With the advent of the smartphone, it often seems that cameras are going the way of the dinosaur. However, if you’re keen enough, you'll notice that tons of people still use digital cameras.
While smartphone cameras are good enough for casual photography, there are lots of situations where good enough just won’t do. Whether you’re a professional photographer or a die-hard hobbyist, you don’t want to deal with good enough when you’re talking about what may very well be your life’s passion.
Smartphone camera performance, which has improved exponentially over the past few years, is still horrible in low-light situations and situations where you need to take photos quickly.
Another disadvantage of using a smartphone camera is smartphones’ terrifyingly low battery life. Some smartphones barely last a day, and you don’t want to be dealing with a low battery warning when trying to take what may very well be the picture of a lifetime. Camera batteries, on the other hand, will last much longer since the device will only be used when you’re taking pictures.
And of course, there’s still niche demand for specialty cameras such as the classic instant camera - it may not be as convenient as a smartphone, but it has much more personality.
But for those of you who are dedicated enough hobbyists to invest some extra money to buy a digital camera for those situations where a smartphone just won’t suffice, a point and shoot camera will give you great value for your money.
Especially if you don’t want to sink money and resources into buying a fully-fledged DSLR, a simple point and shoot camera will work wonderfully for you.
If you’re wondering which point and shoot cameras are dominating the market, we’ve got a treat for you: a list of the five best point and shoot cameras under $500. We hope it helps!
Top-Rated Point & Shoot Cameras Under $500 - Comparison Table
Best Point and Shoot Cameras Under $500
Panasonic is renowned for their excellent hardware, and the Lumix DMC-FZ70 is no exception.
The FZ70 has a 16.1MP sensor with a focal length of 2.8-5.9. This MOS sensor is highly sensitive and significantly improves picture quality, especially in low-light situations.
The camera is one of the best for zooming, giving you 60x optical zoom and an option to zoom up to 120x. Keep in mind that the 120x zoom interferes slightly with resolution, so the higher you go, the more your picture’s quality will deteriorate.
The Lumix also has video recording capabilities, but that’s nothing major in itself. What sets it apart from the crowd is the integrated Dolby Digital Stereo Creator, which captures sound exactly how it is. Panasonic has also included a wind shield microphone to cut down on wind sounds when taking videos.
The camera takes FullHD videos in both MP4 and AVCHD format. It also has another button that lets you start shooting immediately, even if you’re in the process of taking a photo. There’s also a Creative Video mode that allows you to adjust exactly how you want to shoot your video.
The Lumix FZ70 has power image stabilization which uses optical image stabilization to compensate for shaky hands when taking photos or videos.
Panasonic even includes Creative Retouch and Creative Control modes to allow you to edit your pictures after you take them. Creative Control overlays a selected filter on your screen so you can see how the shot would look with the filter applied. Creative Retouch, on the other hand, allows you to apply filters after shooting.
You can also take horizontal or vertical panoramic pictures using the panorama mode on the camera. You can also use one of the several panoramic effects while shooting panoramas.
Features at a Glance
- 16.1 MP, f2.8-6.9 lens
- 60x optical zoom
- Dolby Digital Stereo Creator and wind shield microphone ensure excellent sound during video recording
- FullHD video capabilities
- Power image stabilization
- Creative Retouch and Creative Control modes
- Panorama mode
- Up to 5fps AutoFocus
- Intelligent Auto mode
Sony’s DSC-RX100 is an incredible camera that is well worth its price. Let’s look at what makes it so worthwhile.
With a 1” 20.2MP CMOS sensor, a Carl Zeiss F/1.8-4.9 lens, and expandable ISO, this camera has a ton of features that will allow you to control exactly how your pictures come out. It comes with a dedicated control ring to enable you to quickly and easily make changes.
The 1” sensor on the DSC ensures that light capture is on the higher side and every detail of the scene being shot is reproduced in stunning detail. Dual noise reduction and column conversion further increase picture quality in low light.
The camera’s sensitivity is incredibly high, with an ISO range of 125 to 6400. This allows you to shoot in nearly any situation and reproduce colors naturally. Advanced optical image stabilization works in conjunction with electronic image stabilization to all but eliminate fuzziness caused by shaky hands.
The DSC-RX100 allows you up to 3.6x optical zoom and uses Clear Image digital zoom to double the optical zoom for those situations where you need even closer images.
The camera gives you complete control over how you shoot your pictures, from a dedicated control mode for advanced photographers to an effective intelligent Auto mode for newbies. You’ll even get on-screen prompts which will help hone your skills and teach you more about creative control.
You can capture images in RAW format, allowing you much greater latitude when editing images on your computer.
The camera allows you to record stunning FullHD video at 1080p. It also has dual record for stills and videos, allowing you to shoot both at the same time.
Features at a Glance
- 1” 20.2MP sensor
- F/1.8-4.9 lens
- ISO range of 125-6400
- Advanced optical image stabilization
- 3.6x optical zoom and 7.2x Clear Image digital zoom
- Intelligent auto mode plus advanced modes
- RAW image captures
- Blazing fast autofocus
- Face detection
- Photo Creativity mode
- Digital level gauge
- Panorama mode
- FullHD video recording
The Canon PowerShot SX720 HS has a 20.3MP CMOS sensor which works in conjunction with Canon’s proprietary DIGIC 6 image processor to produce images with astounding clarity, even in low light.
The camera achieves up to 40x optical zoom, which is an incredible distance to zoom in without losing clarity. Zoom Framing Assist detects moving subjects and changes the zoom distance to keep the subject in focus.
You do have to select the subject by tapping it after pressing the Zoom Framing Assist function button, but the feature is quite handy to have, especially when filming fast moving subjects.
It also uses intelligent image stabilization to figure out what situation you’re using the camera in and adapts to it. Intelligent IS selects an IS method from Normal IS, Macro IS, Tripod, and Panning IS modes.
The camera uses a separate set of image stabilization methods when shooting videos, so you don’t have to worry about any blur creeping into your photos unnoticed.
Story Highlights allows you to create ‘albums’ where similar photos are grouped together. The camera can categorize photos by event, date, or people, apply appropriate effects and filters, and then add suitable background music. Alternatively, you can manually select the photos to be grouped.
The Powershot also has built-in WiFi and NFC. This allows you to transfer images to your phone or computer, or post images directly to social media networks or sites like Google Drive through the Canon Image Gateway.
The Camera Connect App also facilitates remote shooting, allowing you to use your phone to control the camera’s settings and image capture capabilities.
Features at a Glance
- 20.3MP CMOS sensor
- Proprietary DIGIC 6 processor
- Up to 40x optical zoom
- Zoom Framing Assist tracks moving objects and keeps them in focus
- Intelligent Image Stabilization
- Story Highlights
- Inbuilt NFC and WiFi
- Remote shooting using the Camera Connect app
Nikon’s Coolpix cameras are some of the best on the market, and the Coolpix B500 is no different. It has a 16MP, 1/2.3” CMOS sensor that ensures you get the best possible picture in every situation.
It allows you to zoom 40x with optical zoom and doubles that range using dynamic fine zoom, which is basically an enhanced electronic zooming feature. The camera uses Lens Shift Vibration Reduction to keep your pictures steady, which is necessary when shooting over long distances.
The camera has several modes. The Easy Auto mode takes all the hard work out of taking photos. All you have to do is point at the target and shoot.
The camera allows you to shoot FullHD 1080p videos with stereo sound reproduction and 4-axis vibration reduction which preempts blurring caused by shaky hands. You can also transform your regular videos into thrilling fast-motion videos using the Superlapse Movie feature.
Nikon’s Snapbridge app provides a connection between your camera and smartphone – it uses Wi-fi, NFC, or Bluetooth Low Energy to stay connected with your smartphone. When the app is operational, every picture you take is immediately transferred to your phone. You can then do some quick editing and upload it to the social media network of your choice without any hassle.
The Snapbridge app can also be used to establish a remote connection with your smartphone, allowing you to remotely control and shoot with your camera.
Features at a Glance
- 40x optical zoom, 80x dynamic fine zoom
- Easy auto mode for beginners
- Full HD video shooting
- Snapbridge app connects camera to smartphones
- Snapbridge app can be used for remote shooting
Olympus may not be as well-known as some of the other camera companies on this list, but their products are just as good. The Olympus TG-4 is a case in point, with many unexpected features at an affordable price.
The TG-4 has a 16MP lens that allows you to take crystal-clear photos in all environments.
The TG-4 is a rugged camera meant for rugged environments. It’s waterproof up to depths of 50ft, crushproof up to 220lbf, shockproof up to 7ft, and, finally, dustproof. This is a camera that can take pictures in any situation, whether you’re under the waves or buried chest-deep in a sand dune.
The ultra-bright F2.0 lens is quicker than thought and will allow you to snap pictures as quickly as you can get your camera out. This allows the camera to capture even quickly moving objects in blur-free clarity. You can also control your background’s focus range using the Aperture Priority Mode for incredible shots.
The TG-4 also gives you access to four underwater shooting modes, allowing you to capture amazing shots of life under the waves. In fact, there’s even an underwater HDR mode which combines multiple pictures to create true to life underwater pictures.
The Live Composite is another addition, one you can use to extract the brightest sections of an image and blend them into a perfectly exposed shot. You can create star trails and night shots without any additional software or hardware tricks when using this mode.
Finally, the camera also has inbuilt NFC and WiFi connectivity options, allowing you to share and upload your adventures extremely easily. The freeapp allows you to connect to the camera by scanning a QR code, after which you can easily share stills and videos with a single button press. You can also control your camera and shoot images remotely, all from the app.
Features at a Glance
- 16MP sensor
- Shockproof, waterproof, dustproof, and crushproof
- Quick F2.0 lens
- Four underwater shooting modes
- Live Composite mode for creating exposure shots
- Inbuilt WiFi and NFC connectivity
And there you go! Our top picks should guide your selection of the best point and shoot cameras on the market right now.
Each of the cameras on our list is perfect for different situations, which is why we wouldn’t recommend any one camera over the rest.
To make the perfect choice, sit down, make a list of what exactly you want in a camera, and buy the one that conforms the closest to your needs. Depending on what situation you'll be using it in, you'll probably have a unique ‘best’ camera compared to someone who would be using it in a different environment.
Either way, we hope our list of the best point and shoot cameras under $500 helps you in your quest for great photography!