Skip to main content

Best Compact Cameras 2019

As smartphone cameras get better and better, point-and-shoot compact cameras are becoming a tougher sell, but there's still a few good reasons to pick one up. A decent compact camera is a great way to introduce your kids to photography. Not only will it help them learn the fundamentals, but provide them with an optical zoom lens, a better flash, and better image stabilization than you'll get on a smartphone. 

Our favorite compact point-and-shoot camera is the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-WX500, 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, yet also takes reasonably good pictures for the price. 

If you're looking for a rugged point-and-shoot camera, consider the Olympus Tough TG-5, 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 Polaroid Snap Touch, which not only prints out a physical photo, but saves a digital version of your shot on a memory card. But there are some other instant models to consider as well. We tested a bunch of instant cameras, and ranked them from best to worst. 

Make sure you check out all of our top picks for DSLRs, mirrorless cameras and more on our best cameras page. And, if you're looking to make a gift out of all those pictures you took, be sure to check out the best photo book, best photo card, and best photo calendar services. 

Black Friday 2019: What to expect

Black Friday is fast approaching, and cameras are among the more popular items that are discounted. Be sure to check out all of our Black Friday camera deals, as well as our more general best Black Friday deals page for discounts on popular products.

Latest News & Updates (November 2019)

  • Sony's new RX100 VII ($1,200), the latest in its line of premium compact cameras, features a new 1-inch 20.1MP sensor, the latest Bionz X image processor, 357-point phase detection and 425-point contrast detection points, 24-200mm F2.8 – F4.5 lens, and can shoot 4K HDR video, as well as up to 20 fps when shooting still images. 
  • Canon is releasing new versions of two of its advanced compact cameras. The PowerShot G5x Mark II ($899) boasts a 20.1MP 1-inch CMOS sensor, 5X optical zoom, and optical image stabilization, while the G7x Mark III ($749) has a 4.2x optical zoom. Both cameras have built-in flashes and touchscreens that can flip 180 degrees, but only the G5x has an electronic viewfinder. 
  • Nikon's new rugged point-and-shoot, the Coolpix W150 ($166), is waterproof to 33 feet, and can be dropped from heights of up to 6 feet. It has a 13.2MP sensor, 3X optical zoom, and can work with Nikon's Snapbridge app, so you can wirelessly transfer photos to your smartphone. 
  • The Olympus Tough TG-6, the successor to the TG-5, is now on sale for $449. The camera has the same resolution and processor as before—as well as the same 50-meter waterproofing—but has improved functionality for its Microscope mode.

Best Overall

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-WX500

(Image credit: Sony)

1. Sony Cyber-shot DSC-WX500

A strong combination of features for the price

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

Wide focal range
Compact
Built-in Wi-Fi
Variety of mobile apps
Flip-up LCD
Built-in image stabilization
No viewfinder
LCD difficult to see in bright sunlight

The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-WX500 takes great photos in a variety of situations, thanks in part to Sony's image stabilization, which really kicks in when you want to take clear pictures with limited light. A wide range of PlayMemories apps let you make adjustments and add effects to images on the fly, and built-in Wi-Fi allows you to easily transfer them to your smartphone.

Read our full Sony Cyber-shot DSC-WX500 review.

Best Budget Point-and-shoot

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W800

(Image credit: Sony)

2. Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W800

Our favorite compact camera under $100

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

Inexpensive
Portable
Good image quality
Hard to see display in sunlight

This camera is a compact 2.1 x 2 x 0.9 inches, and weighs 3.5 ounces. It has a 5x zoom, and shoots 20-MP photos that had 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. 

Still, the DSC-W800 is our favorite camera under $100, and is a good option for younger kids interested in photography.

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

Best Instant Camera

Polaroid Snap Touch

(Image credit: Polaroid)

3. Polaroid Snap Touch

An instant camera with a digital touch.

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

3.5-inch touchscreen
Creates digital files and instant prints
Records video
10x optical zoom
Poor low-light performance
Weak flash

This fun and inexpensive Polaroid Snap Touch has a built-in Zink printer, giving your kids a measure of instant gratification once they press the shutter. Unlike other instant cameras, which will automatically churn out a print even if it's snapped by accident, the Snap Touch lets you preview, choose, print or discard any shot so you waste less precious paper.

The Snap Touch also saves files digitally, so you can look back on your memories years after the print has faded. And, it can record video, too. Using this camera is a cinch; just pop up the viewfinder, and the camera turns on.

Best Waterproof Camera

Olympus Tough TG-5

(Image credit: Olympus)

4. Olympus Stylus Tough TG-5

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

Wide range of versatile features and modes
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
Struggles in low-light situations
Menu structure is somewhat confusing
Zoom mechanism produces noise during video capture

The successor to one of our current top picks, Olympus' new Tough TG-5 features a redesigned 12-MP sensor, f/2.0 lens, Olympus' latest 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.

Read our full Olympus Tough TG-5 review.

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

Beautiful and durable retro design
Supersharp 4K video
Quick autofocus
Great color and detail in photos
Solid low-light performance
Superclear electronic viewfinder
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 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 camera.

Read our full Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX100 review.

Best Ultra-Zoom

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

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
Limited low-light performance, especially for video

While it doesn’t have the longest reach of the ultrazooms we tested, the 65X telephoto lens of the Canon PowerShot SX60 HS 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 For Travel

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

Long optical zoom lens
Helpful features
Compact
Sharp electronic viewfinder and touch-screen LCD
Quick and easy wireless app setup
No hot shoe for an external flash
Poorly organized controls and settings
Rigid LCD

With a compact body an a 15X zoom (24-360mm equivalent), the Panasonic Lumix ZS200 is great for travelers who are looking for a small yet versatile camera. 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.

What features are you paying for in a compact point-and-shoot?

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—like 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.