You might think picking the best point and shoot camera would be a simple matter. After all, these types of cameras are designed to be simple themselves! You pick them up, you point, you shoot. It's in the name.
But once you get down to it, you discover that the world of point and shoot is a little more complex than that. Point-and-shoot cameras come at a range of different price points, and as with most things, the more you pay, the more you get. More expensive point-and-shoot cameras will have larger sensors, longer zoom lenses, and more shooting options. They can still be great beginner cameras, while also offering room to grow and learn. And above all, they take great images.
Of course, this is all still relative, and even expensive point-and-shoot cameras will cost a good deal less than system cameras for enthusiasts or professionals. Above all, the cameras on this list are great for anyone who doesn't want to mess around with changing lenses, and likes to know that the price on the box is all they'll need to spend. Every camera on this list represents excellent value for money, from the cheapest to the more expensive, and every one will be ready to shoot from the moment it's taken out of the box (well, once the batteries are charged, at least)
To make things simpler, we've broken down our guide to the best point and shoot cameras into sections. Read on for a quick breakdown of what each one entails.
Cheap and simple – These are basic starter cameras, designed to give you a few advantages over a smartphone, most commonly an optical zoom. They ain't flashy, but they work.
Tough and rugged – These are compact cameras designed with waterproofing and shockproof casing, which gives them some protection against splashes and bumps. Great for families and travel, these cameras won't break after a bit of rough treatment.
Longer zooms – The basic point and shoot cameras will tend to give you a zoom range of 3-5x. This is fine, and better than a smartphone, but it isn't much. Here we list the cameras that give you significantly more zoom than this, which can be a boon for travel and for more difficult subjects generally.
Better quality – Point and shoot cameras tend to use small sensors. This is partly why they are so diminutive and affordable, but means that the image quality isn't a great step up over a smartphone. Better point and shoot cameras have larger sensors, giving them more versatility in different lighting conditions and better quality overall. If you can afford the jump in price, these models are worth it
We've already mentioned something many of you might be thinking: "why buy a point-and-shoot camera when I have one of the best camera phones in my pocket at all times?
Well, it is true that image quality from smartphones is getting better with every generation, and some can meet and even surpass cameras in this regard. But there are loads of features that cameras provide that smartphones still can't compete with. Fast burst speeds, solid low-light performance and powerful zooming with no loss in quality: these are all things that even cheap cameras will do better than a phone.
If you have a feeling you might need better quality than offered in a camera designated as a point-and-shoot, we'd recommend considering our guide to the best compact cameras, where we feature more of the types of models seen in this guide's "Better quality" section.
But for now, here are the best point-and-shoot cameras you can buy, and the best prices you can get them for. Our price tracking tool will pull in today's best offers, so you can be sure you're seeing the cheapest point-and-shoot camera prices and best camera deals available anywhere…
Best point and shoot camera in 2021
Cheap and simple
You don't want to pay a fortune, you just want a decent little camera that doesn't cost much to buy and is easy to use, right?
Canon has been pushing its digital IXUS range for over 15 years now (called ELPH in the North America, and while each version has become a little slimmer and more refined, they’ve essentially remained stylish point-and-shoot cameras that will readily slip into a pocket and won’t break the bank. What we get here with the Canon IXUS 185 / Elph 180 is very much a beginner’s model, delivering 20MP from a relatively small 1/2.3in sensor. The zoom offers a respectable 8x optical range, starting from a usefully wide setting equivalent to 24mm, though light sensitivity runs from just ISO 100 through to ISO 1600, with the camera limiting itself to a maximum ISO 800 when left on Auto setting. Even with the Program mode implemented, operation remains pared back, although there are some creative digital filter options available for anyone choosing to dig deeper into the menus. So, no prizes for specs, but for this kind of money the Canon IXUS 185 does pretty much all you would expect. If cheap and simple is what you want, this is the best point and shoot camera right here!
Any point-and-shoot compact worth its salt has to differentiate itself from what a smartphone can do. The most useful advantage it can offer is an optical zoom, and that's what you get here. The W800 has a lens that spans a focal range from 26-130mm, which covers most everyday needs easily. This is a basic camera, though, and the 2.7in LCD screen is pretty small with a low resolution by today's standards. The little Sony can only capture standard HD 720p video and its continuous shooting speed is practically non-existent at 0.5fps, but this is a low-cost pocket-camera, so you can't expect it to compete with higher end models.
Tough and rugged
Want to take your point-and-shoot camera underwater? Want to hike it up mountains, shoot in the snow, or in extreme heat? These are the cameras to choose.
Dunk it 25m underwater, drop it on the rocks from 1.8m in the air or take in into sub-freezing temperatures; the Fujifilm FinePix XP140 can handle practically anything you care to throw at it. Even without factoring in its tough build, this is a capable camera in its own right, delivering high-quality images in a range of lighting conditions, and even managing to shoot UHD 4K video (albeit at a pretty middling 15p frame rate). It's extremely easy to pick up and use, with helpful scene recognition modes to make the most of different situations, though it's worth noting that it lacks manual modes and RAW capability, which might start to frustrate the more serious photographer. If that describes you, then it might be worth taking a gander at the Olympus Tough TG-6, just below...
If you really do need a tough point-and-shoot camera, the Tough TG lives up to its name. It might have a small 1/2.3-inch sensor, but it produces good quality images at all zoom settings of its 25-100mm equivalent lens, as well as high-quality 4K video too. It also has many superb extra features such as Macro and Microscope modes that allow you to get closer than ever before to your subjects, and technically minded photographers will love the pro-level features like RAW support and high-speed 20fps burst capture. Despite this, the fact that this camera can take a kicking means it’s a great one for families, as even the clumsiest of little ones would have a job breaking it. A superb travel camera for anyone, Olympus’s latest Tough TG is the best point-and-shoot camera for photographers who like living a little more adventurously.
Read more: Olympus Tough TG-6 review
For getting pixel-perfect images from a distance, nothing beats an optical zoom. These are the point-and-shoot cameras for bringing far-away subjects into close focus.
Panasonic’s long-running ZS series ('TZ' in the UK) always offers a capable choice for those seeking a fully-featured point and shoot camera for travel, and the Lumix ZS70 – also known as the TZ90 – is no exception. This Wi-Fi-ready point and shoot camera boasts enough control to satisfy a broad range of users, with the creative advantage of a 30x optical zoom plus Raw shooting, and it performs well in terms of both stills and video (with 4K offered in the case of the latter).
A nice little touch is the inclusion of an electronic viewfinder – even if it is tiny – just above the LCD screen, as well as a lens control ring. The camera’s 49-area autofocus is pretty reliable and speedy enough, while image quality is generally very good, with the metering system balancing a variety of scenes. The ZS70 is one of the best point and shoot cameras for photographers who want maximum versatility and pocketability, but minimum expense.
Bear in mind also that the ZS/TZ series has a few cameras in production. The Panasonic Lumix ZS200/TZ200 is similar to the ZS70, but has a few key differences. It's more expensive, for one, and has a shorter zoom lens: 15x rather than 30x. Why would anyone buy one? Simple: it's got a bigger sensor, a 1-inch model as opposed to the 1/2.3-inch on the ZS70. We're sticking with the ZS70 as our recommendation in this guide, as we reckon it provides more versatility for point-and-shoot photographers. But if you think you might want better low-light performance and image quality over a long zoom range, definitely consider the Lumix ZS200.
It may be diminutive, but the 20.3MP Canon PowerShot SX740 HS has a lens reach that outdoes what most professionals can achieve with their DSLRs, offering a focal rang equivalent to a whopping 24-960mm in 35mm terms. Also very useful here is an LCD that can be flipped to face the front, and thus the intended subject. Unsurprisingly, we also get a host of selfie-friendly shooting modes, although the camera still offers plenty of control for times when you need to intervene, with the usual PASM suspects selectable via the mode dial. You also get the ability to shoot 4K video (if you can make do with just Full HD the previous version Canon PowerShot SX730 HS may be found slightly cheaper). Autofocus performance is very good, however, as is image quality. Overall, this is a point-and-shoot camera with plenty of punch.
"Point-and-shoot" doesn't mean cheap and poor-quality! Here are the point-and-shoot cameras that cost a little more, but deliver image quality comparable to professional and enthusiast system cameras.
If you want a point and shoot camera that also delivers a visible jump up in picture quality from a camera phone, you need one with a larger sensor. The Panasonic LX15, which goes by the name LX10 in some territories, has a 1-inch 20-megapixel sensor that does the job perfectly. It's true that there is no built-in EVF, which might put some people off, and the smooth finish to the body might make it look stylish but doesn't make for the firmest handgrip. But the responsive touchscreen is terrific, the dual control rings provide a very pleasing user experience, and the 24-72mm has one of the widest aperture settings around, courtesy of its f/1.4 to f/2.8 aperture range. Overall, this neat little snapper has the near-perfect balance of features, performance and pricing. It's small enough for your pocket, easy for beginners, but powerful enough to be one of the best point and shoot cameras for serious photographers.
The Canon PowerShot G9 X Mark II is a rather sophisticated looking point-and-shoot camera, courtesy of its rather minimalist yet traditional appearance and streamlined controls, which have the benefit of keeping the body endearingly dinky. Despite this, it's something of a beast under the bonnet, with a 1in sensor paired with a wide-angle 28-84mm equivalent lens, whose maximum aperture at wide-angle is a respectable f/2. There's no viewfinder, but the 3in LCD on the rear also responds to touch, which again ensures that physical controls can be kept to a minimum. To sum up, this is a neat-looking, well-specced point and shoot compact camera that can produce vastly superior images to a camera phone – and it's rather nice to look at and use.
One of the most travel-friendly cameras in Fujifilm’s range, the XF10 is designed to be thrown into a bag or pocket and taken on adventures, weighing just 280g. It’s designed to make it easy to produce some of Fujifilm’s legendarily beautiful JPEGs straight out of camera, with the full suite of Film Simulation modes for a highly stylised look. There is a catch. It's small, it's pocketable and it has a big APS- C sensor to product superb images – but this has only been possible because it has a fixed focal length 28mm wide-angle lens rather than a zoom. Some users have complained of issues with autofocus speed and accuracy, so it's a camera to be used with a bit of care, and not just for instant snapping.
While the RX100 VI does cost more than most point-and-shoot buyers are willing to countenance, we couldn’t not include it here for the simple reason that this series represents pretty much the best the world of compact cameras has to offer. As the name implies, the VI is the sixth iteration in a series that Sony has been perfecting for many years, providing an exceptional blend of image quality and portability. While the VI has since been superseded by the VII, we reckon this model offers an outstanding balance of power and value for money.
Super-smooth 4K footage and dynamic burst shooting – it’s all here, and there are plenty of extra features that many cameras on this list don’t offer, such as the pop-up electronic viewfinder. And all this is housed in a camera small enough to pop into a pocket – provided you don’t mind a few of the controls being a little fiddly to use, it’s a boon for travel photography and videography alike.
If you like the sound of the RX100 VI but are still put off by the cost, then check back through previous models in the RX100 series, as they are without exception very good, and most of them are popular enough to still be in production. And, alternatively, if you've got more cash to splash then definitely take a look at the currently flagship, the RX100 VII.