Advanced Point-and-Shoot Cameras

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Fewer people than ever are buying digital point-and-shoot cameras, but there has never been a better time to get one! Lately, the camera of choice for the overwhelming majority of the world has been the one in everyone’s smartphones. And why not—they are fully bundled into a device you always carry anyway—taking up virtually no additional space and weighing so little, they’re barely there. With a phone’s constant connection to the Internet, pictures taken with a smartphone have the least distance to travel, in terms of your time and effort, to get onto any one of the social medial platforms that all together have the biggest audience for photography. For the selfies and snapshots that make up the constantly flowing image streams that underpin Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat, the picture quality provided by smartphone cameras tends to be good enough.

But you might be a photography enthusiast who doesn’t consider the picture quality from a smartphone camera “good enough.” Or, you are accustomed to the control over exposure and focus provided by larger-format digital cameras. In those respects, advanced point-and-shoot cameras are a good solution, and blend more advanced imaging capabilities with customizable and accessible controls, yet still maintain a smaller, inconspicuous form factor, sans the added bulk of additional lenses.

Below are five current and well-regarded advanced point-and-shoots from which to pick. All offer some exposure control, plus RAW file output, which can further help you preserve image quality before editing or making changes to a picture. All of these cameras can be used to take great photos, but the choice can be made depending on the features that best suit you.

Canon PowerShot G7 X Mark II
 

Canon PowerShot G7 X Mark II Digital Camera

Residing in the middle of Canon’s recently expanding PowerShot G-series of advanced compacts, the G7 X Mark II is a sleek model that blends a versatile zoom lens with apt stills and video recording capabilities. Utilizing a 20.1MP 1" CMOS sensor DIGIC 7 image processor, shooting up to 8 fps is possible, Full HD 1080p60 video can be recorded, and an expanded sensitivity range up to ISO 25600 is available for working in a wide variety of lighting conditions. A 24-100mm equivalent f/1.8-2.8 lens complements the imaging capabilities by spanning a useful wide-angle to short telephoto range, and a control ring surrounds the lens’s barrel for a familiar, tactile method of adjusting shooting settings. Additionally, the G7 X Mark II also has a 3.0" 1.04m-dot tilting touchscreen LCD and built-in Wi-Fi for sharing imagery or remotely controlling the camera from your smartphone.

Canon PowerShot G9 X Digital Camera
 

Canon PowerShot G9 X Digital Camera

Slightly smaller, the PowerShot G9 X has a feature set similar to the G7 X Mark II, but differs with a thinner form factor and shorter 28-80mm equivalent zoom range. A 20.2MP 1" CMOS sensor is used in conjunction with a DIGIC 6 image processor to form the Canon HS SYSTEM for reduced noise and sensitivity up to ISO 12800, as well as continuous shooting at 6 fps and Full HD 1080p60 video recording. Intelligent IS minimizes the appearance of camera shake when shooting stills or video and a large 3.0" 1.04m-dot touchscreen LCD affords intuitive control over settings and playback. Additionally, built-in Wi-Fi with NFC is featured, too.

Olympus Stylus Tough TG-4 Digital Camera
 

Olympus Stylus TOUGH TG-4 Digital Camera

For something a bit different, the Olympus Tough TG-4 is a rugged point-and-shoot designed for the adventurer in all of us. Its imaging capabilities are certainly sufficient—16MP BSI CMOS sensor, up to ISO 6400, 5 fps shooting, and Full HD 1080p video—however, the TG-4’s calling card is its robust physical design that is waterproof to 50', freeze proof down to 14°F, shockproof to falls from 7' high, crushproof to withstand up to 220 lbf of pressure, and dust proof. These specs are a huge boon to anyone who participates in action sports or more adventurous travels, or even those who are just a bit clumsy sometimes. Beyond the physical and imaging specs, the TG-4 also sports a 4x, 25-100mm equivalent zoom lens, 3.0" 460k-dot LCD, and built-in Wi-Fi, GPS, and an eCompass.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS100 Digital Camera
 

Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS100 Digital Camera

Also sleek, the Lumix DMC-ZS100 is a pocketable model, designed for traveling photographers. Its 20.1MP 1" High-Sensitivity MOS sensor pairs with a Venus Engine image processor to afford sensitivity up to ISO 25600, along with up to 50 fps shooting with an electronic shutter, or 10 fps with a mechanical shutter. Videographers are benefitted by UHD 4K video recording at 30p or 24p, and the 4K recording also aids stills shooting with 4K Photo Modes for shooting 8MP stills at 30 fps. For working with near or far subjects, a 10x, 25-250mm equivalent Leica DC Vario-Elmarit lens is featured, which utilizes 5-axis Hybrid O.I.S. image stabilization to minimize the appearance of camera shake.

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 IV Digital Camera
 

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 IV Digital Camera

The last model on this list is one of the most popular advanced point-and-shoots out there: the Sony RX100 IV. The latest in the RX100 series, this camera has received numerous upgrades over the years, making it a suitable choice for photographers and videographers alike. A 20.1MP 1" Exmor RS BSI CMOS sensor is paired with a BIONZ X image processor to enable UHD 4K video recording, as well as Super Slow Motion High Frame Rate movies in Full HD at speeds up to 960 fps. Stills shooting is supported up to 16 fps and a native sensitivity range goes up to ISO 12800 with minimal noise. Additionally, a versatile Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T* f/1.8-2.8 lens offers a 24-70mm equivalent range, and Optical SteadyShot image stabilization minimizes the appearance of camera shake. In regard to the physical design, the RX100 IV is the only camera on our list sporting both a 3.0" 1.229m-dot tilting LCD, as well as a pop-up 2.36m-dot OLED electronic viewfinder, and it also has built-in Wi-Fi with NFC.

What is your favorite point-and-shoot camera? Tell us in the Comments section, below.

9 Comments

How about the new Canon G3x? Anyone have any experience with one? I heard the telephoto is great even at it's farthest setting. Looking for a back-up to my Nikon that has a long lens and easy to carry around. My Nikon bag weighs about 25#'s with all the lenses & accessories, and you just can't hual that everywhere. Also looked at the Nikon (P-9000) I think? Has a 38X zoom, but it's almost as big as my Pro model. The G series is about as big as I want to go. I looked at mirrorless too, but I'm right back carrying multiple lenses....

Although It looks like the Sony might have been the ultimate camera for me, I have followed the development and release of the Panasonic ZS100 and was leaning toward it when the Sony came out. Ultimately I bought the Panasonic because it was maxing my budget at $700 and had that amazing zoom for getting the shot from a distance. My peronal photo style is not to elbow up and get in close when shooting people (family - I don't stalk) at get-togethers. As for the ease of use. I am 2 weeks into the learning curve, shoooting in auto-modes, and not ready to report. I will say this. I am deliriously happy with the features and size/form factor. A pro I talk to regularly mentioned that on expedition shoots and other situtions where the primary activity is not centered around getting the photographer what he wants, a pocket camera always gets the shots that are used and seen over and over. 

I have had GREAT success with the Panasonic DMC-SZ02.  Yes, it's an older model but the quality of the photos was REALLY good.  (And I got it on

"close out" for 95 bucks.)  I regret that manufacturers add so many features to their cameras and then charge you hundreds of dollars for these features.  When will camera makers let you "customize" your camera with only the features you want ?  I like that idea !  

Thanks for letting me add my comment.

I have the G7X MarkII. I have taken it in side the White House and the pictures cameout amazing where there is no flash to be used. Secret service only allowes small cameras and they have no idea that small camera are now as good as large frame cameras. Making enlargments is great and look amazing as I have been doing 20X10 prints. The zoom and 100mm zoom works very well as Sony just has a small zoom in the RX100. The camera is solid build and the price is right. Fits in the pocket easily. The battery life is good as it give you 4 hundred plus pricutes on a single charge. Flash is strong and I think this is the best small camer you can buy on the market to get pro results. Easy to learn and use. I have now taken a few thousand shoots and it has not failed me.  

I have the Canon PowerShot G7 x Mark II.  In some respects, it's a bit quirky, but it's a great small camera and great fun to use.  And takes astonishingly good photos.  I also shoot with a couple of Nikons (a D7200 and a D810) but of course they are far bulkier & heavier.  The PowerShot is one I can have with me at all times - it has a good feel to it, a great grip, a very useful tilt-screen viewfinder and I've also bought an EFV for it, which clips onto the top (useful for subjects where strong sunlight makes it more difficult to use a screen).  The larger pixel size gives great color, and low noise - especially handy when shooting in poor light, with raised ISO levels.

Do any of these or any others NOT have shutter lag?

No shutter lag on the Sony RX100M5

I have a previous model of the Lumix, and there is no shutter lag.  Depending on the setting, there may be a slight AF lag, but I have not had any issue with fast shots that I used to have on an Olympus, Coolpix or other P&S cameras.  I think it is as fast as my Nikon DSLR.

Hi AR, thanks for reading. Technically, no camera is without some shutter lag. However, when addressing the issue, many usually think of an interchangeable-lens DSLR camera as having a shutter lag that isn’t so long where it interferes with you getting a single shot. That said, comparing a DSLR’s shutter lag to a point-and-shoot’s shutter lag isn’t apples to apples though. Taking into account autofocus, whichever lens placed on a DSLR can cause relatively significant differences in the time it takes to capture an image after fully depressing the shutter button. The amount of time added to shutter lag by the operation of a point-and-shoot’s lens after pressing the shutter button is going to be fairly constant, with shutter lag at a point-and-shoot’s widest angle setting being the shortest and shutter lag at the most extreme telephoto setting being the longest.  Keeping those basic considerations in mind, all of the advanced point and shoots featured here have been found to be generally competitive with an entry level DSLR’s shutter lag in terms of getting a single autofocused shot, with the Sony and Panasonic being among the fastest in this group. While those options may give you the edge in capturing an exact moment at a given time, do weigh that among other important considerations such as the zoom range, comfort in hand, and water resistance.

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