- 1 What are the features of compact cameras?
- 2 What type of user are compact cameras intended for?
- 3 Our selection of the best compact cameras
There are now some quality affordable compact cameras on the market, with the image quality, camera controls and cool features.
Here’s a snapshot of what makes a compact camera good, as well as which ones you should be looking at getting hold of.
What are the features of compact cameras?
While features vary from model to model, most compact cameras share a few key characteristics that deliver the great image quality and an all-round excellent user experience.
Small focal length range
Compact cameras generally have a small focal length range. This is because a large sensor is generally limited. Overall, it can give you a better overall optical quality, as a larger zoom range typically means lower quality.
Electronic viewfinder is a must
Compacts usually have an electronic viewfinder, with exposure controls – aperture, shutter speed, ISO, etc. – that can be set manually. An electronic viewfinder is great for situations such as when the sun makes visibility difficult, by reflecting on the rear screen, for example.
They normally have fast lenses
Most modern compact cameras you can buy using a high optical quality lens, with a large aperture. This type of lens was developed specifically for a compact camera body. This means you get a better bang for your buck.
They generally have a larger sensor
Compact cameras have sensors from 1-inch upwards. That’s not the actual size, mind – they are more like 0.35 x 0.47 inches. The term ‘1-inch’ when referring to sensors comes from the era of CRT cameras. Cameras with 1-inch lenses are comparable in terms of quality with APS-C and Micro 4/3 sensors.
You can get more stability by using the hand-held shooting position with the viewfinder. Using the viewfinder also helps you to focus on the artistic element of the shot – the composition – taking you out of your surroundings. It’s a matter of personal preference, of course, but in my opinion it works really well.
Normally, compact cameras are portable enough to be kept in your pocket and taken everywhere. There are also high quality bridge models, which are slightly larger. But for now, we’ll concentrate on those small, highly portable compact cameras.
What type of user are compact cameras intended for?
- Those looking for the perfect blend of lightweight portability and image quality. This includes professional photographers or experienced amateurs who are looking for a quality backup camera to take with them anywhere.
- Photographers who want more simplicity than mirrorless cameras bring, without the need to worry about cleaning the sensor or buying lenses and extra equipment.
- Those who love the style and feel of analogue cameras, but want the benefits of modern technology and functionality.
- Content creators (travel vloggers or YouTubers, for example) who need a small camera with excellent video quality.
Our selection of the best compact cameras
Here’s our pick of the best compact cameras on the market, selected by quality, price, user reviews, brand prestige and functionalities.
- 20.1MP stacked back illuminated 1” Exmor RS CMOS sensor w/ DRAM. Large aperture 24-70mm1 F1.8-2.8 ZEISS Vario-Sonnar T lens
- Fast Hybrid Autofocus and Real Time Eye Autofocus and Real-time Autofocus tracking.
- Side flip-out 3.0” LCD screen that also tilts up and down for easier to compose selfie shots
- Quickly switch between two modes of defocused background bokeh
Specifically geared towards vloggers, the Sony ZV-1 is an excellent compact camera that delivers fantastic quality and functionality. It comes with several preset scene selection modes, including gourmet mode (for food vloggers), pet mode and night mode.
With a full touchscreen display and the ability to control zoom with your thumb, while using your index finger to hit record (great for operating at arm’s length), this is a camera that’s clearly been designed with functionality in mind.
Yes it’s more expensive than most other compact cameras. But then again, it’s the only compact camera with a directional 3-capsule microphone which, for some vloggers, could seal the deal. Also, the autofocus system is a cut above the rest.
Panasonic LUMIX LX10 4K
- POINT-AND-SHOOT CAMERA: Large, 1-inch 20.1-megapixel MOS sensor plus 3X zoom LEICA DC VARIO-SU millimeter ILUX lens (24-72 millimeter) and POWER O.I.S. (Optical Image Stabilizer) delivers brighter, more colorful photos with fewer image artifacts
- TILTING SELFIE DISPLAY: Rear touch-enabled 3-inch LCD display (1040K dots) tilts upward 180 degree for easy selfie photos
- 4K VIDEO CAPTURE: 4K QFHD video recording (3840 x 2160), plus exclusive LUMIX 4K photo and 4K Post Focus with internal Focus Stacking
A sleek, classy camera with a fantastic touchscreen display and great user interface that sets it apart from the competition. The 4K UHD recording and 4K Photo features and fast built-in lens deliver excellent quality imagery, making this camera excellent value for money.
A few drawbacks include the lack of a viewfinder and a relatively slow startup time. Still, the tiltable touchscreen display really is a classy feature and, if functionality is your main concern, the LUMIX LX10 4K could be the camera for you.
Canon PowerShot G7 X mark II
- An aperture value of f/1.8 at the wide angle and f/2.8 when fully zoomed to a factor of 4.2x (24-100 millimeter), this lens equipped to capture a variety of situations with precision
- High resolution, 3.0 inches LCD monitor that tilts up 180 degrees and down 45 degrees is ideal for self portraits and capturing pictures at high and low angles with ease
- Built in WiFi for on the go convenience and the ability to easily post your images to select social networking and media sites
With several upgrades to Canon’s excellent G7 X, including a performance enhancing processor, the G7 X mark II definitely makes an impression. Excellent design, a versatile focus range and fantastic image quality make it ideal for photography enthusiasts. A feature that really sets it apart is the ability to record in RAW format – unlike with JPEGs, no details from the image are removed.
It’s also an excellent camera for vloggers – there’s a large buffer for continuous shooting and 1080/60p video capture and plenty of manual control options. Great low-light performance makes night shooting a pleasure and the long-lasting battery means you can be out all day.
Fujifilm X100 12.3 MP
- 12.3-megapixel APS-C CMOS sensor
- Newly-developed lens offers a focal length of 23mm (135 equivalent: 35mm) and a widest aperture of F2. Made from molded glass, the lens contains 8 elements in 6 groups
- Hybrid Viewfinder combines the window-type "bright frame" optical viewfinder, and the electronic viewfinder system
- HD Movie Mode; capture 720p video
With its beautiful classic retro style, the Fujifilm X100 will have old-school photographers giddy with nostalgia. Still, this is definitely not a case of style over substance – the X100 brings superb image quality even at high ISO settings, with a high quality lens, excellent cross-frame sharpness and minimal distortion, as well as solid build quality.
A unique feature – the hybrid viewfinder – really makes this camera stand out, showing all the camera’s functions in the camera’s large display. It’s a genuinely innovative feature that, along with the vintage design, make this camera well worth a look.