Top 10 Point & Shoot Cameras for 2022

Top 10 Point & Shoot Cameras for 2022

Introduction

Point & shoot cameras combine ease of use with small size to be the most accessible camera choice out there. The goal is to simplify the photographic process so that it really is just “point” and “shoot”!

As 2022 approaches, we’ve been taking some time to look back over the past year. While it was a chaotic time for everyone, the film community saw impressive growth. More and more people are picking up old cameras, and more and more people are recognizing the need to keep these lovely machines in working order. That’s where we come in!

We have access to unique data regarding google searches, advertisement results, and other data sources that give us a rough estimate of how much people search for a specific model. We’ve crunched the numbers and are proud to present a number of Top 10 lists for you to ring in 2022!

I mention this so that it’s clear that this list is not the opinion of Kamerastore. It’s an amalgamation of data driven almost entirely by customers and film lovers like you! If a camera you love isn’t on the list, then spread the word and get it higher in search results! Or don’t, and enjoy a hidden gem. Up to you!

This article covers compact point & shoot cameras. These cameras were produced in massive numbers and are a gateway drug of sorts for the rest of the analog world. That being said, even the most experienced photographer can benefit from having a small, quick compact with them.

Let’s dive right into it! Click the video below to see Nico & I discuss the list or keep scrolling for the text version. I’ll give you more information and some alternatives to each model on our list!

 

    10. Konica Big Mini

      • Shutter: 3.6s - 1/500s
      • ISO range: 25 - 3200 via DX code
      • Released in 1990.
      • CR123 battery required for all operations, including shutter, autofocus, and light meter.
      • Cult classic compact series by Konica, ranging in price & build quality. Big Mini BM-201 used for specifications above.

      The Big Mini is really a series of cameras rather than one specific model, which is likely why it manages to crack the top 10. This line of compacts from Konica has a number of devoted fans and famous users, but never achieved the mainstream success seen by Olympus & Canon compacts.

      Because of this, no one model sold enough to make the list on its own. Despite this, the Big Minis are excellent performers almost across the board. While they may vary in build quality and lens construction, Konica did not pull punches when designing these. They may be mini, but their image quality is anything but!

      When looking for Big Minis, the cheaper options are the BM-201 and BM-202. The F is a higher-end model with an f2.8 lens that will cost quite a bit more.

      Alternatives: Canon Prima Mini, Minolta Riva Mini, Nikon L35AF

        9. Konica Pop

          • Shutter: 3.6s - 1/500s
          • ISO range: 100, 200, or 400
          • Released in 1982.
          • Fully mechanical operation, 2x AA battery only required for flash.
          • Collectible, colorful camera with bare minimum features.

          The Pop is a surprise, for sure. For one, it doesn’t have the usual features we associate with a point & shoot camera. It doesn’t have automatic winding or autofocus, although it is small and plasticky. That’s because the Pop is actually fully mechanical.

          Well, mechanical in a sense. The batteries only power the flash, freeing the photographer to use this camera’s one shutter speed and three aperture modes without the need of a battery. Oh, did I mention that the Pop is fixed focus, like a disposable camera?

          The longer you look at the spec list, the worse the Pop appears. That being said, though, there’s a reason why the Konica Pop is a.. Pop-ular.. Camera.

          That reason is a.. Pop.. of color. Sorry, I’m done now. The Konica Pop was produced in nearly 10 different colors, including white, green, red, yellow, and blue. These cameras are a collector’s dream, with a moderately low price and a beautiful, colorful design that looks nice on a shelf.

          Unfortunately, outside of parties and other flash-centric events the Pop will likely remain on the shelf.

          Alternatives: Kodak Disposable cameras, Konica Tomato, Red Olympus XA2

           

            8. Yashica T3

              • Shutter: 1s - 1/630s
              • ISO range: 64 - 1600 via DX code
              • 2CR5 battery required for all operations, including autofocus, shutter, & light meter.
              • Compact & water-resistant camera featuring Carl Zeiss optics on a budget. Also the only Yashica T model to have an f2.8 lens instead of an f3.5 lens.

              The Yashica T line arrived as a Yashica alternative to the Contax T line. They have Carl Zeiss optics in cheaper, plasticky shells than the all-metal, premium Contax cameras. They also have some cool features that make them unique.

              The most notable of these is the NA Scope that graces the top of the T3. It’s essentially a tiny waist level finder on a compact camera. While this may not seem useful, for low-level shooting or discrete street shots it can be very beneficial. Imagine capturing a street scene without having to bring the camera to your eye. The people in the shot might not even notice you took a photo.

              One advantage of the T3 over the other models is the f2.8 lens. All other Yashica T cameras come with a 35mm f3.5 Tessar except the T3. So the T3 gives just a bit more low-light performance before needing to use the flash. It’s not as big of an improvement as you’d think, but the internet sure does love a compact camera with a 35mm f2.8 prime lens.

              The T3 also comes with minor waterproofing, although I’m not sure I’d trust weatherproofing from 40 years ago. A more useful feature is the focus lock. The T3 will do focus lock the same way modern cameras do it, with a half press. Some compacts of the era either did not have focus lock, or needed a strange lever or switch to activate it. This system is very intuitive.

              Alternatives: Nikon L35AF, Olympus Mju, Canon AF35ML, Ricoh FF90

               

                7. Nikon L35AF

                  • Shutter: 1/8s - 1/430s
                  • ISO range: 50 - 1000
                  • Released in 1983.
                  • 2x AA battery required for all operations, including autofocus, shutter, & light meter.
                  • Nikon’s first compact camera, with manual ISO control for exposure compensation.

                  The L35AF was Nikon’s first foray into the autofocus compact market, and they knocked it out of the park. With iconic 80s styling and a sharp, contrasty 35mm f2.8 lens, the L35AF is a simple machine that delivers great images most of the time.

                  On some early models, the ISO dial only goes up to 400. The ones that go to 1000 are more sought after and valuable, offering greater flexibility for what is arguably the L35AF’s greatest feature; exposure compensation.

                  Because the L35AF does not use DX coding to set its film speed, the photographer can set it to whatever they’d like. You can overexpose film by setting 400 speed film to 200 ISO, and underexpose as well. This gives the photographer a lot more control over the exposure than a standard point & shoot and is a reason people search for the Nikon L35AF.

                  The L35AF also has a +2 stop backlight compensation switch that automatically overexposes the frame by 2. It’s not as versatile as the ISO dial, but it’s also available if you’re worried about forgetting what ISO your film is!

                  Alternatives: Canon AF35M, Olympus Mju, Pentax PC35AF

                    6. Leica Minilux

                      • Shutter: 1s - 1/400s
                      • ISO range: 25 - 5000 via DX code
                      • Released in 1995.
                      • CR123 battery required for all operations, including autofocus, shutter, and light meter.
                      • Ultra-high end build quality with fast Summarit 40mm lens.

                      The Leica Minilux was Leica’s answer to the ever-popular Contax T2. Previous Leica compacts had been rebranded and slightly overhauled Minoltas, but this was an original design. With aperture priority, autofocus, and an extremely sharp 40mm f2.4 Summarit, the Minilux finally brings the prestige and build quality of the M line to the compact market.

                      While it borrows quite a lot of design from the more-popular T2, the Minilux has a faster normal lens and an aperture dial that’s much easier to turn. It’s also a bit smaller.

                      We wrote an article comparing and contrasting the various Leica point & shoots a while ago. Click here to check that out and see some sample shots from the Minilux!

                      Alternatives: Leica Minilux Zoom, Minolta TC-1, Fujifilm Tiara Mini, Nikon 35Ti

                        5. Contax T3

                          • Shutter: 16s - 1/1200s
                          • ISO range: 25 - 5000 via DX code
                          • Released in 2001.
                          • CR2 battery required for all operations, including autofocus, shutter, and light meter.
                          • Arguably the highest-end point & shoot ever made, produced in very limited numbers. High quality by every metric.

                          The Contax T3 is the halo compact. It’s smaller than the T2, has a very wide shutter speed range, and even has a reworked 35mm f2.8 Sonnar lens with 6 elements in 4 groups. It’s faster and more capable than its predecessor in every way while still being quite a bit smaller.

                          So what’s the catch? Why isn’t the T3 the most hyped camera out there? Well, it almost is. The catch is that it was introduced in 2001, meaning not many were produced before Contax ceased camera production in 2005.

                          The T2 was already a niche product when it was introduced, but by 2001 digital technology was beginning to take hold in mainstream culture. Not to mention APS film was stealing a portion of the compact market.

                          All these factors add up to a camera that honestly deserved more attention when it released. Despite its assumedly-hefty price tag, the Contax T3 has features and specs that would make any other point & shoot extremely jealous.

                          Alternatives: Leica CM, Minolta TC-1, Fujifilm Klasse S

                            4. Yashica T4

                              • Shutter: 1s - 1/700s
                              • ISO range: 50 - 3200 via DX code
                              • Released in 1990.
                              • CR123 battery required for all operations, including autofocus, shutter, and light meter.
                              • Compact, plasticky compact with Carl Zeiss glass and easy on/off switch for one-handed operation.

                              Again, a Yashica T appears on the list. This time, it’s the later T4 which features a number of improvements and changes over the T3 we featured earlier.

                              The most notable change is the body shape, which is much smaller and sleeker. If you’re a fan of the 80s design of the T3, you may prefer that, but the T4 is decidedly more discrete and pocketable.

                              Unfortunately, the T4 does not feature the waist level finder that made the T3 so unique. This featured was brought back on the Yashica T5, which otherwise changed very little.

                              That being said, the T4 is faster, smaller, and quieter than the T3 and also has easy one-handed operation. The on/off switch is located in a great spot to use without moving your hand away from the shooting grip. This is pretty invaluable considering ease of use is central to the ethos of the compact camera!

                              Alternatives: Yashica T5, Konica Big Mini F, Nikon 35Ti

                                3. Olympus Mju

                                  • Shutter: 1/15s - 1/500s
                                  • ISO range: 50 - 3200 via DX code
                                  • Released in 1991.
                                  • CR123 battery required for all operations, including autofocus, shutter, and light meter.
                                  • Ultra-compact, widely available point & shoot with sharp Olympus lens and great flash control.

                                  The Mju would not be here without its newer brother. Let’s get that out of the way. It may still be popular, it may even be on the list still, but it wouldn’t be #3. The power of the Mju-II to pull every other Olympus compact into popularity is honestly astounding. But now, the original.

                                  The Mju clearly takes inspiration from the XA series of compact viewfinder/rangefinder cameras, with its compact black body and clamshell lens cover/power switch. It was an excellent design with the XA and it's an excellent design here.

                                  While the Mju doesn’t have the same weather sealing and f2.8 lens as the newer model, its f3.5 lens is still more than capable of delivering stellar images. Some people even prefer the Mju’s focusing system, with 100 different focus stops and a standard half-press focus lock!

                                  So yes, the Olympus Mju is an excellent camera even without the hype it has received from its brother. There’s a reason tiny beanie YouTubers are now claiming this to be the best “thrift store find” camera out there, even if they bought the camera from a store like us.

                                  Alternatives: Olympus AF-1, Canon Prima Mini, Nikon AF600, Minolta Riva Mini

                                    2. Contax T2

                                      • Shutter: 8s - 1/500s
                                      • ISO range: 25 - 5000 via DX code
                                      • Released in 1990.
                                      • CR123 battery required for all operations, including autofocus, shutter, and light meter.
                                      • High-end compact with some manual controls and Carl Zeiss 38mm lens. Often seen in the hands of celebrities. Unmatched build quality.

                                      The Contax T2 might be the most hyped camera out there. While it’s an excellent shooter and people flock to it for a reason, it’s hard to ignore the impacts that the T2’s rising prices have had on the industry. Cameras like the Contax TVSiii and even the Contax G cameras have gone up in price more than the average camera, likely because of their proximity to the T2.

                                      This is the effect that a hyped camera can have. While film YouTubers and influencers can drive the price of a specific camera up somewhat within the community, the T2 has the support it needs to get outside of the film community.

                                      Kendall Jenner talking about the Contax T2 on Jimmy Fallon’s Tonight Show? That reaches a lot more people than a YouTube video, and it drives people to film photography that never would have considered it before.

                                      Love it or hate it, celebrity has an incredible power over modern society. The T2 is just the camera that represents this impact.

                                      Alternatives: Minolta TC-1, Leica Minilux, Konica Hexar AF, Fujifilm Klasse S

                                    1. 1. Olympus Mju-ii

                                      • Shutter: 4s - 1/1000s
                                      • ISO range: 50 - 3200 via DX code
                                      • Released in 1997.
                                      • CR123 battery required for all operations, including autofocus, shutter, and light meter.
                                      • Pocketable clamshell camera with 35mm f2.8 lens and weatherproof sealing.

                                      You knew it was coming. Whether you watched the video version or not, you knew the Olympus Mju-II was the top point & shoot for 2022. That’s because it’s arguably been the top point & shoot for the past 5 years.

                                      Despite anti-Mju sentiment growing amongst the most salty in the film community, the Olympus Mju-II is still growing more popular with each passing day. It appeals to young people, with its early 2000s aesthetic and pocketable size making it particularly trendy and approachable.

                                      The Olympus Mju-II does not take images as well as the Contax T2, with fewer controls and a lower-quality build. That being said, the Mju-II has a few things that make it a more popular camera.

                                      The number one reason is the price. Despite it rapidly increasing, the Mju-II is still affordable when compared to cameras like the Leica Minilux and Contax T2. For this lower price you get an f2.8 lens, a great fill flash, and even some light weather sealing.

                                      Another reason is that there are tons of these cameras out there. Olympus sold many times more Mju-IIs than Contax sold T2s, and the availability of these cameras speaks to that. We can hardly keep them in stock despite rising prices. They’re a powerhouse of a compact camera and the clear choice for the most popular point & shoot for 2022.

                                      Alternatives: Olympus Mju, Pentax PC35AF


                                      Thoughts/Alternatives

                                      It can be hard to come up with alternatives for point & shoots the way I did with 120 cameras, rangefinders, and 35mm SLRs. With those groups, I could suggest alternatives based on features and handling. With compacts, though, everything sort of blends together a bit.

                                      Most of the models featured above have lenses between 28 and 40mm with apertures between f3.5 and f2. All but one have autofocus, programmed exposure, and automatic winding. It can be hard to differentiate these cameras based on specs alone.

                                      In truth, the best way to know which point & shoot works for you is to shoot with them. Testing a few different models and trying things out will make it clear which cameras suit your hands and shooting style best. That being said, we know people want alternatives so I am obliged to write a few.

                                       Image Courtesy of Mike Eckman

                                      Image Courtesy of Mike Eckman.

                                      Pentax PC35AF

                                      This was Pentax’s first foray into compact cameras, and it’s a great one. Just like Nikon, Pentax hit it out of the park on the first try. Also like the Nikon L35AF, the Pentax has a manual ISO dial, meaning you can use a kind of exposure compensation by putting the dial slightly above or below the actual film’s ISO.

                                      Unlike the Nikon, the PC35AF has manual film advance. It uses a wheel similar to a disposable camera. Is this really an issue though? In practice, it makes the PC35AF quite quiet compared to the whirs and buzzes of its 80s competitors. An accessory winder is available for those who can’t live without, or they could look for the motorized version, the PC35AF-M.

                                      One criticism is the name. PC35AF does not roll off the tongue and is hard to search for. This keeps prices lower than other compacts, but probably wasn’t Pentax’s impression. Their later Espio compacts solve this naming issue, mostly.

                                      Image Courtesy of Mike Eckman

                                      Image Courtesy of Mike Eckman.

                                      Ricoh FF90

                                      If you’re into the 80s styling of something like the Nikon L35AF or Yashica T3, check out this Ricoh. It’s fully automatic just like those two, has a huge (and helpful) LCD display, and has all the 80s styling cues you could imagine.

                                      Plus, and perhaps most importantly, it has an excellent 5 element Rikenon lens with the classic 35mm f2.8. This should make it popular on the internet, but alas the Ricoh has fallen into relative obscurity. Hopefully until now.

                                      Image courtesy of xjx1998

                                      Image courtesy of xjx1998.

                                      Canon Prima Mini

                                      It’s a bit silly to think that a Canon camera could be overlooked, but the Prima Mini finds a way. It’s a truly compact, 2000s-looking camera with a 35mm f3.5 lens on it. Yes, as I’ve said, the internet demands f2.8 lenses, but in truth they’re far from necessary.

                                      In low light situations your camera will prefer to use the flash or a slow shutter speed rather than use the widest aperture. In these situations, you’d be better served with a manual camera.

                                      With that out of the way, the Canon is a great camera. It’s pocketable, sleek, feels nice in the hand, and is well built. It’s also sort of the opposite of the Ricoh from above because it’s all curves, with very few harsh angles.


                                      Minolta AF-C

                                      I could include a few Minoltas on this list, but the AF-C stands out to me. It takes the detachable flash formula from the Olympus XA and successfully brings it to the autofocus era. It has a 35mm f2.8, a sliding lens cover, and a detachable flash.

                                      Without the flash, the camera is adorably small. Even with it, it’s still quite a compact setup. Plus, like the Pentax, this Minolta has manual ISO control. Feel free to set the ISO to whatever you want for creative effects.

                                      Oh, who am I kidding.. You’re just going to slightly overexpose Portra, aren’t you?


                                      Canon AF35ML

                                      The Canon AF35ML isn’t a cheap camera, and can actually be more expensive than some on this list. That being said, it offers something that nothing on this list can: an f1.9 lens.

                                      That’s right, this Canon is capable of wide aperture shooting in lower light than almost any other. Unfortunately, you can’t force it to use this wide aperture because the camera is fully programmed. This means no portraits, only low-light shooting.

                                      For some, that’s enough to make the sale. If you want a compact camera that has a faster lens than almost any other, the AF35ML is for you.


                                      Minolta Riva Mini

                                      I know I mentioned this as an alternative a few times in the list, but I want to give it some attention here as well. During Minolta’s partnership with Leica in the 1970s, they produced many cameras together and shared secrets. Minolta donated their electronics expertise and Leica shared lens-making secrets.

                                      One of the cameras to come out during this time is the Minolta Riva Mini. It was also sold as the Leica Mini II. While the Leica version has a red dot and a lens labeled Elmar, the internals are largely Minolta-made.

                                      If Leica approves of a compact enough to put their name on it, then it’s worth considering. This camera has a 35mm f3.5 lens and.. Not much else. There’s a built-in flash, a retracting lens, and an otherwise-pedestrian design. If you can get over its uninteresting appearance, though, you’ll find a capable and simple camera for capturing life’s small moments.

                                      If you’re feeling particularly quirky, the Panasonic C-625AF is actually the same camera as the Leica & Minolta

                                      Literally Any Zoom P&S

                                      I cannot tell you how capable these cameras are. No matter if they’re Minolta Rivas, Pentax Espios, Canon Primas, Olympus Mjus, or Nikon Lite Touches, the zoom-equipped point & shoots were actually the higher-end models when compared to the prime lens models.

                                      It’s wild to think that now, but back in the day people wanted a flexible zoom range and more features in their compacts. Some of these cameras have an absurd amount of flash modes and strange things inside them.

                                      It’s true that these zoom lenses can leave a lot to be desired at the telephoto end, but at the wide end they’re normally nearly as good as anything a prime lens can do. It’s also true that the advantages of a fast prime lens aren’t felt as much when the camera is choosing both shutter and aperture.

                                      Most computer-based program cameras will bias away from wide apertures until they have no other choice. Their primitive autofocus systems weren’t necessarily capable of nailing focus with such thin apertures. Even if they could, the compact designs required to get an f2.8 lens into such a small body often require sacrificing some sharpness.

                                      Compact cameras, prime or otherwise, are more comfortable in well-lit environments. In these environments, with the aperture stopped down, most of them will perform admirably.


                                      Conclusions

                                      These cameras receive more hype than almost any other. It’s appealing to have a high-powered photo-taking machine that fits in a pocket. I get that. I also understand that many influential people are advertising these things as the best creative tools out there.

                                      So are they?

                                      In reality, no. Compact cameras were never designed to be primary shooters for photographers. They were intended for everyday consumers to capture snapshots of life. Some high end compacts make great second cameras for pro photographers, but even that is stretching their use case to the extreme.

                                      Like I said before, if you’re using a compact as intended you’ll get acceptable performance. Some will be a bit sharper than others, and some have more customization than others, but most will do well.

                                      I say all this to get to the point that cheap point & shoots can do the vast majority of things that expensive ones can. Unlike rangefinders or SLRs, where features or build quality can be “unlocked” by paying more for premium models, compacts are a bit more eclectic.

                                      Some, like the Contax T2 and Leica Minilux, genuinely do offer more features for their price. These cameras have some manual control and premium build that makes them stand out. But for many, you can replace the camera with something ½ the price and likely not even notice.

                                      If I held up two prints made with an Olympus Mju-II versus a Mju-II Zoom, do you think you’d be able to tell which was which? I’m not so sure I would.

                                      Click here to shop Olympus film cameras.

                                      Click here to shop Contax film cameras.

                                      Click here to shop all film cameras.

                                      Leave a comment

                                      Please note, comments need to be approved before they are published.