Point and shoot compact cameras are designed to take beautiful photos right out of the box, regardless of whether you are a novice who has never touched a digital camera or a professional photographer with years of experience. While some point and shoot cameras offer limited manual control, these cameras are intended to be primarily used on Auto mode, making it as easy as possible to get a nice photo.

While DSLR and mirrorless cameras are incredibly popular with photographers of all skill levels these days — even beginners — point and shoot cameras have a very major benefit that makes them attractive: size. Even the tiniest interchangeable lens camera is still bulky and won’t easily fit in a jacket pocket or in the glove box of your car. At less than 10 ounces in weight, all of the recommended cameras on this page are very light — perfect for traveling with and carrying in your pocket, purse, or backpack everywhere you go.

Maybe you’ve heard the adage, “The best camera is the one you have with you.” If you’ve got a camera that is convenient to stick in your pocket and bring just about anywhere, you’re going to be much more likely to always have a camera with you. You never know when you’ll come across something worth photographing!

In this buying guide, we’ll take a look at five of the best point and shoot compact cameras of 2014. Some of the cameras have more megapixels than others, and while megapixels are nice, they shouldn’t be the main feature that sells you on a camera. Even a camera with as few as 6 megapixels can take photos that will make great 8×10″ prints and often much larger than that! With 12.1 megapixels being the lowest resolution camera in this guide, you’ll find that every single one of these cameras will take very large photos that you can make big prints with or share high resolution shots on the web.

While advanced compact cameras offer more manual control for photographers, most point and shoot camera buyers don’t need or want manual exposure control and RAW capture. Even for professional photographers, a point and shoot camera is nice to have in the gear bag for capturing behind-the-scenes moments and quick snapshots. 

At the bottom of the page, you’ll find a comparison table which allows you to compare how these five cameras stack up next to each other.

 

Samsung-Galaxy-Camera-2

Samsung Galaxy Camera 2

Released in January of 2014, the 16.3 megapixel Samsung Galaxy Camera 2 is an update to 2013′s hugely successful Samsung Galaxy Camera. This point and shoot compact camera combines some of the best features of a smart phone with the best features of a compact camera, resulting in a very innovative little camera. Samsung has decreased the weight in the updated version by about .7 ounces and made the camera a bit easier to hold onto. Powered by Android, the Samsung Galaxy Camera features many of the same specs as its predecessor: a huge 4.8 inch touchscreen LCD, a 16.3 megapixel sensor, an ISO range of 100-3200, and a very impressive 21x optical zoom lens (23-483 mm equivalent). This version of the camera got an upgraded processor — a 1.6 GHz Quad-Core with 2GB of RAM for running the Android 4.3 Jelly Bean OS that the camera comes with.

While some might look at this camera and wonder why this is more useful than just bringing along a smartphone with a built in camera, there are a few reasons why a point and shoot camera like this is better. Camera phones typically have poor image quality, thanks to their very small sensors — compact cameras generally have larger sensors, meaning better photos…especially in lower light situations. Camera phones also have no optical zoom capabilities, while the Samsung Galaxy Camera 2 offers a lens with a 35mm equivalent focal length range of 23-483mm, allowing photographers to zoom in on distant action. While many modern digital cameras still lack basic WiFi connectivity, the Samsung Galaxy Camera 2 allows you to browse the internet, voice chat using apps like Skype, navigate your way home using Google Maps, check Facebook, and do pretty much anything you could do with an Android smartphone except make cell phone calls. This is an impressive piece of technology that is sure to revolutionize the way cameras function in the future.

 

Find the Best Price:   Amazon | B&H Photo 

Panasonic-ZS30

Panasonic ZS30

The 18.1 megapixel Panasonic ZS30 is a point and shoot camera that can fit in your pocket while still offering impressive resolution and a 20x optical Leica DC zoom lens with a 35mm equivalent range of 24-480mm. The Panasonic ZS30 is equipped with a touch screen LCD display that is multi-touch sensitive, allow you to use gestures like swiping your finger to browse or pinching to zoom in on a photo. GPS functionality is a handy feature, making this a great contender for photography lovers searching for a compact camera to bring along on their travels.

Find the Best Price:   Amazon | B&H Photo 

Canon-PowerShot-SX280-HS

Canon PowerShot SX280 HS

At 12.1 megapixels, the Canon PowerShot SX280 HS might seem like it can’t compete in a list filled with 16-18 megapixel cameras, but you might be surprised. By keeping the megapixel count low, the low light performance of this camera is quite impressive, with lower noise levels. A 20x, 25-500mm equivalent focal length optical zoom gives this camera some serious reach, allowing photographers to capture both wide landscapes and distant wildlife with ease. A fairly simple to use manual mode allows exposure settings to be adjusted for added creative control. Priced very competitively, this camera is a good all around point and shoot compact that will easily fit into pockets.

Find the Best Price:   Amazon | B&H Photo 

Nikon-Coolpix-S9500

Nikon Coolpix S9500

The 18.1 megapixel Nikon Coolpix S9500 is a point and shoot digital compact camera designed for the casual photographer who doesn’t need any manual exposure control and wants a good, all-around camera. While it’s built to be simple to use, the S9500 includes a nice array of features like built in GPS and an electronic compass. The 22x optical zoom delivers an amazing 35mm equivalent focal length of 25-550mm, by far the longest reach of any point and shoot camera in this guide, and a pretty remarkable feature to find on such a small camera. Vibration Reduction image stabilization makes using these long focal lengths possible, even in lower light. Additional features like subject tracking AF, WiFi, GPS, and even 3D photo capture make this a clear choice for inclusion on this top 5 list.

Find the Best Price:   Amazon | B&H Photo 

Nikon-Coolpix-S6500

Nikon Coolpix S6800

The 16.1 megapixel Nikon Coolpix S6800 is the smallest and lightest point and shoot compact camera on this list, weighing in at just over 5 ounces. A true fit-in-your-pocket type of digital camera, the S6500 still boasts a nice 12x optical zoom, providing a 35mm equivalent focal length of 25-300 mm, the shortest among the cameras in this guide, but still plenty for capturing everyday action and even the occasional bird in a tree 75 feet away.  With 18 scene modes, reliable and quick autofocus, and vibration reduction image stabilization, getting great photos with this camera is easy, even in low light conditions. Built in WiFi makes it simple to transfer and share your photos with a compatible smartphone or tablet, allowing you to text and email your shots and share them on social networking sites easily. While this camera doesn’t push the limits of resolution and doesn’t offer manual control, this is the perfect camera for someone who doesn’t want to have to worry about fiddling with settings and just wants a camera that takes reliably good shots in any situation.

Find the Best Price:  Amazon | B&H Photo 

 

Point and Shoot Camera Comparison Table

The table below compares all five of these compact point and shoot digital cameras, listing many of the main features that influence a camera purchasing decision. While any of these cameras is capable of taking great photos, before deciding on a specific one try to identify what kind of subjects you’ll be photographing most often and what kind of lighting situations you think you’ll find yourself in the most. For instance, if you’re buying a camera to photograph sporting events from the grandstands, you might want to select a camera with a long optical zoom that will bring you close to the action. If you’re looking for a point and shoot camera to stick in your carry-on bag for a vacation, pay attention to size and weight — while all of these cameras will fit easily into your carry-on luggage, some are smaller and lighter than others, and every ounce can add up.

 
Samsung Galaxy Camera 2
Panasonic ZS30
Canon PowerShot SX280 HS
Nikon Coolpix S9500
Nikon Coolpix S6800
Touch ScreenYesYesNoNoNo
Full HD VideoYesYesYesYesYes
ZoomOptical: 21xOptical: 20x
Digital: 4x
Intelligent Zoom: 40x
Optical: 20x
Digital: 4x
Optical: 22x
Digital: 4x
Optical: 12x
Digital: 4x
Release DateJan. 2014Jan. 2013Mar. 2013Jan. 2013Feb. 2014
Wi-FiBuilt InBuilt InBuilt InBuilt InBuilt In
GPSBuilt InBuilt InBuilt InBuilt InNo
Max Resolution4608 x 34564896 x 36724000 x 30004896 x 36724624 x 3464
Weight with Battery283g / 0.62 lb / 9.98 oz198g / 0.44 lb / 7 oz233g / 0.51 lb / 8.22 oz205g / 0.46 lb / 7.3 oz145g / 0.33 lb / 5.2 oz
Dimensions133 x 71 x 19 mm / 5.2 x 2.8 x 0.8 in108.3 x 58.9 x 27.7 mm / 4.26 x 2.32 x 1.09 in.106.4 x 62.8 x 32.6mm / 4.19 x 2.47 x 1.28 in. 110.1 x 60.3 x 30.7 mm / 4.4 x 2.4 x 1.3 in. 96.8 x 57.5 x 22.9 mm / 3.9 x 2.3 x 1 in.
ISO Range100-3200100-640080-6400125-1600 / 3200 with Auto Mode125-3200
Equivalent Focal Length23-483 mm24-480mm25-500mm25-550mm25-300 mm
Effective Megapixels16.318.112.118.116.1
LCD Size4.8"3"3"3"3"
Shutter Speed Range1/8 - 1/2000 sec in Auto Mode / 16 -1/2000 sec in Manual Mode4 - 1/2000 sec
15 - 30 sec in Starry Sky Mode
1 - 1/3200 sec in Auto Mode
15 - 1/3200 sec in Manual Mode
1 - 1/1500 sec /
4 sec. (when scene mode is set to Fireworks show)
1 - 1/2000 sec /
4 sec. (when scene mode is set to Fireworks show)
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