Point and shoot digital cameras have come a long way from being cheap devices that were capable of producing only mediocre images. These days the gap between compact digital cameras and digital SLRs is slowly shrinking, allowing casual users to experience more advanced features at an affordable price. For our $500 budget, there are numerous interesting options and cameras that will satisfy even the more demanding users. We have selected five point and shoot cameras that we feel are the best you can buy on the market at this time.
Sony Cyber Shot DSC-RX100 II is a compact digital camera that is successfully pushing the limits of this category of products. It offers a near DSLR experience with its incredible optics and various features that were usually found on higher end cameras. It used to be overpriced but has since come down in price making it the best option you can choose under $500.
This camera is a good example of what happens when a manufacturer decides to go against the grain and gamble a little bit. Instead of increasing the megapixel count, Panasonic decided to decrease it! What this achieved was better results in low light conditions than most other competitors. Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS50 comes packed with all kinds of features.
Canon has implemented minor changes into their flagship model of compact digital cameras. The core is still pretty much the same with the addition of higher megapixel count sensor, and several new features that weren't available before. Canon PowerShot SX710 HS seems to offer that same old reliable performance only being a bit more sensitive to shooting in low light conditions, as it attracts more noise.
Olympus has improved their sturdy TG series of compact digital cameras with better protection and several new features. You can now go deeper underwater with your TG-4 and use things such as shooting in RAW format, to your advantage. All in all, one of the only protected compact digital cameras on the market has received a more complete and refined successor that is definitely worthy of your time and money.
Samsung Galaxy Camera 2 is an odd device that offers the abilities of a decent point and shoot camera in form of an Android smart device. While its lens and sensor aren't cutting edge, the fact that you can use any number of Android applications, and easily upload your photos to social media makes Samsung Galaxy Camera 2 a special kind of product. Now that its price has come down significantly, it is definitely worth considering if you like the idea behind this device.
With everything that is now available when it comes to features and performance of compact digital cameras, finding the best one for less than $500 wasn't an easy task. However, among the numerous models in this price range, one camera was really standing out with its high quality components, incredible features, and just overall performance.
We've chosen Sony Cyber Shot DSC-RX100 II as the best point and shoot camera under $500 for a number of very good reasons. When it came out it was the best compact camera on the market, and it offered a performance that was bordering with that of a full sized DSLR. Sony Cyber Shot DSC-RX100 II didn't have much competition, but it was also priced very high. Now that the prices have come down, it is absolutely the best choice out there.
Second place went to Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS50, although it was a close call between it and the Canon PowerShot SX710 HS. Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS50 came out on top mainly because it offers more features and is capable of producing better photos in low light conditions. We feel that Canon PowerShot SX710 HS could have offered more, and that Canon made a mistake by going for a higher megapixel sensor on account of image quality.
Next in line is Olympus TG-4 with its protective shell which not only allows you to film under water, but also gives you a more than decent performance for the money. Last but not the least we have Samsung Galaxy Camera 2. With its price coming down significantly, this device is no longer just a cool gimmick. Now it actually makes sense, and the having Android powered camera definitely has its benefits.
Comparing the sensors of these five cameras will tell you that almost none of them can even come close to what Sony Cyber Shot DSC-RX100 II has to offer. With a 20.9MP 1"-inch type Exmor R CMOS sensor, it just overshadows the remaining four cameras on our list. Next best thing is the Canon's 20.3 Megapixel High-Sensitivity CMOS sensor, although it struggles with low light conditions. Olympus TG-4, Samsung Galaxy Camera 2 both have a 16MP and 16.3MP sensors respectively, while the Panasonic Lumix DMC ZS50 sports a 12MP sensor.
With it's superb 1"-inch sensor, Sony Cyber Shot DSC-RX100 II produces the best image quality of the five cameras. It allows you to push the ISO pretty far before you start experiencing noise and loss of detail. Next best one is the Canon PowerShot SX710 HS, although it is limited by its inability to cope with low light conditions. Olympus TG-4 is capable of producing great image quality as long as you shoot in RAW format and completely bypass Olympus integrated image processing, since it's notorious for over correcting the photos. Panasonic Lumix and Samsung Galaxy Camera 2 both offer decent image quality.
All of these cameras sport a great build quality with Olympus TG-4 rising to a whole new level when it comes to what it can withstand. None of these devices have a sub-par finish, or feel fragile.
With the way prices are right now, there isn't a better point and shoot camera under $500 than the Sony Cyber Shot DSC-RX100 II. The remaining four we've listed don't come close to it, but are all more than decent options. If you have a budget of $500, there is no reason to buy anything else other than this Sony.