Best Point-and-Shoot Cameras 2014

Best Point-and-Shoot Cameras 2014

Despite smartphone cameras challenging the low end of the point-and-shoot camera market, 2014 should be a strong year for mid-range and high-end point-and-shoots. These compact cameras have large sensors, more megapixels, and an array of features and connectivity options. For those who want far better image quality than a smartphone in small package, below are our picks for the best point-and-shoot cameras of 2014.
 
 

Budget Point-and-Shoots

Sony CyberShow W800 cameraSony Cyber-Shot W800 ($68)
At this low of a price point, there is very little to complain about with the Sony W800. You get a 21.0-megapixel 1/2.3" image sensor, which is the same size as many point-and-shoots that are double the price or more. The camera also has a healthy zoom range of 26-130mm and image stabilization for when natural light is low. Keep in mind that the W800 shoots 720p video and not 1080p, and you should have reasonable expectations for a point-and-shoot under $100. But we love the sturdy build, easy-to-use functionality, and good images that the W800 produces.
Megapixels: 20.1
Sensor Size: 28 sq. mm
Zoom: 26-130mm
Point and shoot camera button


 

 
Canon's S90–S120 models have been extremely popular for years, combining great image quality with a lightweight and durable body that fits in your pocket. We are surprised to be listing the S110 in our budget category, but with the release of the Canon PowerShot S120 this camera has seen a significant drop in price. For under $200 you get a large sensor, a fast f/2.0 lens, and RAW capability, all of which add up to impressive image quality. As long as the S110 stays in this price range, we recommend it over any of the newer entry-level models.
Megapixels: 12.1
Sensor Size: 41 sq. mm
Zoom: 24-120mm
Point and shoot camera button



 
The Nikon L830 is the best budget superzoom on the market, packing an impressive 34x optical zoom along with a 16-megapixel image sensor. Compared to more expensive superzooms, the Nikon L830 has fewer manual controls and requires conventional AA batteries. However, its image quality is excellent and it has a nice 3-inch LCD screen on the back for shooting and navigation. The camera also features Full HD 1080p video, stereo sound, and in-camera HDR, all of which are rarities in this price range. 
Megapixels: 16
Sensor Size: 28 sq. mm
Zoom: 22.5-765 mm
Point and shoot camera button
 
 

 

Mid-Range Point-and-Shoots

Canon PowerShot SX700 HS cameraCanon PowerShot SX700 HS ($279)
The Canon PowerShot SX700 is very popular among consumers with a 30x digital zoom, Full 1080p HD video capability (a rarity for a camera in this price range), and built-in Wi-Fi, among other features. In most conditions, the SX700 outperforms its competitors and produces high quality images. And at only 8.2 ounces, it also makes a compact travel zoom that easily fits in your pocket. You can get a larger sensor and more features with the Canon G16 below, but we like the SX700 HS at under $300.
Megapixels: 16.1
Sensor Size: 28 sq. mm
Zoom: 25-750mm
Point and shoot camera button
 

 

The Panasonic Lumix LX7 is a favorite among photography enthusiasts and a great value at under $300. Boasting a high-quality Leica lens with a maximum aperture of f/1.4, the Lumix LX7 has the best low-light performance of any point-and-shoot camera on this list. In addition, the LX7 shoots fast (up to 11 frames per second), has Full HD 1080P video capability, in-camera HDR, and a handy manual aperture ring. At under $300, the LX7 currently is a steal.
Megapixels: 10.1
Sensor Size: 41 sq. mm
Zoom: 24-90 mm
Point and shoot camera button
 
 

 
The Canon PowerShot G16 is one of the top advanced performance point-and-shoots on the market. The lens is impressive with a maximum aperture of f/1.8, and the camera comes with features like Full HD 1080p movie capability, an optical viewfinder, in-camera HDR and panorama modes, and a number of manual controls. Given its image quality and features, the Canon G16 is pocketable (to achieve this, Canon went without a flip-out screen that was on previous models like the G12). 
Megapixels: 12.1
Sensor Size: 41 sq. mm
Zoom: 28-140 mm
Point and shoot camera button
 
 
 
 
 

Professional Point-and-Shoots

For travel and street photography, the Fujifilm X30 can go head-to-head with just about any compact camera on the market (the Sony RX-100 III above might be an exception). With a fast 28-112mm f/2.0-2.8 lens, an impressive electronic viewfinder, Full HD 1080p video, and RAW capability, the images produced by the FujiFilm X30 are superb. And like all Fujifilm cameras, a big draw to the X30 is its retro look and feel. 
Megapixels: 12
Sensor Size: 58 sq. mm
Zoom: 28-112 mm
Point and shoot camera button
 
 
 
 
The Sony RX100 III is one the best point-and-shoot ever made—it’s what many enthusiasts and professionals use when they can’t carry larger set-ups. The camera has a large sensor that produces high-quality 20.1-megapixel images, a fast Carl Zeiss lens, manual settings, and RAW capability, all packaged up in a lightweight and durable body. The newest version of this popular point-and-shoot features two notable additions: better low light performance with a maximum aperture of f/2.8 at the telephoto end, and a unique pop-up electronic viewfinder. You do get a bit less zoom power at 70mm instead of the old 100mm, but both are welcome changes and the RX100 III truly is a top-notch point-and-shoot. 
Megapixels: 20.1
Sensor Size: 116 sq. mm
Zoom: 24-70 mm
Point and shoot camera button



 
At the high end of the point-and-shoot camera market, Canon’s recent release of the G1X Mark II offers up direct competition to the Sony RX 100 II above. The G1X Mark II boasts a big 1.5” CMOS image sensor—only about 20% smaller than Canon’s entry-level digital SLRs—along with a faster lens than its predecessor and Wi-Fi (no GPS). This camera does not have an optical viewfinder, helping bring down the size and weight to a respectable 19.5 ounces. For travel and enthusiasts who want a second camera to carry around on the go, the G1X Mark II is an excellent option. 
Megapixels: 12.8
Sensor Size: 262 sq. mm
Zoom: 24-120mm
Point and shoot camera button
 
 


 

Buying Considerations

Point-and-shoot cameras run the gamut from budget models under $100 to high-end compacts that professional photographers use a backup. Below are the main buying considerations in terms of both image quality and features that separate the pack.
 
 

Sensor Size and Megapixels

The image sensor is the most important piece of hardware on any digital camera. It captures light through millions of tiny pixels and converts them to a digital signal. Conventional wisdom and marketing state that the number of megapixels determines overall image quality and resolution, but the size of the sensor itself arguably is more important. This is because not all megapixels are created equal—if you jam too many megapixels onto a tiny sensor, they will be small and capture far less light and information. Ideally, you want is a healthy combination of a large sensor and a high megapixel count. We’ve listed both on the specs for each camera model above. 
 
 

Features

Point-and-shoots come with a wide variety of features, from bare bones models to feature-laden machines that do can just about anything you want them to. You’ll want to consider the screen on the rear of the camera in terms of its size and type. Video is very popular these days, so take a look at the available resolutions (720p, 1080p and even 4K). Many newer point-and-shoots built-in Wi-Fi, allowing you to transfer photos wirelessly and share quickly via your social networks. And some models also offer a number of creative filters and features like in-camera HDR and panorama modes. All of these add up to the feature set that a makes a point-and-shoot more or less desirable. 
 
 

Zoom

Point-and-shoot cameras have an attached lens, as opposed to interchangeable lenses like DSLRs, so you should take zoom into consideration. Generally, wide-angle photos are taken from around 18 to 24mm, portraits from 35 to 80mm, and telephoto shots from 100mm and up. Many point-and-shoots have a reasonable zoom range that is suitable for most uses. For example, the Pansonic Lumix LX7 has a zoom range of 24-90mm. The popular Canon PowerShot G16 has a longer zoom range of 24-140mm. And if you want big zoom for kids, sporting events, or wildlife photos, you may want to consider a superzoom camera. These point-and-shoot cameras are heavier and not as good in low light as other compacts but specialize in extra long zoom. The Canon PowerShot SX520, for example, has zoom equivalent to a massive 24-1008mm. 
 
 

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 the camera itself. In terms of the lens, the important number to look at is maximum aperture, expressed in f -stops from f/1.4 to f/22 or higher. The lower the number, the wider the lens can open and the more light is able to enter the camera. At the low end of the spectrum is a camera like the Pansonic Lumix LX100 with a maximum aperture of f/1.7, or the Sony RX100 III with a maximum aperture of f/1.8. Both are excellent in low light but also cost a pretty penny. 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 that cover the wide and telephoto end. 
 
In terms of the low light performance of the camera itself, the number to look for here is ISO sensitivity (commonly referred to simply as ISO). The higher the ISO range, the more sensitive a camera is to light and the less likely you are to get noise (the graininess you often see on photos taken by cheap cameras or your smartphone). A camera like the popular Canon SX150 isn’t particularly good in low light with an ISO sensitivity of 80-3200, while the Sony RX100 III has a much more impressive range of 125-12800. Generally, the more expensive a point-and-shoot is, the higher the ISO sensitivity. Taken together with the maximum aperture of the lens, these factors are what determine the low light performance of your point-and-shoot. 
 
 

What About Mirrorless?

If you plan on spending $300 or more on a point-and-shoot, you should give serious consideration to an entry-level mirrorless interchangeable-lens camera. These relatively new cameras have large image sensors like DSLRs but small bodies that are lighter and less bulky. The good news for consumers is that a number of entry-level mirrorless models are now available at reasonable price points. The Sony Alpha a5000 is $348 with a 16-50mm lens, which we would pick over any similarly-priced point-and-shoot, or you can our full list of the best mirrorless cameras.