Many outdoor athletes swear by their point and shoot camera, and why not? As outdoor athletes, we see all kinds of amazing things: wildlife, sunsets, physical feats, and more. For some, just witnessing these things is enough, but others want to be able to capture these moments and share them with their loved ones.
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When shopping for a point and shoot camera, there are plenty of things to consider. If you’ve dabbled in photography in the past, then you’ll be familiar with many of the pros and cons that come along with popular cameras and their features. But if this is a new venture, you might be overwhelmed by the options. To begin, let’s take a look at why point and shoot cameras are the best choices when it comes to outdoor sports photography.
Why Invest In A Point And Shoot Camera?
When it comes to capturing the great outdoors, point and shoot cameras are almost always the best tool for the job. But what exactly makes them superior to other camera options, like DSLRs and smartphones?
Point And Shoot Vs. DSLR
You might be tempted to haul a DSLR (digital single-lens reflex) camera out into the woods. But this is best left to professional photographers or true enthusiasts. DSLR cameras are often fragile and quite big. They also require extra accessories like additional lenses and external flashes to take even a basic photo.
Of course, there is nothing wrong with using a DSLR to capture sports or nature photographs. But the photo-taking needs to be the primary reason for venturing outside. For hikers, snowboarders, mountain bikers, and other outdoor athletes who just want to snap the occasional image, a DSLR is just too big and clunky to haul around. Plus the setup is slow and labor-intensive, unlike an always ready, all-in-one point and shoot camera.
While high-quality point and shoot cameras are available,DSLR cameras can easily reach into the thousands. And specialty lenses, tripods, flashes, and other accessories cost even more. Not only does this make the initial cost of a DSLR camera much higher, but the cost of potential damage becomes very prohibitive as well.
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Point And Shoot Vs. Smartphone
Now that almost every smartphone includes a built-in, high-quality camera of its own, you might be tempted to solely rely on your phone for photos and video. However, there are a few drawbacks to this that make investing in a dedicated point and shoot camera worth it.
Your smartphone’s camera can drain its battery faster than most apps, and this can leave you in a bad spot if you rely on your smartphone for maps or GPS. Most smartphones are also small and difficult to grasp in precarious situations, so constantly pulling it out to snap photos can put it at risk of serious damage. A point and shoot camera’s photo quality will also generally be better than your smartphone’s, even if the Megapixels seem similar at face value. A point and shoot camera can zoom, change aperture size, and make other adjustments that allow for better photos and videos.
Since smartphones have such a wide scope of use, it’s much harder to compare the price of using your smartphone’s camera to investing in a point and shoot camera. But since point and shoot cameras have become so affordable in recent years, there is little holding you back from purchasing one of your own.
How We Reviewed
For our review of some of the top point and shoot cameras currently on the market, we wanted to find the camera best suited for outdoor sports enthusiasts. This meant that the right camera couldn’t just capture excellent photos and videos. It also needed to be able to easily fit in a pocket or backpack and withstand dropping, moisture, and other damaging conditions.
Portability is arguably the most important factor in a good outdoor camera. So our review began with finding some of the smallest, yet still high-quality, point and shoot cameras on the market. We then looked at each of their standout features, product specifications, and how past and current users rate them. While we were most concerned with each camera’s performance and durability, we did include retail pricing in each of our product summaries. Our review wraps up with how we think these cameras compare to each other, as well as which point and shoot cameras ultimately became our favorite.
The Best Point And Shoot Cameras For
When shopping for an outdoor camera, photo and video quality are just a small part of the decision process. An outdoor point and shoot camera must also be lightweight, portable, and durable. But which camera brings each of these traits to the table?
We looked at the Canon PowerShot G7 X Mark II, Sony Cyber-shot WX220, Fujifilm FinePix XP120, and Olympus Tough TG-5 to determine which point and shoot camera offered the best features for outdoorsmen and women. Here are our thoughts:
Canon PowerShot G7 X Mark II
- The advanced video capabilities of the Power Shot G7 X Mark II camera can capture moments in the quality they deserve
- Features a large 1.0 inch, 20.1 Megapixel CMOS sensor that helps capture high quality images and videos with a wide...
- An aperture value of f/1.8 at the wide angle and f/2.8 when fully zoomed to a factor of 4.2x (24 100 millimeter), this...
The Canon PowerShot G7 X Mark II is a lightweight point and shoot camera from one of the world’s largest camera manufacturers. While this camera is compact and fairly smooth, it does feature a small grip on one side that makes for a more secure grasp when holding or using the camera.
The Canon PowerShot G7 X Mark II has a three-inch LCD touchscreen, which can tilt at a variety of angles. This is especially useful when using a tripod or taking photos in awkward positions, but may become cumbersome when trying to capture split-second images. However, there is no optical viewfinder. Users must rely on the LCD screen when taking photos, which can be a dealbreaker for some traditionalists.
The Canon PowerShot G7 X Mark II features a one-inch sensor with 20.1 Megapixels. The camera’s built-in flash has a range of up to 23 feet. The camera itself weighs 304 grams and has a lens aperture of F1.8-2.8, big enough to capture images in otherwise dim conditions. The lens is equipped with both manual and autofocus.
The Canon Powershot G7 X Mark II can capture HD video up to 1080p, though many photographers now expect their camera to capture 4k video. The Canon PowerShot G7 X Mark II also features built-in Wi-Fi and NFC (similar to Bluetooth). While these features don’t have much use in the great outdoors, they make uploading your photos much simpler once you’re back home.
Customer reviews & pricing
Overall positive reviews referenced the camera’s impressive photo quality, manual control options, and built-in image stabilization. Customers who rated the Canon Powershot G7 X Mark II poorly referenced the lack of an optical viewfinder, battery life, and issues with the lens focus.
Lower-priced models are often refurbished, so use caution if you are hunting for a deal. The Canon PowerShot G7 X Mark II is available directly from Canon, as well as from Amazon, BestBuy, and B&H.
Sony Cyber-Shot WX220
- 10x Optical / 20x Clear Image Zoom G Lens, 182MP Exmor R CMOS Sensor for superb low light images, BIONZ X engine for...
- Operating temperature:32-104°F/0-40°C.Smooth Full HD video recording in 1080/60p, Simple connectivity to smartphones...
- In the box: Rechargeable Battery (NP-BN), AC Adaptor (AC-UB10C / UB10D), Micro USB cable, Wrist Strap, Instruction...
The Sony Cyber-shot WX220 is a tiny point and shoot camera that can fit into almost any pocket. Its compact design makes it easy to fit into a waist or backpack but could pose a dropping risk if taking photos on the fly. While a wrist strap can be attached directly to the Sony Cyber-shot WX220, you will need a case if you want to attach a neck strap. But doing this makes the camera’s small, lightweight design rather pointless.
The Sony Cyber-shot WX220 has a 2.7-inch LCD screen, but, again, this point and shoot camera has no optical viewfinder. Tactile buttons to the right of the screen allow the user to navigate the menu and change settings.
The Sony Cyber-shot WX220 features a 1/2.3-inch sensor with 18.2 Megapixels. The built-in flash has a maximum range of just over 12 feet. The camera only weighs 121 grams, including batteries. The lens aperture ranges from F3.3-5.9, which might pose some issues in dim lighting or at night. The Sony Cyber-shot WX220 has autofocus but does not have an effective manual focus option.
The Sony Cyber-shot WX220 point and shoot camera captures HD video up to 1080p and has several special settings including 360-degree panorama, filters, and extended self-timers. This camera also features Wi-Fi and NFC connectivity.
Customer reviews & pricing
Reviewers who enjoyed the Sony Cyber-shot WX220 referenced the compact design, plug-and-play ability, and affordable price. Customers who were less-than-satisfied with this point and shoot camera discussed fragile construction, cumbersomely small design, and poor image quality.
Olympus Tough TG-5
- New 12 megapixel Hi speed image sensor for improved low light performance and noise reduction
- Underwater compensation: 2 EV to +2 EV (in 1/3 EV steps); Bright F2.0 high speed lens; Video recording format: MOV(MPEG...
- Field sensor system with GPS, manometer, compass, and temperature sensors
The Olympus Tough TG-5 certainly lives up to its name: this point and shoot camera is practically indestructible. The camera’s body can withstand underwater submersion up to 50 feet deep, drops from up to 7 feet, and temperatures well below freezing. The camera is even dust-proof, so sand and other small particles won’t scratch or gum up the lens. Other rugged features include anti-fog glass and buttons designed to be used even when wearing thick, insulated gloves.
The Olympus Tough TG-5 also includes a built-in GPS system and compass. These features work together with Olympus’s smartphone app, which associates your photos and videos with their geographic location. This is perfect for hiking, rock climbing, rafting, and other activities where you’re constantly on the move.
The Olympus Tough TG-5 features a 1/2.3-inch sensor with 12 Megapixels. This point and shoot camera, despite the sturdy build, only weighs 250 grams. The camera’s impressive flash range reaches up to 25.9 feet. The lens features an aperture of F2.0-4.9, which offers plenty of room to adjust for dim or bright light conditions. The Olympus Tough TG-5 includes autofocus and manual focus modes.
The Olympus Tough TG-5 can capture 4k HD video, the highest resolution currently available on the consumer market. This rugged camera also includes built-in Wi-Fi connectivity, as well as the aforementioned GPS system.
Customer reviews & pricing
Positive reviews discussed factors like the ability to take underwater photos, overall durability, and autofocus mode. Customers who rated this point and shoot camera poorly mentioned faulty waterproofing, poor image quality, and short battery life.
Fujifilm FinePix XP120
- 16. 4MP BSI CMOS sensor Fujinon 5x optical zoom Lens
- 28-140Mm (35mm equivalent) water, shock, freeze, and dustproof
- Full HD 1080P video recording at 60 fps 3. 0" 920K-dot LCD monitor
The Fujifilm FinePix XP120 is a rugged camera specifically designed to be used and abused in the great outdoors. Like the Olympus Tough TG-5, the camera’s body protects against four damaging elements: water, dust, drops, and freezing. While the Fujifilm FinePix XP120 is beaten out by the Olympus Tough TG-5 in shock resistance, it can submerge 15 feet deeper than its competitor. This point and shoot camera has a Cinemagraph mode, which creates unique moving photos, and the camera’s dedicated underwater mode adjusts for skewed color balances when submerged.
The Fujifilm FinePix XP120 has a three-inch LCD screen but has no optical viewfinder. This screen has a special anti-reflective coating for easy viewing under direct sunlight. Fujifilm’s Camera Remote app syncs with the Fujifilm FinePix XP120 for remote control over photos and settings.
The Fujifilm FinePix XP120 features a 1/2.3-inch sensor with 16.4 Megapixels. The built-in flash reaches just over 14 feet. This point and shoot camera weighs 203 grams, including the weight of the batteries. The lens aperture has a range of F3.9-4.9, leaving something to be desired for both light and dim conditions. The Fujifilm FinePix XP120 is equipped with autofocus but does not offer a manual focus setting.
The Fujifilm FinePix XP120 features HD video recording up to 1080p. Other built-in features include panoramic mode, filters, Wi-Fi connectivity, and Instax printing.
Customer reviews & pricing
Positive reviews mentioned the camera’s durability, compact size, and water resistance. Negative reviews discussed susceptibility to drop damage and confusing transfer software.
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While each of these cameras has its benefits and drawbacks, they’re not all created equal. Our personal favorites are the Olympus Tough TG-5 and the Canon Powershot G7 X Mark II. Yes, these cameras are more expensive than their competitors. But their sturdiness, durability, and photo quality make them worth the investment. If you expect your camera to take a beating out in the field, we’d opt for the Olympus Tough TG-5. But if you’re more interested in taking high-quality photos and are willing to carry a more fragile camera to do so, we suggest the Canon Powershot G7 X Mark II.
If the price is a major concern for you, then the Fujifilm FinePix XP120 is our compromise. Although it’s lens and flash aren’t quite the same quality as the competition, its durability will ensure it serves you for many years. After that, maybe you’ll be ready to take the plunge and invest in a more expensive point and shoot camera model.