Compact cameras are excellent options for people who want a camera that is more powerful than the one in their phone but not too bulky to carry around. And just because they’re small in size, it doesn’t mean they can’t also be incredibly powerful! The best compact cameras can do many of the things that a larger DSLR or mirrorless camera is capable of but they do it with a much smaller body. These cameras combine portability with robust shooting capabilities.
As the cameras on phones have continued to improve, camera companies have had to up the ante with what their compact cameras can do. This is a good thing. Today’s compact cameras take beautiful photos, stunning video, and offer low light capabilities and control options that most phones can’t match.
With a wide variety of compact cameras on the market, it can be hard to know which is best for you. In this article, we’ll talk about some things to consider when choosing a compact camera and then tell you about some of our favorites. Hopefully, we can make the process of choosing the best point and shoot camera a little less daunting!
The 8 Best Compact Cameras
- Leica Q
- Fuji X100 F
- Panasonic Lumix LX100
- Sony Cybershot DSC-RX 100 V
- Canon Powershot G7X Mark II
- Sony Cybershot RX 10 III
- Fuji X70
- Canon Powershot G1X Mark II
Things to consider when choosing a compact camera:
How You Plan to Use It
This is probably one of the most important things to decide when picking the best small camera. How you plan to use your camera will affect everything from the size of camera to how well it handles low light. If you want a camera that you can slide into your pocket and take everywhere with you, size will be of the utmost importance.
If you are looking for a camera that can photograph objects that are far away, look for one that can shoot at a nice, long focal length. If you are a professional photographer for whom only the best will do, you will want a camera that can come as close as possible to matching the images produced by your professional-level DSLR or mirrorless camera.
Photo Resolution / Image Quality
If you want a camera that takes sharp, high-quality photos that can be printed large, you want to look for one with high photo resolution. Just how many megapixels you need will depend on how you want to use your photos. For most uses, a camera that shoots at 12 MP or higher is enough to let you print your photos in standard sizes and share online. If you plan to make large prints from your photos, look for a camera that can shoot at 18 MP or higher.
A camera’s shooting speed, measured in frames per second (FPS), is the number of photos a camera can take in a second. The higher the shooting speed, the more chances you’ll get to nail your shot. This is especially helpful when shooting things like sports and wildlife where the action is moving fast. If you plan to shoot things that are in motion, look for a camera with a frame rate of around 8 FPS or higher (10 or higher if you primarily shoot sports).
Video Resolution / Capability
If you plan to use your camera for video as well as photos (or video alone) you want to look for a compact camera that has the ability to take clear, high-quality video. 1080p has long been the standard for video resolution but today’s cameras are able to shoot video at 4K and beyond.
Is 4K video a necessity? Not necessarily but it will give you more pixels to play with in post processing. If you plan to shoot video, you want a camera that can do so at a resolution of at least 1080p. 4K is icing on the cake.
A camera’s focal range will greatly impact what you can shoot with it. If you’re planning on shooting subjects that are farther away, look for a camera with a longer maximum focal length. For example, a camera with a focal length of 100mm or longer will allow you to zoom in on your kids playing sports or your dog romping through a field. On the other hand, if you want to take photos of vast scenes (such as in landscape photography) a camera that can shoot nice and wide (at 24mm, for example) will allow you to do so.
Some of the best compact cameras on the market have lenses that are fixed at a specific focal length. These cameras take extremely clear photos but are somewhat limited in their use.
Size and Weight
Compact cameras come in a wide range of sizes so it is important to consider just how small you want your camera to be when choosing one. If you want a camera that can easily slide into your pocket, look for one that is on the smaller end of the spectrum (preferably under a pound).
If you like a camera that feels a little more substantial in your hands, look for one that is a little bit larger. The heavier the camera, the more stress it will put on your body to carry it around all day. A camera that is two pounds or heavier may take great photos but it may also hurt your neck if you use a neck strap all day. Most compact cameras are small enough not to cause you any pain.
Few things are more annoying than being out and about, ready to shoot, and realizing that your camera’s battery is dead. Battery life is typically measured in shots per charge. Keep in mind that some of the features that we love in cameras, like large LCD screens, electronic viewfinders, and WiFi connectivity, are the very things that drain camera batteries faster.
Battery life may not be the most important thing to consider when selecting a camera but a camera with a long-lasting battery can make your life a lot easier. Carrying extra batteries to swap out on the fly is always an option.
Low Light Capabilities
Due to their smaller sensor sizes, compact cameras won’t perform as well as most DSLRs or mirrorless cameras in low light—but they’re still a lot better than your typical camera phone. If you plan to use your camera to shoot subjects in dark or dim conditions, look for a camera with a larger sensor and higher maximum ISO capabilities. The higher the ISO, the more light a sensor absorbs.
If connectivity is important to you, look for a camera with built-in WiFi. Being able to control your camera and transfer photos wirelessly can be a huge timesaver for a lot of people, especially those who want to be able to take photos and share them on social media right away. WiFi can also let you control your camera remotely—allowing you to get in on the action for some epic selfies!
|Camera||Leica Q||Fuji X100||Panasonic Lumic LX100||Sony Cybershot DSC-RX 100 V||Canon Powershot G7X Mark II||Sony Cybershot RX 10 III||Fuji X70||Canon Powershot G1X Mark II|
|Resolution||24.2 MP||24.3 MP||12.8 MP||20.1 MP||20.1 MP||21 MP||16.3 MP||12.8 MP|
|Sensor Size||Full Frame||APS-C||Micro 4/3||1″ CMOS||1″ CMOS||1″ CMOS||APS-C||1.5″ CMOS|
|Video Resolution||1080p at 60 FPS||1080p at 60 FPS||4K at 30 FPS||4K at 30 FPS||1080p at 60 FPS||4K at 30 FPS||1080p at 60 FPS||4K at 30 FPS|
|Max Burst Rate||10 FPS||8 FPS||40 FPS||24 FPS||8 FPS||14 FPS||8 FPS||5.2 FPS|
|File Types||JPEG, DNG||JPEG, RAW||JPEG, RAW||JPEG, RAW||JPEG, RAW||JPEG, RAW||JPEG, RAW||JPEG, RAW|
|Shooting Modes||Aperture Priority, Manual, Prog-rammed Auto, Shutter Priority||Aperture Priority, Manual, Shutter Priority, Program||Aperture Priority, Manual, Program, Shutter Priority||Aperture Priority, Intelligent Auto, Manual, Memory Recall, Movie, Panorama Shot, Prog-rammed Auto, Scene Selection, Shutter Priority, Superior Auto||AE Lock, Aperture Priority, Custom, Manual, Program Shift, Safety Shift, Shutter Priority||Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority, Auto, Manual, Memory Recall, Panorama, Prog-rammed Auto||Aperture Priority, Manual, Program, Shutter Priority||Aperture Priority, Auto, C1, C2, Creative Filters, Creative Shot, Custom, Hybrid Auto, Manual, Movie, Program, SCN, Scene Modes, Shutter Priority|
|Effective Focal Length||28mm||35mm||24-75mm||24-70mm||24-100mm||24-600mm||28mm||24-120mm|
|Display Screen||3″ LCD||3″ LCD||3″ LCD||3″ tilting LCD||3″ tilting LCD||3″ tilting LCD||3″ tilting LCD||3″ tilting touch LCD|
|Weight||1.4 lbs||1 lb||13.9 oz||10.5 oz||11.3 oz||10.3 oz||10.7 oz||1.2 lbs|
1. Leica Q
($236 weekly rental, $4,250 MSRP)
Leica has been wooing photographers for a long time now with their beautiful cameras, attention to detail, and stunning image quality. Their compact camera, the Leica Q, is worthy of a spot in the lineup.
The Leica Q is the only compact camera on our list with a full frame sensor. It shoots stills at 24 MP and 1080p video at up to 60 FPS. The images it produces are stunning. The fixed focal length may limit some of what you can do with this camera but for many photographers that is a small price to pay for a camera that is this good.
The only downside to this camera is the size—weighing in at a heavy 1.4 lbs. This price point will probably put the Leica Q out of reach for many shooters, especially when you take into account that the fixed focal length means that this camera’s capabilities are somewhat limited. But if you have money to spend and love crystal-clear images and shooting at a wider angle, this is the camera for you. The Leica Q is ideal for serious photographers who want a small, portable camera and won’t settle for anything less than the best.
2. Fuji X100F
($83 weekly rental, $1,300 MSRP)
Fuji’s X100 line has been referred to as “the poor man’s Leica” and the newest addition, the X100F, is especially worthy of the moniker. The followup to the popular X100T, this camera has an effective focal length fixed at 35mm, a 24 MP APS-C sensor, shoots at a burst rate of 8 FPS, and can record 1080p video at up to 60 FPS. Additionally, there are special converters available compatible with this camera, including the TCL-X100 II Telephoto Conversion Lens and WCL-X100 II Wide Conversion Lens.
One of the biggest complaints about this camera’s predecessor was that the battery life left much to be desired. Fuji addressed this problem by implementing a larger, more powerful battery into the X100F. The X100F produces incredibly sharp, clear images and is a great option for those who love the idea of the Leica but aren’t ready to drop over $4,000 to get it.
While this camera is designed more for still photos than video, it’s decent at shooting video. This camera is a blast to shoot with and its retro styling means it looks great. This camera isn’t the cheapest on our list but for the quality of product that it is, and the stunning images it produces, it is one of the best compact cameras around. The X100F is an ideal choice for people who want a portable camera that takes impressive professional-quality photos and won’t break the bank.
($62 weekly rental, $650 MSRP)
If you’re looking for a versatile, well-priced compact camera that can handle both stills and video well, the Lumix LX100 is an excellent choice. This camera’s Micro Four Thirds sensor takes 12 MP photos at a lightning-fast burst rate of up to 40 FPS so that you never miss a shot.
Sure, the photo resolution isn’t as high as some of the others on our list. But the fast burst rate makes up for it, especially for those who like to shoot objects in motion. This camera’s Leica DC Vario Summilux f/1.7-2.8 lens has an effective focal range of 24-75mm making it versatile for everything from landscapes to street photography to portraiture.
The Leica lens combined with the large (for a compact camera) sensor allows this camera to produce incredibly high quality images. One of the best things about this camera is its ability to record 4K video at up to 30 FPS. It’s not the only camera on our list that can do this but it’s the only one that can do it for less than a thousand dollars! This Lumix LX100 is ideal for casual users who want a good point and shoot for day-to-day use that can handle both stills and video well.
4. Sony RX100 V
($68 weekly rental, $1,000 retail)
The Sony RX 100 V is the best pocket camera for people who want something they can take on all of their adventures. The RX100 V takes 20 MP stills at a burst rate of 24 FPS and 4K video at up to 30 FPS. These stats are solid but it is in the details where this camera really shines.
The RX100 V’s 315-point phase detect autofocus system is spread across 65% of the sensor, making it easy to find and lock focus, ensuring you never miss a shot. The Zeiss lens has an effective focal range of 24-70mm making this a versatile camera for most uses.
One of the best things about this camera is that all of those photo and video capabilities are packed into a really tiny package. At just 10.5 ounces this is one of the smallest, most portable cameras on our list–but it still packs a punch.
This is a great option for people who want a well-priced camera that is small in stature and worthy of a spot in the bags or pockets of everyone from an amateur looking for a compact camera to a pro who wants to travel light when they’re out and about.
($56 weekly rental, $680 MSRP)
The G7X Mark II is Canon’s take on the budget-friendly compact camera and it’s an excellent choice for people who want a small camera that can handle both photos and video well. The G7X Mark II packs a lot of power into its small 11-ounce body!
This camera can take stills at resolutions of 20 MP and record 1080p video at up to 60 FPS. It is able to handle ISOs up to 3200 reasonably well, making it a decent compact camera for low light shooting. Its 24-100mm focal range is versatile for a lot of shooting scenarios.
The G7X Mark II competes directly with Sony’s RX100 V and holds its own well. While it doesn’t have the RX100’s 4K video capabilities, it is still a very good option for anyone who wants a small, well-priced camera to take on their adventures or when out and about in town.
If you’re really set on having 4K video the RX100 V may be the way to go but if you just want an awesome little camera that does well at most things and won’t break the bank, you should take a hard look at the G7X Mark II.
($93 weekly rental, $1,400 MSRP)
If you want a compact camera with some serious zoom chops, the Sony Cyber-shot RX10 III is a perfect choice. This camera’s 600mm maximum focal length gives it the ability to capture images of things that are very far away–and it does it with a pretty small package. A DSLR with a lens with that kind of reach mounted to the front would be extremely heavy. You definitely wouldn’t want to walk around with it! The RX10 III’s built-in stabilization works well and allows you to capture crisp images at long focal lengths, even when shooting handheld.
The RX10 III’s maximum aperture of f/2.8 is nice and wide, allowing you to isolate a subject against the background. This camera can shoot stills at up to 14 FPS and 4K video at up to 30 FPS and the images it produces are clear and bright.
If the RX10 III has one downside it’s that it’s not especially small. This is not the kind of compact camera that you can slide into a pocket. While its weight is on par with many of the other cameras on our list, its size and shape make it a little bulkier than some of our options. But don’t let this camera’s size dissuade you.
If you need a camera with a lot of reach this is a good choice. A DSLR with a reach this far would be painfully heavy and prohibitively expensive for many people. For a camera with a reach of 600mm, the RX10 III is incredibly light and portable. The RX10 III is a great choice for amateur photographers who want a camera with a very long focal length for photographing subjects that are far away but don’t want to lug around a DSLR with a heavy zoom lens.
7. Fuji X70
($56 weekly rental, $700 MSRP)
The X70 is the little brother to Fuji’s X100 series and it puts a lot of the power of those popular cameras into your hands at a price that is easier on the wallet. This camera has a 16.3MP APS-C sensor, a max burst rate of 8 FPS, and the ability to record 1080p video at up to 30 FPS. Weighing in at just 10.7 ounces, the X70 is nice and small.
This camera’s lens is fixed at 28mm, which is versatile enough to be used for things like street photography, portraits, and landscapes. Like it’s big brother, the X100F, the X70 takes stunningly sharp images. Whether it is worth upgrading from the X70 to the X100F depends in large part on how much you’re willing to pay for extra features.
The X100F has a longer battery life, higher resolution, wider maximum aperture, and higher maximum ISO, making it the “better” camera. It also costs almost twice as much. If you like the idea of a fixed focal length point and shoot and don’t want to spend too much money, the X70 is a great place to start.
($45 weekly rental, $650 MSRP)
If you’re looking for a capable point and shoot at an affordable price, the Powershot G1X Mark II is a good choice. The G1X Mark II has an effective focal range of 24-120mm and can shoot at ISOs up to 12,800 well. It is a little bit heavier than some of our other options but a little weight isn’t always a bad thing. This is a camera that, despite its small size, feels solid and substantial in your hands.
This camera has a 12.8 MP CMOS sensor and the ability to take 1080p video at up to 30 FPS. Sure, those numbers are a little lower than a lot of the other cameras on our list but so is the price! This camera may not have as high image resolution as some of the others but it’s a good versatile camera for everything from travel to sports to portrait photography and videography. If you want a small, sturdy, well-priced camera to take with you on all of your adventures, look no further than the Canon Powershot G1X Mark II.
With so many great choices on the market, choosing the right compact camera can be a challenge. We hope that this article has made the task a little bit easier. If you’re still having a hard time deciding, renting a few cameras to play with may make your decision a little bit easier!
*as of this writing
Leica Q CC Image courtesy of Christian Schirrmacher on Flickr
Fuji X100F CC Image courtesy Frank Meffert of on Flickr
Panasonic Lumix LX100 CC Image courtesy of Dinu Dominic Manns on Flickr
Sony RX100 V CC Image courtesy of yollstory.com on Flickr
Canon Powershot G7X Mark II CC Image courtesy of Christian Siedler on Flickr
Sony Cybershot RX10 III CC Image courtesy of John Fowler on Flickr
Fuji X70 CC Image courtesy of Konstantin Tilberg on Flickr
Canon Powershot G1X Mark II CC Image courtesy of Rolf Brecher on Flickr
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