Presented here is a brief look at a few cameras I believe are good, all-around “Advanced Point and Shooters” These are cameras from manufacturers who have established reputations for producing quality equipment. I currently own or have owned equipment from of each of these companies. The price range runs from $250 up to over $500. All have Electronic ViewFinders (EVF’s), and are compact enough to make them good travel cameras.
Of course, there are many excellent cameras that aren’t listed here. And there are new cameras being introduced all of the time. The cameras listed are just a few selections based on my criteria, which may differ from yours. Your needs may well be different, and if you are considering something that is not on the list, drop me an email and I’ll be pleased to pass along any info that I can.
Panasonic Lumix ZS50
This is a very compact, lightweight camera. Despite its small size, it packs a 30X zoom lens that collapses into a very small package. PC Magazine gave this camera it’s Editor’s Choice rating. Among other features, it has good low-light capabilities. Their only negative comment was that the only way to charge the battery is inside the camera.
I ran into this issue when I owned a similar Panasonic camera, and there is an easy fix. I bought an aftermarket charger and a couple of spare batteries. On Amazon, you can typically get a combo pack of two batteries plus charger for less than $30. If you want a really compact camera that will work in a variety of situations, this would be a good selection. $279 at Amazon.
Panasonic Lumix ZS100
If you can deal with a slightly larger camera that is newer and just has all-around better specs, this camera would be a great choice. It has a better, faster lens, a larger image sensor and optical image stabilization. Of course, all of this comes at a higher price, $498 at Amazon. From this list, this camera would be my first choice. The camera lists for $498 on Amazon. An external charger with two Wasabi spare batteries is for sale on Amazon for $20.
I’m a big fan of Sony cameras and lenses (I own two.). They have excellent optics and manufactures their own sensors. I have taken a few photos with this camera and was very impressed with the results. The Electronic Viewfinder pops up from the camera, so when not needed it is out of the way. It has a 30X zoom lens, Image Stabilization and a large 3” diagonal viewing screen. This a lot of camera for around $318.
This is an excellent camera at a good price point if you are looking for a camera with interchangeable lenses and plenty of room to grow. You can start out with the camera in “Point and Shoot” mode and you will be rewarded with excellent photos. The lens that comes with the camera, somewhat surprisingly, is a very good optic, but has a short 3X zoom. A good 55-210 mm lens (not included) gives a zoom range of about 8X over the range of the two lenses.
While this is not the 30x zoom of some of the other cameras reviewed here, the upside is that the shorter zoom ranges require fewer design compromises and better images are the result. This should not be taken to mean that the other cameras in this list don’t take really good photos. To the average viewer, the image quality difference may not even be noticeable. But the considerably larger image sensor means you can crop to a greater degree and produce much larger prints.
This is a fairly old camera design, but its offspring include the a6300, the a6500 and the a6400. All of these four cameras use the same accessories and have the same form factor. Full disclosure, I own this camera as well as the a6500. Despite the age of the camera’s design, Sony continues to make, sell and support the a6000. It still is a very capable camera and apparently there is a strong demand for it.
Admittedly, the A6000 pushes the top end of “Advanced Point and Shoot” cameras. It should, however, do about everything you would want in an entry-level interchangeable lens camera. Then if you want to step up to a newer camera in the a6000 line, it should be an easy move. The camera has retained its value well, so the step-up won’t be that costly. Or you may decide to keep the a6000 as a backup, which is what I did. Pricing starts at around $400 for a refurbished camera to around $600 for a new one. Kits that include the camera and 55-210 mm zoom lens are priced at about $800.
So, how do you get your hands on the camera you are thinking about buying? As fewer “brick and mortar” stores stock cameras, it is getting really difficult to find a camera locally. I recently stopped by our local Best Buy at the mall at Tangerine and Oracle. They have very few cameras and none of the ones on this list.
The best mail-order outlets that I know carry the cameras reviewed here are Amazon and B&H Photo Video. B&H is a major international supplier for professionals as well as amateurs. The B&H return policy is 30 days as long as you return it with the original packaging. Hopefully in 30 days you should have plenty of time to see if you like it. I believe Amazon has a similar return policy,