Best Compact Cameras

the best compact cameras have pocket-sized dimensions that DSLRs and mirrorless cameras can not match, but also simple and large zoom ranges that you can quickly get with a camera with interchangeable lens. And while it is true that the camera-phone technology has improved so much that the compact camera market has shrunk, the latter in response has become better and better.

Today, compact cameras use larger sensors for better image quality, have high-quality metal bodies, and feature powerful functions such as raw photography and old-school manual controls, along with the latest 4K video capabilities. Compared to old compact cameras, manufacturers are now inclined to design models based on physically larger sensors than was previously the norm.

The result of this change is that you now get a considerably better image quality than even the best smartphone. In some cases, the sensors may compete with DSLRs and mirrorless cameras in some high-end compact cameras.

So what is the best compact camera for you? Well, it depends on what you want to use it for. Our guide includes quality cameras that are small enough to fit in a jacket pocket, premium cameras with a fixed focal length that recall the best traditions of classic designs. Powerful superzoom or ‘bridge’ cameras with huge zoom ranges for true all-in-one versatility.

List of the best compact cameras of 2021

Let’s have a look at the best compact cameras at a glance. After that, we’ll discuss them with you, one-by-one, of course.

Canon PowerShot G1 X Mark III

This top-quality compact really is like a DSLR in your pocket

best compact cameras
  • Type: Compact
  • Sensor: APS-C
  • Megapixels: 24.2MP
  • Lens: 24-72mm f/2.8-5.6 (equiv.)
  • LCD: 3in vari-angle touchscreen, 1.04 million dots
  • Viewfinder: EVF
  • Maximum continuous shooting speed: 7fps
  • Max video resolution: Full HD
  • User level: Enthusiast/expert

Canon has really done a great job with the G1 X Mark III. Yes, it’s pretty pricey for a compact camera, but the slim body houses virtually the same 24-megapixel APS-C sensor found in Canon’s EOS 80D DSLR and EOS M mirrorless cameras. This sensor is paired with a zoom lens that is even more amazing because it offers a focal range of 24-72 and can still be slid into the camera body when you’re not taking pictures.

It is true that the maximum aperture decreases significantly as you zoom in, from f/2.8 to f/5.6, but you have that anyway with compact DSLR and mirrorless kit lenses. The G1 X Mark III may seem quite pricey, but it’s actually not that expensive compared to other APS-C compact cameras, and right now it’s in a class of its own for a high-quality and one of the best compact cameras with zoom.

Last updated on July 20, 2021 4:36 am

Sony Cyber-shot RX100 VII

The RX100 Mark VII is expensive, but it’s also very high-tech

  • Type: Compact
  • Sensor: 1in
  • Megapixels: 20.1MP
  • Lens: 24-200mm f/2.8-4.5
  • LCD: 3in tilting, 922k dots
  • Maximum continuous shooting speed: 20fps
  • Max video resolution: 4K
  • User level: Intermediate/expert

The Sony Cyber-shot RX100 VII is insane on a number of levels. The pluses are the impressive 24-200mm zoom range in such a small camera, the pop-up electronic viewfinder in a camera that looks too small to have one, and the nice big 1-inch 20.1MP sensor. The camera can also record 4K video, which is good, but then it all gets really weird.

This camera has a super high-tech 357-point phase detection autofocus system, a continuous shooting speed of 20 fps (up to 90 fps in Single Burst mode), and an AF response of 0.02 seconds with Real-Time AF tracking. The camera also features Sony’s S-Log2 and S-Log3 video modes for high-quality video recording and color matching – all in a pocket-sized camera.

All this power is great and very impressive, but it drives up the price considerably and may seem out of place on a camera like this to some (well, to us). Nevertheless, if you have the money, this camera does things that few other compact cameras can. Overall, this is one of the best compact cameras.

Canon PowerShot G7 X Mark III

Perfect for smartphone upgraders and those into vlogging

best compact cameras
  • Type: Compact
  • Sensor: 1-inch
  • Megapixels: 20.1MP
  • Lens: 24-100mm f/1.8-2.8 (equiv.)
  • LCD: 3in tilting touchscreen, 1.04 million dots
  • Viewfinder: No
  • Maximum continuous shooting speed: 30fps
  • Max video resolution: 4K
  • User level: Enthusiast/expert

Until the arrival of the Sony ZV-1 (see above), the PowerShot G7 X Mark III was our top choice for vloggers. While it may now have been overshadowed by the newer ZV-1, there is still much to like about the G7 X Mark III. Popular with YouTubers, this compact camera can shoot 4K videos in uncut format using the full width of its 1-inch sensor and has a 3.5mm microphone port so you can plug in an external microphone for superior sound quality (although the lack of a hotshoe means you have to think a little more about the best way to set it up).

The G7 X Mark III can also live stream images to the platform of your choice – whether that’s YouTube, Facebook, Twitch or something else – expanding your options as a vlogger. The lack of a viewfinder may be a deal-breaker if you plan to take photos as well, but as a capable, portable video solution, the G7 X Mark III is excellent. Overall, this is one of the best compact cameras.

Fujifilm X100V

Fujifilm’s classic rangefinder-style X100V has a real heritage feel

  • Sensor: APS-C
  • Megapixels: 24.3MP
  • Lens: 23mm f/2
  • Monitor: 3in fixed, 1,620,000 dots
  • Viewfinder: Hybrid optical/EVF
  • Continuous shooting: 11fps
  • Max video resolution: 4K UHD
  • User level: Expert

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, sharper lens than previous X100 models to do full justice to the latest sensor, and the tilting touchscreen on the back makes this camera much easier to use from awkward angles without compromising the slim design. Improved autofocus and 4K video capabilities make this classic camera design all the more contemporary.

The X100V has external lens aperture, shutter speed and ISO buttons that, for those who grew up with film cameras, are just great to use – and it’s amazing how they encourage all the important exposure skills that photographers still need but are easily forgotten with ‘P’ modes and digital interfaces. The camera also has a smart hybrid optical/digital viewfinder that is not only super bright and clear, but also lag-free. Overall, this is one of the best compact cameras.

Last updated on July 20, 2021 4:36 am

Ricoh GR III

It’s the latest in a classic line, but it’s starting to show its age

best compact cameras
  • Sensor: APS-C
  • Megapixels: 24.2MP
  • Lens: 28mm f/2.8 (equiv)
  • Monitor: 3in fixed, 1,037,000 dots
  • Viewfinder: Optional
  • Continuous shooting: N/A
  • Max video resolution: 1080p
  • User level: Enthusiast/expert

The Ricoh GR has a long history, both as a top quality compact 35mm film camera and now as a digital model. However, the camera’s specifications and performance now seem to lag a bit behind those of its latest rivals. GR fans, or GRists as Ricoh calls them, will love this update of an iconic camera. But in the world of multi-lens camera phones, the broader appeal of this fixed-lens compact camera will likely be limited.

This is a beautifully sized APS-C compact camera, ideal for carrying in the pocket, and for discreet street photography. But it is sold at a luxury price that we believe is no longer justified by its build quality or feature set. Overall, this is one of the best compact cameras.

Leica Q2

If you can live without a zoom (and much of your money), get this

  • Type: Compact
  • Sensor size: Full frame
  • Megapixels: 47MP
  • Lens: 28mm, f/1.7
  • LCD: 3in fixed touchscreen, 1.04 million dots
  • Viewfinder: EVF
  • Continuous shooting: 10fps
  • Max video resolution: Full HD
  • User level: Enthusiast/Expert

Leica cameras tend to divide opinion quite a bit. They are frighteningly expensive, made to traditional designs and standards that many consider dated or irrelevant, and can rarely match modern rivals in features and technologies. But cameras are more than numbers on a spreadsheet, and everything about the Leica Q2 is great, from the full frame quality with the new 47 megapixel sensor to the Leica-made Summilux lens and the stripped-down, minimalist design.

When using a Leica, it’s not just about the images, it’s about the experience – so you just have to decide if the experience is worth all this money. But even if the price doesn’t bother you, there’s still a hurdle – finding a retailer who has one in stock.

$6,099.95
in stock
4 new from $5,990.00
Amazon.com
Last updated on July 20, 2021 4:36 am

Panasonic Lumix ZS200

With a 15x zoom range and 1-inch sensor packed into a pocket-sized body, this is the best compact camera right now

  • Type: Compact
  • Sensor: 1in
  • Megapixels: 20.1MP
  • Lens: 24-360mm f/3.3-6.4 (equiv.)
  • Screen: 3in fixed touchscreen, 1.24 million dots
  • Viewfinder: EVF
  • Max burst speed: 10fps
  • Max video resolution: 4K
  • User level: Beginner/enthusiast

When you travel, the last thing you want is to be weighted with the kit. But you want a camera that can capture every subject and is as close as possible to the quality of a ‘right’ camera. That is exactly what makes the best travel cameras, and the Panasonic Lumix ZS200 is at the very top. It replaces the older ZS100, which is still for sale and one of our previous favorites. The ZS200 retains the same 1-inch 20-megapixel sensor – but adds in a 15x zoom lens with an even greater range. This covers a 24 mm wide-angle image, to a long-distance 360 mm equivalent telephoto lens setting.

Best DSLR Cameras

It is not the longest zoom range of a travel camera, but it is the longest zoom factor in a pocket camera with such a large sensor. The ZS200 produces excellent JPEG images directly from the camera, just like its predecessor, and has the option for raw recordings and 4K video. In a macro mode, you can focus on subjects only 3 cm away, and Panasonic’s 4K photo mode can generate 8K images from burst sequences at 30 frames per second. With the 4K photo mode, you can even choose your focus point after you take the picture. The Panasonic Lumix ZS200 is simply one of the best compact cameras you can buy right now.

Canon PowerShot G7 X Mark II

When it comes to handling, Canon’s classy compact has it made

best compact cameras
  • Type: Compact
  • Sensor: 1in
  • Megapixels: 20.1MP
  • Lens: 24-100mm f/1.8-2.8 (equiv.)
  • Screen: 3in touch-sensitive tilting LCD, 1.04million dots
  • Viewfinder: No
  • Max burst speed: 8fps
  • Max video resolution: Full HD
  • User level: Enthusiast

With its 1in-type 20.1MP CMOS sensor, DIGIC 7 processor, RAW shots, a lens equal to 24-100mm f/1.8-2.8 and 8fps burst shots, the Canon PowerShot G7 X Mark II compact camera is a good choice for photographers. Interested in the function above form. It may not have the ‘look at me’ factor in terms of unedited specifications compared to some of its rivals – for example, there is no 4K video option – but the operation, image quality, and operation are all excellent.

Low-light performance is a particular highlight, as is the typical spicy Canon color palette. Among the rivals of the model-1 sensor are the Sony RX100 V and the Panasonic LX15 / LX10, but the more generous grip of the PowerShot G7 X Mark II gives a better purchase compared to the slim lines of the other two. While the manual operation spreads, 3 in a tiltable touch screen and image stabilization ensure a satisfying recording experience. Overall, this is one of the best compact cameras to go for.

Fujifilm X100F

Combining a DSLR-sized APS-C sensor with excellent build and handling, this is the best compact camera for professionals

  • Sensor: APS-C
  • Megapixels: 24.3MP
  • Lens: 23mm f/2
  • Screen: 3in fixed, 1,040,000 dots
  • Viewfinder: Hybrid optical/EVF
  • Max burst speed: 8fps
  • Max video resolution: 1080p
  • User level: Expert

A retro design, a unique hybrid viewfinder, and a large (for a compact) APS-C sensor made the original Fujifilm FinePix X100 one of the most desirable digital cameras with a fixed lens at the time of the release of 2011. The X100S and the X100T replaced the first ‘X ‘camera, each refining the formula – but it is the fourth iteration, the Fujifilm X100F, where everything came together beautifully. A new control layout, a third-generation 24.3MP X-Trans CMOS III sensor (without a low-pass filter), a wider sensitivity range, and an improved AF can seem more revolutionary.

But, it’s the combination of these refinements that are a step-by-step change in performance. Thesensor mentioned above, fixed 35 mm equivalent f/2 lens, X-Processor Pro engine, and Film Simulation modes combine to deliver super images – and taking them is just as fun. It’s not cheap, but the X100F is a beautiful compact camera for photographers.

Last updated on July 20, 2021 4:36 am

Panasonic Lumix LX100 II

Its sole multi-aspect Micro Four Thirds sensor makes this Lumix design a dream for specialist photographers

best compact cameras
  • Type: Compact
  • Sensor size: Micro Four Thirds
  • Megapixels: 17MP
  • Lens: 24-75mm, f/1.7-2.8 (equiv.)
  • Screen: 3in fixed, 1,24 million dots
  • Viewfinder: EVF
  • Max burst speed: 11fps
  • Max video resolution: 4K
  • User level: Expert

The problem with large sensors is that you need large lenses to take with you, so there is every form of pocketability. Mostly. But Panasonic has reached the right place with the Panasonic LX100 II. It combines a Micro Four-Thirds sensor that is not much smaller than the ASP-C sensors in DSLRs with a mode, with a miniaturized lens construction that is adorned in a camera body that is so thin that it can be carried anywhere.

The Lumix LX100 II is a brand new version of the original LX100, which is starting to show its age. The new model has a 16-megapixel ‘multi-aspect’ sensor, meaning you get the standard 4: 3 aspect ratio, the 3: 2 ratio used by most DSLRs and mirrorless models, or a 16: 9 use ‘wide’ format without cropping the image and losing pixels. With an external shutter speed switch, aperture ring, and an image ratio switch, the LX100 II is one of the best compact cameras for enthusiasts and experts.

Panasonic Lumix LX10

With its bright lens, this Lumix sparkles in low-light conditions

best compact cameras
  • Type: Compact
  • Sensor: 1in
  • Megapixels: 20.1MP
  • Lens: 24-72mm f/1.4-2.8 (equiv.)
  • Display: 3in tilting touchscreen, 1,040,000 dots
  • Max burst speed: 10fps
  • Max video resolution: 4K
  • User level: Enthusiast

The Lumix LX10 is another Panasonic compact that packs an impressive scale of performance for its small size. The big proverb is the 24-72 mm (equivalent) Leica lens. It is not so much the focal length range – which finally offers a standard shrugging range – but rather the bright f/1.4 maximum aperture at the wide end. Such a large aperture means that the ISO does not have to be pushed so high to achieve fast shutter speeds in low light, keeping the sound at a distance.

The camera also has a reliable AF system, which increases the chance of sharp shots even though the lack of a good grip is not ideal. Like the Panasonic ZS100 and ZS2000 superzooms, the LX15 has a 20.1 MP, 1-in-1 CMOS sensor in the heart, which not only collects more light than a traditional compact camera sensor but also captures 4K videos. The image quality for both photos and videos is also excellent, which is the main reason to upgrade from a smartphone to a point-and-shoot camera like this one. Overall, this is one of the best compact cameras to buy right now.

Ricoh GR II

It’s a professional tool, but this compact performs where it counts

  • Type: Compact
  • Sensor: APS-C
  • Megapixels: 16.2MP
  • Lens: 18mm f/2.8 (equiv. to 28mm)
  • Screen: 3in fixed, 1,230,000 dots
  • Max burst speed: 4fps
  • Max video resolution: 1080p
  • User level: Enthusiast

It may take a bit of a long time, but the Ricoh GR II still has enough to please the photography enthusiast. Although a Ricoh GR III with 24 megapixels is waiting in the wings, it is still only in the development phase. Meanwhile, the GR II has a lot of appeal for enthusiasts. There is little in the way of strange attention-grabbing functions to wipe out its specification sheet; instead, what you get with the GR II is a camera that gets the basics. It includes a large 16 MP APS-C sensor, raw shots, a fixed 28 mm (equivalent) f/2.8 remarkably sharp lens, and a housing containing magnesium alloy for lightweight and strength.

The GR II packs a modern convenience in the form of Wi-Fi, with which remote cameras can be operated and image transfer via a smartphone. The camera is an excellent choice for street photography and landscapes, but thanks to the wide-angle lens, this is a lousy option for close-up portraits, sports, and wildlife. That said, spend some time with the GR II, and you will appreciate the no-nonsense, focused way of doing business. And overall, this is one of the best compact cameras to buy right now.

Last updated on July 20, 2021 4:36 am

Sony Cyber-Shot RX100 VI

Astounding processing power and zoom range in a pint-sized body

best compact cameras
  • Sensor: 1in
  • Megapixels: 20.1MP
  • Lens: 24-200mm, f/2.8-4.5
  • Screen: 3in tilting, 921,600 dots
  • Viewfinder: EVF
  • Max burst rate: 24fps
  • Max video resolution: 4K
  • User level: Intermediate/expert

It is not difficult to understand why this model has made our list of the best compact cameras. When it comes to high-quality functions, few premium compact cameras can match the Sony Cyber-shot RX100 VI. It even makes some mirrorless cameras and DSLRs look positively slow. This is a camera that can take full-resolution images at 24 fps with continuous AF and automatic exposure throughout the process. The camera also features a generous 315 phase detecting AF points and can record 4K images that are downsampled with a 5.5K resolution for sharper results.

There are a few strange omissions for a camera of this caliber – for example, a touch screen – and the lack of right handgrip is disappointing. Also, his 2.9x optical zoom feels a bit out of proportion with his action-stopping, sports-friendly burst rate, and it might not be as easy to achieve manual operation as some of his rivals. But – and it is a big one – but the refinement of the specifications is unmistakable. If you want one of the most advanced compact cameras on the market, choose the RX100 VI. And if your budget does not stretch, the RX100 IV is one of the best compact cameras right now.

Panasonic Lumix FZ2500

This bridge-style compact camera leads the pack when it comes to 4K video recording

  • Type: Superzoom compact
  • Sensor: 1in
  • Megapixels: 20.1MP
  • Lens: 24-480mm f/2.8-4.5 (equiv.)
  • Viewfinder: EVF
  • Screen: 3in vari-angle touchscreen, 1.04million dots
  • Max burst speed: 12fps (30fps at reduced resolution)
  • Max video resolution: 4K
  • User level: Enthusiast

Panasonic knows how to build high-quality hybrid cameras that offer an extensive package of video functions, in addition to catering for first-class photos with photos. The Panasonic Lumix FZ5000 is a good example and can record both 4K DCI and 4K UHD footage at 30p and 24p, as well as Full HD at 60p, and it’s filled with useful features like focus peaking, zebra stripes, SMPTE time code, and color bars. It also has two built-in ND filters to help illuminate videos, another feature normally associated with high-end camcorders.

The FZ2500 is styled like a miniature DSLR. It is a superzoom camera that also ticks all photo requirements and offers excellent image quality thanks to its 20.1 MP 1in sensor, along with a high-speed AF system and highly effective image stabilization technology. Necessarily if you have as much as a 24-480 mm f/2.8-4.5 zoom lens in the package. Overall, this is one of the best compact cameras on the market.

Sony Cyber-Shot RX10 IV

Not just another ‘bridge’ camera, the RX10 IV has one foot in the pro-market

best compact cameras
  • Type: Superzoom compact
  • Sensor: 1in
  • Megapixels: 20.1MP
  • Lens: 24-600mm f/2.4-4 (equiv.)
  • Screen: 3in tilting, 1.44 million dots
  • Viewfinder: EVF
  • Max burst speed: 24fps
  • Max video resolution: 4K
  • User level: Enthusiast/Expert

At first glance, the Sony RX10 IV looks like a large, expensive, and not very unusual camera with a long zoom lens. But you have to look better because what Sony has made is perhaps the first ‘professional’ bridge camera in the world. It features a 20-megapixel 1-inch sensor for much higher image quality than the typical bridge camera, married to a long-range 24-600mm equivalent f / 2.4-4 lens. It not only offers a faster maximum aperture than a typical bridge camera but an unusually good picture quality at the maximum zoom setting.

This is where almost all cameras with a long zoom fall down, but the RX10 IV remains sharp throughout the entire focus range. It has so much in common with its predecessor, the RX10 III, also a favorite of us and still for sale at a lower price. But the autofocus of that camera grew slowly at high zoom settings and while recording video, while the RX10 IV adds a much faster and more powerful hybrid AF system with no less than 315 phase-detection AF points. The image quality of the RX10 IV is even more relevant for creators because the large-scale 4K recording and the efficient autofocus make it a compelling alternative for best compact cameras with interchangeable lenses.

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