If you are an artist who takes photographs for reference, or even uses them in your work, a convenient yet highly functional point-and-shoot might be just the tool you need. These cameras are intended for nonprofessional photographers who can’t be bothered with pricy add-ons like speedlights and lenses, and who prefer automatic modes than manual controls (although many can also be manually set). If you prize portability, but have aged out of your dated, bricklike digital camera, peruse our five picks below. We’ve selected some stellar cameras smack-dab in the Venn diagram of quality, ease-of-use, and compactness.
1. Canon PowerShot G7 X Mark II
This fixed lens Canon packs in lots of impressive features in a compact body, and most casual shooters will find that it’s nearly as good as a DSLR. Equipped with a 20.1 megapixel CMOS sensor, it delivers crisp images, even in low-light settings, and you can zoom in quite close to details before things get fuzzy. Users can shoot freely on automatic and enjoy the virtually seamless, high-speed autofocus and relative fast shooting (for its class) of eight frames per second. Or, opt for all-manual control. Other highlights include WiFi compatibility, the option of shooting RAW, and a touch-screen LED that tilts so you can get in the best position for awkward shots. Weighing in at one pound, this camera is still comfortable enough to carry on long shoots or travels, and it’s small enough to fit in your pants pocket.
Canon PowerShot G7 X Mark II
2. Panasonic LUMIX ZS80 Digital Camera
Panasonic LUMIX ZS80 Digital CameraThis savvy Panasonic point-and-shoot is less expensive than our first-place pick, but it’s a competitive contender thanks to a bevy of features. It leads with 4K video and a mindblowing ultra-wide angle telephoto lens capable of 30x zoom; even the furthest subjects can be captured relatively crisply thanks to its optical image stabilization. Not convinced? Use the live viewfinder to hone your shot, and when you’re finished, peep the results using the ZS80’s 180° tiltable touchscreen display. As another handy feature, the camera automatically activates Self Shot mode whenever the display is flipped up for selfies. (If you think the result is particularly dashing, good/bad news: Self Shot mode automatically clears your skin and slims your face—a little rude, but certainly a welcome feature for some.) Bluetooth and WiFi connectivity allow you can share images instantaneously, making the ZS80 perfect for photogs on the go. Plus, at less than a pound, it’s very tote-able.
Panasonic LUMIX ZS80 Digital Camera
3. Olympus Tough TG-6 Waterproof Camera
By “professional,” we sort of mean globe-trotting artist: This Olympus model won’t offer you tip-top image quality, per se, but it does have the most resilient camera body around at this price point. You can dunk it, drop it, dirty it—within reason—and nine times out of ten this camera will emerge unscathed. The Olympus especially leans into its amphibious qualities, with five underwater shooting modes to choose from. But our favorite part about this camera is its close-shooting chops: When photographed with Microscope mode, subjects as close as a centimeter away the camera’s super-responsive F2.0 lens will turn out crisp and detailed. Toss in 4K video, and you’ve got yourself an armor-clad alternative to any of the cameras on this list, and for a budget-friendly price.
Olympus Tough TG-6 Waterproof Camera
4. FUJIFILM X100F
There is perhaps no other point and shoot camera like the Fujifilm X100F, which combines packs exceptional image-taking capacities into an attractive, vintage-inspired look for under $1,000. This Japanese camera works like a high-tech digital camera but offers the feel of a film camera. It features a powerful 24.3-megapixel sensor, a 35-mm equivalent f2 lens, fast focus, and a hybrid optical/electronic viewfinder. Colors look natural and details are captured with little noise. The black and white mode actually looks good rather than gimmicky. The interface is sleek and highly customizable so users who want to shoot manually can create a flow of buttons and dials that feels intuitive. Plus, if you aren’t satisfied with the camera’s built-in lens, Fujifilm sells some specially made conversion lenses to enhance the camera’s wide-angle and zoom capabilities.
5. Nikon COOLPIX A1000
This point-and-shoot Nikon is yet another great pocket camera for those who want beautiful photographs in a convenient format. Weighing just under 12 ounces, this camera has a pretty good 16 megapixel sensor, fast and accurate autofocus, and boasts 4k recording capabilities. Where it really shines, however, is its 35x optical zoom, which far surpasses most of the competition in its class (to compare it with the Canon Powershot G7 X Mark II, that camera offers just 4.2x optical zoom). This makes it the best option for artists who often shoot close-up shots, even in low-light settings. A tilting touchscreen and electronic viewfinder assist in composing subjects, whether near or far.
Nikon COOLPIX A1000