Gone are the days when the best compact cameras were cheap point-and-shoot models. Today, these cameras can rival DSLRs and mirrorless cameras in terms of imaging potential, thanks to larger sensors, more precise zoom lenses, better video capabilities, and much more. What do we mean by a compact camera? Simply put, the term refers to a camera with a fixed lens attached to it. As you can imagine, this has its advantages and disadvantages: there’s no hassle or expense of changing multiple lenses, but the focal length on the box is the only one you get.
The lens on the front can be a high-quality lens designed for sharpness and fidelity, or a zoom lens to give the user maximum flexibility and versatility. Both approaches have their merits. As you can imagine, compact cameras are very popular with all kinds of users. Amateur photographers and families love them for their convenience and affordability, while hobbyists and experts can get a lot of value from a standalone camera, especially if it contains a high-quality sensor.
Best Compact Cameras
We’ve divided this guide to the best compact cameras into two parts. The first section is about zoom compacts. These are the most versatile and useful in everyday use, but they tend to have smaller sensors than basic compact cameras or other types of cameras. A zoom lens also cannot offer the image quality of a premium camera.
1. Canon PowerShot G1 X Mark III
If you’re looking for something that can be used for a wide variety of subjects, produces excellent detailed images, and fits perfectly into your life, then the Canon G1X Mark III is worth thinking about. Although it’s about small enough to fit in a large pocket, it’s equipped with a sensor the size of an APS-C, the same size you’ll find in many DSLRs. For portraits, there’s a fixed lens with a large aperture, which allows you to blur the background. A fairly limited range of lenses is a drawback, but you’ll still be able to capture great family moments, vacation portraits, and more without having to worry about bulky equipment or changing lenses. Overall, this is one of the best compact cameras.
2. Canon PowerShot G5 X Mark II
The Canon G1 X Mark III is an excellent camera, but it has some limitations, including its 3x zoom with its relatively modest maximum aperture and the absence of 4K video. The G5 X Mark II offers a much wider range of specifications and is also a little less expensive. You have to accept a smaller sensor – a still decent 1-inch 20MP sensor rather than the G1 X Mark II’s 24MP APS-C sensor, but the return on investment is a 5x longer zoom with a much faster maximum aperture of f/1.8-2.8, 4K video, a super-fast burst mode, and a body that’s really small enough to fit in a pants pocket. If you really want a larger sensor, keep reading, but the G5 X Mark II offers a very complete set of specifications for a pocket camera. Overall, this is one of the best compact cameras.
3. Panasonic Lumix LX100 II
The problem with big sensors is that you need big lenses to go with them, so there are all kinds of possibilities to pocket. Usually. But Panasonic has really found the right place with the Panasonic LX100 II. It combines a Micro Four Thirds sensor that’s not much smaller than the ASP-C sensors of DSLRs in mode, with a miniaturized lens assembly that turns into a camera body thin enough to be carried everywhere. The LX100 II is a brand new version of the original LX100, which was, admittedly, beginning to show its age.
The new model features a 16-megapixel “multi-aspect” sensor, which means you can use its native 4:3 aspect ratio, the 3:2 ratio used by most DSLRs and mirrorless models, or a 16:9 “wide” aspect ratio without cropping the image and without pixel loss. With its external shutter speed dial, lens aperture ring, and aspect ratio switch, the LX100 II is a dream compact camera for amateurs and experts alike. Overall, this is one of the best compact cameras.
4. Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX10
There are currently two “LX” devices in Panasonic’s premium range of compact cameras. Both are very attractive propositions; the LX100 Mark II combines a Micro Four Thirds format image sensor with a Leica zoom lens. For the price-performance ratio, however, we prefer the Panasonic Lumix LX10. This camera has a smaller 1.0 image sensor and a Leica Summilux zoom lens with an “effective” focal length range of 24-72 mm, in terms of full-frame. The camera is wonderfully compact, but it has some very powerful features, including light speed AF, hybrid stabilization, and 4K definition for video and still images at 30 frames per second. Overall, this is one of the best compact cameras.
5. Canon PowerShot G7 X Mark III
Compact cameras are an excellent solution for vloggers – as a stand-alone, easy-to-use, lightweight, and easily portable package. If you’re considering a vlogging setup, it’s a good idea to choose a compact camera with zoom and strong video capabilities. To meet these criteria, we recommend the Canon PowerShot G7 X Mark III Very popular on YouTubers, this compact camera can shoot uncropped 4K videos using the full width of its 1-inch sensor and has a 3.5mm microphone port to allow you to plug in an external microphone for superior sound quality.
The G7 X Mark III is also capable of streaming live images to the platform of your choice (YouTube, Facebook, Twitch, or other), which expands your options as a blogger. The lack of a viewfinder can be a hindrance if you plan to shoot photos as well, but the G7 X Mark III is a portable, high-performance video solution. Overall, this is one of the best compact cameras.
6. Sony Cyber-shot RX100 VII
It’s crazy to think that this is the seventh iteration of Sony’s RX100 series, but when you consider the popularity of this line over the years, it’s perhaps not hard to understand why. These models are traditionally very expensive but give you the best picture quality you can put in a pocket. The last two versions of the RX100 have seen a longer lens than ever – and the same goes for the RX100 VII, with a 24-200mm lens reappearing from the RX100 VI.
We also have a tilting touch screen, as well as an electronic viewfinder that can be inserted into the camera body for better readability when you don’t need it. Sony likes to show exactly what it can do with its latest technology, and to that end, we have an amazingly ridiculous 90 fps burst speed (a much more reasonable 20 fps gives you full AF/AE tracking). Other improvements have been made in the form of video performance modifications, including the addition of a microphone input jack. Overall, this is one of the best compact cameras.
7. Sony Cyber-shot RX100 III
Sony’s strategy is to keep older versions of its devices on sale for a long time, with prices that are constantly falling. Thus, although the RX100 III is four versions behind the all-new RX100 VII, its specifications are still quite good, even by today’s standards. It is the first RX100 model to be equipped with a built-in electronic viewfinder, its folding rear screen is ideal for selfies and vlogging, and although its lens has a zoom range equivalent to 24-70 mm shorter than the new camera, it has a faster maximum aperture of f/1.8-2.8 over this range.
If you don’t need the RX100 VII’s powerful autofocus, professional-level 4K movie functions, and ultra-fast continuous shooting, the RX100 III is ideal. It has the small form factor of the RX100 series and the same good-quality 1-inch sensor but without the muscular madness of later models. Overall, this is one of the best compact cameras.
8. Fujifilm X100F
A retro design, a unique hybrid viewfinder, and a large (for a compact) APS-C sensor have made the original Fujifilm FinePix X100 one of the most popular fixed-lens digital cameras when it is released in 2011. The first “X” camera has been replaced by the X100S and X100T, both of which have refined the formula – but this is the fourth iteration, the Fujifilm X100F, where it all came together beautifully. A new control layout, a third-generation 24.3MP X-Trans CMOS III sensor (without low-pass filter), an expanded sensitivity range and improved AF may seem more like an evolution than a revolution, but it’s the combination of these enhancements that brings a radical change in performance.
The aforementioned sensor, 35mm-equivalent f/2 fixed lens, X-Processor Pro engine, and film simulation modes combine to produce superb images – and taking them is just as much fun. The new Fujifilm X100V will eventually replace this camera, but for now, the X100F remains on sale and at a much lower price – which makes us appreciate it even more! Overall, this is one of the best compact cameras.
9. Fujifilm X100V
We expected Fujifilm to put its latest 26.1-megapixel sensor into the new X100V, but the company has done much more. The X100V has a new, more precise lens to do justice to the latest sensor, and the tilting touch screen on the back makes the camera much easier to use in awkward angles without compromising its slim design. Improved autofocus and 4K video capabilities update the classic design of this camera. The only thing is… if the old X100F remains on sale, it costs only two-thirds of the price of the X100V, but it’s more than two thirds as good! For now, and until we can get a production sample of the Fujifilm X100V for review, we are placing it just below the X100F on our list. Overall, this is one of the best compact cameras.
10. Leica Q2
Leica cameras tend to divide opinions quite strongly. They are terribly expensive, built to traditional standards and designs that many consider outdated or irrelevant, and rarely compete with modern competitors in terms of features and technology. But cameras aren’t just numbers on a spreadsheet, and everything about the Leica Q2 is superb, from its full-frame image quality with its new 47-megapixel sensor to its Leica-made Summilux lens and sleek, minimalist design.
Using a Leica isn’t just about images, it’s also about experience – so just decide if the experience is worth all the money! But even if you don’t mind the price, there’s another hurdle: finding a retailer who has one in stock. Overall, this is one of the best compact cameras.
11. Fujifilm XF10
If you like the idea of the Fujifilm X100F but don’t like the price, the small XF10 might be the solution. It’s a much more modest camera, without the XF100’s viewfinder and its old-fashioned shutter speed and aperture dials, but the XF10 still has a 24-megapixel APS-C sensor and a handy 28mm f/2.8 equivalent lens. It’s two really attractive features, however, are its extra-flat body – which can easily slip into a jacket pocket or even a trouser pocket – and its much lower price.
It’s easy to focus on its somewhat slow autofocus and limited features, but where can you find a high-quality pocket APS-C camera at such a price? Surprisingly, the XF10 doesn’t seem to have caught the public’s attention like other Fujifilm cameras, but we think that at this price, it’s great. Overall, this is one of the best compact cameras.
12. Ricoh GR III
The Ricoh GR has a long history, both as a high quality 35mm compact camera and now as a digital model. However, its features and performance are now somewhat behind its latest rivals. GR fans, or GRists as Ricoh calls them, will love this update to an iconic camera. But in the world of multi-lens phones, the appeal of this fixed-lens compact will probably be limited. It’s a nice sized APS-C compact, ideal for carrying it in your pocket, and for discreet street photography. But it is sold at a luxury price that is no longer justified by manufacturing quality or features. Overall, this is one of the best compact cameras.