Point-and-shoots are finding a place among the tools of professional photographers, so if you are considering upgrading from your cell phone camera to a point-and-shoot, you have good reason to do so. Advances in technology have improved image quality, and professionals now affirm in interviews that they carry point-and-shoot cameras with them on a daily basis. For capturing spur-of-the-moment occurrences, point-and-shoots are convenient, lighter in weight, and much more compact than their professional gear. In addition, a point-and-shoot with a versatile zoom lens eliminates the need to carry multiple lenses.
One of the issues with the autofocus system of any digital camera, not just a point-and-shoot, is that certain photographic situations make it difficult for the autofocus system to operate properly. Some of these include scenes with an off-center subject; scenes with bright lighting, low light, and nighttime scenes; and scenes with repetitive patterns. You can help the autofocus system achieve a sharp focus with a few adjustments.
Because most photographs are composed with the main subject at the center of the image, autofocus systems are set by default to focus on the person or object that is closest to the camera at the center of the image. However, to create a more interesting composition or for the sake of the story or emotion that you want the image to capture, you may want to compose your photograph with your main subject in one corner, to one side or the other, or at the top or bottom of the image.
There are two ways to change the camera’s default focus. You can change the camera’s focal point, or you can you can lock the camera’s focus on the subject.
Digital cameras divide your image into a grid with three rows and three columns. By default, the focus point is set to the center rectangle of the grid. You can use your camera’s menu to display this grid. If your camera’s LED display doubles as a touch screen control panel, all you have to do to change the focus point is to tap the rectangle on the grid where your main subject will be in your composition. Your camera then automatically focuses on the person or object that is closest to the camera in that section of your image.
If your camera doesn’t have a touch screen, then you will use the up/down and right/left directional arrows you use to navigate the camera’s menu to move the focus point to the rectangle where your main subject will be.
To lock the camera’s focus on an off-center subject, move the camera so that your subject is in the center of the image and push the shutter button halfway down. The camera will focus on your subject and adjust its settings. Then, continue to hold the shutter button halfway down as you move the camera so that your main subject is where you want it to be in your photograph. Now, you can push the shutter button the rest of the way down.
Locking the focus of the camera is the older method. It’s the solution created for capturing off-center subjects with film cameras before digital camera’s were invented.
If you might want to learn still photography with a film camera, you will need to become proficient with locking the focus, because it will be your only option. Practicing with a digital camera is easier because you can see immediately if you released the shutter button while moving the camera or if you depressed the shutter too soon.
However, moving the focus point is the easiest way to capture an off-center subject. Moving the focus point instead of moving the camera while trying to hold the shutter button halfway down eliminates any chance that you will accidentally release or depress the shutter button as you move. Nevertheless, there will still be some situations in which locking the camera’s focus is the only option that will work.
While some autofocus systems are better than others, if your camera’s manuals list settings in which your camera will have difficulty focusing, bright, low light, and nighttime scenes will be among them. However, most point-and-shoot cameras allow you enough control of your camera’s settings that you can assist your autofocus system.
The helpful settings that you most likely will be able to adjust include:
The autofocus assist lamp sends out a brief pulse of light to assist as the camera focuses. While some point-and-shoots use the camera’s built-in flash for this purpose, a separate infrared assist lamp is better. If you are trying to take a picture of a wild animal, a pet, or a sleeping child, the camera’s flash can startle your subject. An adult who is startled by the flash, even if they are knowingly posing for the picture, can become annoyed. The brief pulse of infrared light generally goes unnoticed.
Switch from autofocus to scene mode and choose an appropriate scene mode. Some of the common low light scene modes include indoors, party, nighttime portrait, and nighttime landscape. More specialized lowlight settings, such as museum, adjust the cameras settings for taking lowlight images through glass cases.
Scene modes for brightly lit settings include beach and snow. Setting for sunrises and sunsets also help the camera adjust to the brightness of the sun even though the areas of the scene beyond the rising or setting sun might be a dark or lowlight scene.
The white balance setting helps your camera make adjustments for the type of lighting in the scene. Most point-and-shoots will let you choose a setting for outdoor settings in bright sunlight, outdoor settings on a cloudy day, indoor scenes lit by incandescent bulbs, and indoor settings lit by fluorescent lights.
Some will let you set a custom white balance setting. To do this, with the camera set to white balance, focus the camera on a white sheet of paper or a photographer’s white board under the lighting in the setting where you will be taking pictures and press the shutter down. The camera uses that image to set what it recognizes as white in the photograph. Setting a custom white balance is especially useful in settings that are lit by two or more different types of light. For example, you may have energy saving fluorescent bulbs in a frequently used light, incandescent bubs in light you use less often, and sunlight coming in through a window.
The ISO settings in point-and-shoot cameras range from at least 100 to 800. Some have lower and/or higher settings. These settings are the equivalent to the films used in film cameras, and in digital cameras, they adjust the cameras sensitivity to the light it receives as the shutter is activated.
The lower settings are for brightly lit settings. These settings reduce the camera’s sensitivity to light, allowing it to capture a wider range of pale colors in the lighter areas of the image.
The higher settings are for capturing action shots or lowlight or nighttime images. They increase the camera’s sensitivity to light. Obviously, this is important in a lowlight or nighttime setting when there isn’t much light. To capture a person, an animal, or an object like a race car in motion, though, the camera will use a very high shutter speed. That means that, even though the scene may be a brightly lit daytime scene, not much of that available bright light is captured in the short exposure time allowed. So, taking an action shot at a high shutter speed is, in effect, the same as taking a lowlight photograph.
The meter settings tell the camera what area of the picture should have priority when it takes the light meter readings that it uses to choose its settings. Regardless of the type of camera you have, you will have three choices – matrix, center-weighted, and spot focus.
Matrix is used for landscapes and other images that you want to be equally well lighted from objects in the foreground to objects in the background. It tells the camera to use a light meter setting that is an average of readings taken from all areas of the image from the darkest to the lightest.
Center-weighted metering is used for portraits and still life mages. The weighting can be adjusted by changing the camera’s focus point or locking the focus on an off-center subject, but this meter reading gives priority to the readings taken from the area of the image where the main subject is located while also providing sufficient lighting so that background objects are also focused and distinct.
Spot focus metering is used for action shots and long distance subjects. The camera takes the meter readings from an area that is tightly focused around the main subject. Spot focus prevents the meter readings from being influenced by the lighting of the foreground or background because the lighting in those areas can be very different from the lighting directly around the subject.
Within the scene modes, you may see that you have the option of changing the camera’s settings up or down by three settings. These settings are the exposure value or EV settings.
In autofocus mode, your camera takes a reading of the light levels from different areas of the scene, and it selects a midpoint between the lightest and darkest areas and uses that midpoint as if it represents white.
In brightly lit scenes like a snow scene where the darkest areas might actually be a light gray, your camera may select an area to represent white when that area actually contains a range of very pale colors. In this situation, the camera fails to distinguish between these pale tints, and those colors are lost from the image. In the photograph, that entire area of delicate tints appears as white.
Conversely, in dark scenes where the brightest areas might be the mid-tones of the various colors in the scene. In a case such as this one, the camera might select a light gray to represent white. In the photograph, the areas of mid-tone colors will look like darker shades of the colors.
Using an appropriate scene mode helps to tell the camera to adjust its settings to detect very pale colors in brightly lit scenes or to detect mid-tones in a lowlight or nighttime image. In either case, the camera shifts the area it selects to represent white. In some situations, the adjustments made by the preset scene modes isn’t enough to completely correct the problem. Changing the EV settings can help.
In a brightly lit scene, the camera is choosing an area of the image to represent white that isn’t bright enough. The image needs to brightened in order for the camera to detect more of the range of lighter colors in the image. So, if the image still lacks the lighter colors even after you have switched to scene mode, change the EV setting to +1, +2, or +3.
In a dark scene, the camera is choosing an area of the image to represent white that is too dark. The image needs to be darkened so that the camera can detect more of the darker colors within the shadows of the image. So, if the colors in the image still look dark and muddy even though you have switched to a lowlight or nighttime scene mode, change the EV setting to -1, -2, or -3.
This tip is not only useful for helping your camera to focus on scenes with repetitive patterns but also for helping your camera to focus on nighttime scenes.
An image with a repetitive pattern can include a building with a series of identical columns or windows, a mosaic or a section of tiles on a wall or floor, or a still life with a row of identical objects. When shooting a scene with a repetitive images, without moving your zoom lens in or out, lock the camera’s focus on a part of the image that is the same distance from you as the part of the image that contains the repetitive image, such as a door of the building that has the windows. Then, recompose your image to include the repetitive pattern and take your photograph.
For nighttime photography, lock the camera’s focus on the edge of an area where there is a sharp division between dark and light that is the same distance from you as your subject. Then, turn back to your subject to recompose your image and take the picture.
The reason that you should not zoom in to focus on one section of an image with a repetitive pattern and then zoom out again to capture the entire image is because zoom lenses are now designed to automatically refocus the image whenever you change the zoom.
Some point-and-shoot cameras offer P or program mode. This mode lets you fine tune the preset scene modes to better suit the photographic conditions of your setting. Depending on the camera, P mode may allow you to change the metering and the preset ISO, EV, and white balance settings.
When you are ready to take more control of you camera’s settings, you can set your camera to shutter priority mode to select a slower or faster shutter speed or to aperture priority mode to select a wider or narrower lens or aperture opening. These settings help you better control the amount of light your image receives. In shutter mode, the camera selects the aperture setting and ISO sensitivity that correspond to your chosen shutter speed. In aperture mode, the camera selects the shutter speed and ISO sensitivity.
If your camera offers M or manual mode, you will be able to take full control of all of your camera’s settings, including selecting your own combinations of shutter speed, aperture, and ISO sensitivity.
While that may be an overwhelming thought if you are just beginning to look at point-and-shoot cameras, having a point-and-shoot that offers manual control means that you have a camera that you can grow with as you become a more accomplished photographer. You don’t have to use any of these advanced settings right away, but when you are ready to experiment them they will be there waiting for you. You won’t need to invest in another camera to have them.
Another feature that your point-and-shoot may offer is the ability to save one or more custom settings. If you take a lot of photos of similar subjects under similar photographic conditions, you can save the setting you use for that type of photography. Then, when you want to shoot more of those similar subjects, you can simply set your camera to custom mode, and it will be ready to shoot with your saved settings.
To find a camera and begin experimenting with the tips suggested above, choose one from our list of the best point and shoot cameras under 500.
The Panasonic Lumix ZS60 features an 18.1 MP 1/2.3 High Sensitivity MOS image sensor, and a Venus Engine image processor. High sensitivity MOS image sensors reportedly use more power than CMOS image sensors but are more sensitivity to light and produce pictures of more uniform quality by suppressing areas of uneven color and brightness. Panasonic’s five-axis hybrid O. I. S. (optical image stabilization) system reduces camera shake vertically, horizontally, and toward and away from your subject. The ZS60’s Leica DC Vario-Elmarit optical zoom lens features a range from 24mm for wide angle shots to 720mm for narrowly focused long distance and action shots.
Intelligent Auto Mode and Intelligent Auto Plus Mode can be set to track moving subjects with Auto Focus. Both modes automatically recognize portraits, baby photos, night portraits, landscapes, nighttime landscapes, hand held nighttime shots, sunsets, food shots, and macro photography. The camera uses HDMI Mode to compensate for scenes with high contrasts between dark and light areas.
Compensation for backlit subjects activates automatically, so there are no specific scene modes for backlit portraits or objects.
Intelligent Auto Plus Mode allows you to adjust the brightness from EV -5 to EV +5 and to adjust the color tone to make the colors warmer and more golden or cooler by adding more cyan.
In P Mode (Program Mode), you can use Program Shift to adjust the automatically selected paired combination of the shutter speed and aperture width to a different paired combination within a limited range of allowed combinations.
In S Mode (Shutter Priority Mode), you can select the shutter speed, and the camera will automatically select a corresponding, complementary setting for the aperture opening and ISO sensitivity setting.
In A Mode (Aperture Priority Mode), you can select the aperture setting, and the camera will select a corresponding, complementary setting for the shutter sped and ISO sensitivity.
In M Mode (Manual Exposure Mode), you can completely control the camera’s exposure settings by selecting the shutter speed, aperture opening, and ISO sensitivity independently of each other.
While most point-and-shoots only allow you to save one custom setting at a time in C Mode, the Lumix ZS60 saves up to three custom settings.
You can use Preview Mode to see the effects of the settings you choose in most of the camera’s recording modes.
Other scene modes are available, such as Glistening Water, Vivid Sunset, and Bright Blue Sky. Many of these achieve their effects by automatically applying some of the cameras artistic or special effects to the image.
Panorama Mode provides two options. When set to standard width, you can take 180° panoramas, but when set to wide, you can take full 360° panoramas.
For Time Lapse Photography, you can choose to start the photography up to 23 hours and 59 minutes from when you setup the camera. Then, you can set the time over which the camera will record images from 1 second to 99 minutes and 59 seconds at intervals of 1 second. You can also set the number pf pictures to be taken from one to 9,999.
When you are shooting movies in Intelligent Auto Mode, the camera automatically recognizes portrait shots (close ups), landscapes, low light settings, and macro photography. You can use the Lumix ZS60 to create slow motion movies by setting the camera to High Speed Video. Set the camera to Silent to minimize the camera’s operating noise while filming.
With the Lumix ZS60, you can use either the digital image finder or the touch-sensitive LCD screen to compose your image. You also can use the LCD touch screen to trigger the shutter.
You can use up to three photos to register the faces of up to six people on the Lumix ZS60.
The Lumix ZS60 captures still images in both RAW and jpg file formats, and it captures movies in full HD with stereo sound at resolutions of both 4K and 1080p.
The ZS60’s built-in Wi-Fi connection allows you to upload 1080p and lower resolution movies and jpg images to the internet and stream movies live as you shoot. You can also control the camera with your Android or iOS device using Panasonic’s Image App. However, some features of Image App, such as Snap Movie, aren’t compatible with iOS as of the date of this review.
While 4K movies and RAW photos can be displayed on HDTVs directly from the camera, whether or not the TV is 4K compatible, these movies and images can be uploaded only to a computer. They can’t, as yet, be uploaded to the internet. Before uploading photos, convert them to TIFF format as this format saves all the details and color gradations. It does not continually compress images with each new save as jpg does.
While some YouTube hosts are converting to 4K videos, most sites still accept only 1080p MP4 files or smaller. Also, while you can burn 4K movies on a CD, you can not save them to a Blu-Blu-Ray disc. So, for sharing movies by email or on most social media sites and for transferring movies to Blu-Ray, you will need to convert them to 1080p. You can use the Image App to make this conversion in your camera, though. This camera is just a bit ahead of the curve.
The bundle that comes with this camera includes a replacement battery and an AC/DC Rapid Charger, a SanDisk 32 MB SDHC memory card, both a full size and a table top tripod, a micro HDMI cable, a DigitalAndMore cleaning cloth, and a carrying case.
Canon’s PowerShot G9 X Mark II comes with the company’s 20.1 MP 1-inch high sensitivity CMOS image sensor and pairs it with Canon’s Digic 7 image processor and an optical zoom lens that ranges from a wide angle 28mm to a mid-range 84mm. In macro mode, you can get as close as 5mm or 2 inches. The digital zoom adds an additional 4x of magnification to the 3x of the optical zoom.
The G9 X Mark II also employs Canon’s optical Intelligent Image Stabilization which selects the type of image stabilization required for the photographic situation. It adjusts for movies made while you are walking and holding the camera, movies and images taken while using a tripod, nighttime images taken while you are holding the camera, and panning scene mode that allows you to move the camera as your main subject moves creating a blurred background that suggests speed. In this latter mode, the camera allows for movement in the direction you are panning, but adjusts the image stabilization to correct for movement in other directions.
In addition to panning mode, the Canon PowerShot G9 offers portrait mode, nighttime mode, fireworks mode, and a nighttime portrait mode for starlit backgrounds that shoots the portrait shot first with the flash and then takes two more shots without the flash to capture the stars. You will need to use a tripod with this mode, and you should tell the person whose portrait you are taking not to move until they have seen the focus assist lamp flash three times.
High dynamic range or HDR mode is another option. In HDR mode, the camera takes three successive shots at different EV or brightness settings and blends them into a single image. When you are taking a photograph of a scene with both very bright and very dark areas, HDR mode helps the camera distinguish the areas that are truly black and truly white so that it accurately captures light grays and pale colors as well as dark grays and very dark colors.
The PowerShot G9 also offers a fish eye lens effect, a miniature model effect, a toy camera effect, and artistic modes that give your photographs the look of oil paintings, water colors, old photos, and vivid illustrations.
One handy feature that will help the camera focus on people who are moving or who may not be facing the camera is the ability to register up to 12 people on the camera. Take a photo of the person as he or she faces the camera, press register, and then enter the person’s name and birthday. Entering the person’s birthday lets the camera recognize infants and young children. You can add a total of five images of the person, so add a photograph of the person looking away from the camera at a slight angle, a photograph of the person smiling or not smiling depending on whether or not they were smiling in the first photograph, and indoor and outdoor pictures. You can register up to 12 people in this way.
When you are taking photographs, the camera will recognize up to three of the people whom you have registered and optimize its lighting settings for the best image of them. It will also record their names on still photographs, so if you don’t want the image labeled, you will need to turn that feature off before taking the photograph. To keep up with the facial changes of growing babies and toddlers, you should re-register their images frequently.
Canon’s Servo Autofocus enables the camera to track a moving subject. The LCD screen of the PowerShot G9 functions as a touch screen for easy access to the cameras features. If you want to change the focus point of the camera, all you have to do is tap the object or the face of the person whom you want to be main subject.
The PowerShot G9 X offers P mode, Tv mode (shutter priority mode), Av mode (aperture priority mode), M mode (manual mode), and C mode (custom mode).
The G9 X captures still shots as either jpg or RAW files. In addition to capturing still images, the G9 X captures movies in full HD at a resolution of 1080p in MP4 format so that you can show your movies on a big screen HDTV. The G9 X also can be set for time lapse photography, and it has a hybrid mode that stores two to four seconds of the action prior to the activation of the shutter. When you’re done shooting the event, the camera will meld all of the images into a highlight reel for sharing with others.
The PowerShot G9 can connect to Wi-Fi networks and hotspots and Bluetooth and NFC devices. You can upload your movies and images directly to the internet, print directly to PictBridge compatible printers, and when you have the CameraConnect app installed, you can control the camera remotely from your cell phone.
The bundle that comes with this camera includes a camera case, a Hi-Speed SD USB card reader, a SanDisk Ultra SDXC 64GB 80MB/S C10 Flash Memory Card, a tri-fold wallet to hold your memory cards, a 12 inch table top tripod with flexible legs, a bubble lever and quick release plate, LCD screen protectors, a lens cleaning pen, and a five piece cleaning kit.
The Sony DSCHX80 contains an 18.2 GB 1/2.3 inch CMOS image sensor, which is the size commonly found in point-and -shoots. It comes with a ZEISS Vario-Sonnar optical zoom lens with a range from 24mm for wide angle photography to 720mm for narrowly focused, long range photography. In macro mode, you can shoot from as close as 5 cm.
The camera offers two fully automatic modes, Intelligent Auto and Superior Auto. Both modes recognize the scene and automatically choose an appropriate scene mode. However, you should use Superior Auto when you are shooting scenes in low light or when your subject is backlit.
When the camera recognizes either of these two photographic situations, if it is set to Superior Auto, it takes multiple shots of the image and blends them into a composite image to capture all of the highlights and shadows. When the camera takes multiple images of the scene, it displays an overlay icon that resembles three stacked sheets of paper. To avoid camera blur, you should use a tripod or avoid moving until the camera has finished shooting.
In either Intelligent Auto or Superior Auto, the Sony DSCHX80 recognizes and uses scene modes for landscapes, night scenes, low light scenes, photos of backlit objects, and photographs of spotlit objects.
When face detection is turned on, it also recognizes and uses the scene modes for portraits, backlit portraits, night portraits, and photos of infants. You can register the faces of up to eight people in the camera.
If you choose to select the scene mode yourself, you can choose from these modes plus iSweep Panorama, Advanced Sports Shooting mode which tracks the main subject, sunset mode, anti-motion blur scenes which allow you to take indoor scenes in the available light without using the flash, twilight scenes photographed without a tripod, pet mode, gourmet mode for photographing food, snow scenes, beach scenes, photographs of fireworks, a skin-softening mode for portraits, and a high-sensitivity ISO mode for shooting scenes in very low light which is especially helpful for capturing movies.
In Intelligent Auto and Superior Auto mode, the camera can tell if you are using a tripod or if you are moving, moving while shooting a brightly lit scene, or moving while shooting a scene in low light. If you have SteadyShot set to Active mode or Intelligent Active mode while shooting a movie, the camera can tell if you are walking while shooting. The camera subsequently adjusts the image stabilization and camera settings to compensate for the movement and lighting.
As with the Canon PowerShot G9 X above, P, or program mode, lets you adjust settings such as brightness or EV settings and the ISO sensitivity in Intelligent Auto, Superior Auto, and scene mode. If you want to adjust the shutter speed, set the camera to S mode. To adjust the aperture, set the camera to A mode. Setting the camera to M for manual mode allows you to take full control of all of the camera's functions. If you want to save custom settings, set the camera to MR, or Memory Recall.
If you are shooting a moving subject, using a faster shutter speed keeps your subject in focus as if frozen in motion. A slower shutter speed displays a trail behind your subject showing its path during the movement.
The aperture setting affects the depth of field. A wider aperture setting or F number keeps more of the foreground and background in focus. A narrower aperture narrows the depth of field and focuses more tightly on your subject.
With the Sony DSCHX80, you can choose whether to compose your shot using the pop-up digital viewfinder or the flip-up LCD screen. The LCD screen offers advantages when you need to hold the camera high or low to take your photograph. You can also flip the screen clear up so that you can see your own image as you take a selfie.
The Sony DSCHX80 captures still images in jpg format and movies in full HD at a resolution of 1080p in stereo sound with the ability to reduce wind noise. It can connect directly to Wi-Fi hotspots and upload your images and movies with an Eye-Fi card. You also can control the camera remotely from your cell phone with the PlayMemories Mobile app and share images with NFC compatible devices.
The Canon PowerShot SX730 includes a 20.3 MP 1/2.3 CMOS image sensor and an optical zoom lens with a range that extends from 24mm for wide angle shots to 960mm for tightly focused action and long distance photography. The digital zoom adds an additional 4X of magnification. The SX 730 does not have a viewfinder. It uses the LCD screen for composing shots. The LCD screen flips up to approximately 180°, however, so that you can see your image on the screen as you compose a selfie. A flip out LCD screen also lets you see your shot when you are holding the camera up high, down low, or to one side or the other.
The timer delay on the shutter can be set to wait until it recognizes that a new face has entered the photo or until it detects a wink, as well as waiting until it detects a smile. Face detection and wink detection both allow the photographer to enter the picture, and wink detection could be used to trigger the shutter to capture the subject’s immediate reaction to a surprise.
As with the Canon PowerShot G9, when you shoot in Auto mode, the camera takes full control of the camera’s settings. In Hybrid Auto Mode, the camera captures the few seconds of action that occur just before you depress the shutter. When you are finished shooting the event, the camera uses the movie/still hybrid photos to create a newsreel highlight of the event that you can share on social media.
In Auto mode, the camera automatically adjusts the settings for shooting people, pets, and objects under normal lighting, when they are backlit, when they are in low light settings, and when they are under a spotlight. It adjusts the settings for shooting moving adults, children, pets, and objects when they are under normal lighting or when they are backlit. It also adjusts the settings when it detects shadows on a person’s face as well as photos of people and babies when they are sleeping or smiling under normal light or when they are backlit. It adjusts the settings for objects shot in the light of a sunset, and it can adjust settings in macro photography mode for normal lighting, for backlit subjects, and for subjects under a spotlight.
As with the PowerShot G7, you can register up to five images of the faces of up to 12 people. The process is identical on both cameras. The SX730 also has the same scene modes and shooting modes – P mode, Tv mode, Av mode, Servo AF, and M mode -- as the G7.
The SX730 also can connect to Wi-Fi networks and hotspots and Bluetooth and NFC devices. You can upload your movies and images directly to the internet, print directly to PictBridge compatible printers, and when you have the CameraConnect app installed, you can control the camera remotely from your cell phone.
The bundle that comes with this camera includes a Canon NB-13L battery, Canon battery charger CB-2LH, a 64 GB Ultraspeed SDHC/SDXC UHS-1 memory card, a tabletop tripod with an ergonomic handgrip, a camera case, and an 8-piece starter kit with a blower and lens pen.
The Canon PowerShot SX620 combines a 20.2 MP 1/2.3 CMOS image sensor with Canon’s DIGIC 4+ image processor, Canon’s Intelligent IS Image Stabilization, and an optical zoom lens with a range of 25mm for wide angle image to 625mm for action and long distance photography.
For those who feel overwhelmed by all of the features of the above cameras, the PowerShot SX620 is a simpler, more basic camera. It offers Auto mode, Servo AF for tracking moving subjects, and P mode that allows you to adjust some of the scene mode settings. It omits shutter priority mode, aperture priority mode, and full manual mode. The SX620 also omits face registration. It can connect to Wi-Fi as well as Bluetooth and NFC devices. If you install CameraConnect on your Android or iOS device, you will be able to control this camera with your cell phone. All of the features that it does have in common with the G9 and the SX730 function in the same way on all three cameras. The SX620 comes with the same bundle as the SX730.
We actually have two winners for the best point and shoot camera under 500.
For those who want a camera they can continue to use as they become more skilled at photography, we recommend the Panasonic DMC-ZS60. You can start using Panasonic’s Intelligent Auto Mode and advance to P-Mode, A and S mode, and finally M Mode. The ZS60 offers a zoom lens that ranges from 24mm to 720mm. It provides automatic scene modes that are comparable to those offered by most point-and-shoot cameras. It shoots still photos in both RAW and jpg formats, and it shoots movies with stereo sound in both 4K and 1080p formats. You can capture time lapse images, 180° and 360° panoramas, and slow motion movies. While the LCD screen is fixed and doesn’t flip up, it does function as a touch screen and can be used to trigger the shutter. This camera also saves up to three custom settings and registers the faces of up to six people. Bluetooth and NFC connectivity would be nice features, but the ZS60 does have built in Wi-Fi. With all the other features it includes, we can forgive its limited shortcomings.
For those who want a simple to operate point-and-shoot camera without a lot of confusing options, we recommend the Canon PowerShot SX620. The range of the zoom lens, from 25mm to 625mm, allows the versatility needed to capture landscape, long distance, and action shots. Servo AF tracks moving targets, and P Mode enables some minor adjustments to assist the camera with difficult photographic situations. The camera offers Wi-Fi, NFC, and Bluetooth connectivity so that the camera can upload movies and images directly to the internet. The CameraConnect app allows you to remotely control the camera from your Android or iOS device, which is handy when you want to include yourself in the picture or trigger the shutter without touching the camera to avoid causing camera movement.