Digital cameras have become something most of us carry in our pockets every day. Smartphones have revolutionized the way we take pictures. Every new smartphone model has an integrated camera, and they’re getting more and more sophisticated with every year. Social platforms like Instagram, Snap Chat and many others have given people the ability to interact with the photos their friends and family take on a daily basis. This kind of exposure we get with the photos we take has pushed many of new enthusiasts into the world of photography.
However, the limitations of the cameras we have on our smartphones become obvious once we get more involved in this kind of hobby. The smartphone is still more phone than anything else. The camera feature is still just a convenient feature for casual photography and nothing more. Sure, taking great photographs requires much more than simply having a great camera, however, an artist has to have his tools.
Point and shoot cameras are a great solution for those of us who want to get a bit more involved in photography, but don’t long for expensive equipment that can range to thousands of dollars. Sometimes you simply need something slightly better than a smartphone camera that will not require to refinance your mortgage.
We are going to take a look at some of the best point and shoot cameras currently on the market. Because of the price range we mentioned earlier, we decide to set a budget of under $200. We think that this is the minimum you have to pay in order to get something that can trump smartphone cameras, while still being affordable alongside the newest smartphone model you want to get.
Furthermore, it is very important that these type of cameras provide a good learning curve for amateurs who want to get into photography. This means that we’re looking also at the functions the point and shoot cameras are introducing to the customer. ISO, aperture, exposure and other photography jargon should be accented with cameras like this in a way that will make the user feel like he or she is learning something, instead of being intimidated by it.
What is a point and shoot camera?
Before we take a look at the models we selected for this review, let’s set a few guidelines for what we’re going to talk about. Point and shoot cameras are basically compact cameras with simple functions and uncomplicated features. They’re great for a beginner photographer who wants to make the switch from casual smartphone photography to a more coherent and professional approach.
Point-and-shoot cameras are among the most popular camera models on the market. As their name suggests, there designed to provide a simple approach towards photography, while still being able to handle lighting conditions and movement, among other things, a lot better than smartphone cameras.
The easy-to-use and low cost aspect of point and shoot cameras is great for vacations, parties, and similar events where you need to be a bit more flexible while taking decent pictures.
Why don’t simply use a smartphone camera?
There are many pros and cons to getting a point and shoot camera. We mentioned the need for a learning curve these kinds of cameras have to provide to people who want to get into photography. However, if you’re not looking to take up photography as a hobby, there may be some other things point and shoot cameras can win you over with. Here are some of the pros and cons of point and shoot cameras compared to smartphone cameras. Let’s start with the pros.
- Better image quality – Point and shoot cameras have one major advantage over smartphones: they’re cameras, and nothing more. While a smartphone has to entail all kinds of features, a point and shoot camera concentrates simply on one thing. This means that you’re paying for the feature of taking pictures and nothing more. The image quality of smartphone cameras has drastically improved over the past years, but so have point and shoot cameras, so keep this in mind every time you want to compare image quality of these two things.
- More photography functionality – even if you’re not looking to become a professional or semi-professional photographer, a point and shoot camera will still help you get better images whether you want to or not. You don’t need to know all the physics behind the exposure triangle (ISO, exposure, aperture) to take good pictures with a point and shoot camera. These days, there are many preprogrammed functions for all kinds of environments or photos you want to take.
- Easy to use – OK, this is something you could also say about your smartphone. However, point and shoot cameras are set up to take good quality photos without much hassle and learning, while a smartphone can be used for getting similar results and requires only a bit of work and some tweaking.
- Noise handling – Although technically this falls under picture quality, it is still something that needs to be mentioned separately. Digital noise is the byproduct of low light environments. You’ve all seen it when taking picture in clubs or simply at night that the darker areas are not as smooth as you would hope for. Smartphones can handle dark areas too, but only through using a bigger ISO, which results in blaring pictures. However, a point and shoot camera has always a bigger lens opening (aperture) than the small one’s smartphones have, and thus needs a lower ISO when handling the same, which results in a much smoother picture.
- Zoom – There are two kinds of zooms: optical and digital. Optical zoom is done by optically adjusting the lens so it zooms in on the subject you want to take a photograph of. Digital zoom is by most photographers considered not being a “real” zoom at all. A digital zoom is the digital enhancing of a photographs size. Most smartphones only have digital zooms, because their design simply prohibits a lens sticking out of the phones body. An optical zoom is superior in any way, and thus a big deal when comparing smartphone cameras to point and shoot cameras.
- Flexibility – Point and shoot cameras are practical, but they’re not as practical as the smartphones we’re almost always carry with us. So, in terms of flexibility, they fall flat in today’s day of age.
- Additional costs – I’ll assume you already got a smartphone. Most of us have. It doesn’t matter what model or brand it is; it certainly has a camera. So, why bother getting a separate device for picture taking? If you’re not interested in getting involved in photography more than the smartphones already enable you, then you many spend that money more wisely.
- Sharing – We mentioned earlier social networks like Instagram and Snap Chat. Smartphones let you share your pictures almost immediately on those sites, while most point and shoot cameras need to be hooked up to a separate device (laptop, notebook, computer) in order to be uploaded. Yes, newer point and shoot cameras have Wi-Fi connection features, but they still don’t let you share those precious photos you took as easy and seamless as smartphones do.
Best point and shoot cameras under $200
Now that we’ve seen what we should expect from point and shoot cameras in order to be attractive enough for us to favor them over the smartphone cameras we may already have, let’s take a look at what models are currently on the market in the price range we set.
|Canon PowerShot ELPH 350 HS (Black)||$$||3.9 / 5|
|Nikon Coolpix S7000 16 MP Digital Camera||$$$||4.2 / 5|
|Fujifilm FinePix XP80 Waterproof Digital Camera with 2.7-Inch LCD (Blue)||$$||4.2 / 5|
|Kodak PIXPRO Friendly Zoom FZ41 16 MP Digital Camera||$||4.1 / 5|
|Sony DSCW830 20.1 MP Digital Camera with 2.7-Inch LCD (Silver)||$||4.1 / 5|
|Fujifilm FinePix S6800 16MP Digital Camera with 30x Optical Zoom and 3-Inch LCD||$$$||4.4 / 5|
|Samsung WB350F 16.3MP CMOS Smart WiFi & NFC Digital Camera||$$$||4.3 / 5|
|Kodak AZ521, 16MP Camera with 52x Optical Zoom||$$$||4.6 / 5|
|Sony Cybershot DSC-S980 12.1MP Digital Camera with 4x Optical Zoom||$$||4.8 / 5|
|Olympus VR-340 Red 16MP Digital Camera with 10x Optical Zoom||$$$||4.2 / 5|
Starting off our review is the Canon PowerShot ELPH 350 HS point and shoot camera. There is a notion going on in the world of photography that states that the only worthy camera manufacturers are Canon and Nikon. This is highly debatable, but when looking at this point and shoot camera, you get a picture of why Canon is considered to be on the top.
The camera is smart, compact, looks great, has a big screen, and is extremely easy to use. The buttons and functions behind them are clever in the way they make even inexperienced photographers learn the basics about photography without noticing they’re learning. It has a 12x optical zoom and a 20.2 Megapixel sensor which make for some crisp looking and detailed pictures.
- Smart and beautiful design.
- Easy to use functions that don’t overwhelm the beginners
- Wi-Fi functionality
- 1080p Full HD video recording
- Noise handling is a bit off
- Too light
Although the Canon PowerShot ELPH 350 HS model comes close to being a somewhat professional point and shoot camera, it falls flat in some of the aspects that should be its selling points. The big megapixel number of 20.2 may sound impressive, and it certainly is in well-lit areas. A high pixel is not always good. The higher the pixels are, the more grain the image will have in darker areas. If the point and shoot camera cannot deliver on this point, then there is little need of considering getting one if you already have a smartphone.
As we’ve mentioned it before, Nikon is the other major brand in digital photography currently on the market. The Nikon Coolpix series has some amazing models in its collection, and it was really though choosing which one will make it on our list.
However, the extremely easy to understand interface, great image quality and optical zoom this the Nikon Coolpix model S7000 has to show is making the choice a bit easier. This model combines all of the features we talked about a good point and shoot camera has to offer the users.
It is compact but efficient, it takes great pictures but enables you also to stay flexible when on the road. The built-in Wi-Fi feature combined with all the other camera features is just the icing on the cake with this model.
- Good handling of darker areas
- Full HD video with a resolution of 1080p and a 60 frames per minute rate
- 20x optical zoom
- Design features could be prettier
- The overall built of the camera model could be less flimsy
The Nikon Coolpix S7000 model has everything you’d expect from a great point and shoot camera in this price range. The 20x optical zoom is great for taking pictures without thinking how far away your subject is, while the well-balanced image sensor with 16 MP will give you high-quality pictures even in darker areas.
The only thing that could be done better is the build itself on this model. Sure, you cannot expect an ultra-high-quality body for the price you’re paying with this point and shoot camera model, however, if the flimsiness of the lens and the whole body could be a bit more robust, this model would make a hell of a point and shoot camera.
Fujifilm is one of the oldest camera manufacturers in the world. Recently, their focus was directed more towards adventure cameras than anything else. With this budget friendly FinePix XP80 model, they created an incredible product worth having in any adventurers travelling bag.
The camera is waterproof up to 50ft (15m) and is built in a fashion that will protect it from any kind of shaking or potential damage. It has a 16.2 MP image sensor and shoots Full HD movies with no problems whatsoever. Additionally, it has a built-in Wi-Fi feature which makes sharing those adventurous photos on the internet really easy and convenient.
- Water/shock proof
- Wi-Fi features
- Decent image quality in all types of environments
- Weird design and button layout
- Screen on camera is too dark
The Fujifilm FinePix XP80 model is a great adventure and underwater point and shoot camera. It doesn’t require any know-how on how to use, but delivers decent images and enables you to take great shots because of the waterproof feature it has.
However, because of these adventure aspects this model has, some of the features in terms of design and layout had to be compromised. The camera has a robust build and extraordinary screen protection, but the screen itself is a bit blurry and dark at times and requires a lot of adjustments.
If you’re someone who needs a robust camera to take with on your travels, this camera will capture a lot of awesome moments. However, if you’re looking for a point and shoot camera for casual events like parties and concerts, this model might stick out too much with its design.
Point and shoot cameras are a great gateway to more professional equipment if you want to pursue photography as a hobby. In today’s world, having a camera all the time on you has become the new norm. Smartphones have made this possible to ever advancing new technologies. However, the need for better quality pictures dictates what consumers want.
The camera market has made many compromises in terms of quality and design to assure all needs of their customers are satisfied. Point and shoot cameras are one of the results of this endeavor. With this in mind we estimated that a budget of $200 should be sufficient to get us a decent point and shoot camera that will cover all our needs, which simply cannot be covered by the smartphones most of us carry around.
The Canon PowerShot ELPH 350 HS model is a fairly good point and shoot camera that will get the job done if you’re looking for something slightly better than the camera on your smartphone. And that’s basically it.
The main shortcoming of this camera is the image quality which is simply not good enough to be considered as something worth your while. On the other side, we have the Fujifilm FinePix XP80 model, designed for the adventurers among us. It makes high quality pictures and is great for all kinds of harsh environments. However, it is not best suited for casual photography on a day-to-day basis.
The Nikon Coolpix S7000 model is our pick for the best point and shoot camera under $200. The model is simple and elegant in design and offers a superb picture quality. It handles low light surroundings extremely well, which will give it an upper hand when compared to not only the models we featured here, but also the smartphone cameras you may already possess.
The 20x optical zoom is something that simply outshines all the other models on this list, while the learning curve will bring the users of this model on a higher level of understanding what it means to progress in the field of photography.
Finding a good point and shoot camera for under $200 is possible. All the models we’ve shown here are great products. However, all being in the same price range makes it somewhat easy to pick the one that stands out. That’s why we think that the Nikon camera on this list is the clear winner for point and shoot cameras under $200.