You don’t necessarily need an expensive DSLR or mirrorless camera to take amazing photos. In fact, you can get great results with a simple point-and-shoot camera! In this guide, we share the 10 best point-and-shoot cameras under $500, all of which are capable of capturing beautiful images.
1. Panasonic Lumix ZS100
Great for low-light photography and video
The Panasonic Lumix ZS100 is a brilliant P&S camera with a large sensor, excellent Leica lens, and some great features like optical image stabilization.
4K video recording capable at 30 FPS
Has a lens-mounted exposure control ring
Wi-Fi connectivity and USB charging
Does not have an adjustable LCD touchscreen
Panasonic has an excellent range of point-and-shoot cameras, including the Panasonic Lumix ZS100. This is a versatile compact camera that offers great image quality, lots of useful features, and high-quality video recording.
It has a 20.1 MP sensor and optical image stabilization. This means that you can take sharp and bright photos while handholding in various conditions.
We also like the high-quality Leica DC Vario-Elmarit lens. This has an equivalent focal length of 25-250mm, which means you can take everything from wide-angle landscape shots to close-up photos of wildlife.
The Lumix ZS100 also has excellent video recording capabilities. It can record in 4K/30 FPS footage, so it’s a great camera for travel vlogging. And although the Lumix ZS100 doesn’t have a rotatable touchscreen, it does have a lens-mounted control ring. This is highly useful and can be used to change the exposure settings while shooting.
2. Panasonic Lumix ZS60
Great for super-telephoto photography
The Panasonic Lumix ZS60 has an impressive focal length range of 24-720mm and is great for shots of distant birds, wildlife, and more.
Excellent Leica DC 24-720mm lens
Can record 4K Ultra HD video at 30 FPS
Has a simple design with an easy-to-use set of controls
Only has an 18 MP resolution sensor
If you like the style and features of the Lumix ZS100 but don’t want to pay that much, the Panasonic Lumix ZS60 is a suitable alternative. It’s a slightly older model but still has some excellent features and certainly isn’t lacking in quality.
The Panasonic Lumix ZS60 only shoots 18 MP files. However, it can record 4K video at 30 FPS like the ZS100. We also like that it has the same lens-mounted control ring. As a result, you can quickly change the exposure settings without having to access the menus or control dials.
The Lumix ZS60 also has an electronic viewfinder and touchscreen. The touchscreen cannot be rotated or adjusted in any way, but it provides clear previews of your images and simple menu navigation.
The lens is a Leica DC Vario-Elmarit model with an optical zoom of 30x. This translates to an effective focal length of 24-720mm. As a result, this is one of the best point-and-shoot cameras with a super-telephoto zoom lens. Its reach is far superior to that of the ZS100. The design is simple, and the camera is also compact and can easily fit in your pocket.
3. Canon PowerShot SX720 HS
Great for travel
The Canon PowerShot SX720 HS looks great and takes great images thanks to its large 20.1 MP sensor and 25-625mm lens.
Portable and lightweight design
Excellent focal-length range of 25-625mm
Can only record 1080p video
The Canon PowerShot SX720 HS is a standout point-and-shoot camera and has remained a popular choice despite its age. It is one of the best Canon cameras available under $500 and is packed with useful features.
The PowerShot SX720 HS has a powerful 20.2 MP sensor, one that takes clear images with minimal artifacts. The lens has a 25x optical zoom, which equates to a fantastic focal length of 25-625mm. At 25mm, you can capture wide-angle landscapes; you can then progress to 50mm portraits and even super-telephoto images of wildlife and birds.
The style and design of this camera are also great. It is available in several bold colors and has a durable exterior. And it’s highly portable and could therefore make for a quality travel camera.
4. Panasonic Lumix LX10
Great for selfies and vlogging
The Panasonic Lumix LX10 is a camera that excels at selfies and vlogging due to the flippable LCD touchscreen.
High-quality Leica DC 24-72mm lens
Can record videos in 4K at 30 FPS
The lens also has optical image stabilization
Does not have the same telephoto reach as the ZS60
The Panasonic Lumix LX10 is another great point-and-shoot camera under $500, and it offers a handful of interesting features, including an LCD touchscreen that can be rotated and pushed upward. It’s great for selfies and vlogging as you can see a live preview when shooting.
The LX10 also takes great photos! It has a 20.1 MP sensor and built-in image stabilization. This means that you can take consistently sharp images and avoid camera shake, even when handholding in low light.
The lens is a Leica DC Vario-SU 24-72mm lens with a maximum aperture range of f/2.8 to f/8.8, and while it doesn’t have as far a reach as the ZS0 and ZS100, it’s perfect for general-purpose photography.
5. Olympus Tough TG-6
Great for underwater use
The Olympus TG-6 is a robust camera that can create some fantastic underwater photos and video due to the five dedicated underwater modes.
Dustproof and shockproof exterior
Can record 1080p HD video at 120 FPS
4 special macro modes
Only has a 12 MP sensor
If you want a durable camera for underwater use or extreme sports, the Olympus Tough TG-6 is one of the best point-and-shoot cameras you can buy. This camera is meant to withstand tough conditions and is crushproof, shockproof, and dustproof.
It also has an anti-fog lens and is waterproof up to 15 m/50 ft. As a result, you can comfortably use it for snorkeling, diving, or having fun in the pool or sea. The freezeproof feature also means that the Tough TG-6 can withstand temperatures of -10 degrees C/14 degrees F.
The Olympus TG-6 also provides great image quality. It has a 12 MP sensor and a sharp, high-resolution lens with a maximum aperture of f/2.8 and an 8x optical zoom. We also like that it has four macro shooting modes that allow you to focus up close for beautiful detail shots.
This camera also makes underwater photography and video easy thanks to its five underwater shooting modes. These include an underwater microscope mode and several white balance modes.
6. Canon PowerShot ELPH 180
Great for beginners
The Canon PowerShot ELPH 180 is great for first-time users due to its intelligent auto mode, which automatically selects the best camera settings for you.
20 MP sensor
Decent focal-length range of 28-224mm
Has both optical and digital image stabilization
Some may not like the 28mm minimum focal length
The Canon PowerShot ELPH 180 offers simple controls, a high-quality image sensor, and a stylish design. It’s one of Canon’s newer PowerShot models, and it packs a 20 MP CMOS sensor for sharp, high-contrast images.
You can easily use this camera handheld in various conditions thanks to the optical image stabilization. And for a mix of wide-angle and telephoto shots, the lens has an equivalent focal length range of 28-224mm.
For first-time photographers, the Canon PowerShot ELPH 180 also has an intelligent auto shooting mode. This uses AI technology and live analysis to choose the best possible settings for the current scene. You can therefore take quality photos without needing to understand things like aperture and exposure.
We also love the design of this compact camera. It weighs only 9.8 oz/277 g and can easily fit in the palm of your hand or your pocket. If you want a simple point-and-shoot camera that can deliver excellent image quality with minimal technical knowledge, the Canon PowerShot ELPH 180 is a great choice.
7. Panasonic Lumix FZ300
Great for outdoor use
The Panasonic Lumix FZ300 is a durable point-and-shoot camera that is dustproof and splashproof (and therefore perfect for outdoor use).
Rugged design with dustproof exterior
5-axis optical image stabilization
Only has a 12 MP sensor
If you want a larger point-and-shoot camera, check out the Panasonic Lumix FZ300, which is plenty rugged and takes high-quality images.
This is a larger and bulkier model compared to most point-and-shoot cameras, but it has excellent features and offers great photo and video quality. It has a 12 MP sensor that produces crisp images with great contrast. It’s also capable of recording 4K/30p video.
The beautiful Leica DC Vario-Elmarit lens has a 24x optical zoom, which equates to a focal length of 24-600mm. This is complemented by an excellent maximum aperture of f/2.8 (at 24mm) so you can get great results in low-light situations.
The Panasonic Lumix FZ300 also has an incredibly rugged design. It’s splashproof and dustproof, with tight seals around the buttons and joints. Therefore, you can comfortably use this camera outdoors in all sorts of weather conditions. We also like that the FZ300 includes a detachable lens hood to reduce lens flare.
8. Minolta MN67Z
Great for portraits
The Minolta MN67Z excels at portrait photography and group photos due to the face-detection, smile-detection, and blink-detection shooting modes.
20 MP sensor for high-resolution images
3-inch LCD touchscreen display with vari-angle adjustments
14 different scene modes
It may not have the smallest or lightest body
Minolta has a decent range of bridge cameras that are inexpensive and easy to use. One of their best is the Minolta MN67Z, which has some great features and benefits from a 67x optical zoom.
The image quality is excellent thanks to the 20 MP sensor. This is complemented by a high-quality lens with an effective focal length range of 23-1568mm. As a result, you can comfortably use this camera for virtually any type of photography, from street and wildlife photography to landscapes and portraiture.
We also like the different shooting modes, such as face detection for portraits, smile detection, blink detection, continuous shooting, and 360-degree panorama. It gives you extra flexibility and doesn’t require any advanced technical skills.
The Minolta MN67Z also has an LCD screen that can be fully tilted and rotated. Therefore, you can easily take selfies or record video while seeing a live preview. And it even has optical image stabilization to help with handheld use.
9. Canon PowerShot SX530 HS
Great for learning photography
The Canon PowerShot SX530 HS is a great starter camera that has a range of auto and creative modes in addition to full manual options.
Ergonomic design with a large handgrip
Excellent focal length range of 24-1200mm
Great connectivity with both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth
May not have the best autofocus
Canon has some PowerShot cameras that look and feel more like traditional DSLRs. One of the best is the Canon PowerShot SX530 HS:
This point-and-shoot camera has a 16 MP CMOS sensor and a DIGIC 4+ image processor. It can perform great in a variety of situations and also has decent low-light performance. We also like that it has intelligent image stabilization to help create sharp images and video without camera shake.
The lens has a 50x optical zoom, and a 100x ZoomPlus feature. This gives it an impressive focal length range of 24-1200mm. You can take amazing wide-angle landscape shots or zoom in on distant subjects for greater detail.
For usability, the Canon PowerShot SX530 HS also has Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity. You can download images and video to your smartphone or laptop relatively easily. The camera also caters to different skill levels. For example, it has a range of creative modes, but you can also use it in full Manual mode.
10. Nikon Coolpix B600
Great for beginners
The Nikon Coolpix B600 is an excellent starter camera due to its range of automated shooting modes that make photography easy for the uninitiated.
Fantastic focal-length range of 24-1440mm
Ergonomic design with large handgrip
Has both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity
Only has a 16 MP sensor
The Nikon Coolpix range of cameras is relatively old, but you can still pick some of them up new. One of the best point-and-shoot cameras under $500 in this range is the Nikon Coolpix B600.
This point-and-shoot camera has a traditional DSLR design and is great if you plan to eventually upgrade to a DSLR or mirrorless model. It has a large handgrip so you can hold the camera comfortably. There is also a rear LCD screen although it is fixed in place.
The Nikon Coolpix B600 has a 16 MP sensor that offers great low-light performance. The lens features a focal length range of 24-1440mm, which can handle pretty much anything – wildlife, sports, landscapes, street scenes, and so much more.
We also like the range of automatic shooting modes and the 19 different scene modes. This means you can easily capture high-quality images (and even create artistic shots using the scene modes and creative filters). Please bear in mind that this camera is now discontinued, so support is limited.
Pick the Perfect Point-and-Shoot Camera!
We hope you now have a solid understanding of the best camera for you. Here’s a quick recap:
But if you want a simple camera that is easy to use, consider a beginner model like the Canon PowerShot ELPH 180 or the Panasonic Lumix FZ300, which both have some excellent controls and features for new photographers.
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