/The 9 Best Point And Shoot Cameras Under $500

The 9 Best Point And Shoot Cameras Under $500

 

Point-and-shoot cameras are easy to use, compact and take pictures with minimal effort. They are by far the largest section of the digital camera market. You just press the shutter button, and your camera automatically adjusts the focus, aperture, shutter speed and light sensitivity to snap a clear image with optimal color. Unlike the conventional DSLR cameras that offer more manual control, interchangeable lenses and large image sensors, point and shoot cameras will often slip into your pocket and are generally less expensive.

Deciding to purchase a point-and-shoot camera is the easy part, but with thousands of models with different feature sets and price points to choose from, selecting the best camera isn’t an easy feat.

Factors To Consider When Buying A Point-and-Shoot Camera:

Most digital cameras, even the simple point-and-shoot cameras have many features that make it tough to establish what’s necessary for your photography needs. A majority of camera features enhance your photography experience, but there are five crucial features to take into account when buying your own camera.

1. The Sensor Size – Since the number of megapixels is mostly listed as part of a camera’s basic specs, many people are deluded into thinking that the more megapixels, the better the camera. Modern-day cameras now feature sufficient megapixels to produce high-quality shots. Therefore the number of megapixels should be considered concerning the sensor size. The sensor determines how light is captured and consequently the quality of your final picture. Most point-and-shoot cameras typically have small sensors, and even if they have the same resolution as that of a DSLR camera, the one with a bigger sensor will almost always produce better photos.

Even if the sensor of your camera will be small because point-and-shoot cameras are typically small, it’s worthwhile to look for the largest sensor available in that camera model.

2. Focal Length of the Lens  Focal length is often a confusing concept for casual and beginning photographers. Typically measured in millimeters, the focal length doesn’t indicate the length of your lens but rather the distance the image must travel from the lens to the sensor. When the lens is adjusted to a larger focal length (zoom in), the image seems closer, but less of it is captured in the frame. When buying a point-and-shoot camera, you must establish the most liable photography for you. If you’re often in the outdoors capturing scenic views and sporting events, a shorter focal length will be more useful. On the other hand, if you prefer close-up photos of pets, flowers, and faces, a longer focal length will come in handy.

3. Higher ISO  The ISO rating of a digital camera indicates its sensitivity to light and the lower the rating, the less sensitive the camera and vice versa. A lower ISO needs a longer exposure time to allow for sufficient light in to capture your image. A higher ISO captures an image so quickly that the chances of blurring are minimal.

4. Image Stabilization Image stabilization is a feature that compensates for the movement of the photographer’s hands when they are holding the camera. This is a feature that minimizes the chances of blurry images. Most photographers use tripods to steady DSLR cameras but utilizing a tripod for point-to-shoot cameras defeats the need of having a portable, easy-to-use and lightweight camera. A good camera should offer both digital and optical image stabilization for excellent results.

Here’s our list:

CameraZoomBatteryWeight 
Canon PowerShot G9 X4x36 Watt Hours0.46 poundsCheck Price
Nikon Coolpix L34028x3 Watt Hours0.94 poundsCheck Price
Panasonic Lumix DMC FZ30024x8.7 Watt Hours1.52 poundsCheck Price
Sony HX400V/B Digital Camera50x-2.1 poundsCheck Price
Samsung Gear 3600x-0.85 poundsCheck Price
FujiFilm X304x6.2 Watt Hours0.93 poundsCheck Price
Nikon Coolpix S990030x3.9 Watt Hours0.64 poundsCheck Price
Canon ELPH 360 HS12x2.9 Watt Hours0.7 poundsCheck Price
Olympus SZ24x3.5 Watt Hours0.54 poundsCheck Price

1. Canon PowerShot G9 X

If you’re looking to spend less than $500 on a point-and-shoot camera, then this should be your number one choice. With a 1-inch sensor, fast focusing, perfect-looking images with pleasant contrast and realistic colors, there is a lot to envy about this camera. It is by far the only camera within its price range with an intuitive touchscreen making it easy for you to navigate camera settings and magnify images during playback. Better yet, the touchscreen allows you to set your focal point by a simple tap on the screen.

It is worth emphasizing just how compact this gadget is. If you can slip a wallet in your pocket, the Canon G9 X shall fit in with no problem. What’s more interesting is that its 28-84 millimeter equivalent lens zoom lens offers a useful array of general-purpose shooting with broadly superior image quality.

Pros
  • Very good image quality
  • Very good high ISO performance
  • Able to focus in very low light at wide angle
Cons
  • Poor auto white balance indoors
  • No 4K or slow-motion video capture

2. Nikon Coolpix L340

Easy-to-use camera for creative videos and pictures, the Coolpix L340 offers sharp and clear 2MP photos and steady 1280X720 videos. This camera has an excellent 28X optical zoom lens with vibration reduction which gets you inches closer to physically less available areas. Better yet, this gadget gives you 16 scene modes that you can select between depending on the situation, or you can go with the auto selector option.

The camera’s design is well thought out, and every part is just where it should be, and it’s comfortable in the photographer’s hands. This camera takes breathtaking photos in sufficient light, but for night shots or low-light situations, you must turn on the flash or crank up the ISO.

Pros
  • Great battery life
  • Excellent wide angle lens
  • Very thin and compact
Cons
  • Macro autofocus is slow
  • Unable to capture 1080p resolution videos

3. Panasonic Lumix DMC FZ300

The Panasonic Lumix FZ300 is another point and shoot camera that offers excellent video and photo quality. It boasts of a small-sized sensor of about 12.1MP, and as a result, you must not use high ISO to capture great shots. Also, to avoid environmental noise, you’ll probably need to shoot in raw because that’s the only way to control the detail and noise to achieve a perfect balance between them. This camera has numerous semi manual and manual shooting modes for videos and stills in addition to lots of settings that let you adjust anything you want.

Pros
  • 24x zoom lens with f/2.8 aperture
  • Weather resistant
  • Built-in Wi-Fi with remote control support
  • In camera panorama creation
Cons
  • No headphone jack
  • Possible lower audio quality for video

4. Sony HX400V/B Digital Camera

Well, it is not a mystery that Sony produces excellent cameras. This is among the company’s best and latest arrivals with excellent quality and unique features like GPS availability. If you are always on the go, this camera could be the best for you and your photography needs. Besides taking great snaps with low light, this camera also has the GPS tagging feature which is excellent for a traveler.

Pros
  • Built-in WiFi
  • Articulating Screen
  • Image Stabilization
Cons
  • No Touch Screen

5. Samsung Gear 360

A new type of digital camera, Samsung’s Gear 360 is not just a point and shoot camera. It is basically a virtual reality camera that captures everything you are experiencing in 360 degrees, making the captured content playable in virtual reality with any VR gear. It is the type of camera that will appeal to anyone looking to venture into the world of VR film making, and it is not too expensive. Easy-to-use and connect to your smartphone, this gadget is a new camera model for an emerging medium.

Pros
  • Easily pocketable, compact design
  • Supports live streams
  • Compatible with iOS devices and Macs
Cons
  • 4K footage limited to 24p frame rate
  • Not submersible

6. FujiFilm X30

 

The Fuji’s X-series has helped steer the Japanese brand back on the roadmap for digital cameras. This point-and-shoot camera boasts of having one of the best lenses in the market and consequently delivering clear images. Also, this camera offers a Super Macro mode that’s capable of focusing up to a centimeter away from the object. With a flexible LCD, built-in flash, a hot shoe, an array of manual controls and an electronic viewfinder, this camera is cut above most cameras below $500. It is a great value package for all that you get here, and there is just more than enough on offer to keep every photographer busy.

Pros
  •  Beautiful EVF
  • Amazingly sharp lens
  • Fairly good high ISO control for such a small sensor
Cons
  • Top shutter speed is only 1/1000s when wide open
  • No built-in ND filter

7. Nikon Coolpix S9900

The Nikon Coolpix S9900 is another great point-and-shoot camera with many similar features as the Canon Powershot. It, however, has a lower pixel count at 16 MP and the same-size sensor which is typically more than enough for most everyday photographer needs. It boasts of a 30X optical zoom, so all close-up photos are available and kept at their sharpest by an optical image stabilizer. The Coolpix can also be used for recording videos in 1920X1080p resolution and comes with a built-in Wi-Fi for immediate sharing for images. The menu set-up is user-friendly and quite straightforward to use even for beginner photographers.

Pros
  • 30x optical zoom range
  • Articulating Screen
  • Built-in GPS
  • Manual Exposure
Cons
  • Can’t shoot in raw quality mode
  • No Built-in Viewfinder

8. Canon ELPH 360 HS

Sleek and slim, the Canon ELPH guarantees good quality 20.2MP images and 1080p high-definition videos. Additionally, this point-and-shoot camera comes with a DIGIC 4+ image processor that provides nice, detailed images and an ISO range of 80 to 3200. The images are excellent in sufficient light, but when you increase the ISO, they become blurry.

It is always impressive when you can easily share and transfer your videos and photos to a tablet or smartphone. This camera lets you do that all thanks to its built-in NFC and Wi-Fi connectivity options. Generally, this is an affordable and stylish camera that is lightweight and has an easy-to-use design that lets you capture memories in the simplest way possible.

Pros
  • NFC Connectivity
  • Face Detection Focusing
  • Remote control with a smartphone
Cons
  • Low Battery Life
  • Max Sensitivity only ISO 3.200

9. Olympus SZ

Olympus has been known to produce excellent cameras, and its SZ series isn’t an exception. First, the Olympus SZ is a point-and-shoot camera, and second, it’s a 3D camera. What more would you ask for! To have a 3D image, you must take two different photos with its single lens and then merge them into a single photograph. Although it’s a 3D camera, it only records videos in 1080p resolution, and you have the option to preview the recorded video on the camera’s three-inch screen in voice playback, reverse, frame-by-frame, fast-forward or normal mode. You have the option to choose the auto mode that corrects exposure thus making it easy for you to capture all image types. This camera has all the features required to capture your favorite memories either in 2D or 3D photos or high-definition videos.

Pros
  • Image Stabilization
  • Face Detection Focusing
  • Long zoom range
Cons
  • Video captured limited to 720p
  • Plastic body

 

Gary Nguyen is a 24-year-old photographer and writer from Romania. Some of his works have been published in The Guardian, New York Times, Telegraph, and many others. Learn more