Nanosized bare, C and N doped as well as C, N co-doped ZnO nanopowders were prepared using microemulsion method. Synthesized powders were characterized using X-ray diffraction(XRD), Fourier transform infrared spectrophotometer (FTIR), scanning electron microscope (SEM), energy dispersive X-ray spectroscopy (EDX), CHNS analyzer, photoluminescence spectrophotometer and UV-visible spectrophotometer. XRD study shows that C, N co-doped ZnO have hexagonal wurtzite structure. UV-visible spectral study reveals that C and N co-doping improves photo absorption capacity in visible region. Visible light photocatalytic degradation of malachite green was carried out using nanosized bare, C doped and C, N co-doped ZnO. C, N co-doped ZnO exhibits better visible light photocatalytic activity as compared to pure and C doped ZnO.  Also the photocatalyst prepared is stable and can be reused repeatedly.