The bottom end of the camera market is being challenged by smartphones, but advanced and mid-range point-and-shoots are thriving. In 2017, you can get a compact camera with a larger sensor, more megapixels, and more connectivity options and features than ever before (even 4K video is now available at this level). Whether you’re a professional looking for a smaller alternative to your DSLR or mirrorless camera, or an amateur looking to improve your photography, below are our picks for the year’s best point-and-shoots. For more information, see our point-and-shoot comparison table and buying advice below the picks. 
 

1. Sony RX100 ($448)

Sony DSC-RX100Category: Enthusiast
Megapixels: 20.2
Sensor size: 116 sq. mm
Zoom: 28-100mm
What we like: One of the best values on the market.
What we don’t: No electronic viewfinder or 4K video.

When people ask us which point-and-shoot they should buy, we almost always recommend Sony’s RX100 series. These advanced compacts check all the boxes: large sensors, fast Carl Zeiss lenses, and a number of advanced features, all in lightweight and durable bodies. And with the release of the RX100 V below, you now have whopping five models to choose from.

Why do we recommend the original RX100 here? It’s the best value of the bunch by far. The sensor and internal components of the RX100 are almost identical to the newer and far more expensive versions, so you get basically the same image quality. Compromises come with the lack of a pop-up electronic viewfinder and 4K video, both of which are important features but not worth doubling the cost or more in our opinion. And serious video shooters should consider the Panasonic LX10 below, but we love the value of the RX100. Grab one while supplies last. 
​See the Sony RX100

 

2. Panasonic Lumix LX10 ($698)

Panasonic Lumix LX10 cameraCategory: Enthusiast
Zoom: 24-72mm
Sensor size: 116 sq. mm
Megapixels: 20
What we like: An impressive mix of image and video quality. 
What we don’t: Limited zoom range and slower than the Sony RX100 V.

We absolutely loved the old Panasonic Lumix LX7, which was near the top of our lists of the best point-and-shoots and travel cameras for years. Enter the new LX10, which is very competitive with nearly all of the advanced point-and-shoots on the market, including those from Sony and Canon. Most notable is the f/1.4-2.8 lens, which is the fastest on the list and offers superb low light performance for a compact. The LX10 also has a touchscreen, which the Sony RX100 V does not, and shoots 4K video. It’s the whole package for travel photographers and aspiring videographers looking for a small set-up.

What are the downsides of the LX10? There aren’t many, but one is the 24-72mm zoom range, which is slightly longer than the RX100 V but much shorter than the Canon G3 X or G7X Mark II. It also shoots much slower than the RX100 V at 10 fps, although that’s perfectly serviceable for most uses outside of serious action photography. And the LX10 also wins on value, coming in cheaper than most comparable point-and-shoots. 
See the Pansonic Lumix LX10

 

3. Canon G7 X Mark II ($799)

Canon G7X Mark II digital cameraCategory: Enthusiast
Zoom: 24-100mm
Sensor size: 116 sq. mm
Megapixels: 20.2
What we like: More focal length coverage than the cameras above.
What we don’t: No viewfinder or 4K video.

Sony dominated the 1” sensor market for years, but Canon has come out swinging with a dizzying array of premium point-and-shoots. Our top pick for 2017 is the G7 X Mark II, which is more expensive than the G9 X below but loaded with features and functionality. First, you get a useful focal length equivalent to 24-100mm, which is more coverage than the G9X, any Sony RX100 camera, and the Panasonic LX10 above. It also has a tilting rear LCD with touchscreen functionality, along with a fast f/1.8-2.8 lens that performs very well in low light.

What are the shortcomings of the Canon G7 X Mark II? It doesn’t shoot 4K video, nor does it have an electronic viewfinder (all shooting is done via the rear LCD). For comparison, the RX100 III has a pop-up viewfinder and is roughly the same price. The Panasonic LX10 lacks a viewfinder but makes up for it with 4K video and a faster lens. On paper, the G7 X Mark II is fairly expensive, but people love Canon functionality and the G series has been a hit.   
See the Canon G7 X Mark II

 

4. Sony RX100 V ($998)

Sony RX100 V point-and-shoot cameraCategory: Enthusiast
Zoom: 24-70mm
Sensor size: 116 sq. mm
Megapixels: 20.1
What we like: The whole package in a point-and-shoot. 
What we don’t: For the price, you can buy the mirrorless Sony a6000 with two lenses.

At the end of last year Sony released the RX100 V, the latest in this line of highly successful advanced compacts. The two most significant additions are an impressive 315-point phase detection autofocus (all previous RX100 models are contrast detection) and faster shooting with a speedy 24 fps burst rate. Combined with 4K video functionality and an electronic viewfinder, this camera is all that many enthusiasts and professionals need.

The biggest complaint with the RX100 V is battery life, which has fallen more than 20% from the previous version. In our rankings we also factor in the cost of this camera, which for example, is more than the mirrorless Sony a6000 with two kit lenses (in almost all cases we could favor the latter). And the final nail in the coffin of ranking the RX100 V here and not higher: Panasonic owns the video department and the new LX10 has a faster lens, is cheaper, and also shoots 4K.  The Sony RX100 V is a great camera, but it’s expensive and in an increasingly competitive field. 
See the Sony RX100 V

 

5. Panasonic Lumix FZ1000 ($698)

Panasonic Lumix FZ1000 cameraCategory: Enthusiast
Zoom: 25-400mm
Sensor size: 116 sq. mm
Megapixels: 20.1
What we like: Tons of zoom and a 1” sensor.  
What we don’t: Very heavy for a point-and-shoot.  

If the size of your point-and-shoot isn’t a primary concern, give the FZ1000 from Panasonic a serious look. With this camera you get a large 1” image sensor along with an extraordinary amount of zoom at 25-400mm (this specialized category of point-and-shoot has earned the moniker “superzoom”). Other point-and-shoots below like the Canon SX720 HS offer even more zoom in smaller packages, but those models have also considerably smaller sensors and can’t compete with the optical quality of the FZ1000. And the cherry on top: the FZ1000 is one of the only cameras on this list that shoots 4K video.

The obvious concerns with a superzoom like the Panasonic FZ1000 are size and weight. This point-and-shoot is literally the size of a small DSLR, weighing in at a hefty 29.3 ounces. You certainly won’t be sliding the FZ1000 into your pocket, but the versatility and convenience are attractive for travel and for those who don’t want to carry and switch out multiple lenses. To be sure, it’s a viable alternative to an entry-level DSLR, albeit with a smaller sensor. 
See the Panasonic Lumix FX1000

 

6. Canon PowerShot SX720 HS ($329)

Canon PowerShot SX720 HS

Category: Mid-range
Zoom: 24-960mm
Sensor size: 28 sq. mm
Megapixels: 16.1
What we like: Huge zoom for such a small and lightweight camera.
What we don’t: Small image sensor

The Canon SX720 HS is the quintessential all-rounder in its price range. This sleek camera is lightweight, pocketable, offers big time zoom at 24-960mm, shoots respectable Full HD 1080p video, and has built-in Wi-Fi for transferring images on the fly. And at just over $300, it makes a really nice compact travel camera and higher-quality alternative to your phone.

If you don’t need the zoom capability of this camera, we would at least consider spending up for the Sony RX100 above. The image sensor on the SX720 HS is considerably smaller than the RX100, and the lens and low light performance are inferior as well. For a cheaper option from Canon, the older generation SX710 HS has less reach at 25-750mm but the same megapixel count and similar image quality overall. 
See the Canon SX720 HS

 

7. Fujifilm X100T ($1,299)

Fujfilm X100T point-and-shoot cameraCategory: Enthusiast
Zoom: None (35mm prime lens)
Sensor size: 368 sq. mm
Megapixels: 16.3
What we like: A superb point-and-shoot for people and travel photography.  
What we don’t: Fixed lens and high price.

For street photography and travel, you won’t find a better point-and-shoot than the X100T. This camera packs the guts of Fujifilm’s high-end mirrorless offerings with the size and simplicity of a compact. Most impressive is the extra-large APS-C image sensor, which is more than three times the size of the Sony RX100 series and high-end Canon point-and-shoots like the G7 X. The biggest downside here is the fixed lens, which is equivalent to a useful 35mm and offers excellent low light performance at f/2, but you don’t get any zoom. If you want professional image quality to rival a DSLR or mirrorless camera at less than one pound all-in, we highly recommend the Fujifilm X100T. If you need zoom or prefer to spend less for a point-and-shoot, look elsewhere on this list. 
See the Fujifilm X100T

 

8. Ricoh GR II ($597)

Ricoh GR II cameraCategory: Enthusiast
Zoom: None (28mm prime lens)
Sensor size: 368 sq. mm
Megapixels: 16.2
What we like: DSLR-like image sensor.
What we don’t: No zoom isn’t for everyone.

The Ricoh GR II doesn’t represent a major update from the original GR, but it’s still one of our favorite point-and-shoots of the year. Its most notable feature is the huge APS-C image sensor—the same size as many digital SLRs—in a compact body that weighs less than 8 ounces. You also get built-in Wi-Fi and other minor improvements like faster shutter speed and buffering. Keep in mind that the GR II has a fixed focal length lens equivalent to 28mm on a 35mm camera, which is great for travel and outdoor photography but isn’t for everyone. If you want professional-grade image quality in a tiny package, the Ricoh GR II is better at 28mm than any other model on this list. If you want the versatility of a zoom lens from your point-and-shoot, a camera above is a better bet. 
See the Ricoh GR II

 

9. Canon PowerShot G9 X ($429)

Canon PowerShot G9 X cameraCategory: Enthusiast
Zoom: 28-80mm
Sensor size: 116 sq. mm
Megapixels: 20.2
What we like: The same sensor and image processor as the pricier G7X Mark II.
What we don’t: Not as good in low light as many of the cameras above. 

The G9 X is the simplest of Canon’s advanced point-and-shoots, but it’s also the best value at just over $400. In terms of features, you don’t get an optical viewfinder or ultra-high resolution articulating LCD screen, and there are fewer manual controls than on a camera like the G7X Mark II above. More, the G9 X has less zoom at 28-80mm and a slower lens. But it also boasts the same 1” CMOS sensor as the other models and is extremely light at only 7.4 ounces. If you’re choosing between this camera and the RX100 above, the sensors and megapixels are identical, but the 20mm of extra zoom on the Sony does have some value for uses like travel photography. On the other hand, the G9 X has built-in Wi-Fi, which is a nice touch.
See the Canon PowerShot G9 X

 

10. Fujifilm X30 ($499)

Fujifilm X30 cameraCategory: Mid-range
Zoom: 28-112mm
Sensor size: 58 sq. mm
Megapixels: 12
What we like: Fujifilm color rendition.
What we don’t: Low megapixel count and not everyone loves the retro styling.

Fujifilm is known for its accurate color rendition and retro styling, and it’s a brand that we use frequently for work and personal use. For travel and street photography, the Fujifilm X30 can go head-to-head with any compact camera on the market. With a fast 28-112mm f/2.0-2.8 lens, electronic viewfinder, Full HD 1080p video, and RAW capability, the images and footage produced by the FujiFilm X30 are superb. Given the price and specs, you can think of the new Canon G9 X and Sony RX100 as competitors. It’s a tough call as those cameras have larger sensors, but the X30 has an electronic viewfinder, which does have a lot of value to some photographers. If you’ve shot with Fujifilm in the past and want a viewfinder, the X30 is a great option.
See the FujiFilm X30

 

11. Olympus TG-4 Tough ($379)

Olympus TG-4 Tough cameraCategory: Waterproof
Zoom: 25-100mm
Sensor size: 28 sq. mm
Megapixels: 16
What we like: The only waterproof point-and-shoot on this list.
What we don’t: The casing is nice, but the camera lags behind from an optical perspective.

For most outdoor activities, we hesitate to recommend “tough” or “rugged” cameras unless you really need the extra protection. You pay a lot for a small image sensor and meager components, with a big chunk of the money going to the waterproof housing that protects it all. Having said that, the Olympus TG-4 is a fun camera and the best in its class: it’s waterproof, dustproof, freezeproof, and has a very respectable maximum aperture of f/2 for low light and underwater photos. We also like the 25-100mm zoom range, which goes wider than many other tough cameras from brands like Canon and Nikon that are 28mm at the wide end. It’s true that nearly $400 is a lot to spend for a camera with a small sensor and without big zoom, but for those who expect serious exposure to the elements, the Olympus TG-4 is the leading tough point-and-shoot camera on the market. 
See the Olympus TG-4 Tough

 

12. Canon PowerShot SX530 HS ($279)

Canon PowerShot SX530 HS superzoom cameraCategory: Entry level
Zoom: 24-1200mm
Sensor size: 28 sq. mm
Megapixels: 16
What we like: Big-time zoom and a great value.
What we don’t: Heavy and bulky compared to other cameras on this list.

If you’re looking for huge zoom at a reasonable price point, check out the popular Canon SX530 HS. For less than $250 you get a massive 24-1200mm of zoom along with image stabilization and Canon’s signature easy-to-use functionality. Why is this camera not higher on our list? The two models above have shorter zoom ranges and are more expensive, but also are considerably smaller and lighter (the Canon SX530 HS feels more like a DSLR than a traditional point-and-shoot). This camera may not slide in your pocket, but for travel, sports, and everyday use, it packs a whole lot of punch for the price. For these reasons, we like the SX530 HS as a budget DSLR alternative for those who care about image quality but won’t be making huge prints or shooting in tough conditions. 
See the Canon SX530 HS

 

13. Canon PowerShot SX410 IS ($249)

Canon PowerShot SX410 HS cameraCategory: Entry level
Zoom: 24-960mm
Sensor Size: 28 sq. mm
Megapixels: 20
What we like: Massive zoom for less than $200.
What we don’t: Low light performance and autofocus could be improved.

We love saving with older generation models, and the Canon PowerShot SX410HS (and Sony W800 below) allows us to do just that. This entry-level superzoom gives you a very impressive 40x optical zoom equivalent to a whopping 24-960mm. For travel, sports, and wildlife photography, it’s a fun and versatile camera at a very reasonable price point.

What are the downsides of the SX410 IS? Unlike the more expensive Canon SX530 HS above, it does not shoot 1080p video (you’ll have to settle for 720p instead). And both the low light performance and autofocus are inferior. Some people may end up being disappointed with the image quality, but for those who shoot in normal lighting conditions, the SX410 IS a nice value.
See the Canon PowerShot SX410 IS

 

14. Sony DSC-W800 ($100)

Sony Cyber-Shot W800 cameraCategory: Entry level
Zoom: 28-130mm
Sensor size: 28 sq. mm
Megapixels: 20.1
What we like: Bargain basement price and small size.
What we don’t: Image quality will leave many people wanting more.

At this low of a price point, you shouldn’t expect wonders from your point-and-shoot camera, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth buying. The DSC-W800 from Sony comes in a featherweight 4.7 ounces yet packs 20.1 megapixels of resolution and a 28-130mm zoom lens. This camera is significantly smaller than a smartphone and takes better photos, although it’s debatable whether the jump is worth having two separate devices. We like the concept of having the W800 on trips where you may not want to bring a phone or want something smaller—this camera will easily slide into a pocket and you’ll barely know it’s there. Some users have complained about occasional blurriness and a general lack of sharpness, but you can’t beat the size or price. 
See the Sony DSC-W800

 

Point-and-Shoot Comparison Table

Camera Price Category Zoom Sensor MP Weight 4K
Sony RX100 $448 Enthusiast 28-100mm 116 sq. mm 20.2 8.5 oz. No
Panasonic Lumix LX10 $698 Enthusiast 24-72mm 116 sq. mm 20 10.9 oz. Yes
Canon PowerShot G7 X Mark II $799 Enthusiast 24-100mm 116 sq. mm 20.1 11.3 oz. No
Sony RX100 V $998 Enthusiast 24-70mm 116 sq. mm 20 10.6 oz. Yes
Panasonic Lumix FZ1000 $698 Enthusiast 25-400mm 116 sq. mm 20.1 28.7 oz. Yes
Canon PowerShot SX720 HS $329 Mid-range 24-960mm 28 sq. mm 20.3 9.5 oz. No
Fujifilm X100T $1,299 Enthusiast 35mm (prime) 368 sq. mm 16.3 15.5 oz. No
Ricoh GR II $597 Enthusiast 28mm (prime) 368 sq. mm 16.2 8.6 oz. No
Canon PowerShot G9 X $429 Enthusiast 28-80mm 116 sq. mm 20.2 7.4 oz. No
Fujfilm X30 $499 Mid-range 28-112mm 58 sq. mm 12 14.9 oz. No
Olympus TG-4 Tough $379 Waterproof 25-100m 28 sq. mm 16 8.7 oz. No
Canon PowerShot SX530 HS $279 Entry level 24-1200mm 28 sq. mm 16 15.6 oz. No
Canon PowerShot SX410 HS $249 Entry level 24-960mm 28 sq. mm 20 11.5 oz. No
Sony DSC-W800 $100 Entry level 28-130mm 28 sq. mm 20 4.7 oz. No

 

Buying Advice

Point-and-Shoot Camera Categories

Enthusiast (Professional)
Given the rise of camera phones and their continually improving quality, in 2017 most camera manufacturers are focusing their energy on enthusiast or professional point-and-shoots. Many of these cameras have large 1” image sensors, fast lenses, and a number of handy features like tilting LCD screens and 4K video. Much of the top half of this list consists of enthusiast models, led by the Sony RX100Sony RX100 Brussels photo

Mid-Range
Mid-range point-and-shoots usually are big on features but sacrifice in the size of the image sensor (many are a relatively small 2/3"). If you don’t plan on enlarging your photos or want features like big zoom at a reasonable price point, mid-range cameras are a nice compromise of price and performance.  

Entry Level
To be sure, this end of the point-and-shoot spectrum is retreating. We can remember when almost everyone on vacation carried a cheap point-and-shoot (ourselves included), but the rise of the camera phone makes it impractical to carry two devices that do similar things. The latest iPhone7+, for example, has pretty darn impressive cameras (plural) and a Portrait Mode that rivals or outperforms an entry-level point-and-shoot. And even if a designated camera is slightly better on paper, the convenience of a smartphone wins out. For these reasons, we generally recommend going with an enthusiast or mid-range model. The exceptions, of course, are if you don’t own a phone with a camera or don’t want to carry it with you while doing activities like backpacking or skiing. 
 

Zoom

Point-and-shoot cameras have an attached lens, as opposed to interchangeable lenses found on DSLRs or mirrorless cameras, and many models have a fairly versatile zoom. For example, the Sony RX100 V has a zoom range of 24-70mm, but the the Canon PowerShot SX720 HS offers a very impressive 24-960mm, albeit at the sacrifice of other features.

A popular trend in 2017 is superzoom cameras, which have an extremely long zoom range up to 1000mm or more. Smartphones are notoriously poor at zooming and this is one way that camera manufacturers can continue to drum up interest. Superzooms are really cool cameras—we love the Canon PowerShot SX530 HS, for example, which has 24-1200mm of optical zoom and costs under $300. Superzooms have two main issues, however. They are considerably heavier and bulkier than normal point-and-shoots (closer to a DSLR than a point-and-shoot, in fact), and the image sensors on superzooms usually are small, often 1/2.3". But for travel, sporting events, school plays, or wildlife photos, these are very fun cameras to use. Panasonic FZ1000 zoom photo

Before making a purchase, we recommend thinking through which types of photos you will be taking most. Generally, wide-angle photos are taken from 18 to 24mm, street photography at 24 to 35mm, portraits from 50 to 100mm, and telephoto shots from 100mm and up. Only get a superzoom if you plan on using that end of the zoom range frequently.
 

Image Sensor

Marketers push megapixels as the central factor in determining the image quality your camera produces, but in reality it’s the size of the sensor. A common analogy in photography is that megapixels are like buckets used to collect rain (rain being light and color). The larger the buckets, the more rain they will collect. Accordingly, 20 megapixels on a small sensor (small buckets) are much less effective at capturing light than 20 megapixels are a large image sensor (large buckets). Below are common sensor sizes found on point-and-shoot cameras:

  • 1/2.3"  (6.17 x. 4.55mm = 28 sq. mm)
  • 1/1.7" (7.60 x 5.70mm = 41 sq. mm) 
  • 1" (13.2 x 8.8mm 116 sq. mm.)
  • Micro Four Thirds (17 x 13mm = 224 sq. mm)
  • APS-C (23.6 x 15.6mm = 368 sq. mm)
     

Almost all entry-level and some mid-range point-and-shoots have 1/2.3” CMOS image sensors. The higher the price the more likely you are to get a larger sensor—most high-end point-and-shoots either have 1” or 1/1.7” CMOS sensor. Some professional compact cameras have APS-C or Micro Four Thirds image sensors but those are a rarity (the Ricoh GR II has the largest on this list).Ricoh GR camera

Megapixels

A pixel is one dot of information, and digital photographs are made up of millions of these dots. To make the calculations more palpable, we use the term megapixels (mega = million). So if a camera has 18 megapixels, the photographs are comprised of 18 million tiny dots.

As described above in relation to the image sensor, the number of megapixels can be misleading. If Camera X has 24 megapixels and Camera Y has 12 megapixels, this does not necessarily mean that Camera X produces higher quality images. If Camera Y has a larger sensor, higher ISO sensitivity, and a superior lens, you can expect better photos from fewer megapixels.You shouldn’t totally ignore megapixels either. An astute camera buyer should look at sensor size first, then the number of megapixels, and try to gauge how those two numbers stack up against the competition (we’ve tried to make things easier with our handy comparison table above). Generally, the more you pay for a camera the larger the sensor and higher the number of megapixels.
 

Low Light Performance

A major point of differentiation between budget and high-end point-and-shoots is the low light performance of the lens and camera. In terms of the lens, the important number to look at is maximum aperture, expressed in f-stops ranging from f/1.4 to f/22 or higher. The lower the number, the wider the lens can open and the more light enters the camera. At the low end of the spectrum is a camera like the Panasonic Lumix LX10 with a maximum aperture of f/1.4 and the Sony RX100 series with maximum apertures of f/1.8. Most mid-range and budget point-and-shoots have maximum apertures from around f/2 to f/3.5. You’ll notice that maximum aperture is expressed in two numbers covering both the wide and telephoto end (f/1.8-4.9, for example). Sony RX100 III sunset photo

In terms of the low light performance of the camera itself, the number to look for is ISO sensitivity (commonly referred to simply as ISO). The higher the ISO, the more sensitive a camera is to light and the less likely you are to get noise (graininess you often see on photos taken by cheap cameras or your smartphone). A camera like the popular Canon ELPH I70 IS isn’t particularly good in low light with an ISO sensitivity of 100-1600, while the Sony RX100 V has a much more impressive range of 125-12800. Taken together with the maximum aperture of the lens, these factors are what determine the low light performance of your point-and-shoot. 
 

Video

Like zoom, video is an increasingly sought-after camera feature. Full HD 1080p (1920 x 1080 pixels) is standard in 2017, even on point-and-shoots. Some budget models only shoot 720p (1280 x 720 pixels) but they are increasingly scarce. At the top end of the spectrum, some professional compacts are now offering 4K video (4096 x 3072 pixels) like the Sony RX100 V and Panasonic LX10.

In terms of overall video quality, there is more to evaluate than just the resolution. The quality of the autofocus, ISO sensitivity, size of image sensor, and other features like image stabilization all play a role in the video your point-and-shoot produces. Dedicated videographers also like to experiment with different movie speeds, with the most common being 60 fps, 30 fps, and 24 fps. Pricier point-and-shoots usually offer more video speeds to choose from.

A final feature you’ll often see referenced is a “dedicated movie button.” This means that instead of having to navigate through the menu via the buttons or touchscreen, one button (usually red) on the outside of the camera will have you shooting video almost instantaneously. Again, point-and-shoot manufacturers have to compete with smartphones, and the dedicated movie button is another way that they do so.
 

Wi-Fi and NFC

The method of plugging in your camera to a USB port on a desktop or laptop and uploading photos manually is becoming increasingly unnecessary. Built-in Wi-Fi is a nice perk on many new point-and-shoot cameras, allowing you to transfer and upload photos and video to your device or social media platform directly from the camera. Some even offer light editing directly on camera. The software and Wi-Fi platforms vary by manufacturer, and some are easier to use and less buggy than others, but we like the option of using Wi-Fi when it’s convenient.
 

LCD Screen

The rear LCD screen is another point of differentiation between point-and-shoots. Most screens are LCD and around 3 inches in size, with the resolution varying significantly across price points. Higher resolution and brighter screens come in handy when the conditions are tough and you are trying to line up a shot. On some high-end models you get a tilting LCD for difficult angles and even touchscreen functionality that can be easier to navigate than with buttons. The LCD screen isn’t a make-or-break feature for us, but they do get nicer as you spend more and the difference is noticeable. LCD screen on point-and-shoot

Electronic and Optical Viewfinders

Some advanced point-and-shoots have either an electronic or optical viewfinder. This desirable feature means that instead of lining up photos via the rear LCD screen, you can look through the viewfinder located at the top of the camera. For professionals and enthusiasts who demand accuracy and produce a high volume of photos, a viewfinder almost is a necessity. Again, electronic viewfinders are rare on point-and-shoots and usually the territory of digital SLRs and some mirrorless cameras, but on new high-end models like Sony RX100 V, having an electronic viewfinder undoubtedly is advantageous.
 

Our Take on Rugged Cameras

There are a number of “rugged” digital cameras on the market, with our favorite being the Olympus TG-4. These cameras are essentially entry-level point-and-shoots with an exterior casing that makes them waterproof, dustproof, and shockproof (the specificities such as waterproof depth depend on the model).

First and foremost, no camera is actually waterproof—you can see by combing through various reviews on sites like Amazon that rugged cameras can spring the occasional leak. More, you pay quite a premium for the extra protection, often getting a camera that is relatively basic in terms of image quality. The Olympus TG-4 currently retails for a pricey $379, despite having entry-level specs—you can get an excellent mid-range point-and-shoot that isn’t weather resistant for around that price. Olympus TG-4 underwater photo

Rugged cameras make the most sense for activities with serious exposure to the elements like snorkeling, rafting, surfing, climbing, skiing, and snowboarding in inclement weather. They work well for beach vacations too—sand is one of the biggest enemies of any camera or lens and the extra sealing helps to prevent tiny pebbles from entering your electronics. For normal travel and outdoor use, we recommend buying a regular camera that is optically superior and taking reasonable care to store it. Even a normal case inside a Ziploc bag will protect your camera in most conditions.  
 

What About a Memory Card?

The good news for consumers is that memory cards continue to get faster and cheaper. Just a couple of years ago, Class 10 cards, which have a minimum write speed of 10 MB per second, were expensive and there was an actual decision to make between those and slower Class 4 cards. By 2017, the price of Class 10 cards has dropped to the same range as Class 4 cards and it’s a no-brainer (Class 4 cards soon will be extinct).

Our favorite SD memory card for point-and-shoots is the SanDisk Extreme, which offers fast write and read speeds (up to 40 MB/s write and 60 MB/s read). You also get protection from the elements: the SanDisk Extreme is rated as waterproof, shockproof, X-ray proof, and can operate in temperatures from -13 to 185 degrees Fahrenheit. We like the extra peace of mind, but if you don’t care about the durability of your card, the SanDisk Ultra is slightly cheaper.

In terms of storage, 16GB is a good size that won’t have you consistently running to your computer to upload and delete photos. If you frequently shoot high resolution video or won’t have access to uploading or another card, 32GB or 64GB cards are available and offer even more bang for your buck.
Back to Our Top Point-and-Shoot Picks   Back to Our Point-and-Shoot Comparison Table

Camera Under $500

Best Cameras Under $500

With the quality of digital cameras continually improving and prices falling, $500 or less can buy you an excellent digital camera in 2016. All within this price range, you can get an entry-level digital SLR, a mirrorless...

Best DSLR Cameras of 2017

Digital SLR cameras (or DSLRs for short) are among the best of the best: they have the largest sensors, the most megapixels, and the highest quality selection of lenses. We break down the leading DSLRs on the...
Olympus Mirrorless Camera

Best Mirrorless Cameras of 2017

The mirrorless camera revolution is in full swing. These impressive digital cameras pack large sensors into compact bodies, offering image quality that is far superior to point...
Digital Camera

Digital Camera Buyer's Guides and Reviews

Welcome to our Darkroom! What started as one camera article has expanded into a burgeoning section of information covering everything from inexpensive point-and-shoots to full-frame...
Jason Hummel glacier skiing

Jason Hummel: An Alpine State of Mind

Jason Hummel is a leading adventure photographer and ski mountaineer based in Tacoma, Washington. He authored Alpine State of Mind, a beautifully presented book of adventure stories and photographs...
Glacier National Park sunset photo

Lenses and Focal Lengths for Landscapes

Choosing lenses and focal lengths for landscape photography has a lot of layers, and it’s a topic I wish I researched more before jumping in. Accordingly, below is detailed information...
Canon 70D DSLR camera

Best DSLR Cameras Under $1,000

DSLR technology continues to advance, and a number of outstanding cameras are available at lower prices than ever before. For under $1,000, you can get a quality DSLR from major brands like Nikon, Canon...
Superzoom camera

Best Superzoom Cameras of 2016

Superzooms, also called bridge cameras, continue their strong rise in popularity, offering the look and feel of a DSLR is an easy-to-use package that doesn’t require...
Hiking

Hiking and Backpacking Gear Reviews

Of all the outdoor activities we cover here at Switchback Travel, hiking and backpacking are two of the dearest to our hearts. They are some of the easiest ways to get outdoors for people...