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If you’re shopping for the highest-rated point-and-shoot camera for birding, then you’re specifically looking for a camera that’s rated for nature photography. A good wildlife camera should be fairly durable, but you’ll also want enhanced zoom support to easily capture birds, especially since they’re always on the move. You’ll also want to think about features like quick auto-focus, as well as the option to control aperture and ISO so that you always get the best shot, even in low or high light.
Birding requires patience and a willingness to track your photo subject (the birds), sometimes through dense brush or rugged trails. This means you may want to think about whether you want a lightweight point-and-shoot camera or if you prefer a slightly larger model that offers more robust features.
Either way, keep reading our best point-and-shoot cameras for a birding buying guide to learn more. Or check out our best digital camera guide to decide which camera category is best for your needs.
Award: TOP PICK
WHY WE LIKE IT: This camera is compact, so it easily fits in a travel bag or backpack for simple transportation. It records detailed Full HD video and has a memory card slot for photos and footage.
The Toberto DS311 36MP digital camera features a decent CMOS sensor that captures high-quality photos. This camera is also quite good at video recording, capturing 1080p footage. It has a 2.4-inch LCD, which provides good reviews. Travelers will appreciate its portable construction that easily fits into a handbag or backpack accessory pocket. However, although this camera has a digital zoom function of up to 16X, the images captured when the zoom function is engaged are a bit pixelated.
This Toberto DS311 36MP digital camera charges via a USB port. It has a memory card slot and accepts memory cards of up to 128GB. Equipped with a 750 mAh rechargeable lithium-ion battery, this camera is easy to maintain. It’s available in a wide selection of colors, including purple, pink, and black. Its imaged stabilization system ably counters the effects of camera shake. Features such as Face detection and Continuous Shooting enhance the photography experience
Award: HONORABLE MENTION
WHY WE LIKE IT: This Iebrt camera has a slim, child-friendly design that works for all family members. With a powerful sensor, it takes high-res photos and brings out the fine details.
The Iebrt 36 MP digital camera has excellent functions that appeal to birders. It has a lightweight, compact profile that supports travel. This camera has some manual buttons and dials that give the user precise control over the settings. This camera has a 36-megapixel sensor and will delight birders who want to capture fine details. However, although it supports digital zoom of up to 16X, the resultant photos are typically pixelated.
This Iebrt 36 MP digital camera has a kid-friendly design that’s ideal for families. With the built-in camera flash, users can enhance visibility in low-light conditions. It comes with two lithium-ion batteries, so users can have peace of mind when embarking on extended shooting sessions. The video features on this camera don’t disappoint either, and this device captures 1080p videos. The camera has a 2.4-inch LCD that provides good previews when recording.
Award: BEST FOR TRAVEL
WHY WE LIKE IT: This camera takes detailed, colorful photos, so it’s ideal for nature photographers. The device is compact, fitting easily in trouser pockets, purses, and backpack accessory pockets.
The Kodak PIXPRO FZ53 16.15 MP digital camera boasts a high-quality CCD sensor that captures incredibly detailed images. It has a 28-140mm lens that supports optical zoom of up to 5X. A 230,000-dot 2.3-inch LCD enables trouble-free previews. It comes with a wide variety of accessories that will enable users to start shooting right away. However, the zooming function on this model is limited, so capturing birds up in the trees is a bit challenging.
This Kodak PIXPRO FZ53 16.15MP digital camera has a Panorama Capture function that’s ideal for birding. It has several manual buttons on the rear side, simplifying zooming and adjusting exposure compensation. Users will love its black finish that complements camera gear. A powerful camera flash enhances the quality of photos taken in low-light conditions. The camera also has decent video features, recording at resolutions of up to 720p.
Award: BEST FOR PROFESSIONAL BIRDERS
WHY WE LIKE IT: This camera has an incredible high-resolution sensor that captures crisp, vibrant photos. Professional birders will especially find its macro lens and advanced features such as motion detection very useful.
The Lincom Tech 3.0 48 MP digital camera is the ideal device for seasoned photographers. This camera has some advanced features that will appeal to professionals. Recording at resolutions of up to 4K at 30fps, this camera is also suitable for vloggers and videographers. It includes a 32GB SD card for storage. A detachable wide-angle lens will delight nature lovers interested in photos with a spatial sense. However, some consumers may be put off by the legacy appearance of this camera.
This Lincom Tech 3.0 48MP digital camera has a macro lens, which excels in capturing shots of plants and birds. It has a digital zoom of up to 16X for capturing far-away objects. With two rechargeable 1500 mAh lithium-ion batteries, this camera records videos for up to 2 hours on a single charge. A 3-inch flip display lets users preview photos accurately. We love the advanced features such as motion detection, loop detection, and a self-timer.
Award: BEST FOR VIDEOGRAPHERS
WHY WE LIKE IT: This Lumix camera records excellent high-resolution videos, making it a good choice for documentary videographers. It has a lens-mounted ring and eye-level ViewFinder that provide the precision needed for pro-level photography.
The Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS60K 18MP digital camera has a very sensitive sensor that produces powerful photos. It’s equipped with a 24-720mm Leica DC lens with an optical zoom of up to 30X, capturing birds from afar in astounding detail. It records 4K UHD videos, making it a darling for videographers. A built-in eye-level Electronic ViewFinder (EVF) offers astoundingly accurate previews. With a touch LCD, this device simplifies adjusting settings. However, this camera doesn’t have any external battery charging hub.
This Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS60K 18 MP digital camera has a lens-mounted control ring that brings a DSLR to feel to this mirrorless model. Built-in Wi-Fi offers effortless connectivity and fast media transfer. Despite its advanced features, the camera is very compact, making it ideal for birders that don’t want to carry a lot of baggage. A hybrid O.I.S five-axis stabilization system on this device counters camera shakes caused by unsteady hands or movement.
Award: BEST FOR RESEARCHERS
WHY WE LIKE IT: This Canon camera has a 20.3-megapixel CMOS sensor, which delivers incredibly detailed, natural photos. It has a powerful lens with an optical zoom of up to 40X that will help people who want to capture birds up in the trees.
The Canon PowerShot SX740 HS 20.3 MP digital camera is a powerful device that will appeal to nature photographers. It has a large 3.0-inch slide-out LCD that enables changing settings easily. Equipped with an outstanding lens capable of up to 40X optical zoom, the device simplifies birding. An optical image stabilization system steadies shots. The camera also has advanced time-lapse features that are suitable for birding. However, the images get a bit grainy in dark conditions. For another option from this brand, check out the Canon EOS 2000D.
This Canon PowerShot SX740 HS 20.3 MP digital camera has a powerful CMOS sensor that captures very detailed, colorful photographs. It’s slim, making it easy to take on journeys. Featuring numerous scene modes for plants, food, and animals, the camera is easy to adjust. Built-in Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity let users transfer photos and videos easily. With a 4K video sensor, this camera is suitable for video recording.
In the camera world, there are four main types of cameras: point and shoot, DSLR, mirrorless, and smartphones. These days, the point-and-shoot camera niche continues to be made somewhat redundant thanks to smartphone cameras continually improving with each new phone generation.
Still, of the traditional camera models, point-and-shoot versions are designed to be the easiest and most goof-proof photography option. This makes them an ideal solution for novices or even casual photography hobbyists who want something more than their smartphone but might not want to lug around the larger DSLR and mirrorless camera models.
For birding, the superzoom point-and-shoot camera is a phenomenal choice. It allows you to get up close with your subject through the lens without scaring them away. You can even find a superzoom camera with a magnification as high as 125x. Because of the enhanced optical zoom, you don’t need to bring additional lenses with you or risk spooking birds while trying to capture the perfect shot. And, you won’t have to figure out how to increase the zoom on your camera.
Most point-and-shoot options are also categorized as compact cameras, like some of the leading FujiFilm cameras, which can come in handy if you’re birding, and may require frequent location changes as you try to get the perfect shot. And some of the best Panasonic digital cameras are perfect for birding. Still, point and shoot cameras can come with robust features, making them an excellent solution for photography enthusiasts and casual birders alike.
While point-and-shoot cameras are a fan favorite amongst birders because they’re lightweight and don’t require extra accessories, they do have limitations. As we mentioned above, there are three other camera solutions for birders, depending on their comfort level and budget.
The main attributes that make point-and-shoot cameras so attractive are their relatively wallet-friendly price points coupled with the potential for a higher zoom magnification and a compact size, making them great for extended periods of birding.
Compared to DSLR and mirrorless cameras, though, point-and-shoot cameras may not offer as much functionality in terms of robust manual controls. They also typically aren’t designed to be used with some of the most popular photography accessories like interchangeable lenses. Additionally, DSLRs are designed with professional photographers in mind. This means that they tend to be more durable and withstand consistent exposure to dust and water. Especially for birders that want to catch shots of birds in motion, you can’t beat a DSLR or mirrorless camera for superior image quality.
Point and shoot cameras tend to compare pretty evenly with smartphone cameras, which in many instances have become the camera of choice for many birding enthusiasts. This is especially true for birders who want to travel light with just their phone to take pictures. Still, similarly to point-and-shoot cameras, smartphones struggle with motion photography.
The general technology behind a point-and-shoot camera isn’t that different from any other camera. You look through a viewfinder, press the shutter, and take a picture. Depending on your budget, you can find a point-and-shoot camera that offers only the most basic functions or models that allow you to get a little more hands-on.
The first factor you need to consider is the magnification strength. Wallet-friendly cameras that only cost a few hundred dollars tend to offer a 20x optical zoom camera along with an ergonomic grip. These will also usually feature an autofocus option. Although, for birding, you’ll want a camera that allows you to turn this off. If you have a larger budget, you can find models with enhanced zooms as high as 125x.
Since you’ll be taking pictures in nature, you need to be aware of factors such as low light or high light. While you can rely on automatic presets when you’re taking pictures during daylight, you’ll want a camera that lets you control features like ISO and aperture, which can help your camera compensate for lighting that might not be ideal. This ensures that if you’re birding at dawn or dusk, your pictures will look right. To learn more about picture quality, read our info article about understanding why cameras save images at different DPIs.
Point and shoot cameras can also support video recording, which may be important for birders who want to capture bird songs. And depending on the camera you select, you can find models that support image sharing either through Bluetooth, NFC, or WiFi.
Point-and-shoot cameras have been a mainstay in the birding community because of their relative ease of use while also not weighing you down. Along with their more affordable price points and low learning curve, there’s plenty to love about this camera category.
Determining how long a point-and-shoot camera will last can be tricky. Unlike their older siblings — DSLR and mirrorless cameras — point-and-shoot cameras don’t have a life expectancy dictated by shutter count.
With more premium cameras that also have a manual shutter, you would rely on a figure known as shutter actuation. Shutter actuation can vary across brands and models and simply denotes the total number of pictures you can take with the manual shutter before it risks breaking.
But point-and-shoot cameras don’t have shutters or mirrors, so they don’t have a shutter actuation figure. With fewer internal moving parts, there’s less “wear and tear” happening as would occur with DSLR and mirrorless cameras.
So, the answer depends on user behavior. It’s always possible to get a dud camera that fails prematurely. But assuming that you treat your camera properly, don’t leave it exposed to the elements, and avoid frequently dropping it on hard surfaces, a point-and-shoot camera should last several years before you need to replace it. While they’re not ideal for birding, the best Polaroid digital cameras are a great way to indulge in a bit of nostalgia.
So, you’ve considered the benefits of a point-and-shoot camera versus a DSLR, mirrorless, or even a smartphone. And you’ve now decided that you want a point-and-shoot camera for your next birding adventure. Along with your budget, there are other considerations to keep in mind as you shop for a camera.
While it’s not the only factor you should prioritize, it will impact your point-and-shoot camera’s functionality. This camera category can cost as little as $200 to more than $1,000. Budget-friendly solutions will have limited functionality with a smaller magnification of around 20x and very little, if any, customization for the controls.
As you continue to move up in price, you’ll not only get enhanced zoom but also other functions like 4K video recording, higher megapixels, enhanced sensors, and even a hot shoe mount to add accessories.
We mentioned earlier that point-and-shoot cameras are great for birding unless you want to shoot birds in motion. If you’re only interested in capturing images of birds perched on tree branches, then point-and-shoot cameras are perfect for this subject. But if you want to catch birds in flight, you’ll need to consider upgrading to a DSLR or mirrorless camera.
This question goes hand in hand with your budget since the two factors are directly linked. If you’re thinking about shooting pictures in rougher light conditions, such as at dawn or dusk, you’re going to want to spend more on your point-and-shoot camera so that you get access to aperture and ISO settings.
Also, keep in mind that if you plan to shoot in a variety of lighting settings, you’ll want a camera with a wide aperture range. Aperture is measured in f-numbers. As a general rule of thumb, the lower the first number in the range, the better a camera performs in low light.
Some birders are thrilled just taking still photographs of their favorite birds. Others may want to catch them in action on video or capture their songs. If this sounds like you, you might want to prioritize a camera with 4K video footage capability. Alternatively, if you just want to capture bird songs, then consider a camera that supports an external camera mount.
Image sensor quality may not be important to someone who’s taking a handful of photos every once in a while. But if you’re pursuing birding as a serious hobby, sensor quality is going to matter. Not all point-and-shoot cameras highlight sensor quality, which means that you’re most likely going to need to increase your budget to get a camera with one. If achieving high-quality images is important to you, look for a camera with at least a one-inch sensor.
Point-and-shoot digital cameras tend to be pretty durable. But you still want to look for something that can withstand the elements, especially if the weather turns while you’re out birding. To that end, consider whether the camera is dust or water-resistant. And along the same lines, think about the weight. For extended periods outdoors, you might not want the heaviest camera you can find.
These days, pretty much every digital camera will support a physical USB-based connection for downloading images or video. But if you want the option to post on the go, you might want a solution that incorporates Bluetooth, WiFi, or even NFC. By wirelessly connecting your camera to a smartphone or computer, you can quickly add images to your social media if you prefer or share them with others.