Published May. 25, 2021

In 1888, George Eastman, founder of the Kodak Company, introduced a 3-by-4-by-6 1/2-inch box camera to the public. Preloaded with enough film for 100 pictures—the film that would need to be mailed to the company’s headquarters in Rochester, NY for development and printing—it became the first point and shoot camera. Since this inception, and even since the early 2000′s, point-and-shoot cameras have become more and more technologically advanced and capable. Point and shoots have larger sensors than smartphones that are able to take in more data and handle varying conditions and are able to effortlessly provide high-quality photos, no matter a person’s photography experience.

Unlike their DSLR counterparts, point and shoot cameras have focus-free and autofocus lenses with zoom or fixed focal length options. This means lenses can’t be switched out and they rely on auto modes to adjust the shutter speed, aperture, and light sensitivity. These self-adjusting settings and their portability and accessibility make point-and-shoots some of the best cameras for beginners.

Classic manufacturers like Canon, Sony, Nikon, and Olympus sell film cameras and digital cameras that are lightweight, durable, and affordable. To help navigate all your options, we put together a list of the best compact cameras and important qualities to keep in mind.

Features to consider when shopping for a point and shoot camera

Point and shoot cameras are small and compact cameras that create sharp, vibrant images. This makes them the best camera for beginners, and a good option for travelers and even some professional uses. Here are some features to consider when choosing the right one for you.

Are you a true beginner?

A point-and-shoot camera is designed to make the process of photography as simple as possible. However, there are still various settings and functions photography beginners must familiarize themselves with. The most universally used buttons on a point and shoot camera control and adjust the shutter, zoom, mode dial, flash, video, playback, and exposure. Most compact cameras automatically adjust the shutter speed, aperture, and ISO for you. Some have a dedicated ISO button that will either let you set the number directly, or set it to something like “High ISO.” Whatever controls do not fit on the exterior can be easily found in the camera’s menu.

For those beginners wanting a simple way to capture moments with family and friends at home or traveling, there are digital cameras with both advanced functions that produce crisp, rich images and an intuitive design to help you capture images with flexibility and ease.

Will you travel with your camera?

One of the main purposes of a compact camera is that the camera is, well, compact. With typical dimensions of roughly 2.5 x 3.5 x 1.5 inches, point and shoots are specifically designed to easily fit into pockets, purses, fanny packs, and other small compartments. And unlike hefty DSLRs, point-and-shoot cameras weigh way less than a single pound. You’ll never feel burdened by a heavy, bulky device. Not only does their portability make them ideal travel cameras, but their high-speed shooting and large storage capacity mean that you can take a litany of unending high-definition snapshots. If you’re worried about safety, the discreet size of compact cameras makes them less of a target for theft.

Do you need a tough camera for an active lifestyle?

If you live for the outdoors—hiking steep mountain trails or backpacking through desert Canyons—you need a point-and-shoot camera that can handle adventure. Rugged and waterproof cameras are built to endure and capture the extreme environments you love exploring. For us less risky folk, these tough cameras can survive your average accidental drops, spills, and kicks. Taking electronics to the beach is usually a big no-no, as even a single grain of sand can cause damage. Yet rugged models can resist sand, allowing you to take all the sunset shots you want.

How old is the photographer?

There’s no age requirement to be a photographer. That being said, you probably don’t want a child using your personal (and pricey) camera. Similar to rugged cameras, there are compact cameras specifically made with the unpredictability and clumsiness of kids in mind. Let the youngins take creative control and capture and preserve their own wonderful moments and memories in HD with cameras designed for their little artsy, visionary selves.

Best digital camera for beginners: Canon PowerShot SX740

Canon PowerShot SX740

Has an epic 40x optical zoom with an optical image stabilizer for sharp, steady results. Amazon

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Record special moments with 4K video and rotate the 180-degree tilt-type screen to put yourself in the center of the frame. Use built-in Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and the Canon Camera Connect app to transfer, share, and print images.

Best point and shoot camera for travel: Canon PowerShot Digital Camera [G7 X Mark II]

Canon PowerShot Digital Camera [G7 X Mark II]

Camera with 20.1 MP CMOS sensor and quick autofocus. Amazon

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The one-inch sensor is larger than what you’ll find in a typical compact camera. This translates into better low-light shooting, even when you’re not using the built-in flash. The sensor has built-in autofocus pixels that help track objects for sharp shots even when your subject is moving. The 4.2x optical zoom lets shooters capture more distant objects without sacrificing image quality, and the 3-inch tilting LCD screen allows for shots from creative angles. Raw photo capture provides extra flexibility for travel photographers who want to perfect images with photo editing software once they’re back from their trip.

Best rugged and waterproof camera: Olympus Tough TG-6

Olympus Tough TG-6

A waterproof, dust-proof, shockproof, crush-proof, and freeze-proof camera. Amazon

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Packed with pro features to nail difficult shots, even in low light, this Olympus point-and-shoot camera is also waterproof. Shoot intricately detailed macro photos and unique shots underwater with vivid color. This lightweight, compact camera is engineered to survive in the world’s toughest places.

Best point and shoot for vlogging and YouTube: Sony ZV-1

Sony ZV-1

Designed to merge simplicity and power, opening up creative opportunities as wide as your imagination. Amazon

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Keep your face bright and clear with the auto exposure of this Sony camera. It also centers your face and quickly adjusts background blur with the push of a Background Defocus button. Get great sound in one take with a forward-directional on-board mic and detachable windscreen. There’s also a handy flip screen so you can preview the frame and capture the perfect shots and angles, making it one of the best point and shoot cameras for vlogging.

Best camera for kids: VanTop Junior K6

VanTop Junior K6

In addition to the basic photo capturing, video recording, and playback features, this newly upgraded kid’s camera has time-lapse shooting, 4X digital zoom, over 30 photo artistic effects, and three puzzle games. Amazon

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This portable mini-size camcorder comes with a 32 GB memory card, card reader, USB cable, carrying bag, lanyard, and fun stickers. There are 28 different adorable frames, six filters, and three special effects to stimulate children’s creativity and imagination to be a little director.

Best budget point and shoot camera: What you get for under $100

Point and shoot cameras can range from less than $100 to over $1,000, but image quality doesn’t depend on the price of your compact camera. There are inexpensive cameras with high resolution, exceptional zoom, and other hallmark qualities and capabilities of their higher-priced counterparts.

Best budget camera: AbergBest 21 Mega Pixels

AbergBest 21 Mega Pixels

With simple operation buttons and interfaces, this AbergBest point and shoot is perfect for kids, adults, and seniors. Siera Wilson of Amazon.com

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This digital camera has a variety of useful features and modes including anti-shake, face detect, smile capture, continue shot, self-timer, 8x digital zoom, and night shooting. The LCD display shows you vivid video and a rechargeable lithium battery can support the camera for hours. In addition to a sleek black, it comes in six funky colors—blue, green, purple, orange, red, and pink.

FAQs

Q: What is the best point and shoot camera under $300?

There are many point-and-shoot cameras under $300. One of the best is the Canon PowerShot SX620 at $259. This camera is equipped with intelligent IS for optimized image stabilization. It has a powerful 25x optical zoom and gorgeous 1080p Full HD video detail. A 20.2 megapixel CMOS sensor with DIGIC 4+ image processor helps deliver stunning image quality even in low light. There’s also built-in WiFi and NFC for easy sharing and transferring of images and videos.

Q: Do professional photographers use point-and-shoot cameras?

Professional photographers do in fact use point-and-shoot cameras, mainly for the same reasons amateur or beginner photographers do. The built-in lens on point and shoots are sharp and wide, making for quality and immersive photos. Being able to operate more advanced compact cameras in full manual mode and adjust aperture and shutter speed is an obvious draw for photographers who want control of their images. Point and shoot digital cameras are lightweight and pocketable, so there’s no need to lug around extra equipment.

Q: Are point and shoot cameras better than iPhone?

iPhones and other smartphone cameras may offer impressive features, but there are still many benefits to a point-and-shoot camera. Point and shoot cameras can have better image quality, a true optical zoom, more ability to manipulate settings, and are less expensive than new generation iPhones. Higher quality RAW photos are also definitely a major pro, allowing for more data to be pulled from an image.

A final word on shopping for the best point and shoot cameras

No matter the setting, creative vision, skill level, or age of a photographer, there are high-quality options that meet every need. The ultimate advantage of a point and shoot is its size and portability, making it the perfect camera for travel and adventure, as well as documenting day-to-day life. Buy the best point and shoot camera for you today!

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