digital Camera is a top-tier point-and-shoot that features a 20MP ½.3″ BSI CMOS Sensor. Specifically designed to deliver high-quality photographs with crystal-clear clarity in any lighting condition, it is made all the more versatile thanks to a Nikkor f3/4-6.9 ED Lens complete with 35x Optical Zoom and whopping 70x Dynamic Zoom. Versatile enough to feature video recording, it combines the best of the Hybrid Vibration Reduction (VR) with a 20mp 4K UHD recording capacity at 30fps for the best photo or video possible, irrespective of the lighting conditions. Not one to skimp on control, it’s PSAM mode not only allows you to control the aperture and shutter speed manually, but it also comes with an assortment of other ‘modes’, like the Superlapse for first-person video recording, Creative Mode for multimedia effects, and Multiple Exposure Lighten modes for a truly professional touch. The number one pick need not even require a reason to purchase – because at well below $500, this is the closest thing you can get to the versatility and quality of a true DSLR camera, minus the bulk, the heftier price-tag, and all the finicky maintenance and care issues that come with owning a DSLR!
With these top ten choices at your disposal, why don’t you pick out the one that’s best for your needs and start immortalizing memories today?