While smartphone cameras are undeniably convenient and getting more and more capable by the year, there's still something to be said about a dedicated camera with buttons and dials that you can touch and feel. Smartphones are also physically limited by their lenses. That's where the point-and-shoot comes in. Whether it has a super sharp prime lens or a versatile zoom lens, a point-and-shoot camera can give you a bit of an edge to take your everyday or travel photos to the next level—all while fitting into your coat pocket.
We've bought over 100 cameras in our lab, and below, you'll find the best-performing point-and-shoot cameras we've tested. If portability is your biggest priority, you can also look at our top point-and-shoot cameras for travel, or if you want something with a bit more oomph that's still portable enough to travel with, try the best mirrorless cameras for travel instead. Alternatively, if you don't mind a bigger camera and want a built-in superzoom lens, look at our picks for the best bridge cameras.
The Sony RX100 VII is the best point-and-shoot we've tested. It's quite pricy for a compact camera, but it uses an excellent 1-inch sensor that captures great image quality for its class, and it's loaded with more features than a Swiss Army knife. The sensor's stacked design allows for remarkably quick 20 fps burst shooting and minimal rolling shutter distortion in videos. Despite its pocketable size, the camera has some neat extra features like a pop-up electronic viewfinder and a pop-up flash.
Though its zoom lens isn't the sharpest or fastest, it has a fairly wide full-frame equivalent focal length of 24-200mm, giving you a lot of flexibility with framing and making it easy to capture far-away subjects. Add in a fantastic autofocus system, and this is one of the most full-featured point-and-shoots on the market. No wonder it's on its seventh iteration and counting. And if the price is too steep for you, older generations are still available on the used market at a lower cost.
If image quality is your top priority, consider the RICOH GR III. It uses a larger APS-C sensor than the Sony RX100 VII, capturing images with better overall quality and more dynamic range. Its sensor and fairly wide-aperture prime lens make it better suited to low-light situations. Despite that larger sensor, the camera's sleek, minimalist design makes it one of the most portable options on this list, so it's a great fit for street and travel photos.
Ultimately, the GR III is aimed more at those seeking a "pure" photography experience with fewer bells and whistles. Some may find its fixed screen and lack of viewfinder limiting. Its fixed focal-length lens is also arguably less suited to casual snapshots than the zoom lens on the Sony. Still, it may help you become a better photographer by forcing you to get more creative with your framing and composition. If you're not a fan of the 28mm full-frame equivalent lens on the GR III, the RICOH GR IIIx comes with a 40mm equivalent lens, though it's a tad pricier.
For those who don't want to spend a small fortune on a point-and-shoot, the Canon PowerShot G5 X Mark II offers a good balance of performance and features at a lower price point. Like the Sony RX100 VII, it uses a 1-inch sensor, so image quality is solid, even if it doesn't match up to large-sensor compacts like the RICOH GR III. Its built-in zoom lens has a 24-120mm equivalent focal length, so it's fairly versatile overall.
Beyond that, the camera is super portable and, like the RX100 VII, has a pop-up viewfinder for sunny days when the screen is harder to see. Though its subject tracking isn't the most reliable, its autofocus is still generally decent and will get the job done in most situations. Finally, if ergonomics are a priority for you, its small handgrip is one of the most comfortable we've tested among compact cameras.
If you want a compact vlogging camera, look no further than the Sony ZV-1. It's small, lightweight, and designed specifically for vloggers, with features you won't find on more photography-oriented point-and-shoots like those above. While the ZV-1 doesn't have a viewfinder, it's the only camera on this list with a fully articulated screen, making it easy to monitor yourself while recording. It also comes with a detachable windscreen for its microphone to help cut down on ambient noise. Sony has since released the Sony ZV-1 II, with a wider-angle lens ideal for walk-and-talk vlogs. Still, the original ZV-1 is one of the best budget point-and-shoot cameras now that its successor is out, and it has some advantages, like optical stabilization.
The camera uses Sony's ever-reliable autofocus and even includes specialized modes like 'Product Showcase,' which automatically shifts focus to any object held up in the frame rather than prioritizing your face, which is ideal for product and beauty vloggers. Like most point-and-shoots, battery life could be better, especially if you're recording in 4k, which can cause overheating with longer takes. But the ZV-1 is tough to beat if you need something compact for vlogging or video.
Our recommendations above are what we think are currently the best point-and-shoot digital cameras for most people to buy, according to their needs. We factor in the price, feedback from our visitors, and availability (no cameras that are difficult to find or almost out of stock in the U.S.).
If you'd like to choose for yourself, here's the list of all our point-and-shoot camera reviews. Be careful not to get caught up in the details. There is no single perfect camera. Personal taste, preference, and shooting habits will matter more in your selection.