The 7 Best Point and Shoot Cameras Under $500 In 2020 (NEW Guide)

 You have made a decision to purchase a new digital camera, but you aren’t sure how to go about the process. We’ve been through this, and it’s safe to say that it’s easy to get lost in the over saturated camera market. Each manufacturer has come out with its own line of point and shoot cameras with several features and great performance. However, this doesn’t ensure its reliability and versatility.  

Most people don’t even understand the point of investing in a digital camera when they can just as easily use their smartphone camera. However, their sleek bodies can’t offer an optical zoom lens and large sensor. Moreover, a good digital camera may become your best companion over various photography trips.  

Every photographer demands something different: some want a huge zoom lens while the others focus on JPEGs and several editing effects. Some people want to record the memories of their next travel trip while the others are wildlife enthusiasts. Fortunately, we have a camera for everyone that too on a $500 budget.  

Best Point and Shoot Cameras Under $500

Nikon COOLPIX A900 Digital Camera Canon PowerShot G9 X Mark II Compact Digital Camera PANASONIC LUMIX ZS100 4K Point and Shoot Camera
Nikon COOLPIX A900 Canon PowerShot G9 X PANASONIC LUMIX ZS100
    BEST OVERALL
  • Great optical zoom
  • 4K recording
    PREMIUM CHOICE
  • Great image saturation
  • Compact size
    GREAT VALUE
  • Great image quality
  • Touchscreen control

Point and Shoot Camera Reviews

1. PANASONIC LUMIX ZS100 4K Point and Shoot Camera

PANASONIC LUMIX ZS100 4K Point and Shoot Camera

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See the PANASONIC LUMIX ZS100
  • Pixels: 20.9 Megapixel
  • Maximum Resolution: 5472 x 3648
  • Sensor: MOS 1 inch
  • Image stabilization: Optical, Sensor-Shift (5-Axis)
  • Focal length: 9.1 to 91mm
  • Weight: 312g
  • Zoom: 10x
  • ISO Sensitivity: Auto, 125 to 12800

Features:

PANASONIC LUMIX ZS100 is just another example of how Panasonic became one of the most demanded manufacturers in the market. This premium travel camera certainly doesn’t match the low price with its high-end features and large zoom range. Moreover, it boasts the sensor upgrade to its 1-inch design from the common 1/2.3-inch sensor.  

Build quality:

It’s a bit similar to its predecessor ZS60 with an additional 6mm of thickness and 2.2mm of height. However, the overall design is compact and lightweight to easily fit inside your pocket without falling out. The metal body shell gives it a sturdy feel to survive through some tough photography environments and is available in two sleek colours: black or black and silver. There isn’t any proper grip but an indent for comfortable use; however, its best to attach the wrist strap. Moreover, all the buttons crowd on the right-hand side; hence it can be used singlehandedly too. The touch-sensitive screen makes it easier to allocate the focus point by a single tap.  

Performance:

What’s a camera without powerful performance and a fast autofocus system? The latter functions exceptionally well by immediately locking on to your desired subject. It was even more impressive to see it’s performance under low light conditions. The all-purpose meeting system provides pretty accurate exposures, but images shot under high contrast can be easily fixed by post-production exposure compensation. The automatic white balance works well under different lighting conditions. However, you may notice a slightly warmer tone under artificial lighting: switch to a preset value to avoid this.  

Moving on, the optical zoom range doesn’t compromise on the image quality at all and shows the same high detailed image on either side of the telephoto zoom. It allows users to shoot images at 10fps and drops down to 6fps in the continuous AF mode, pretty impressive for this price. The battery life isn’t disappointing either: you may shoot around 300 shots in a single charge or 240 shots if you want to use the viewfinder.  

Furthermore, the JPEG images are no less than perfect. They are vibrant, with just the right amount of punch to appear realistic while the overall details are perfect. The images from ISO800 to ISO12800 appear significantly better than its competitors even though they lack behind in lower ISOs.  

Bottom line:

It’s safe to say that this was a much-needed upgrade. Panasonic made the right move by launching Lumix ZS100 that redefined the one-inch sensor market. The pocket-friendly design and the zoom range is enough to hide our issue with it’s fixed screen and even though we prefer a slightly larger electronic viewfinder, this is ideal for all travellers on a budget.

What we like:

  • Great sensor
  • 4K video capture
  • Touchscreen control

What we don’t:

  • Small electronic viewfinder
  • Poor handgrip
  • Limited screen movements

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2. Canon PowerShot G9 X Mark II Compact Digital Camera

Canon PowerShot G9 X Mark II Compact Digital Camera

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See the Canon PowerShot G9 X Mark II
  • Pixels: 20.9 Megapixel
  • Maximum Resolution: 5472 x 3648
  • Sensor: CMOS 1 inch
  • Image stabilization: Optical
  • Focal length: 10.2 to 30.6mm
  • Weight: 206g
  • Zoom: 3x
  • ISO Sensitivity: Auto, 125 to 6400

Features:

Canon never fails to disappoint us with its cameras. From exceptional image quality to innovative features, Canon has it all. The Canon PowerShot G9 X Mark II redefined the way people perceive the 1-inch sensor cameras and cater to all photographers. Almost everyone loved its older version, which made us think hard about what the new upgrade had to offer.  

Build quality:

One of the greatest advantages of Mark II is the compact proportions. It’s small enough to fit easily inside your pockets and much slimmer than its rivals. There weren’t any major changes to the overall design compared to the old version, which is pretty great if old users want to switch without wasting time on getting used to the new upgrade. It’s available in both black and silver and features a metal finish for a sleek look. However, in order to maintain the look, they had to compromise on a built-in electronic viewfinder. There is a textured grip, and rear thumb rests instead of a handgrip but for the same purpose.  

Performance:

First of all, the autofocus system functions pretty well as the other features. The focus points are selects by tapping on the display for full coverage. However, it lacks the extreme edges. Moreover, the touch shutter activates automatically by tapping on your desired subject. The overall performance is fast, accurate while you won’t notice any issues under low light either. There are quite a few modes, namely a tracking mode and face detection for those people who want to maintain focus on a certain subject along with ”Servo” for smoother focusing and macro mode too.  

Moving on, the evaluative metering system didn’t disappoint us either as it produced accurate exposures regardless of the lighting situation. The auto white balance is pretty spot on by producing accurate colors in several situations, while the raw mode allows users to fine-tune the results in post-processing. The battery lasts for 235 shots in a single go, but you can use the eco mode to take around 355 shots: pretty great for those always on the run.  

We expected great detail, vibrant colors, and proper saturation in the images due to its 20.1MP sensor, and, fortunately, Mark II kept up to them.  

Bottom line:

We are happy to say that Canon PowerShot G9 X Mark II maintains a certain edge over its competitors with its compact proportions and stunning image quality. Even though we had issues with some basic features, the neat layout and overall quality managed to conceal them. This is an excellent choice for beginners and enthusiasts.

What we like:

  • Compact size
  • Reasonable connectivity
  • Premium finish
  • Easy user interface

What we don’t:

  • Limited zoom range
  • No 4K video capture

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3. Sony RX100 20.2 MP Premium Compact Digital Camera

Sony RX100 20.2 MP Premium Compact Digital Camera

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  • Pixels: 20.2 megapixels
  • Maximum Resolution: 5472 x 3648
  • Sensor: CMOS 1 inch
  • Image stabilization: None
  • Focal length: 28 – 100mm
  • Weight: 240 g
  • Zoom: 3.6x
  • ISO Sensitivity: Auto, ISO 125-6400

Features:

Sony Cyber-shot RX100 acts as a light at the end of a tunnel in the declining compact camera market. This release directly competes with some high-end rivals by offering an enhanced image quality; something users don’t get to see in similarly priced cameras.  

Build quality:

We were in complete awe of the RX100s sleek and smooth design that was a complete treat for the eyes. It has a heavy, solid feeling due to the metal chassis built, which means that it is sturdy enough to survive through diverse shooting environments. The automatic drop detection immediately retracts its lens after detecting a sudden fall. There is a 3.6x optical zoom lens operated via a switch on the top: it functions quite smoothly. We loved the simple button layout in terms of the limited space available. There a few customizable buttons on the back for easy operation while the Fn button allows you to add up to seven different functions according to your needs.  

Performance:

To say the least, we were impressed by the final image results. They feature bright and punchy colors but not overly vibrant and are represented well, especially when shooting skies and skin tones. The large sensor and wide-aperture lens allow users to shoot images with several effects, including the much-hyped ”bokeh effect.” The Carl Zeiss lens doesn’t cause any ghosting or flare even under direct sunlight but maintains a lower sensitivity value with a fast shutter speed under low light to attain blur-free images.  

Moving on, images at higher sensitivities such as ISO1600 are highly detailed with minimal chromatic noise. Therefore, it’s perfect for shooting well-balanced images. The lens at f/8 aperture is pretty sharp and retains the details up to the edges. The D-range optimizer function analyses the scene to figure out the best exposure level: we saw some natural images with highly detailed shadows and great highlights.  

Furthermore, there are around 33 digital filters, similar to Instagram’s, with some being more famous, including the Illustration effect, Toy Camera, and Miniature. There is an Auto and Super-Intelligent Auto mode that identifies a scene and applies the best composition.  

Bottom line:

We think that Sony Cyber-shot RX100 is the perfect replacement for those not interested in the large, bulky figure of a DSLR but are interested in similar image quality and performance, that too at a significantly lower price. This is perfect for all those willing to step up from their smartphone cameras and are fine with no touchscreen capability.

What we like:

  • Several picture effects
  • Sleek and stylish look
  • Able to shoot in RAW format

What we don’t:

  • No touchscreen
  • Limited RAW image functions

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4. Nikon COOLPIX A900 Digital Camera

Nikon COOLPIX A900 Digital Camera

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See the Nikon COOLPIX A900
  • Pixels: 20.3 megapixels
  • Maximum Resolution: 5184 x 3888
  • Sensor: 1/2.3-in. type CMOS
  • Focal length: 4.3-151 mm
  • Weight: 299 g
  • Zoom: 4x
  • ISO Sensitivity: ISO 80-1600

Features:

Nikon COOLPIX A900 is one of the only point and shoot cameras to feature 4K recording along with other recording modes too. If this doesn’t impress you enough, this new superzoom compact camera offers a 35x optical zoom and 20.3 Megapixels along with manual control and Snapbridge compatibility.  

Build quality:

It’s not similar to the typical compact cameras in terms of its size. It’s a bit larger but can easily fit inside your pockets. Moreover, the body incorporates the magnificent 35x zoom packed impressively with the focal length. Nikon’s utilitarian look is quite stylish, while the rounded edges enhance the overall appearance. The textured grip works pretty well to hold your fingers comfortably, and the simple layout is perfect for one-handed use. The mode dial allows users to switch between multiple exposure modes, including automatic, scene, semi-automatic, creative, manual, and Short Movie show.  

Performance:

The autofocus system is pretty great, especially under good lighting conditions where its performance is fast and accurate. You may go through some hassle under low lighting conditions, but it’s not a gone case. The screen isn’t touch-sensitive. Therefore, you need to opt for the Manual AF area mode and select the AF point through the directional keys. The macro mode allows users to get super close to their desired subject and fill the frame.  

Moving on, it features the signature SnapBridge technology to maintain a low power Bluetooth connection through which images are transferred automatically. This effortless sharing proves useful for social media savvy users who want to update their followers constantly. Another wonderful capability of A900 is that it shoots 4K videos too. Even though the default option is 1080/30p, this feature isn’t available in most compact cameras, so if you are a video blogger, this camera is great for you.  

Talking about image quality, it’s excellent under good lighting: the results produced feature highly detailed images. However, the small sensor doesn’t complement artificial lighting very well. You may notice some image smoothing at low ISO sensitivities, but this issue won’t be obvious in A3 prints. The colors are bright and vibrant, with just the right amount of punch, while the automatic white balance enhances the images.  

Bottom line:

Nikon Coolpix A900 is a great travel companion for producing stunning images at a low price. This is perfect for people looking for a high zoom range, and if you aren’t bothered by the absence of a touchscreen LCD, you must surely consider investing in it.

What we like:

  • Great optical zoom
  • Able to shoot 4K videos
  • Great metering system

What we don’t:

  • No touchscreen
  • Image smoothing at low ISOs

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5. PANASONIC LUMIX DC-ZS70S 4K Digital Camera

PANASONIC LUMIX DC-ZS70S 4K Digital Camera

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See the PANASONIC LUMIX DC-ZS70S
  • Pixels: 20.3 Megapixel
  • Maximum Resolution: 5184 x 3888
  • Sensor: MOS 1/2.3″
  • Image stabilization: Optical (5-Axis)
  • Focal length: 4.3 to 129mm
  • Weight: 322 g
  • Zoom: 30x
  • ISO Sensitivity: Auto, 80 to 3200

Features:

Panasonic has been ruling the camera market ever since we know, and why wouldn’t it: the stunning dynamic range, user-friendly features, and powerful performance are just a few reasons why people never hesitate to invest in Panasonic. The same reasons made Panasonic Lumix ZS70 one of their best upgrades to date.  

Build quality:

Lumix ZS70 is an upgraded version of Lumix ZS60, but you won’t notice a lot of changes in the specifications and overall design. The grip isn’t as refined but is more comfortable to touch. However, it doesn’t support the user’s hands perfectly. The control ring around the base of the lens gives off a ridged finish but turns smoothly and is efficient at regulating aperture, zoom, and other settings. The dial allows you to switch between menus and images while the LCD screen is pretty flexible. It moves easily when pulled away but remains still when not bothered with. If you love taking selfies, this feature may prove useful.  

Performance:

The autofocus system isn’t the same as the other compact cameras, but the focusing speeds are efficient for capturing static subjects. The 49 area option works exceptionally well under good lighting by bringing the desired subject to focus fast and accurately. The responsive LCD screen makes it easier to select manual focus points while the AF tracking system didn’t disappoint us either. It sticks to the subject while it moves around while the continuous AF system gets moderately moving subjects without any hassle.  

Moving on, it takes around a second to start up, and users get to view images without needing to extend the lens. It features the same 0.20-inch viewfinder with 1.166k dots which is pretty great compared to its rivals that don’t have a viewfinder, to begin with. It offers a 0.46x magnification that works well in some scenarios. However, you may need to cover it with your hand under extremely sunny conditions. The adjustable LCD screen flips without any delay and offers a lot of control to users in terms of capturing images. It’s perfect for taking selfies with a face detection mode and clear timer.  

Furthermore, the metering system works well by balancing several scenes while the iDynamic setting improves images with high contrast. The standard photo style features accurate colours with a pleasing vibrancy in the Vivid mode.  

Bottom line:

Panasonic Lumix ZS70 is enough to satisfy almost every photographer due to its exemplary performance regardless of the model. It’s perfect for video recording and still shots, and if you’re able to ignore some minor issues such as small viewfinder and poor grip, this might be your best camera investment.  

What we like:

  • Great zoom range
  • Perfect for selfies
  • Amazing image stabilization

What we don’t:

  • Small viewfinder
  • Poor grip
  • Wide-angle produces soft images

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6. Olympus Tough TG-6 Waterproof Camera

Olympus Tough TG-6 Waterproof Camera

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See the Olympus Tough TG-6
  • Pixels: 12 Megapixel
  • Maximum Resolution: 4000 x 3000
  • Sensor: CMOS 1/2.3″
  • Image stabilization: Sensor-Shift
  • Focal length: 4.5 to 18mm
  • Weight: 253g
  • Zoom: 4x
  • ISO Sensitivity: Auto, 100 to 1600

Features:

The Olympus Tough TG-6 is a much-needed upgrade from the previous well-acclaimed model, TG-5. It offered capable specifications but had minor issues. Therefore, the manufacturers fixed them and introduced some additional features to make this the perfect camera for beginners.  

Build quality:

Olympus features a 3 inch LCD screen with 1.04 million dots and an anti-reflective coated sensor. The screen enhances the focus and offers fair visibility under bright light. The body, itself, has a sturdy yet attractive design with black/red finishes to match the aesthetic of some photographers. There are double catch mechanisms on the battery and memory card doors that protect the interior from dust and water.  

Performance:

Olympus features a 12MP backlit 1/2.3″ sensor, but this doesn’t negatively affect the images as the other small sensors do. The fewer pixels produce better images under low light due to a bigger photosite, which makes it great for underwater shooting too. The 4.5-18mm lens has a maximum aperture of f/2 that combines with the 100-12,800 ISO range for producing spectacular images under clear lighting conditions. You may notice some chromatic noise due to the size of the sensor, but RAW shooting allows users to recover the details. As we mentioned earlier, it offers a great flash/LED light that is quite practical in terms of its control: there are 18 increments from full power down to 1/64, while the LED is recommended for natural shots.  

Furthermore, the image stabilization is great for both images and movies, while the field sensor system records information relating to altitude and air/water temperature. Moving on, the image quality isn’t the same as DSLRs but pretty close to it with the rich, vibrant colors. The wide-angle view delivers a slight fisheye effect at it’s widest setting while shots under bright conditions appeared overexposed with a subtle loss of highlight detail. However, you don’t need to fret. We dialed down the exposure through post-production exposure compensation, which worked pretty well. The zoom lens offers a modest range, but you might notice some loss of details towards the father’s end of the telephoto lens.  

TG-6 is ideal for shooting videos of 120 frames at 1080p, so if you’re a video blogger, this feature may excite you while the underwater microscope mode complements all the shooting options.  

Bottom line:

The Olympus Tough TG-6 is an excellent camera for beginners with an easy user interface and intuitive functions. The image quality won’t disappoint you either, while the build quality is sturdy enough to survive through diverse photography conditions. If you want to make full use of the upgraded features, don’t hesitate to switch from TG-5 to TG-6.

What we like:

  • Easy user interface
  • Offers raw shooting
  • Offers 4K resolution

What we don’t:

  • Small sensor
  • No eye live viewfinder
  • Poor quality at longer focal lengths

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7. Canon PowerShot SX740 Digital Camera

Canon PowerShot SX740 Digital Camera

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See the Canon PowerShot SX740
  • Pixels: 20.3 megapixels
  • Maximum Resolution: 5184 x 3888
  • Sensor: 1/2.3 type CMOS
  • Image stabilization: 5-axis digital
  • Focal length: 4.3 – 172.0 mm
  • Weight: 300g
  • Zoom: 40x
  • ISO Sensitivity: 100-3200

Features:

An upgrade from its previous model, Powershot SX730 HS, Canon PowerShot SX740 HS manages to live up to the reputation of Canons innovative design and excellent image quality. Despite the similar specs, most of the minor issues were fixed along with the addition of a DIGIC 8 processing engine for refined image stabilization.  

Build quality:

It features a metal and polycarbonate built that promises durability throughout your shooting experience. It’s compact and lightweight. Therefore, you can easily fit it inside your pocket while traveling. However, the small size doesn’t mean that users would have to compromise on some features, including a 20.3MP, 3 inch LCD screen, and a huge 40x optical zoom lens that is able to cover a range of 24-960mm. We certainly missed having a viewfinder around since the visibility of the LCD screen falters under outdoor lighting.  

Performance:

First of all, the autofocusing system is worth appreciating as it manages to grasp the desired subject regardless of where you are in the focal range. The system works exactly the same at the telephoto end compared to its rivals. As we mentioned earlier, it features the signature Digic 8 processor that brings along several benefits, including 4K video recording and a faster max burst rate of 10fps. If this isn’t enough, the image stabilization system seems to have gone through an upgrade, too, as it’s more powerful with a 3.5 stop maximum advantage.  

On the other hand, the Dual Sensing IS obtains information from the sensor and the lens to help deal with image blur. The battery life lasts for 265 frames, but you can ramp it up to 370 frames through the eco mode.  

Moving on the image quality, users have limited control over the overall results compared to DSLRs, but this doesn’t affect the images. The camera does a pretty good job of producing stunning colors through the Auto Picture Style, and we fell in love with the well-captured blues and greens. The auto white balance system does a pretty great decent job but might be a bit inconsistent between exposures at times. The exposures are sound, and it’s easy to fix any issues with Exposure compensation and Canon’s Auto Lighting Optimizer. We noticed relatively better details at the wide-angle end of the lens while image stabilization at the telephoto end was pretty great too.  

Bottom line:

The Canon PowerShot SX740 HS managed to amaze us with some noteworthy improvements along with enhanced image quality and great videos. It’s perfect for people looking for a fully automatic camera, so they don’t have to move their bones; however, we missed having a viewfinder, touchscreen, and raw shooting mode in place. It’s certainly not the best amongst its rivals but offers more than enough at this price.

What we like:

  • Huge stabilized zoom lens
  • Fast autofocus system
  • Rich and vibrant colors
  • Easy user interface

What we don’t:

  • No EVF
  • No raw shooting
  • Limited image quality control

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs): About Point and Shoot Cameras

Q: Is it worth buying a point and shoot camera?

A: You may find yourself asking this question quite frequently after looking at the specifications of the recent smartphone cameras. We feel that dedicated cameras boost the vigor of photographers and encourage them to pursue their passion. Usually, buying a camera doesn’t depend on your skill level or experience, but the fact that a professional camera offers users more control and power over the image.  

First of all, no matter how advanced the smartphone cameras get, their sleek design doesn’t allow them to include a large image sensor. As a result, you get poor image quality, which obviously isn’t visible from the smartphone screen but larger prints. The poor quality and noise are often visible after zooming in, while the large image sensor of digital cameras produces more clearer and crisp pictures.  

Moreover, it’s a common fact that photographers hate using digital zoom, but most smartphone cameras don’t include a refined optical zoom. The digital cameras do, which allows them to produce naturally zoomed-in images, ideal for wildlife shots.  

Moving on, smartphone cameras aren’t famous for their durability: the slim body is just a fall away from falling apart, and the camera is usually never the same again. Even though digital cameras aren’t much bigger in size, the rugged exterior keeps them safe from the harsh shooting conditions with dust, water, and heat. Moreover, you would save hundreds of dollars of phone maintenance charges—lastly, some people like holding a camera due to the solid texture and button layout. Smaprhone cameras don’t have buttons. Therefore, you would need to search for your desired setting though a list of complex menus.  

Q: Should I buy a point and shoot or DSLR?

A: You may think that point and shoot cameras are becoming obsolete due to the exponential increase in the fame and sales of DSLR cameras. We do agree that DSLRs are on the bucket list of every photographer since most renowned manufacturers have come out with their cheap yet powerful versions. However, this doesn’t undermine the performance of digital cameras since they have been around for a long time while their travel-friendly quality has made them a tourist favorite gadget. If you are planning to purchase your next camera, it will certainly be a hard decision since the market is oversaturated with tonnes of cameras, but it’s necessary to remember that digital and DSLR cameras are both great but with certain subjects and scenarios.  

Firstly, digital cameras are known for their compact size. As we mentioned earlier, they are travel friendly because the compact and lightweight body makes them fit easily into pockets. DSLRs, in comparison, have bulky bodies, and in order to make the most use of them, you may have to carry several lenses, which adds to the hassle.  

Secondly, they have a more massive depth of field: this is the perfect feature for photographers looking to capture both the background and foreground for an overall sharp, focused result. This may be negatively affected by the small sensor, which decreases image quality compared to the large sensor of a DSLR- that’s the reason why it produces stunning images. Another trend going on in the photography world is the bokeh effect- a soft and blurry background. This effect is offered by some DSLR lenses, along with many other effects due to the interchangeable lens. If you don’t care much about the lack of adaptability and limited control over shutter speed and aperture, the point and shoot camera is ideal for you.  

Q: Should I get the point and shoot or mirrorless?

A: You may find it hard to choose between a mirrorless camera and point and shoot camera simply because the market is changing, and manufacturers have found a way to include their favorite features within each camera type. They both offer a stunning image quality with powerful performance and great features, so how would you select the right one for your job?  

Mirrorless and digital cameras don’t include a mirror compared to a DSLR that reflects light from the lens into a viewfinder. Moreover, they both have a compact and lightweight body. The difference arises when some people prefer the image quality of a smartphone along with the easy user interface and low price. If you’re one of them, a point and shoot camera are best for you. However, if you want to make use of several shooting effects through the interchangeable lens, a mirrorless camera would be better for you.  

Conclusion

We hope you found the list of the best point and shoot cameras for under $500 and the FAQ section beneficial. We agree that the buying process isn’t easy, especially when you’re on a tight budget. The Olympus Tough TG-6 remains true to its name and is ideal for recording your adventures while the Panasonic Lumix ZS70 incorporates a big zoom lens in a small, pocket-friendly body. Canon PowerShot SX740 HS beats its rivals with a powerful performance and plenty of vibrant images while the rest of the cameras on our list are equally great.