After writing a Top 5 Point-and-Shoot countdown, where most of my choices hovered between the $400-500 mark, I decided I’d make a Top 5 Budget Point-and-Shoot countdown, so here we are. This is the most popular consumer market in the digital camera industry, so picking the right camera was bewildering. I judged my choices based on image quality, design, ease of use, and performance. Also, no camera on this list exceeds $300.
In the budget point-and shoot realm, my best advice is to stick with Canon, Sony, Fujifilm and higher end Panasonics. I’ve seen hundreds of point-and-shoots in this price range and this list represents the crème of the crop. As a general rule at this point in time, it’s safe to trust Canon for almost any point-and-shoot model, but Sony makes a mean snapper as well. Fujifilm will appeal to the advanced shooters. An honorable mention goes to the Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS7, though finding the camera is difficult these days, so it didn’t make it onto my list. If the cameras on my list are beyond your budget, look for their preceding models online or ask me about other models in the comments.
#5 Sony Cyber-shot DSC-TX7 (Around $250 online)
It’s a sleek slab of Sexy Sony goodness. The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-TX7 is last years model, but that’s okay. It cranked out impressive images and HD videos, including a worthy low light performance. For shooters who want an all-touchscreen camera, Sonys are the way to go. If you have a little extra cash, the new TX55 or TX100V are solid options as well. Manual controls are a bit light, as well as the optical zoom, but the Sony Cyber-shot TX lineup is about as good as you can get for wafer-thin fashion cams.
#4 Canon PowerShot SX230 IS ($200 Online)
If you can still catch this guy, you’ll be very happy. For just 200 smackers, the Canon PowerShot SX230 HS will offer impressive image quality, a bountiful manual control suite and user-friendly external design. Not to mention the camera’s 14x optical zoom lens, popup flash and ISO 3200 max sensitivity. The Canon PowerShot SX230 HS is a camera that will not only deliver great images and videos, but it will serve as a learning tool for amateurs who are destined for a DSLR someday.
#3 Fujifilm Finepix F600EXR (Around $270 online)
I’ve always marveled at Fujifilm’s lineup of EXR models. The Fujifilm Finepix F600EXR is another fine example, sporting a popup flash, right hand grip, 15x optical zoom, 16-megapixel CMOS sensor and rear-mounted control dial. EXR models are usually not slackers when it comes to manual controls, but it’s the image quality that really makes the lineup shine. Some of the best-performing compacts in my lab have been Fujifilms, and the Finepix F600EXR is no different.
#2 Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX9V ($299.99 MSRP)
The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX9V is one of the hottest point-and-shoots on the market right now. Why is that? Take the 16x optical zoom Sony G lens, 1080/60p HD video recording, Intelligent Sweep Panorama, Backlight HDR, built-in stereo mic, full Manual mode and back-illuminated EXMOR R CMOS sensor and put that in your pipe. For a pure performance machine, the HX9V is one of the best options on the market, and highly recommended.
#1 Canon PowerShot Elph 300 HS (Around $170 online)
This was a difficult decision to make. Some will argue that the Sony Cyber-shot HX9V deserves this spot. Others will argue that it rightfully belongs to Canon. I personally think it all comes down to the fact that you just can’t beat a Canon point-and-shoot these days, and the PowerShot Elph 300 HS is one of the best options out there. I picked the Elph 300 HS because the new Elph 310 HS is not enough of an upgrade to warrant the additional coin. Furthermore, the Elph 300 HS’s amazing online price is what truly propels it to the top slot. The Elph 300 HS is one of the most compact cameras on the market, offers some nice manual controls and great image quality. Like I said, you just can’t go wrong with a Canon point-and-shoot.