It's crazy just how many cameras were released in 2011 from the major manufacturers. According to camera site 1001 Noisy Cameras, the count stands at 203; the majority of those are point-and-shoots.
For us, a point-and-shoot is a fixed-lens camera (i.e. not interchangeable) that uses a 1/2.3-inch-size sensor. So, before you get all "Where's the Canon S100!" on me, we consider that and similar models enthusiast compacts because of their larger sensor sizes and target user.
Now these aren't necessarily the best, (though they're all very good at what they do), but they are the ones I had the most fun using, which is pretty important to me because if you don't enjoy shooting with a camera, you're not going to use it.
Of course, these are all ones that I've reviewed, too, so if you've got one that you thought was awesome, please say so in the comments. Along those lines, I'm in the middle of testing the, a fully loaded compact megazoom that's been a blast to use and probably deserves to be on this list, too.
Canon PowerShot Elph 300 HS
Canon's Digital Elph line was falling behind the competition, but came back strong mainly by putting backside-illuminated CMOS sensors in every model. The new sensor combined with its small, slender design made the 300 HS my go-to ultracompact recommendation. Read the full review.
The SH100's photos are best suited for Web use, which makes sense because it's tuned for online sharing. It was fun to use, had lots of features and shooting options to play with, and its built-in Wi-Fi does more than just connect to a hot spot.
Most enthusiasts expected Nikon to come up with a direct competitor to . Instead, we got the P300, which, because of its small sensor, is more of a regular point-and-shoot than an enthusiast compact. On the other hand, it has a bright f1.8 lens, easy control over shutter speed and aperture, and takes very nice photos and videos--all for much less than the S95.
The video really explains it all. If you're looking for a long lens, the HX9V is just an all-around excellent compact point-and-shoot.
Having just wrapped up testing its lower-end line mate, , I appreciate even more all that Panasonic offers with the FZ150. If you're an enthusiast looking for megazoom, this is the one you want.
Looking for specs and pricing? Compare this group of cameras, head-to-head.