Point and shoot cameras take up the largest segment of the digital camera market and understandably. They offer an affordable and simple way to take great pictures. After all, you just need to press the shutter button to automatically adjust the aperture, shutter speed, light sensitivity and focus. Compared to digital DSLRs that offer interchangeable lens, larger image sensors and more manual control, point and shoots can easily slip into jeans pocket and are cheaper. With hundreds of models available on the market, knowing which is the best point and shoot camera under 300 isn’t the easiest task. This post explores the factors to consider when making your purchase and reviews the best models to ease your search.
Our Best Point And Shoot Cameras Under $300 For 2020
Last update on 2020-02-25 at 18:08 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
Features To Look For In A Point And Shoot Camera
Level Of Detail In Photographs
The size of an image sensor directly impacts on the level of detail on photographs. The reason why images taken with smartphones appear grainy is that mobile devices have a sensor that’s roughly the size of the nail on your small finger. Point and shoot cameras are a nice upgrade, with the high models offering a full frame 35 mm sensor. This makes a huge difference in image quality.
Some of the most basic point and shoots offer some assistance when it comes to shooting moving objects. This often comes in the form of autofocus that locks to keep sharp focus on the subject. Other models have a continuous shooting mode that allows you to capture several photos per second. Faster shutter speeds are a nice bonus as they make it easy to freeze moments in time.
LCD Display Resolution And Size
You will be using the LCD screen to review and frame your shots and as such, quality is crucial. Go for a camera that has a display of at least 2.5″ although a larger size would be better. In terms of resolution, 230K-dots should suffice. Cameras with a 460K or 921K LCD will provide better performance when shooting outdoors. You can also consider larger and high-end models that are equipped with articulating screens that rotate 360 degrees, thus allowing for angle shots. A touch screen, on the other hand, eliminates the need for physical control buttons.
Focal Length And Zoom
The focal length tells you more about the field of view and is generally expressed as a 35mm equivalent value. On the other hand, zoom expresses how far the lens reaches. If two cameras have a 5x zoom factor but one covers 28-140mm while the other covers 28-120mm, the latter will perform better when shooting in tight spaces while the former will offer a longer telephoto lens. The downside of a budget camera with 35mm focal length is that it has difficulties framing shots with several people in a tight space.
Optical image stabilization compensates for the shakiness of your hands when capturing photos. Unless you plan on shooting on tripod all the time, it’s important that your point and shoot camera have an optical image stabilizer. Almost every camera on the market has this feature so finding one with a less than $300 budget should be easy.
High Definition Video
Almost every point and shoot camera on the market has the ability to record video. Aim for a camera that can record HD videos. Some include a micro HDMI output port for high definition playback on your television or computer. Don’t forget to check whether a camera has an inbuilt microphone and allows for zoom when recording.
ISO is a measure of a camera’s sensitivity to light. The amount of light passing through the sensor increases with an increase in the ISO setting. A camera that allows for higher ISO settings will allow you to shoot blur-free images in low light conditions. It’s important to remember that an increased ISO setting also means more image noise.
Reviews Of Best Point And Shoot Cameras Under 300
The Panasonic LUMIX DC-ZS70K is equipped with a 30x optical lens zoom with a focal range of 24 – 720mm, and it has its Optical Image Stabilizer Plus (5-Axis HYBRID O.I.S.+). The 20.3 megapixel sensor is capable of maximum light sensitivity of ISO 3200 (expandable up to ISO 6400). You can use the LUMIX DC-ZS70K to record a 4K QFHD video (3840×2160), Plus exclusive Lumix 4K PHOTO and 4K post focus with internal focus Stacking feature. Its easy to use and has manual control of the aperture, shutter speed, zoom, and focus.
|– Powerful zoom range.|
– 4K video and 4K PHOTO modes.
– Has an Optical Image Stabilizer.
– Built-in Wi-fi.
– RAW format
|– Quite heavy.|
– Very small viewfinder.
The Canon PowerShot SX540 captures your still images at a resolution of 20.3MP. The optical zoom lens has a range of from 24mm to 1200mm (50x Optical Zoom), and with 4x digital zoom, you will get a 200x Combined Zoom.
With this camera, you can choose scene modes for portraits, low light settings, snow scenes, and fireworks. The camera also has Creative Shot with Retro, Monochrome, Special and Natural effect.
You can set the camera to track your subject, and the SX540 automatically detect smiles, winks, or faces. You can delay activation of the shutter until a wink, smile, or additional face is detected.
In addition to auto mode, the PowerShot SX540 offers auto hybrid mode which combines movies with still photography. In this mode, each time you take a still photo, the camera also captures and saves a few seconds of video of the action prior to when you depressed the shutter. Use this mode for capturing special events like birthdays, graduations, weddings, or anniversaries and when you are done shooting, the camera automatically combines the videos into a movie that you can present as a gift to the subject of the celebration.
In P mode, you can access and customize some of the camera’s setting, such as ISO sensitivity. Use Tv mode if you want to select the shutter speed and let the camera select the aperture and ISO settings. In Av mode, you can select the aperture size while the camera chooses the corresponding ISO and shutter setting. M mode gives you full manual control of all of the camera’s settings.
The Canon SX540 takes advantage of Canon’s Intelligent IS image stabilization system that minimizing the appearance of camera shake when shooting both photos and movies. And it captures video in full HD at a resolution of 1080p and HD at a resolution of 720p.
The SX540 includes both built in Wi-Fi and NFC connectivity and allows you to use Canon’s Gateway to control your camera from your tablet or cell phone, upload photos and videos directly to the internet from wherever you have a Wi-Fi connection, and print pictures with a PictBridge enabled printer.
|– Amazing zoom power.|
– Tracks moving subjects.
– Face, wink, and smile detection can be used to delay the shutter.
– Creates a movie highlight reel of events.
– Intelligent IS (Image Stabilizing) to reduce shakes.
– Allows you to take partial or full control of the cameras settings.
– Built-in Wi-Fi and NFC connectivity.
|– Focus locking can be slow when zoomed.|
– Lacks a plug for an external mic.
– Wi-Fi does not connect directly to social media.
With this compact and lightweight camera, you can do what smartphones just can’t. The COOLPIX B600 has an amazing zoom of up to 60x optical zoom (and when you need more, Dynamic Fine Zoom will double it to 120x) with Lens Shift Vibration Reduction (VR) to keep your shots sharp and steady. It has a 16 Megapixel low-light sensor, and a Full HD 1080/60i (50i) videos with 4-Axis Hybrid VR and stereo audio. You have 19 scene modes and 36 Creative effects and a Built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE).
|– Amazing zoom power.|
– Good autofocus.
– Sharp display and easy to use.
|– Lower quality when using at extreme zoom.|
– Does not support RAW format.
This is an entry-level Cyber-shot camera that offers great features at low price. It is equipped with a 20.1 megapixel CCD sensor with an ISO range of 100-3200. The 5x optical lens offers a focal range of 26-130mm and allows for a 5cm minimum macro focusing ability. The camera doesn’t have an image stabilization feature, which isn’t much of a surprise considering the limited zoom lens reach not to mention the less than $100 price tag.
If you love taking control, you can easily adjust the white balance, ISO sensitivity and exposure compensation. There are four Picture Effect filters to customize your shots. Controls are kept at a minimum for ease of use and the body is quite sleek with black/grey finishes. The 2.7″ screen has a 230K-dot resolution and isn’t touch sensitive, but that’s as much as you can expect at the price.
|– Reasonably attractive images in good light.|
– Decent manual control.
– Great features for less than $100.
– Compact and lightweight design.
– Equipped with 20.1 megapixel CCD image sensor.
|– Performance in low light conditions is poor.|
– Lens has a limited zoom range.
– Very limited LCD viewing angles.
– Panoramas are extremely soft.
If you are a casual photographer looking to spend little on your equipment, the FZ53 is a good contender. It comes with a sleek, attractive design and a familiar brand name. You get a 5x zoom lens, which lags behind every model on this list. At just 3.7 ounces, it is lightweight and has a compact design that slips easily into your pockets.
Control buttons include Zoom, Play Mode, Set button and menu button. There is a 4-way control pad with directional buttons that allow you delete images, control the flash, set focus and adjust display settings. The 2.7″ 230K-dot LCD screen is smaller than what you get with most point and shoots but at less than $90, this isn’t a big deal.
|– Cheapest model on this list.|
– Allows for 2.6 fps continuous shooting.
– Minimal image noise.
– Wide aperture lens.
|– Takes a long time to focus.|
– Lacks Wi-Fi connectivity.
Choosing the best point and shoot camera under 300 comes down to your personal needs and what features you’re willing to forego at such a low budget. The trick is to find what strikes the best balance of zoom range, ISO sensitivity, video recording capabilities and other important features.