Skip to main content

Best point and shoot cameras in 2021

best point and shoot cameras

The best point and shoot cameras offer several advantages over your smartphone camera, while remaining lighter, smaller and simpler than mirrorless cameras or DSLRs. 

Point-and-shoot, or compact cameras, are a great choice for travel, on account of their pocketable nature and (generally) long zoom range. They can also be great for occasions such as weddings and parties, where you don't necessarily want to carry around a bigger camera but also want something that lets you get closer to the action and may well be better in low light.  

They're also a great way to introduce your kids to photography. Not only will a point-and-shoot camera help them learn the fundamentals, but it'll also provide them with an optical zoom lens, a better flash, and better image stabilization than they'd get on a smartphone. 

What are the best point-and-shoot cameras?

Our favorite compact point-and-shoot camera is the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX80, which has a wide focal range, flip-up LCD, and a bevy of other features, such as Wi-Fi and image stabilization. Our favorite budget model is the Sony DSC-W800, which costs less than $100 but takes reasonably good pictures for the price. 

If you're looking for a rugged point-and-shoot camera, consider the Olympus Tough TG-6, which is waterproof to 50 feet and has lots of options for capturing great low-light shots. 

Instant cameras offer some retro fun too: our favorite is the Lomo Instant Automat, which takes great photos and even comes with some extra lenses. However, it doesn't save a digital copy; be sure to check out our best instant cameras page for more options. 

The best point-and-shoot cameras you can buy today

best point-and-shoot cameras: Sony Cybershot HX80

(Image credit: Sony )

1. Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX80

The best point-and-shoot camera for most people

Megapixels: 18.2
Focal Length Equivalent: 24-720mm
ISO: 80-12,800
Video (Max): 1080p/60 fps
Shooting Speed: 10 fps
Screen: 3 inches/921,600 dots/Tilting
Size and Weight: 4.1 x 2.4 x 1.4 inches/7.4 ounces
Wireless: Wi-Fi
Battery Life (CIPA): 360 photos
Reasons to buy
+Wide focal range+Compact+Built-in Wi-Fi+Built-in image stabilization
Reasons to avoid
-Display flips up, but not down

The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX80 is the best point-and-shoot camera for most people, as it's reasonably priced at less than $400, yet has a number of features appealing to casual shooters. That includes an 18.2-MP image sensor, a 30x optical zoom lens, and 5-axis image stabilization. 

Other features include a flip-up 3-inch LCD — good for composing selfie shots — as well as a pop-up OLED electronic viewfinder, which is very handy for when sunlight makes seeing the LCD difficult. Video recording is capped at 1080p/60 fps, but the camera has NFC and Wi-Fi, making it easy to export photos to your phone to share them with friends and family.

best point-and-shoot cameras: Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W800

(Image credit: Sony)

2. Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W800

The best budget point-and-shoot camera

Resolution: 20.1 MP
Optical Zoom: 5x
Focal Length: 26 - 130mm (35mm equiv.)
Video (Max): 720p (1280p x 720p)
Size: 2.1 x 2 x 0.9 inches
Weight: 3.5 ounces
Reasons to buy
+Inexpensive+Portable+Good image quality
Reasons to avoid
-Hard to see display in sunlight

The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W800 is the best point-and-shoot camera for those on a budget; its low cost makes it a great option for younger kids interested in photography, too. 

The camera is a portable 2.1 x 2 x 0.9 inches, and weighs 3.5 ounces. It has a 5x zoom, and shoots 20-MP photos that have strong color and detail in bright conditions. However, quality drops as things get dark, and the camera's flash is easily covered by your finger. 

Read our full Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W800 review.

best point and shoot cameras: Lomo'Instant Automat

(Image credit: Lomography)

3. Lomo Instant Automat

The best point-and-shoot instant camera

Megapixels: 10 MP
Focal Length Equivalent: n/a
ISO: n/a
Video (Max): 1080p
Shooting Speed: n/a
Screen: 3.5-inch LCD touchscreen
Size and Weight: 5 x 4 x 1 inches, 7 ounces
Wireless: none
Battery Life (CIPA): n/a
Photo type/size: Fujifilm Instax Mini (1.8 x 2.4 inches)
Camera Size: 4.8 x 3.9 x 2.9 inches
microSD slot: No
Smartphone app: No
Camera Weight: 12.5 ounces
Battery: 2 CR2 batteries (3V); 1 CR 2025 (3V) for remote, sold separately
Reasons to buy
+Takes excellent photos+Remote control included+Add-on lenses included
Reasons to avoid
-Doesn't save digital copies

The Lomo'Instant Automat is the best point-and-shoot camera for those who want an instant camera. It gives you sharper images, better low-light performance and a wider field of view than its competitors. 

The Automat has a remote built into its lens cap, so you can more easily take group shots or exposures up to 30 seconds. (It has a tripod mount, too.) Zone focusing helps measure the proper distance for the best shot, and we liked its optical viewfinder. The camera and remote use two different batteries (sold separately).

Lomography sells several versions of the Lomo’Instant Automat, some of which include add-on lenses, such as a "Splitzer" gizmo that divides the frame into different sectors, and a lens for shooting extreme close-ups, up to a foot from your subject. 

best point-and-shoot cameras: Olympus Tough TG-6

(Image credit: Olympus)

4. Olympus Stylus Tough TG-6

Best waterproof camera

Megapixels: 20MP
Focal Length Equivalent: 21-105mm f/2-4.9
ISO: 125-6400
Video (Max): 4K/30 fps
Shooting Speed: 5 fps
Screen: 3-inch/460,000 dots
Size and Weight: 4.4 x 2.6 x 1.3 inches, 8.7 ounces
Wireless: Wi-Fi, GPS
Battery Life (CIPA): 380 shots
Reasons to buy
+Menus, dials and controls offer multiple access points to settings+Impressive macro features+Can capture slow-motion video at HD resolution+Includes ability to capture RAW image files
Reasons to avoid
-Struggles in low-light situations-Menu structure is somewhat confusing

The best point-and-shoot camera for taking on underwater excursions, the Olympus Tough TG-6 features a 12MP sensor, f/2.0 lens, Olympus' TruPic VIII image processor and a 4X optical zoom. The TG-5 also sports what Olympus calls a Field Sensor System, which tracks your movement, temperature and location, so that you can see your stats later, or embed that info directly into your footage. 

And because this camera is part of Olympus' Tough line, you get some serious durability that includes water-resistance up to 50 feet, shock-resistance up to 7 feet, and operating temperatures that extend down to 14 degrees Fahrenheit.

best point-and-shoot cameras: Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX100

(Image credit: Panasonic)

5. Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX100

Retro design, 4K video, compact package

Megapixels: 12.8
Focal Length Equivalent: 24-75mm
ISO: 100-25,600
Video (Max): 3840 x 2160/30 fps
Shooting Speed: 11 fps
Screen: 3 inches
Size and Weight: 2.6 x 2.17 x 4.53 inches/0.87 pounds
Viewfinder: Electronic
Reasons to buy
+Beautiful and durable retro design+Supersharp 4K video+Quick autofocus+Great color and detail in photos+Solid low-light performance+Superclear electronic viewfinder
Reasons to avoid
-Rear LCD is not a touch screen-No external mic jack-Lacks built-in flash

While its numerous dials give it a decidedly retro feel, the Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX100 is a packed with forward-looking features, including great 4K video and fast autofocus. It has a large 16.8 megapixel sensor and a sharp 3.1X Leica optical zoom lens that has an f/1.7 maximum aperture for very shallow depth-of-field photos, a quality found in many professional images. In addition, the LX100 has a rear LCD and an electronic viewfinder. All this in a sturdy, nearly pocketable magnesium alloy frame that makes the LX100 a pricey, but great compact camera.

Read our full Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX100 review.

best point-and-shoot cameras: Canon PowerShot SX60 HS

(Image credit: Future)

6. Canon PowerShot SX60 HS

Best Ultra-Zoom

Megapixels: 16.1MP
Focal Length Equivalent: 21-1356mm
ISO: 100-6400
Video (Max): 1080p/60 fps
Shooting Speed: 6.4 fps
Screen: 3-inch
Size and Weight: 3.66 x 4.49 x 5.04 inches, 2.2 pounds
Viewfinder: Electronic
Reasons to buy
+Crisp photos and especially video+Surprisingly compact 65X zoom lens+Great on-screen controls and overall handling+Fair price+Using advanced features like RAW capture and external-mic jack can boost quality
Reasons to avoid
-Limited low-light performance, especially for video

While it doesn’t have the longest reach of the cameras we tested, the 65X telephoto lens of the Canon PowerShot SX60 HS is the best compact camera with an ultrazoom lens. It gets you very close to the action, and captures everything in sharp detail, whether you're taking photos or shooting video. It also has an external mic jack, and can shoot in RAW, something few other ultrazooms can do. Its very comfortable handgrip, swiveling LCD, and powerful image stabilization make it capable of capturing sharp photos or jitter-free video of hard-to-reach shots, such as shooting over your head. And, it does all this for less than $500, making the SX60 HS a great deal.

If you're looking for an even longer zoom, check out the Nikon CoolPix P1000, which is twice as expensive, but has a 125x (3000mm-equivalent) zoom lens.  

Read our full Canon PowerShot SX60 HS review.

best point-and-shoot cameras: Panasonic Lumix ZS200

(Image credit: Future)

7. Panasonic Lumix ZS200

Great for travel

Megapixels: 20.1
Focal Length Equivalent: 24mm-360mm
ISO: 125 - 12,800
Video (Max): 4K/30 fps
Shooting Speed: 10 fps
Screen: 3-inch fixed touch
Size and Weight: 4.4 x 2.6 x 1.8 inches, 12 ounces
Viewfinder: Electronic
Reasons to buy
+Long optical zoom lens+Helpful features+Compact+Sharp electronic viewfinder and touch-screen LCD+Quick and easy wireless app setup
Reasons to avoid
-No hot shoe for an external flash-Poorly organized controls and settings-Rigid LCD

With a 15X zoom (24-360mm equivalent), the Panasonic Lumix ZS200 is the best compact camera for travelers who are looking for a small yet versatile shooter. It's easy enough for beginners, but has an array of dials and controls for advanced amateurs to take command of all of the camera's settings. 

Although its rear display doesn't tilt, we also liked its sharp electronic viewfinder. Low-light shots were good, and also did great when shooting 4K video.

Read our full Panasonic Lumix ZS200 review.

How to choose the best point-and-shoot camera for you

While many consumers choose to shoot most of their photos and videos on smartphones, some still like the convenience and quality you can get with a stand-alone point-and-shoot digital camera. But with so many changes taking place in the camera market, what features are you getting in the models that are available?

Not surprisingly, the better features — such as longer optical-zoom lenses or in-camera image stabilization — are found in the pricier models, but competition is still keeping prices lower than in years past. In fact, a point-and-shoot that costs more than $300 will most likely be classified as a bridge camera or a rugged-and-waterproof camera.

Use the following list as a guide of what features you’ll begin to see at particular price points. Note that almost all point-and-shoots at this time have between 16 and 20 megapixel sensors:

  • $50 or less: No optical zoom (fixed-focal length); 4x digital zoom; built-in flash; 1.8-inch LCD; runs on AA or AAA batteries; 720p HD video
  • $75: 3x-5x optical zoom; 2.7-inch LCD; 28mm wide-angle lens; small selection of scene modes, such as panorama, beach, and sunset modes;
  • $120: 8x optical zoom; 24mm wide-angle lens; smart auto mode (automatically determines the proper mode for the scene); digital or electronic image stabilization; larger selection of scene modes; includes help features or in-camera tips.
  • $160: 10x optical zoom; built-in Wi-Fi and NFC connectivity; optical image stabilization; improved low-light performance.
  • $200: 12x optical zoom; stylish camera-body designs; 1080p full HD video; 3200 ISO; burst mode at 7 frames-per-second.
  • $250: 25x optical zoom; RAW still-photos.
  • $300-plus: 30x optical zoom; touchscreen and/or swiveling LCD; very good performance in low light; manual settings; burst mode of 10 frames per second; top ISO of 12,800 ISO.

Be sure to check out all of our camera picks:

Best cameras | Best DSLR cameras | Best action cameras | Best waterproof cameras  | Best instant cameras | Best mirrorless cameras | Best cheap cameras | Best GoPro camera | Best GoPro accessories | Best drones | Best 360 cameras | Best iPhone lenses | Best iPhone tripods |DSLR vs. mirrorless | Best Nikon accessories | Best Sony a6000 accessories

The best apps and software for editing, managing, and sharing your photos:
Best photo organizer apps | Best photo storage sites | Best photo editing software | Best photo editing apps | Best photo collage apps

Mike Prospero

Michael A. Prospero is the deputy editor at Tom’s Guide overseeing the smart home, drones, and fitness/wearables categories. When he’s not testing out the latest running watch, skiing or training for a marathon, he’s probably using the latest sous vide machine or some other cooking gadget.

  • daddywalter
    I have the Canon SX620 and love it! Excellent pocketable camera at a good price (I bought mine direct from Canon's website.) The closest thing to a downside I've found so far is that it's so small, but that's common with cameras of this type -- I have medium-size hands for a man, and I have to be sure I'm not covering the pop-up flash or touching any rear-panel buttons. As a former film-SLR user I do miss having a viewfinder, but few small cameras have them and the LCD screen is good under most lighting conditions; if the sun is behind you, use your body to shade the screen, and all is well.
  • xxkirk
    You have an interesting box on why these cameras are better in low light than phone-based cameras.

    So overall, how do these compact cameras (in particular the top-rated Sony Cyber-Shot DSC-WX500) compare with the cameras on your top-rated phones, the Google Pixel 2 XL and Samsung Galaxy S9+?

    What are the pros and cons?

    If I don't mind carrying two things around, would I be better off buying a Sony DSC-WX500 and getting a low-end phone for podcasts, email, etc.?