Offering great image quality, customizable settings, and convenience, point-and-shoot cameras are a great middle ground between a smartphone camera and a bulky digital single-lens reflex (DSLR). Point-and-shoots let you capture tons of images without worrying about eating up your phone’s memory or battery life, and many also allow you to experiment with settings such as aperture and shutter speed. But they still don’t present much of a learning curve, making them a great choice for amateur photographers and hobbyists. Whether you’re looking for a fuss-free device or a camera to help you expand your photography skills so you can eventually upgrade to a DSLR, we’ve scouted out the best point-and-shoots for a range of needs.
1. Panasonic Lumix 4K Digital Camera
Panasonic’s camera is small enough to slip into a large pocket or a purse, but it offers superb image quality and a lot of features that give you the custom control you’d find in more advanced cameras. You can choose to shoot on auto mode or go full manual, with a smooth control ring that allows you to alter aperture, shutter speed, and focus. The bricklike body is fitted with a 30x zoom lens, and, despite its small, 1/2.3-inch sensor, it performs remarkably well in low light. Plus, it shoots 4K video and time lapses that are incredibly crisp.
2. Panasonic Lumix FZ80
The FZ80 produces amazing image quality, whether you are shooting still or video images; on the downside, it’s bulky and practically impossible to pocket. Where it really outshines the competition is in its 60x zoom, which allows you to shoot impressive macro shots or capture details of distant objects like, say, the moon. This camera has a lot of features, such as 4K video, continuous shooting, a fast autofocus, and full manual control; thankfully, it also has an intuitive touchscreen interface to help you learn the ropes.
3. Nikon Coolpix B500
Nikon’s Coolpix isn’t as high-performing as the FZ80, but it’s a lighter and smaller option that still produces great images. It has an excellent 40x optical zoom range and offers extras like an adjustable tilting digital display, Bluetooth connectivity to send photos to other devices, and vibration reduction to counteract shaky hands. It’s also incredibly comfortable to hold and easy to use, with simple navigation menus. To literally point and shoot, users can select the Easy Auto Mode, which optimizes settings for the shot.
4. Canon PowerShot Elph 180
Canon’s PowerShot lacks the manual controls and other bells and whistles of our other picks, but this makes it an excellent choice for those looking for a super-straightforward, entry-level, budget-friendly camera. Slim and lightweight, it’s also highly portable and easy for kids or those with wrist problems to use. With an 8x optical zoom, fast focus, and 720p video shooting capability, it covers all the bases you’d want in a utilitarian camera. Those who want a bit of customization can still adjust basic settings like exposure, white balance, and ISO.
5. Olympus Tough TG-6 Waterproof Camera
This rugged camera is a compact powerhouse designed for outdoorsmen and thrill-seekers. As its name suggests, it’s built to withstand all kinds of weather conditions: You can use it underwater, in a super sandy environment, or on rocky terrain—where, if you drop it, it will probably survive. Capable of shooting RAW, this tiny tank gives you some custom control, allowing you to choose between modes including auto, macro, underwater, and aperture-priority; but it has its limits, with a 4x optical zoom and no manual exposure modes or shutter-priority. One particularly cool detail that will appeal to data lovers: the camera is equipped with a GPS and captures information from its shooting site, so photographs are tagged with specifics such as location and temperature.