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The Best Point-and-Shoot Cameras for 2020

You Don't Need an SLR to Upgrade from a Smartphone

Ask a photographer what type of camera will give you the best photos and they'll likely suggest an SLR or mirrorless model—but for many casual shooters, they're just too bulky and complicated for day-to-day use. Most folks reach for their smartphone to snap images, and if you've got a modern flagship model you'll be very happy with what it delivers, especially if your phone offers a portrait mode effect.

But what if you want picture quality that's better than a smartphone? Or the versatility of a long optical zoom lens? Or if you simply like the feel of a camera in your hands? You can still get a cheap compact camera, but we've been underwhelmed by models in the sub-$200 price range. They tend to use CCD image sensors, which don't do well in low light and have limited video capabilities. (If you're set on an inexpensive compact, the Canon PowerShot Elph 190 IS is a good low-cost option, as long as you understand its limitations.)

The Best Point-and-Shoot Camera Deals This Week*

*Deals are selected by our partner, TechBargains

Canon PowerShot Elph 190 IS

Our recommendation is to prepare to spend a bit more on a compact camera, around a few hundred dollars if you simply want a model that offers a strong optical zoom range, and more if you're after a large sensor that delivers significant advantages in image quality. If you want both—a bigger sensor and a long zoom lens—prepare to spend well over $1,000.

All of the cameras featured here include Wi-Fi, so you'll be able to share photos while on the move. It's not quite as convenient as a smartphone—you'll need to wirelessly transfer any photos you wish to post to Instagram—but you'll still be able to let the world know you're relaxing on a beach without having to offload photos to a computer first.

Types of Compact Cameras

It's pretty clear that manufacturers aren't sinking a lot of research and development money into budget models. As we mentioned above, our Editors' Choice priced under $200, the Canon Elph 190 IS, has a zoom lens, but aside from its 10x range and the ergonomic advantages that come with a dedicated device, there aren't many advantages over smartphones.

Models with long zooms and CMOS sensors are more expensive. The Sony HX90V is a good choice if you want a camera with tons of zoom power. You may be put off by its $450 price, but you're paying a bit for the build, which incorporates GPS and a pop-up electronic viewfinder.

Canon PowerShot SX70 HS

If you can live without those, and with a slightly chunkier camera, we recommend the Canon SX530 HS as an affordable long-zoom option. For slightly larger cameras with big zoom power and fixed lenses, check out our list of top bridge cameras, which includes some with more than 50x zoom power.

Tough cameras are still a thing too. Even though latest iPhones are waterproof, you don't want to risk the safety of your expensive iPhone 11 Pro when diving or rock climbing. Our favorite rugged camera, the Olympus TG-6, has a rather short zoom, but makes up for it in other ways. It's not literally bulletproof, but it's close. It's rated to survive drops, go deep underwater, and has a killer macro function and 4K video too.

You Get What You Pay For

It's in the premium price range—greater than $500—that we've seen quite a bit of growth in recent years, as the lower end of the market disappears. Manufacturers have moved to 1-inch class image sensors, about four times the size of a typical point-and-shoot or smartphone camera. The larger sensor size, often paired with a bright lens with a modest zoom range, delivers images that pop thanks to a blurred background, without sacrificing a pocketable form factor. It's also a big plus for low-light shooting.

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We have a few recommendations for 1-inch models at various price points. The Canon G9 X Mark II is the best you'll find under $500. The Sony RX100 III, an older model, is still on sale, with a killer lens, but some dated features like a screen that doesn't support touch. Moving up, you'll get more zoom power with the Canon G5 X Mark II for $900. The Sony RX100 VII, at $1,300, sits atop the category in price, features, and performance.

Even Bigger Sensors

And there are options with larger than 1-inch sensors. The Panasonic LX100 II and Canon G1 X Mark III both feature fixed zoom lenses and bigger sensors. The Panasonic has a Micro Four Thirds chip, the same size used in its interchangeable lens cameras, but doesn't use the entire surface area of the sensor. Canon has used an APS-C sensor for the G1 X Mark III, the same type used in its consumer SLR line.

Panasonic Lumix DC-LX100 II

While the G1 X Mark III manages some zoom, its lens isn't very bright. Look at the Fujifilm X100F, which sports an APS-C sensor but with a bright, wide-angle prime lens instead of a zoom. The X100F also has a hybrid viewfinder that offers both electronic and optical views of the world. Finally, Ricoh has a pair of APS-C compacts, the older GR II (still on sale) and the newer GR III, both of which omit an integrated viewfinder, but are very small to slide into your pocket.

Beyond the Confines of Your Pocket

For a look at every camera we've reviewed, and not just those that are easy to slip into your pocket, feel free to peruse all of our camera review. If you're looking for something a bit more capable than a pocket camera, you can check out our overall favorites from across all categories, or you can narrow in on a waterproof, premium, or bridge-style compact for more targeted recommendations.

  • Fujifilm X100F

    Pros: Crisp wide-angle lens. Bright f/2 aperture. In-lens ND filter. Fast autofocus. Hybrid optical/electronic viewfinder. Focus select joystick. 1/4,000-second leaf shutter. Physical control dials. Film Simulation modes. Wi-Fi.

    Cons: Lens lacks stabilization. Video limited to 1080p. Sometimes struggles with tracking subjects.

    Bottom Line: The Fujifilm X100F is everything a premium compact camera should be, capturing SLR-quality images in a form factor that slides into your jacket pocket.

    Read Review
  • Ricoh GR II

    Pros: Pocket-friendly design. APS-C image sensor. Superb controls. 28mm wide-angle lens. Snap focus capability. Raw capture. 21mm wide-angle adapter available. Excellent Wi-Fi remote control.

    Cons: Wi-Fi implementation can use some improvement. No EVF option. Doesn't include external charger.

    Bottom Line: The Ricoh GR II is a modest update to many a photographer's favorite pocket camera, adding Wi-Fi and a few firmware tweaks.

    Read Review
  • Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 III

    Pros: Excellent high ISO performance. Big 1-inch image sensor. Sharp, wide aperture lens. 10fps burst shooting. Customizable controls. Large, titling LCD. Pop-up OLED EVF. Quick focus. Raw support. Wi-Fi with NFC.

    Cons: Very expensive. Short zoom range. Lacks hot shoe. External charger not included.

    Bottom Line: The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 III compact camera earns Editors' Choice accolades because of its image quality and excellent EVF, even despite its high price.

    Read Review
  • Canon PowerShot G5 X Mark II

    Pros: Larger image sensor than phones. 5x zoom lens. Excellent ergonomics. Built-in EVF and flash. Selfie LCD with touch support. In-lens ND filter. 4K video.

    Cons: No mic input. Autofocus not as advanced as some competitors.

    Bottom Line: The Canon PowerShot G5 X Mark II is a pocket camera that will make enthusiasts happy, with a solid zoom range, a 1-inch sensor, and an electronic viewfinder.

    Read Review
  • Olympus Tough TG-6

    Pros: Tough, waterproof build. Add-on lenses and macro lights available. Sharp rear LCD. Wide aperture lens. 4K video. Wi-Fi.

    Cons: Not a touch screen. LCD can pick up scuffs and scratches. Video feature lag behind action cameras. Wi-Fi app pushes spammy notifications.

    Bottom Line: The Olympus Tough TG-6 is a modest update to our favorite underwater point-and-shoot camera thanks to its tough design, bright lens, and excellent macro capabilities.

    Read Review
  • Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 VII

    Pros: Sharp 8x zoom lens. Electronic viewfinder. 1-inch sensor design. 20fps capture with subject tracking. Eye detection for people and pets. Tilting touch screen. 4K video with external microphone port.

    Cons: Expensive. Can't start video while images are writing to card. Limited touch functions.

    Bottom Line: The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 VII point-and-shoot is a modest update to the RX100 VI, offering better autofocus and video stabilization for a bit more money.

    Read Review
  • Canon PowerShot G9 X Mark II

    Pros: Crisp lens. 1-inch image sensor. 8.1fps image capture. Touch LCD. Built-in ND filter. In-camera art filters. Wi-Fi. Quite compact.

    Cons: Pricey. Short zoom. Narrow aperture when zoomed. No 60fps video option.

    Bottom Line: The Canon PowerShot G9 X Mark II camera is more responsive than its predecessor, and squeezes a big 1-inch sensor into a compact frame.

    Read Review
  • Canon PowerShot G7 X Mark III

    Pros: Pocket-friendly design. 1-inch sensor. Bright zoom lens. Tilting touch LCD. Fast focus and burst rate. 4K with mic input and live streaming.

    Cons: 4K video not available in all modes. Face detection doesn't work with burst shooting. Lens not as crisp as some others. No EVF.

    Bottom Line: The Canon PowerShot G7 X Mark III is a good pocket camera with a big 1-inch sensor, a bright zoom lens, and 4K video, but it faces strong competition from smartphones and cameras alike.

    Read Review
  • Canon PowerShot SX530 HS

    Pros: 50x zoom ratio. Solid control layout. Responsive performance. Fairly compact. Framing assist function. Canon Creative Shot mode. Integrated Wi-Fi with NFC.

    Cons: Can be slow to lock focus when zoomed. No EVF. HD video limited to 1080p30. Pricey.

    Bottom Line: The Canon PowerShot SX530 HS is a fairly compact superzoom camera with a 50x zoom lens, but it can be slow to focus when zoomed in all the way.

    Read Review
  • Panasonic Lumix DC-ZS200

    Pros: 15x zoom power. 20MP 1-inch image sensor. 9.4fps burst capture. Raw image support. Touch LCD. Sharp 4K video. Wi-Fi.

    Cons: Narrow aperture. EVF on the small side. LCD doesn't tilt. Crop limits wide-angle 4K video capture.

    Bottom Line: The Panasonic Lumix DC-ZS200 marries a long zoom lens to a premium 1-inch image sensor. It's a very good pocket camera, but we wish the screen offered tilt.

    Read Review

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