The best point-and-shoot cameras are for those who enjoy fuss-free photography. If you don’t want to worry about changing lenses or about fiddling around in settings, but still want something that’s going to produce images of markedly better quality than a smartphone, a point-and-shoot camera is the ideal choice.
How are we defining point-and-shoot cameras? Well, first off, we’re dealing exclusively with digital cameras in this article. Beyond that, the remit is pretty broad – a point-and-shoot camera is basically just one that has a fixed lens which can’t be changed. It might be a zoom lens that allows you to change perspective, or it might be a prime lens, which has a fixed focal length with the trade-off of offering much better image quality and sharpness. Side note: don’t worry if you’re already lost in technical terminology – scroll to the bottom of this article where we’ve put together a jargon-busting explainer of the key features to look for.
Usually, a point-and-shoot camera is a cheaper option than an interchangeable-lens (or “system”) camera, so we’ve focused on models here that are suitable for most budgets while still offering a decent amount of shooting flexibility. There are ultra-premium point-and-shoots out there, offering top-notch image quality for top dollar, but here we’ve concentrated more on the mid-range as that’s where most users are at.
If you do want more premium options, our guide to the best cameras overall should prove useful as that’s where we list some premium and professional options. We also have a good guide to the best cameras for beginners, as well as the best memory cards, which you’ll need once you’ve picked your camera.
The best point-and-shoot cameras available now
Ideally, a good point-and-shoot should give you as much photographic flexibility as possible, while still being an all-in-one package that can slip into a pocket or small bag. For our money, the camera that threads this needle the best is currently the Panasonic Lumix ZS200 (or TZ200 outside of the US).
When it’s closed and the lens is retracted, the Lumix ZS200 can be easily slipped into a pocket or small bag, making it perfect for taking with you on your travels or just day-to-day life. Once the camera is activated, however, the lens can extend to an incredible degree, and is capable of covering an equivalent zoom range of 24-360mm. This gives you huge flexibility, and makes the ZS200 a true all-in-one camera.
When reviewing this camera we found it hugely enjoyable to use – versatile and intuitive, with almost everything you want from a travel camera. While we did find the fact that the maximum aperture drops to f/6.4 at the tele end of the lens to be a little restrictive, it wasn’t enough to seriously compromise the experience. The images produced on the 1-inch sensor look great, and the touchscreen interface works brilliantly.
Some point-and-shoot cameras are what’s known as “tough compacts”. These, as the name implies, are hardy cameras that can take a few knocks, bumps and splashes and still keep on shooting. One of our favourites out of those we've reviewed is the Olympus Tough TG-6, a highly capable point-and-shoot that’s waterproof, shockproof, freezeproof and dustproof – pretty much everything-proof.
You might be thinking, “So-far, so-GoPro,” we found that the Tough TG-6 actually has a few advantages over the popular action camera, the biggest of which is its optical zoom lens. GoPros have a fixed-focus, fixed-focal-length lens, which is why all videos shot with a GoPro have that distinctive fishbowl look. The TG-6, however, has a 25-100mm equivalent optical zoom lens, which gives you a great deal of flexibility with what you can shoot. In testing, we found that we really appreciated having this level of versatility – the fact that the lens can open up to f/2 puts the TG-6 ahead of most other tough compacts in terms of low-light performance, and really helps when the sun starts to dip.
It’s a relatively minor upgrade over the previous TG-5, but does add some cool shooting modes like Underwater Microscope, which is great for close-up views of aquatic subjects. Though one thing to bear in mind is that, like pretty much any tough compact, the TG-6 has a small 1/2.3-inch sensor, which does have an impact on image quality and dynamic range. See our in-depth Olympus Tough TG-6 review for more details.
Though it puts most of its money and resources into its mirrorless range these days, Canon still offers a fair few high-quality compacts in its PowerShot range. We especially recommend the PowerShot G9 X Mark II, which is ideally sized for a point-and-shoot camera, and is easy to always have on your person to be ready to shoot at a moment’s notice.
The 1-inch sensor provides a notable upgrade on quality compared to a smartphone – the other camera you have on you at all times – and this plus a 28-84mm optical zoom lens plus the ability to burst-shoot at 8.1fps plus intuitive touchscreen focusing makes the G9 X Mark II a seriously tempting package.
In use, we got a lot out of the G9 X Mark II. As well as the aforementioned fast burst rate, we also appreciated that the buffer had been improved to 21 shots, which is more than enough for a solid burst of action. The main drawback to this camera is unfortunately the battery life, which is CIPA-rated to a fairly meagre 235 shots. Using the ‘eco’ mode can help squeeze a few more out of it, but it’s still worth budgeting for a spare battery or power bank (see our guide to the best power banks).
Panasonic's TZ range of travel-friendly superzooms has been hugely popular with roaming photographers for a long time, and the Lumix TZ200 (also known as ZS200 in the USA) offers a leap forward in zoom capability. Panasonic has somehow managed to fit a 24-360mm equivalent onto a tiny body, giving this camera incredible reach.
The one-inch sensor gives it real flexibility in all sorts of lighting conditions, making for a camera that's brilliantly versatile but uncomplicated and can still fit in a pocket. Whether you want to take simple reference photos for a creative project or high-quality prints to incorporate into your work: this is a solid choice.
The Canon PowerShot SX740 HS is a really impressive superzoom camera – even though it’s slim and compact, it offers a whopping zoom range of 24-960mm equivalent. That’s some serious zooming power, and once that smartphones can’t hope to get anywhere near.
It’s got loads of great photography features too, like its ability to burst-shoot at 6fps, which is great for capturing the kind of wildlife that the zoom lens will allow you to catch a glimpse of. Having a flip-out screen is handy too, especially for video, which on the SX740 HS is stabilised for smoother shots. Autofocus is snappy and responsive.
The only real downside is the sensor, which is a small 1/2.3-inch type. This hurts the image quality and the dynamic range of the camera, and this paired with the f/3.3 maximum aperture means you’ll definitely struggle in low light. If night shots are a big part of your repertoire, look elsewhere – otherwise, this is a highly capable compact camera and a terrific point-and-shoot.
We may be stretching the definition of a point-and-shoot camera a little here, but stretching is the name of the game with the Nikon P950. Its enormous lens puts your zoom potential further than pretty much any other camera out there, on a par in focal length terms with the kind of super-telephotos that run up four-figure price tags. But it would be remiss to over-simplify this bridge camera, which is aimed at intermediate users. A compact all-in-one, we could call it, and it may be the only camera you’ll need thanks to the aforementioned huge 83x optical zoom with dual optical vibration reduction built into a focal length equivalent to 24-2000mm in 35mm film terms.
As well as a respectable f/2.8 maximum aperture, the camera can also shoot 4K video, and it supports the capture of Raw files, which makes it a solid option for enthusiasts who are after a big lens backup camera as well as those looking for a family camera that ticks all the boxes. You can see more Nikons in our guide to the best Nikon camera.
Released in 2018, the Panasonic Lumix LX100 II is the long-awaited follow-up to the original LX100. It offers a solid metal body with tactile dial-led controls, a super-sharp optic on the front with a wide maximum aperture of f/1.7.
Built around a 21MP Four Thirds sensor, the camera cannily uses only a portion of this for image-taking (to a maximum of 17MP) allowing image aspect ratios to be switched easily on the fly – handily accomplished using the aspect dial on the lens. It also boasts a huge selection of 4K video modes to play with. Four years in the making, this is a camera that was worth the wait.
A good point-and-shoot camera should be easy to use, versatile, and, ideally, you should be able to put it in a pocket. The Canon PowerShot G5 X Mark II ticks all of those boxes and more. It has a 24-105mm lens, which gives us a very generous zoom range to play with, while its 20MP one -inch sensor produces images that look fantastic, particularly in RAW mode. You can also burst-shoot in RAW mode at a mighty impressive 30fps.
This camera also boasts 4K video, a tilting touchscreen, and even finds room for an electronic viewfinder for those who prefer to compose images the classic way. The only disadvantage is that all this tech drags a little on the battery, which is CIPA-rated for about 230 shots before a recharge. We'd recommend packing a spare.
The Ricoh GR III represented an impressive comeback from Ricoh, and it was highly anticipated by photographers of all disciplines. It's a brilliant fixed-focal-length APS-C compact that can rival arguably the leader of this type of compact, the Fujifilm X100V (more on which shortly). The APS-C sensor delivers fantastically crisp results whether shooting 24MP images or Full HD video, and the redesigned 28mm lens produces images that are sharp from corner to corner.
The battery life could be better, lasting only around 150 shots per charge – not really enough for a camera that was only released in 2019. The lack of 4K video is also a shame, and you should look elsewhere if that's important for what you need. But as pocketable compact for still shooters, the Ricoh GR III excels in all other categories.
Update: If you like the sound of the Ricoh GR III but feel a 28mm equivalent lens is a little wide, then Ricoh has announced a companion camera in the form of the Ricoh GR IIIx. It's essentially the same deal on the inside, with the crucial difference that it has a 40mm equivalent lens rather than a 28mm. This narrower perspective is good for a more naturalistic feel, ideal if you're looking to shoot street or documentary images.
The X100V is the fifth camera in the Fujifilm X100 series of compacts. These cameras have been winning people over for decades with its combination of a high-quality X-Trans sensor, a 35mm equivalent prime lens, dial-based controls and a stylish retro-inspired design.
Some photographers may be put off by the lack of zoom, but as the old adage goes, sometimes the best way to zoom in is to move your feet. When we reviewed the X100V, we found that Images look gorgeous straight out of the camera, with the vibrant colours Fujifilm is known for. The X100V is also the first in the series to shoot 4K video. This camera is by no means cheap, but that's to be expected given that it's one of the best point-and-shoots ever made. Read more details in our full Fujifilm X100V review.
What to consider when buying point and shoot cameras
Point-and-shoot cameras offer different features for different needs. If you're planning to shoot in low light, there are full-frame point-and-shoots with generously sized sensors. If you want plenty of scope for distant subjects, you can pick up one of the many point-and-shoot superzooms. There are also plenty of models with waterproofing and tough casing for those who want a camera for more adventurous pursuits.
You might want a camera for Instagram, for taking photos to showcase professional projects, or just for travel. In each case, a point-and-shoot camera can work wonders, but this can make it tricky to know what to prioritise. Some users might want the longest zoom they can get for shooting distant subjects, while others might want to squeeze as much image quality as possible out of this small package, in which case a larger sensor is the way to go.
The best point-and-shoot camera for you will also depend on your expectations and your budget. As a general rule, cameras with one-inch, APS-C and full-frame sensors offer many advantages over those with smaller sensors, most notably when it comes to shooting in low light. Prime lenses can also offer great advantages over zooms in terms of image quality.
You should also look out for cameras with tilting LCD screens if you want to get creative, as well as viewfinders if you tend to shoot outdoors with any frequency. Note that a long zoom is great for holidays and travelling, but this tends to be accompanied by a narrower maximum aperture range, which can make the camera harder to use in low light and when looking to create a shallow depth of field.
What defines a point-and-shoot camera?
'Point-and-shoot' is not an official camera designation the way terms like 'DSLR' or 'mirrorless' are. With that said, the term does have a generally accepted meaning in the photographic community: it's a camera with a fixed-lens that's easy to pick up and use. A fixed-lens camera is also known as a compact; all point-and-shoots are compacts, but not all compacts are point-and-shoots, as some are quite advanced (not to mention expensive) and designed for serious photographers.
Which point-and-shoot camera has the best zoom?
If you're looking for zoom length and nothing else, then we'd recommend taking a look at superzoom compacts like the Nikon P950. These cameras have incredible optical zoom lenses, which pair with digital zoom technology to give you unbelievable optical reach. This makes them pretty bulky, but their power to close distance is unmatched at their price point.
Which point-and-shoot camera is best in low light?
While point-and-shoots aren't known for their low-light qualities, some careful selection can lead you to a great camera. The things you want to look out for are a decent sized sensor (ideally APS-C, though Four Thirds will do), good high-ISO performance, and a large maximum aperture on the lens – remember, you won't be able to change it. Based on these criteria, from the list above we'd recommend looking at the Panasonic LX100 II, which has a real advantage in the form of its f/1.7 lens, as well as a decent-size sensor. See our guide to the best low-light cameras for more.
Which point-and-shoot camera has the longest zoom?
Currently, the answer is the Nikon Coolpix P1000. This mighty camera manages an incredible zoom range of 24-3000mm, which is a 125x optical zoom. That is, to put it succinctly, absolutely bonkers. We have a camera from the same family on our list above, the Nikon P950, which boasts a still-impressive 83x optical zoom running from 24-2000mm. We picked the P950 as it's a newer camera and we feel it offers a better overall package, with a lighter build and lower price tag, and a zoom that's still enough for almost all purposes. Still, if you need the longest zoom, the Coolpix P1000 has it.
Why should you buy a point-and-shoot camera?
The two main advantages of point-and-shoot cameras are convenience and portability. Point-and-shoots are easy to use, they tend to be light, and they have everything you need to start taking pictures from the moment you open the box. They also tend to be much more affordable than buying the equivalent camera and lens combination would be in a DSLR or mirrorless system.
So why doesn't everyone use point-and-shoots? Well, having a fixed lens does hamper your versatility; you'll never be able to exceed the stated focal range in either direction, meaning you can't go zoom further in or out than the camera was meant to. They also tend to have smaller sensors than interchangeable-lens cameras, which can have an effect on the dynamic range of images, and the camera's low-light performance.
If you need a decent, affordable camera with some nifty features, and not the best technology in class, then a point-and-shoot is the way to go.