What are the best point-and-shoot-cameras? Quite frankly, it is probably a smartphone you’re carrying in your pocket. Thanks to improved camera tech, lenses, and even simulated portrait lighting, iPhones and the like have overtaken the traditional digital pocket camera as everybody’s favorite go-to gadget for capturing our everyday moments. The smartphone has essentially replaced the point-and-shoot, and it appears that neither adding Wi-Fi nor lowering prices can stop the declining sales of the pocket camera of yesteryear.
Of course, this is nothing new: Just a few short years ago, we thought the point-and-shoot’s days were over. (What’s a point-and-shoot? The term describes an all-in-one pocket camera with a fixed lens that’s easy to use, but it could also include larger “superzoom” cameras or advanced models that could rival DSLRs in image quality.) Companies were cutting models or pulling out of the sector entirely. Sony, which manufacturers a significant percentage of camera sensors, saw overall sales of point-and-shoot cameras continue to decline — year over year — based on its research.
What’s a point-and-shoot? The term describes an all-in-one pocket camera with a fixed lens that’s easy to use
Despite the gloomy forecast, there is a bright spot. While sales are down at the very-low-end, there’s an uptick in premium point-and-shoot models that offer advanced features and high-end specs. Many of these cameras offer larger sensors, rugged build quality, and other specialty components not found on today’s smartphones. This growth could be attributed to step-up users who are upgrading from smartphones and want something that makes a noticeable difference in an effort to improve their photography, without having to opt for an interchangeable lens camera that might require a greater level of expertise.
But asking the question, “What is the best point-and-shoot camera?” is easier than answering it, as there are numerous types of camera that classify as point-and-shoot, each appealing to a different user and use case. Here are a few of our favorite models, ranging from under $500 all the way to nearly $2,000, which should provide a good jumping off point in your search for the best point-and-shoot camera for you.
Sony Cyber-shot RX100 V
Why should you buy this: Impressive performance and image quality.
Who’s it for: Photo enthusiasts and pros on the go.
How much will it cost: $998
Why we picked the Sony Cyber-shot RX100 V:
It’s really no surprise that a RX100 camera tops this list. The fifth generation of Sony’s revolutionary point-and-shoot improves on an already excellent recipe without trying to change what worked. It uses a newly developed 20-megapixel, 1-inch-type “stacked” sensor and 24-70mm f/1.8-2.8 lens that is similar to its predecessor, but performance has been turned up a notch — three notches, in fact.
Tired of always missing the perfect moment with your smartphone? The RX100 V has the fastest autofocus speed in its class at 0.05 seconds. The camera employs 315 autofocus points across 65-percent of the frame in a hybrid phase- and contrast-detection system. That means fast and accurate focusing in a variety of settings and lighting conditions.
Shooting speed is also beyond impressive, with a burst rate of 24 frames per second (fps) at full resolution, an increase of 8 fps over the RX100 IV. This is faster than even Sony’s flagship A9 mirrorless camera, which shoots at 20 fps (although that’s like comparing an apple with an orange).
Being a Sony, the RX100 V also includes a full complement of video features. It can shoot 4K video at 30 fps, 1080p at up to 120 fps, and super-slow-motion at 240, 480, and even 960 fps. It also features Sony’s S-Log3 gamma curve for capturing maximum dynamic range, a feature normally reserved for much higher-end cameras.
But perhaps best of all is that none of the RX100 V’s advanced features are thrown in your face. They are there if you go looking for them, but if you want to sit back and enjoy an easy-to-use pocket camera, then you can simply do that without hassle.
The nearly $1,000 price is certainly not for everyone, but fortunately you can still buy older RX100 models brand new. In fact, the original RX100 is still around for just $448, and while it can’t match the performance of newer models, it still shoots stunning images thanks to a very similar (albeit older) sensor.