Best Point & Shoot Digital Cameras Under $300

David Pogue from the New York Times has been writing a review annually for the last 9 years pointing out the best point and shoot digital cameras for under $300.

It is always interesting to see how features change over time and in this case his 2001 cameras offered around 1-2 mega pixels. Now the best ones have about 12-14. In 2001 some could zoom up to 2x, now it isn’t unusual to find 12-14x zoom. Like so many areas, technology continues to give us more for less money.

best point and shoot digital camera 2010 - olympus stylus 7000We recently bought an Olympus E520 which isn’t a point and shoot, but rather our first step into the DSLR arena. I must have spent 15-20 hours investigating the purchase – reading reviews and testing different cameras at the store because (like every purchase I make) I wanted to get the best camera for the money – and I was grateful to find a few articles that pointed me to some of the best cameras. It saved me a bit of time.

David’s article does just that. It works as a great head start if you are looking for a point & shoot for under $300. If you want to read the full article you can find it here: Best cameras for $300 or less. But if you just want the Cliffs Notes version see below.

Here are his top picks for the best cheap cameras

Model Name Approximate Price
Canon PowerShot SD980 $280
Casio EX-H10 $262
Fujifilm Finepix F70EXR $197
Kodak EasyShare Z950 $183
Nikon Coolpix S8000 $299
Olympus Stylus 7000 $184
Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS3 $284
Samsung DUALVIEW TL225 $274
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W290 $180

So what’s the BEST point and shoot digital camera?

David says:

I have three favorites this year, for different reasons. (That’s the price we pay for differentiation.)

The Fujifilm F70EXR is superior in low light (and has that 10X zoom). The Panasonic Lumix ZS3 takes great hi-def movies (12X zoom). (The Nikon S8000 is extremely similar, but costs more.)

The Samsung DualView TL225 zooms only to 4.6X, but offers that huge touch screen and the amazingly handy small front screen. (Honorable mention to the Kodak Z950. It doesn’t quite match the big boys’ photo quality, but what you get for $183 is amazing.)

One more thought

I will just throw this out there because I still see some confusion – in some people around me anyway. The days of needing a camera for pictures and a camcorder for movies are pretty much over. I still see a lot of people going out and buying a separate camcorder to take home-movies while they already have a camera that they didn’t realize could record movies – in some cases HD quality!

My preference is to kill two birds with one stone and buy a good camera that records video and maybe spend a little extra on a memory card so you can take longer videos if you like.

Have you bought a point & shoot camera recently? Was it mentioned above? Do you like it?

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  1. Philip (RAOP)

    As much as I like electronics and gadgets I hate shopping for them. It take a lot of time and energy to make sure you get what you really need at a price that is fair. Cameras are no exception.

    I am not in this market, mostly because I can’t bring myself to spend the $900 on the DSLR I really need. Until I do, my Canon S5IS point and shoot will have to continue pretending it is a DSLR. It tries real hard, but it isn’t fooling anyone yet.

    Great information, thanks!

  2. fife

    I also have a Canon S5 I picked up 2 years ago just before Circuit City went under. I took advantage of a good sale and rebate following plenty of online research. Now there is a newer version of the S5 out: SX10 or SX20? The S5 has plenty of manual options to keep me happy. Like Philip mentioned, it’s not a DSLR, but it tries and gets the job done. Eventually I would like to save up and get a DSLR. My wife and I have had other debt-payoff/savings goals lately.

  3. single mom

    I have both a point and shoot digital camera as well as a digital slr.
    I started off with just a point and shoot and then found that it was just impossible to catch the right photo of my kids with it since it had a slight time delay of a crucial 1 second.
    So, I took the plunge and bought a digital slr and I haven’t looked back. It was quite an expensive purchase, but looking at the amazing shots that I now have of my kids, I feel it is totally worth it. Love using it – I got a Canon EOS 500 and highly recommend it.

  4. Money Green Life

    Every couple years or so, I upgrade my canon powershot elph to the latest model. I’ve owned canon elphs for over 10 years now and I’ve been a happy customer since.

  5. March Madness

    We just bought a Nikon 5100 plus extra lens at Costco for $599. Realize this isn’t a point and click under $300 – but for a SLR Camera, this was a great bargain as the sale price for this package was $849 at Best Buy.