Cameras are everywhere. Every cell phone these days has a built in one. Many folks tend to notice though that a cell phone camera has limitations on functionality, and look at getting a dedicated camera to take better quality pictures. While I’ve always encouraged people to adopt the mentality that The Best Camera is the one you have with you, there are added benefits to working with a dedicated camera over one that exists as part of a multi-function device like a smart phone. This means you could be looking at a point and shoot camera, an SLR, or even a mirrorless camera.
The Digital SLR Camera
DSLR’s are great, but have several limitations themselves, the most common one of which is that they are bulky, and have a higher learning curve than most are willing to engage in. Enter the point and shoot camera. P&S cameras are highly portable, more cost effective, and you don’t have to worry about all the accessories (at least in terms of lenses, filters, and such) that are often associated with SLR photography.
The Point and Shoot Camera
The Point and Shoot category is rife with options itself though, ranging from miniature ones that cost under $100 to ones that are almost SLR quality that exceed to the cost of entry level SLR gear. So, if we’re going to look at the P&S category, it helps to focus on a particular budget. One of the most common thresholds is around $200 to $250. So, with that in mind, here are my top five point and shoot cameras under $250!
- Fujifilm FinePix S4200 – The largest in this category, and the ability to swap out the lenses put this one on par with some of the features of a DSLR, but still maintaining the compact nature of a Point and Shoot, the FinePix S4200 produces stellar quality images at 14MP!
- Canon Powershot S110 – As a Canon guy, I like this one a lot for the quality of the images, the ISO handling, and the 12MP images for under $200. Lightweight, and easily sliding into my pocket, this is the essence of a point and shoot camera with portability, but maintaining image quality for the budget conscious shooter
- Nikon Coolpix S6300 – With 10x zoom, great ISO handling that Nikon has become legendary for, and the full HD video, for under $250 (it’s actually even under $150!), this is a great camera for the price. my one nit is that there is still a bit of shutter lag, and AF can cause blurry shots if you’re not stable in your grip. The most economical of the bunch though, so there will be downsides to this that aren’t present in others since the mantra of “you get what you pay for” bears witness here…
- Sony Cybershot DSC-WX80/B – At 16.2 MP, this is the 2nd highest count of the five cameras, so the images are huge! I also like the 8X zoom on this…while not at the longest end, the resulting shots are on par with ones taken at a wider angle. A great pocket camera for the shooter on the go!
- Samsung WB350F – While this is a notch below the reputable mirrorless NEX line of Samsung, those are beyond the scope/budget here, and this is a nice economical alternative if you like Samsung. At 16.3MP, it ups the Cyber Shot by a mere 1/10th of a MP count – which is not a lot but is enough to put it at the highest count. And Samsung is becoming the newest BIG player in the camera scene. Definitely worth considering at only around $180!
Keep in mind, the camera is only as good as the shooter behind it and gear is not the be all end all solution to anything. A camera is what you make of it! I know professionals that have shot with point and shoot cameras and gotten better results than amateurs with multi-thousand dollar rigs. What does this mean? Basically, the next step is up to you – which one best fits your needs requires your commitment to taking and making better photos and any of these setups will help you improve your craft on a budget. Let me know which one you got and tell me what swayed you! Happy shooting!
Want more tips on taking better photos? Check out my video tutorial on how to hand hold a Point and Shoot here!