gGadget > Top 5 Point and Shoot Cameras
The point and shoot camera market is awash with options. You can find everything from a simple camera that embodies the minimalist style to a super zoom model that still technically fits in the category. The gGadget team went through the lot and chose five that will serve every photography need we can think of. The Canon PowerShot S95, Nikon Coolpix P300, Fuji Finepix F550 EXR, Sony Cyber-shot DSC-TX9, and Nikon Coolpix L810 are our picks. Read on to find out which option is best for you.
Canon’s history in photography dates back to 1934 when it set all kinds of new standards for Japanese cameras. Today it’s one of the top manufacturers of various cameras, including point and shoot models. The PowerShot line came out in 1996 and has been one of the company’s best sellers ever since. The PowerShot S95 is the best camera in the line in our opinion.
The Canon S95 is a powerhouse in a small package. The camera is barely bigger than a deck of cards, but it will take photos in almost any situation. The camera has a nice big screen on the back that you use to take the photos — no squinting through viewfinders with this model. It also has several preset options depending on the lighting situation, which makes it easier on you when all you want is a good photo. According to Pocket-lint, all of the controls are on the top and backside of the camera. This might not seem like a big deal until you think about how annoying it is to go through multiple menus to change settings. With the S95 you’ll have all the control you need right at your fingertips. With 10 megapixels and 3.8x optical zoom, this camera is solid in the specifications department as well.
The camera is also a standout when it comes to video. You can shoot HD quality video with this camera, which isn’t the norm for most models this size. When you’re shooting video you can also record the sound in stereo so it sounds better when you play it later. Now when you’re making a video to remember your daughter’s birthday you won’t have to worry about carrying a camera and a camcorder at the same time. You can use the S95 and switch back and forth between stills and video with ease. The amount of video you can shoot depends on your memory card, and the battery will last for approximately 200 photos. If you’re looking for a lot of high-end features in a small camera, this is the choice for you.
Nikon is the other big player in the camera market. The company started out manufacturing optics (including lenses for Canon) and eventually got into the camera business. The Coolpix P300 is Nikon’s answer to the S95, so the cameras are relatively similar. That said, there are enough differences between the two to make them worth separate mentions.
The Nikon P300 is bigger and heavier than the S95. The difference isn’t huge, but it’s enough to notice when you’re holding and using the camera. If size is the most important factor then the Nikon definitely loses out. Fortunately, it makes up for the bigger size in a few ways. The extra space allowed Nikon to work in a great image stabilizer. This means you’ll get some extra help when you need to snap a photo in a hurry or when some other factor is making your hand shaky. According to What Digital Camera the P300 also has a wider aperture than most point and shoots. As a refresher, the aperture is essentially how much light the lens will let in, so the wider the better. This means the camera is good for taking photos in lower light situations. With the popup flash you’ll be able to take photos in the dead of night without issue.
The Nikon also has a slight edge over the Canon in the video department. Both shoot HD video, but the Nikon’s is slightly higher in resolution. One of the biggest advantages we found is the speed at which the P300 can take photos. The camera is very quick when it comes to saving images, so you won’t have to wait to take another one. If you’re at your son’s baseball game or shooting some other fast moving activity then the P300 will really shine. If you want slightly better specs for in a bigger package, then the P300 is for you.
Fujifilm is another big player in the camera business. The company has been around since the 1930s, and since the switch to digital it has been doing well. The Fujifilm name isn’t quite as big as Canon or Nikon, but it’s still in the top tier of photography. The Finepix family was introduced in the early 2000s and has since evolved into several subcategories. The F series that the F550 belongs to is known for being able to shoot in very low light situations.
The Fujifilm F550EXR is slightly larger than the previous models we’ve discussed, but it has some major features that aren’t included in the more compact models. The main draw for this camera (along with the low-light performance) is the 15x zoom capability. With other cameras you might have to move around or get closer to your subjects to get the perfect shot, but that’s not the case with this model. Remember the last time you tried to get the perfect set-up for your photo and it ended badly? You’ll have less to worry about with this camera. Instead of tripping over yourself while moving toward your subject, you can just zoom in and still get a great photo.
According to DCViews, the camera also has GPS tagging available, which is an interesting feature for globetrotting photographers and their domestic counterparts as well. Many cameras allow you to add location data to photos, but it’s usually limited to amending the information to the file. With the F550 you can add the information and interact with it in all sorts of neat ways afterwards. Ever look back at photos from a vacation and wonder where they were taken? You won’t have that issue with this camera. You can go back and go through your photos on a map, which is like reliving the trip all over again. The F550 is a good choice if you’re a globetrotter who needs a lot of zoom in a small package.
You might know Sony for some of its other high quality electronic offerings, and its point and shoot cameras are no different. The cyber-shot line has been around for years and has many different iterations depending on your preferences and needs. The TX10 is the latest in a series of ultra-thin compact cameras.
The defining characteristic of the Sony TX10 is its toughness. You can take this camera almost anywhere and it will perform like no other. According to TechSpot, the camera is waterproof, shockproof, dustproof, and freezeproof. The camera might not do well if you set it on fire, but it’s probably going to be able to handle pretty much anything else you can throw at it. Adventurers won’t have to worry about breaking the camera any more. Likewise, if your kids are always asking to borrow your camera and then dropping it you can loan them this model without worry.
The camera features don’t end there. The camera also comes with a touchscreen, which is the perfect way to interact with the interface. We thought the experience was going to be lackluster with a lot of frustration to get what we wanted, but Sony really put a lot of thought into the interface. The one issue we had with the touchscreen was under the water. It didn’t work well when submerged, but we didn’t find ourselves needing it much underwater either. Overall, the fact that the camera can go in water up to 5 meters deep without issue is more than enough of a trade off for us. The TX10 is the perfect camera for you whether you’re a rugged adventurer or simply accident-prone.
We’ve already looked at one Nikon camera, but this model is too good to pass up. The Coolpix L810 will be on shelves sometime in February. This model is bigger than any of the previous options we’ve looked at so far. The bigger size makes for much bigger performance, and it’s still technically considered a point and shoot.
The Nikon L810 has more megapixels and zoom capability than any of the previous cameras. The 26x optical zoom will allow you to zoom almost indefinitely. According to Coolest Gadgets, the zoom is equivalent to a 585mm lens in the old-school 35mm terms (remember those?). That’s a whole lot of lens in a very small package. Sure, the camera is more of a handful than the previous models but it’s a good tradeoff. If you’re a nature photographer you’ll love being able to get shots you never thought were possible with a point and shoot.
The zoom functionality wouldn’t be worth much without other hardware to back it up. The camera has an advanced vibration reduction system to make sure that your images come out crystal clear. The camera is near the top of the group with 16.1 megapixels, which means you’ll be able to zoom in without getting lower quality images. This camera is for the photographer who wants professional performance but doesn’t want to spend the big bucks on a DSLR and a bunch of lenses.
The point and shoot market is huge and these five cameras are at the top. Each model has its advantages, but they’ll all be portable enough to take anywhere with ease. Use these recommendations from the gGadget team along with the diagram above to make the right choice for you.