DigitalCameraReview.com
Best Point and Shoot Cameras
by Laura Hicks -  11/7/2012

This rapidly improving class of cameras includes both compact and "ultra-compact" systems that are primarily designed for quick and simple operation.  Most of these cameras feature auto-focus-only lenses, various exposure options and a built-in flash.

Sometimes a point and shoot is all you want. Being able to slip a sleek, slim line camera into your pocket for a night on the town or a family get together is convenient and easy. Where DSLR's can seem large and intimidating, point and shoots allow subjects to be relaxed and easily photographed. Also, more of the point and shoots are equipped with Wi-Fi technology making it easy to post your pictures to social media and image hosting websites. Check out our selection of top point and shoot cameras for this holiday season.

If you don't see the perfect camera in the list we've provided, be sure to seek out buying advice in our "What Camera Should I Buy?" discussion forum. Our forum members, moderators, and staff will graciously offer their insight in helping you pick the best camera for you.


#1 Canon PowerShot G1 X


The Canon G1 X goes boldly where no PowerShot has gone before. It delivers top-notch images with a big 1.5-inch sensor, but the viewfinder and AF acquisition leave something to be desired.

Announced at CES 2012 as the new flagship of Canon's Powershot lineup, the G1 X arrived with a bang.

A major cause of the anticipation generated for this new camera is sensor-based - the G1 X carries the largest physically-sized sensor to date in any Powershot digital, a 1.5-inch model sized much closer to a Canon DSLR than its G-series relative, the G12. The 1/1.7-inch sensor in the G12 is one of the largest in all of the compact digital ranks and measures 7.6 x 5.7mm; the G1 X sensor measures 18.7 x 14mm and the APS-C sensor of the Canon 60D 22.3 x 14.9mm.

Rating Average: 9 out of 10

Read the Canon PowerShot G1 X Review

#2 Nikon Coolpix S9300


The Nikon S9300 boasts and impressive 18x optical zoom lens. Image quality overall was very good, though stability becomes difficult under any circumstances at the telephoto end of the zoom range.

Today's point-and-shoot digital cameras are (usually) small enough to drop in a shirt pocket, tough enough to go just about anywhere, and they reliably produce first-rate images with only minimal effort from the shooter. The new Nikon Coolpix S9300 (which replaces last year's popular S9100) could be the poster child for this class of camera.

Rating Average: 8 out of 10

Read the Nikon Coolpix S9300 Review

#3 Sony Cyber-Shot DSC-RX100


Sony describes the RX100 as the new flagship of their compact digital line. The camera carries a newly designed 1.0-inch Exmor CMOS sensor (13.2 x 8.8 mm), the same physical size as the sensors in the Nikon 1 system cameras. But while the Nikon sensors carry 10 megapixels of resolution, Sony has squeezed 20.2 megapixels onto the RX100 sensor. The camera also features a high-resolution 3.0-inch LCD monitor, offers fully automatic, scene and full manual shooting modes, full 1080 HD video and a 10 frame per second (fps) continuous shooting rate at full resolution. Images may be captured in JPEG, RAW or RAW/JPEG formats.

The stellar video and sound quality put this camera in the top five list. Very few point and shoots can offer the quality and sleek design packed into this small, but formidable camera.

Rating Average: 9 out of 10

Read the Sony Cyber-Shot DSC-RX100 Review

#4 Olympus XZ-1


The XZ-1 is capable of turning out great images thanks to a sharp, fast lens. It's worthy of consideration as a G12 or P7000 alternative.

The XZ-1 offers 10 megapixel resolution on a 1/1.63-inch CCD sensor that is slightly larger than that of the Canon and Nikon competition and can capture images in RAW, JPEG or RAW/JPEG combinations. Video is 720p HD, and the camera features TruePic V image processing technology - TruePic V is also found in Olympus's PEN series cameras. Native ISO sensitivity ranges from 100 to 6400 and there are the obligatory compact digital automatic and scene shooting modes, along with full manual controls and a high resolution, 3.0-inch OLED (Organic Light Emitting Diode) monitor. The 4x iZuiko zoom lens covers the 28 to 112mm focal range in 35mm equivalents, and was specifically designed and built for use in a compact camera.

Rating Average: 8 out of 10

Read the Olympus XZ-1 Review

#5 Fujifilm Finepix Z800EXR


The 12 megapixel Z800EXR is the successor to the Z700EXR, which received positive reviews from professional reviewers and consumers. The Z800EXR employs a sophisticated 1/2 inch Super CCD sensor that uses larger pixels than other CCD sensors and is designed to achieve a wider dynamic range and better image quality, especially in low light. The Z800EXR incorporates a new, hybrid auto focus system that enables the camera to employ either contrast detection or phase detection (usually confined to DSLRs), depending onthe shooting situation.

Its 5x optical zoom lens (35-175mm equivalent in a 35mm camera) uses folded optics, so the lens does not extend. It has a high resolution LCD monitor with a sophisticated touch screen interface. It contains many interesting shooting options including an easy-to-use panorama mode that operates by moving the camera either horizontally or vertically.

Rating Average: 8 out of 10

Read the Fujifilm Finepix Z800EXR Review

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