Best Compact Cameras Under $400
Updated: Feb 14/2019
Q. Can you buy a good quality compact point and shoot camera for under $400?
A. Yes! You absolutely can!
Are you looking to snag a great deal on a compact camera before you travel in 2019?
Great! you are in the right place. Over the years of traveling, I have taken many great photos and videos.
Compact cameras are, of course, compact, lightweight, and easy to use. This article will show you our best picks and give advice on why we think these compact cameras are the best choices for you.
- Canon PowerShot ELPH 360 HS
- Canon Powershot SX 720 HS
- PANASONIC LUMIX ZS60 4K Point and Shoot Camera
- Canon PowerShot SX730 Digital Camera
- Sony DSCHX80/B High Zoom Point & Shoot Camera
- Panasonic Lumix FZ80
For more of our favorite gear recommendations, check out these popular Gear Guide links:
Best Compact Cameras Under $400 – What To Look For
Cameras sure have changed over time. They just keep getting better, and if you are tired of taking photos with your smartphone and are ready to upgrade to a better travel camera, keep reading.
The compact camera is also known as a point and shoot camera. These types of cameras are designed mainly for their simple operation and ease of use.
The thing is, if you want a camera that is suitable for traveling, you need to pay attention to some specific details about the camera that maybe you wouldn’t really care about if you were not traveling.
It is not always easy to make the right selection for a good travel camera and stick to a budget. There are so many different features and options, and some of the best cameras can be confusing to make the right choice.
One important thing to know is that you don’t need to spend a fortune. You can stay on a budget and still buy a really nice travel camera that you and your family will love.
Most people use the compact camera for taking snapshots of outdoor events, vacations, parties, and other functions.
If you are traveling, the point and shoot camera is a great option as they are lightweight and versatile. They are usually the smallest and most affordable option as well.
But the one negative to using a compact or point and shoot camera is they most likely will lack in image quality when compared to a higher end DSLR camera.
Some other general point & shoot camera pros and cons:
- Size & weight: The modern point and shoot cameras are small and light enough to fit in your pocket.
- Price: Very affordable and in most cases, you are going to pay less than an entry-level DSLR.
- Noise: Most compact, point and shoot cameras are virtually silent in most cases.
- Ease of use: Most point and shoot cameras are set up to take good photos right out of the box. The controls and menus are simple and easy to understand for beginners.
- Image quality: Not all but some point and shoot cameras are not very good at capturing images in low light situations.
- Flexibility: Zooming in on objects far away may be a concern. Changing the lens is not an option.
- Manual controls: Selecting your own aperture and shutter speed will be an issue for most point and shoot cameras.
- Speed: Focusing is much slower and they are famous for shutter lag.
So, are you ready to move past taking photos on your cell phone and into a real camera? If you said yes, then congratulations! That’s a smart move.
Now ask yourself, is a standalone camera really required? Do I need one? Well probably not, but let’s face it. Although smartphones today will take great photos and videos, using a nice compact digital camera is so much better.
Other than image quality, there are other features on a digital camera that a smartphone will be limited to. For example, the fixed wide angle lenses make it difficult to shoot far away objects or close-ups. Plus versatility, comfort, and style are other things to take into consideration.
And don’t worry, you can get a really great camera for a decent price. You can spend thousands on higher-end cameras that have some pretty amazing features but I know that’s not why you are here.
Before I list my compact camera recommendations, here are a few tips that will help you choose the best one for you:
Determine what you need the camera for.
Don’t make the mistake of buying extras that you don’t need. Are you going to use it for landscape, sports? What type of lighting will you be shooting in? Are you looking for a certain zoom or image stabilization? These are some questions to ask yourself before buying the camera. The size and portability is also an important factor.
Don’t worry too much about megapixels.
Megapixels are something that most people notice when buying a new camera, and usually one of the first questions asked. How many megapixels does it have? Don’t worry about it. Today’s cameras are normally built with at least 5MP, gone are the days when the megapixels were a huge concern. Actually, it can be a disadvantage of some cameras with high megapixels. The images end up being so large that they take up so much space on memory cards and computers.
Remember you may need extras.
It’s possible that you may need some extras to go with your new camera. Things like a memory card, case, batteries, and charger, tripods. Most places will offer a bundle price which will be cheaper than buying the items separately.
Here is a great example of a Canon digital camera bundle on Amazon.
So those are just a few tips, there is also a great article on Digital Photography School showing more tips on buying a compact camera.
What To Look For With Travel Cameras – Must Have Items
- Awesome zoom
- The “F” factor
- Image stability
This is definitely something to consider when buying a travel camera. Your camera needs to be portable so it will be easy to bring with you. Whether it will be in your carry on bag for the airplane, or perhaps you are an outdoor traveler, your camera needs to be portable.
This would include weight and size. Of course the lighter and more compact the better. That is not always possible, depending on the type of photography you are using the camera for.
#2. Awesome zoom
Travelers love to have a camera with a huge zoom feature to capture those far away images. A really good zoom will let you capture a great shot of an animal in the distance or a building that is far away. But be aware that a big zoom can mean a loss in resolution. You can add zoom lenses to DSLR and mirrorless cameras, but that will cost more.
Since we are trying to stay on a budget here, a compact camera with a decent zoom will suffice.
#3. The “F” factor
If you are going to be traveling to spots that have low light areas, you will still want to use your camera. Some cameras are better than others when taking photos in low light. A museum for example. For this, you will want a camera with a bright lens.
This will be indicated by the “F” factor or aperture. The lower the number, the better. For example, F/1.8 is awesome. F/3.6 not so great but still average.
#4. Image stability
Image stability is important on a zoom lens. As mentioned earlier, a big zoom feature is great to have. But as you zoom in more, image stability becomes less. You will want to find a camera that has great image stability.
Some people may say that a WIFI feature is not that important on a travel camera. I will gladly disagree with them. Although I don’t think it’s a deal breaker, it still is an important feature for me and I prefer to have the convenience of storing and sharing images and video right over the internet instantly. You never know when your camera can be lost or stolen.
Best Compact Cameras Under $400
1. Canon PowerShot ELPH 360 HS
Although the Canon 360 HS is a few years old now, it’s still one of the best budget cameras on the market today and is great for travelers. It’s compact and lightweight design make it easy to pack and take with you anywhere.
This point and shoot camera will take amazing photos and professional quality video in HD. It has image stabilization and with multiple settings, you will have no problem getting the perfect shot. It’s perfect for beginners, and professionals will appreciate some of the great features.
Overall this is a great camera and is very affordable. The only negative views I have for it is the battery life is poor compared to some others. Expect to get about 180 photos before you will need to charge or replace the battery. Also, a viewfinder would be nice to have.
2. Canon Powershot SX 720 HS
The Canon PowerShot SX720 HS camera is perfect for family vacations, parties and other outdoor moments.
Its 40x optical zoom means you can capture close-up portraits of your family, landmarks in the distance and virtually everything in between.
While you’re away on travels, keep everyone at home updated by sharing your shots with the PowerShot SX720 HS’s built-in Wi-Fi and NFC connectivity.
The 20.3-megapixel CMOS sensor and DIGIC 6 image processor will combine to bring you stunning images and spectacular 1080p Full HD video.
What I like about the Canon Powershot SX720 HS:
- Small size 2.51 x 1.41 x 4.32 in and lightweight 0.54 lbs.
- Image Sync Function – In addition to wirelessly transferring photos and videos through CANON iMAGE GATEWAY to your computer, you can now view and download them from your compatible smartphone.
- Intelligent IS – This analyzes camera movement and applies a suitable shake correction method for the shooting situation.
What I don’t like:
- Focus Time Is Slow. This is not a huge deal but it’s worth mentioning. Depending on the situation you are in, you may find it slow to focus.
The Canon Powershot SX720 HS is a great camera and I highly recommend it. You can check it out on Amazon via the link. Also, watch the video below for more info.
3. PANASONIC LUMIX ZS60 4K Point and Shoot Camera
One of the best things about the Panasonic ZS60 is the clean lines as well as textured grips. This camera won’t win any awards for its looks but it defiantly should be in the conversation.
It looks fairly similar to the ZS50, but has improved performance and features.
Panasonic Lumix point-and-shoot digital cameras are known for their reliability and innovative features. You will get both of those with this camera. It has the optical performance of a 30x (24-720mm) LEICA DC Lens, and it’s compact size and light weight make it a great choice.
You will love the hands-on manual feel of a lens-mounted control ring and thumbwheel, plus the familiarity of an eye-level electronic viewfinder. Wi-Fi mobile device controllability and 4K video and 4K PHOTO modes are also included in this model which is perfect for the modern traveler.
What I like about the ZS60:
- Has Leica Vario-Elmar 30x zoom with (24-720mm) built-in optical image stabilization to reduce blur at long ranges.
- 4K Ultra HD video recording.
- Post Focus 4K Photo modes.
- Compact design 4.4 x 2.5 x 1.5 inches
- Great price
What I Don’t like:
- Expect some significant quality issues. Similar to the ZS50, this camera continues to have a small chip which can cause quality concerns.
The Panasonic Lumix ZS60 is another great camera at a great price. You can see more info on Amazon by clicking the link.
4. Canon PowerShot SX730 Digital Camera
This is Canon’s newest superzoom travel compact camera. The Canon PowerShot SX730 HS has improved specifications over its predecessor, the SX720.
This camera is very easy to use and is super comfortable to hold. One difference that may be slightly noticeable on this camera vs the SX720, is the size has increased.
This is due to the new tilting screen. It’s not a huge difference, you can still fit it in your pocket but the change does exist.
The 40x zoom feature is very nice, and with zoom framing assist you can take great shots using longer focal lengths. Wifi and Bluetooth1 technology are very convenient features to have, use your smartphones GPS to tag your photos.
What I like about the SX730:
DIGIC 6 Image Processor – helps boost image quality in both stills and videos for high resolution with minimal noise when shooting in dark conditions, and Dynamic IS that helps create video virtually free of distortion.
- Tilting 3″ Screen 180 degree is a great added feature.
- Self Portrait Mode – With so many people taking selfies these days, this mode just makes it so much easier.
- Easy To Use Menus – This camera has some great features for advanced photographers, but the easy to use menus make this camera great for beginners as well.
What I didn’t like:
- No Touchscreen – We found for the price of this camera, a touchscreen LCD should have been an option to have with the swivel screen.
- No 4K Recording – Again for the price point of this compact camera, there should be an option of 4K recording like many others.
These features may not be something that every user cares about or needs. But while this is a great camera overall, we feel the SX730 should have these 2 features.
Just like I mentioned with the Canon 720SX, I highly recommend the Canon Powershot 730SX. For the price, both Canon cameras listed here will give you great value. You can’t go wrong with either.
5. Sony DSCHX80/B High Zoom Point & Shoot Camera
The Sony HX80B is another great camera with lots of cool features. We really like this camera and recommend it, but there are a few things this camera can improve on.
You will get sharp detail up close with the world’s smallest and lightest 30x zoom camera. There’s even a pop-up electronic viewfinder for eye-level framing and a 180 Degree tilt screen for 18.2MP selfies. Very similar to the Canon SX730 for selfie mode.
Stunning picture quality comes from the low light Exmor R sensor and premium ZIESS lens with 5-axis image stabilization. You can share photos instantly with built-in Wi-Fi and NFC.
What I liked about the HX80/B:
- Very Compact – 4″ x 2.3″ x 1.4″
5-axis Image Stabilization – Greatly reduces blur, get remarkably sharp images with Sony’s Optical SteadyShot image stabilization for both stills and video.
- Tilting 180 Degree 3″ Screen
- Pop Up Electronic Viewfinder.
What I don’t like:
- Menu Difficult To Navigate – Might not be a concern for some users, but for beginners, I can see this being a problem.
- Slow To Focus – Personally, I didn’t find this to be a big issue but there have been many complaints about this in the past.
- Setting Need To Be Changed Often – You can adjust your settings and save them in manual mode, but for a point and shoot camera, it can be less than desired to be messing with the settings to get that perfect picture you are looking for.
Overall the Sony HX80B is a great camera but has some minor flaws that can be a nuisance to some users. I still recommend it for the price and other great features it does have. Check out the video below for some additional info.
6. Panasonic Lumix FZ80
The Lumix FZ80 a point and shoot camera which offers an amazing 60x zoom lens and 4K technology. You might be thinking wow, that must be expensive! You will be impressed by the price of this camera. Another great camera for travelers.
I really like the design of this camera. Sure it’s a bit bigger than some others but for me, I don’t mind that. The Lumix FZ80 also ticks all the boxes for must-have items with a travel camera.
Compact waterproof camera for travel:
There is a really good chance that while you are traveling, you will be around some water. Whether it is at the beach or near a lake, you don’t want to risk your camera getting wet.
Waterproof cameras are a great option if you know you will be around water but want to take great photos and videos without worrying about your camera accidentally getting ruined by water damage.
A waterproof camera doesn’t have to be expensive either. My suggestion is to look at the Fujifilm Finepix XP80.
Best waterproof compact camera for travel – Fujifilm Finepix XP80
This camera is durable and has four rugged protection features: waterproof, freezeproof, shockproof, dustproof. You can’t go wrong with that.
You can read my full review here or check the current price below.
I think if you are looking to get a great compact point and shoot camera and not break the bank, any one of the above-mentioned cameras will do the trick. Of course, you can spend more money and get a better camera depending on the features you are looking for. In my opinion, you don’t need to spend more than $400. For the price, features, and quality you get from any of these cameras, you really can’t go wrong!
If you enjoyed our best compact cameras under $400 guide, have a look at all our travel gear guides here:
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