Four Features You Need in Your Next Point-And-Shoot Camera

Get a camera that takes great photos and stands up to the rigors of use no matter the conditions.

closeup of a camera
Today’s modern point-and-shoot cameras outperform smartphone cameras by almost every measure.Panasonic

Point-and-shoot cameras get a bad rap, mainly based on initial offerings that were quickly made obsolete by cell phones that frankly took better photos. Not anymore! Today’s point-and-shoots are easy to use and, depending on the model you choose, are waterproof, compact (small enough to carry breast pocket for quick access),and capable of delivering far better photo quality than you can get with your phone. Many offer video capabilities, too. Here are four key features look for when shopping for a quality point-and-shoot.

Toughness

Sony RX100 VII Premium Compact Camera
You’ll get incredible photos from this compact camera that features a 1. 0-type, stacked CMOS sensor and 24-200-millimeter Zeiss F2 lens.Sony

If you’re an outdoor enthusiast, your gear has to be able to stand up to the elements—cold, heat, rain, snow, dust, and yes, the occasional drop, or (heaven forbid) a dunk in a lake if you’re paddling or fishing. Cell phones are not built for this kind of treatment, but many point-and-shoots are. When camera shopping, consider models than are dustproof, waterproof, resistant to weather extremes and tough enough to handle occasional bumps.

Image Sensor Size Matters

PANASONIC Lumix FZ80 4K Digital Camera
This point-and-shoot features a 60x zoom DC Vario lens, fast shutter speeds for low-light use and automatic stabilization, and video capability.Panasonic

The image sensor is what allows you to zoom in on subjects without having your images get all grainy. (Take a photo with your phone then zoom in and you’ll see what I mean.) Many of today’s quality point-and-shoots feature one-inch image sensors (way larger than those found on your phone) to deliver crisp photos with amazing details.

Optical Zoom Beats Digital Zoom

Fujifilm FinePix XP140 Waterproof Digital Camera
This camera is perfect for outdoor use—waterproof to 82 feet, shockproof up to 5.9 feet, freeze proof to 14 degrees, and dustproof.Fujifilm

Most cell phones are designed with digital zoom—you take the photo and the camera “resizes” the photo digitally to enlarge it. Point-and-shoots use a true zoom, which delivers much better detail (without any loss of image quality). This makes them the perfect choice for shooting wildlife or your buds up to their necks in pow.

Adjustments are Easy

Unlike cell phones, many quality point-and-shoot cameras allow you to adjust variables such as ISO, shutter speed, focal length (zoom), and flash, with exterior adjustments that are ergonomic and easy to use. With a little practice you’ll be amazed at the photos you can take. And for those who just want to “point and shoot,” most models feature basic “automatic modes” that will adjust everything for you to take amazing close-ups, action shots, landscapes, and more.