Are You in search for a new camera but don’t want to invest in additional lenses and just a simple setup that lets You take good photographs? Then You should have a deeper look into the best compact cameras and what they can offer for You.
Technology is advancing at a very fast rate and well-advanced cameras don’t need to be big and bulky anymore. We imagine that good photographers are walking around with big DSLRs and even bigger lenses to get the perfect shot. But that stereotype isn’t true anymore.
Compact cameras have a lot of advantages compared to bigger cameras while being more inexpensive. The prejudice that You need an expensive camera and even more gear to create beautiful pictures should fall apart after You have seen my list of compact cameras. They are also a great choice as a camera for hiking.
In case You want the complete overview, visit my comprehensive camera guide.
The Best Compact Cameras Overview
35mm eq. Lens
Best Image Quality
Ricoh GR II
LCD Screen Only
28mm eq. Lens
Canon PowerShot SX 730
LCD Screen Only
24-960mm eq. Lens
110 x 64 x 40 mm
The List of Compact Cameras in 2018
After that short introduction on why You should go for a compact camera instead of other forms of digital cameras, I want to present the following list of viable options You should consider buying.
Compact cameras have gone a long way and were there in the past very simple and similar, the variety has really excelled in recent years.
The price ranges from $130 to over $1.300, but with the Fujifilm X100F (Review) I shot my first wedding and didn’t regret it.
There are compact cameras that can be part of professional equipment if You are a wedding photographer or photojournalist and there are very simple types, that are more suitable if You are not interested in photography, but go for a travel and want to document Your memories.
Whatever Your goal is, or how much money You are willing to spend, on this list You can find the best compact cameras available in 2018 that should suit Your needs.
Overview of the RicohGR II
Without any unnecessary features, the RicohGR II has an APS-C sensor, that could also be found in bigger DSLRs and that allows the RicohGR II to produce images of a very high quality.
This camera is built to function and when are You interested in getting the best quality at a rather inexpensive price, then this camera is what You should get.
At first glance, You might miss the viewfinder, because the RicohGR II doesn’t have one, but You will get accustomed to the LCD-screen very quickly. Alternatively, You can also shoot from the hip, or simply attach an external Viewfinder for the Ricoh.
That the RicohGR II produces images at a professional level is no exaggeration. Galleries are filled with photographs that have been shot on this compact camera and if You are worried that the pictures aren’t good enough then the camera is most likely not the problem.
The arrangement of the buttons is also smart and in a way, that You have full control about the camera with only one hand. With the dials and buttons, You can change the aperture and shutter speed without having to enter a menu first, which means that You can change those settings on the fly.
You can also see a more detailed review of the RicohGR II here.
I have already mentioned it, but the RicohGR II is the definition of understatement. Rather unimpressive in terms of design or when looking at the camera, it turns out a beast when You have a look at the results.
The 16 Megapixel APS-C sensor is at the same level or even above of the sensor levels of many other mirrorless cameras that are in use today.
The noise performance is for a compact camera also at an acceptable level, so that You can use it also in the morning or evening when the light is not perfect outside.
The RicohGR II comes with a native ~18mm lens (28mm eq.) and offers a max aperture of f/2.8.
With the wide-angle lens, You can easily shoot from the hip and be able to have a high success rate.
The distortion is barely noticeable and defines the characteristic look of a typical wide-angle lens, rather than being annoying.
Bokeh can be rather difficult to achieve due to the wide-angle of this camera, but it is still possible when shooting with an open aperture and focusing very close to You.
A special feature is, that the lens withdraws when the camera is off and is protected from the environment.
Why You Should Buy the RicohGR II
You are a Photographer who is comfortable without a Viewfinder and want Street Photography camera that can deliver the highest quality for a very reasonable price without any unnecessary gimmicks but is reduced to its essential features. With this camera, You can fully focus on the picture and get gallery print quality with a compact camera that fits in Your palm.
Excellent Image Quality
Overview of the Fujifilm X100F
Calling the FujiX100F a compact camera might raise a few questions because this model doesn’t really look like any other compact model at all. It rather looks like a fully equipped camera where You can change the lenses.
But the Fujifilm X100F is a bit special in this segment as it features a fixed focal length of around 35mm, without the possibility of changing the lens.
As You can see in the dimensions, the camera is noticeably bigger than most other compact cameras and You should buy a photography bag to store the camera.
I have used the camera myself while traveling through Southeast Asia and have to say, that I didn’t miss taken any other camera where I could have changed the lenses with me. The 35mm lens is ideal in most cases and even if not, I am able to move, or crop in case the subject is too far away.
During my travel, I also used the camera in toxic sulfur smoke and although there was a lot of dust, the FujiX100F has survived these harsh conditions very easily.
This is also one advantage of the fixed focal length design. The camera is less prone to any environmental influence and can withstand rain or dust relatively easy.
In the past, I have also photographed a wedding and other images have also been published in relatively known magazines.
The Fujifilm X100F is definitely a professional level camera and if You are comfortable with having only one focal length, then it can easily replace any other mirrorless camera at the moment. Considering the price, this camera is a steal and a great entry into the 35mm world for Street Photography.
The Fujifilm X100F produces the best images from all of the cameras featured on the list. With 24 Megapixels of the X-Trans Sensor, the camera comes nothing short and especially skin tones are amazing with this camera.
Therefore the image quality is outstanding when You are thinking about doing a photojournalism project and are searching for a rather small camera that offers a great image quality too.
The auto-focus also comes with a face detection which makes it easier for You to focus on people and never miss a shot because they are out of focus.
Have a look at this elephant and how You are able to see every hair and the detailed skin on him. Doesn’t it look like he is directly standing in front of You?
Fujinon lenses are known for their great quality. They are also used in their lineup of changeable mirrorless cameras and this shows, that You have a 35mm lens in the Fuji X100F that could also be on an X-Pro2 or any other flagship Fuji camera.
The open aperture of f/2 allows beautiful bokeh and is probably the only compact camera, where You can create a shallow depth of field, that is rather pleasant to look at.
The Fuji X100F is for every Photographer, who doesn’t need different focal lengths but seeks for perfect quality. The camera allows the photographer to focus fully on Photography without needing to invest additional money anymore. If You simply want a great camera to take photographs – Buy this camera, You won’t regret it.
Excellent Image Quality
No Tiltable Screen
Sony Cyber-Shot DSC RX100 V
Overview of the Cyber-Shot DSC RX100 V
The Cyber-Shot is the first camera with a 1″ sensor that we are presenting in this compact camera guide. It also shows, that there are other manufacturers besides Fuji, that are interested in offering high-quality compact cameras.
Just like the Fujifilm X100F, the Cyber-Shot is all about performance and quality. On its front, You can see already the “Zeiss” label which is unmistakably a sign of quality.
Sony doesn’t compromise with this compact camera but sets the focus on quality.
The auto-focus is one of the fastest of the cameras presented here and even within a burst mode of 24 Images per second, the camera is able to adjust the exposure or focus automatically.
So if You are into Sports photography or other genres that demand such a high burst rate, this camera should be Your first choice.
The camera features an extended ISO of up to 25.600 which makes this compact camera suitable for photographing in lower light situations. Although the sensor is only a 1″ sensor which is smaller than the APS-C variants the ISO performance is still at a high level.
The image quality of the Cyber-Shot is not only great for still images, but also for 4k high-resolution videos for up to 24 frames per second. Combined with its small size, You are able to document Your day not only in great quality with photographs but also video.
The Cyber-Shot comes with a zoom lens, which makes it more flexible in its use. The focal length of around 24-70mm eq. is good enough to go from slight wide-angle to a short telelens.
At the shorter end, the max aperture is f/1.8 while being on the lower end at f/2.8. Both apertures are phenomenal for a zoom lens and even allow for some bokeh, which is really special for a compact camera, combined with a zoom lens.
The Zeiss Vario Sonnar T lens assures that You will receive high-quality pictures and don’t need to worry that Your camera might be sub-par compared to DSLRs.
In case You are afraid that the fixed focal lengths lenses of the RicohGR and the FujiX100F may pose a challenge for You, the Sony Cyber-Shot DSC RX 100 V gives You a bigger flexibility in its range of use.
You are able to do wide angle landscape photography, but at the same time can go into people photography sporting the 70mm lens of this compact camera.
The electronic viewfinder is also one of the best, available at the moment and the camera excels when shooting video.
If You are searching for quality, need a viewfinder and prefer a zoom-lens, then the Cyber-Shot is Your camera of choice.
Ultra HD Video
Very Fast Continuos Shooting
Great Image Quality
Slow Image Buffering
Sony DSC W830
Overview of the Sony W830
I have to admit, that so far the compact cameras I have presented where rather expensive and probably of the higher range of affordable prices. Now I want to present a camera, that still offers good quality, but costs far below $200.
That’s right, the Sony W830 comes with 20,1 Megapixels but, is still super affordable. Of course, You have to dismiss other features, but that doesn’t mean that You can’t have fun with the Sony W830 and get good images.
Much like the Cyber-Shot, the W830 has a Zeiss lens, with a zoom ranging from 25-200mm.
The biggest feature of this compact camera is its small size and while it can be a little uncomfortable to wear a RicohGR in Your pocket all day, the W830 isn’t really bigger than any mobile phone.
If You are searching for a camera at a lower budget, You should take a closer look at this model.
Currently, the W830 sits at around $120, so what image quality can we expect for this kind of money?
Well, it is still a lot and with 20,1 Megapixels, You can definitely get great photographs as long as some requirements are fulfilled.
The camera delivers the best results in good light and is rather limited when there isn’t enough available light. With only a max ISO of 3.200 and a rather poor ISO performance, due to its very small sensor, You shouldn’t expect too much, when bringing the camera to its limit.
Thankfully, the camera still has an optical image stabilizer, which is really surprising for a camera that inexpensive.
The stabilizer allows You to shoot at slower shutter speeds, which in return helps You to lower the critical ISO and noise in Your images, thus improving the overall image quality.
The W830 features an 8x optical zoom with a focal length of 25mm to 200mm.
Beginning with a max aperture of f/3.3 and ending at f/6.3, the aperture isn’t the best but combined with the stabilizer and slower shutter speeds, You can still get a decent exposure and amount of light.
The W830 is a really good budget solution and if You are searching for a compact camera that is ideal for Your next travel plans, but don’t want to commit to something bigger and more expensive, then I would go with this camera.
With an optical 8x zoom, You should cover all the genres and focal distances that You need and there aren’t any unfulfilled wishes.
For entry levels- the camera is also very easy to use and offers some automatic modes, that will apply filters to Your images to improve the JPEG quality directly, which decreases Your work and You are able to share already good looking JPEGs.
The camera is also suitable for 720p videos in case You are interested in some moving images.
If You want a low-budget travel buddy – go for the W830.
Good Image Quality during Day
Easy to Handle
Image Quality at night
Canon PowerShot SX730
Overview of the Canon PowerShot SX730 HS
When You see the specifications about the zoom lens on the table above, there isn’t any typo. The Canon PowerShot SX730 really comes with a 40x optical zoom.
I know that other manufacturers also label their cameras as “zoom wonders” where You have a 40x zoom, the difference is, in most cases, it is an “electronic” zoom, which is nothing else than cropping an image and reducing the megapixels.
This doesn’t happen with the Canon Powershot SX730, the zoom is optical, meaning You can zoom in with the lens and not through clever post-processing.
The zoom lens is not the only outstanding feature.
In addition to the 40x zoom lens, this compact camera also has a flip-up screen and can be connected via Bluetooth.
With a price of around $400 this superzoom comes in relatively cheap, but does it also offer good image quality or is it more a gimmick?
Prime lenses, that don’t offer any zoom function are often said to have a higher quality. They are easier to build and less complex.
Now, we aren’t looking at a “normal” zoom lens, but a superzoom with a capability of a 40x zoom. Does the image quality suffer on the full range when shooting with a lens like this, or did Canon manage to give the 40x zoom still a great image quality?
Let’s have a look at the basic technical data.
With a sensor that offers 20,3 megapixels and an ISO of up to 3.200, the basis for good images has been set. The megapixels are comparable to other compact cameras that You have seen here.
The camera offers up to 6 frames per second under good light conditions and slows down to around 2,3 frames per second when shooting in a darker environment.
To enhance Your JPEGs, the camera has some effects and filters that You can add to Your pictures and avoid having to use Lightroom or Photoshop for some decent images.
A single image doesn’t do the superzoom justice.
Therefore have a look at this video showing the impressive superzoom in action.
I have talked a fair bit about the lens, but now I want to get into more detail about the other characteristics apart from the Superzoom.
Although the superzoom has a 172mm optical focal length with 960mm being the full-frame equivalent, the lens is fully retractable into the body of the camera.
The zoom lens extends through multiple elements that are getting longer but doesn’t get too uncomfortable or difficult to control.
At full zoom though, it can become difficult to shoot handheld and You need a fast shutter speed.
The faster shutter speed can be achieved in combination with an aperture of f/6,9 at full zoom. As You can image, You need to be in good light to really use the superzoom, although there are images from the moon also taken with the compact camera, it does need more thorough preparation.
At the lower end, the max open aperture is f/3,3 and isn’t affected by the limitations of the zoom end anymore.
Let’s be honest, the main feature of the camera is the superzoom. If You don’t plan on using the lens to its fullest potential, You might be better off with a different camera.
Although You can use the camera also for videos and there are some people on Youtube using this camera for their work, from a photographer’s standpoint, the PowerShot is for You, if You are interested in doing animal, or sports photography.
Those genres benefit from the superzoom the most, but if You have other ideas on how to apply the 40x optical zoom then this is up to You of course.
40x Optical Zoom
Soft on the Edges
Overview of the Canon G7X II
The Canon G7X Mark II is the successor of the first G7X edition.
Equipped with a faster DIGIC 7 image processor and an updated camera design, the newest G7X wants to combine high quality with a small size in the form of a compact camera.
At first, it seems that there is nothing really outstanding about this camera, but be assured that everything that this camera does is solid.
It combines a small zoom lens, with high ISO capabilities up to 12.800 and the body is really good to handle.
For photographers that don’t feel comfortable having a small camera in their hand and need a better control, the added rubber on the body is a real blessing and allows a far better grip than other compact cameras.
Thanks to the all-new image processor, the auto-focus has also improved and is a really good step forward to the previous G7X version.
You can connect the camera via WiFi and the LCD screen is also tiltable for a better viewing experience. The screen can also be shifted upwards and be turned so that You can face the front of the camera while seeing the LCD screen at the same time. This is why this camera is also favored by “Vlogging” Youtubers.
The sensor in the G7X Mark II is the same, that was already used in the G7X. So why would You need the newer version then?
Canon decided to use a new image processor which is a lot faster and more powerful. Especially at higher ISO ranges, the processing really helps to reduce the noise.
So if You plan to shoot in less optimal light, the new version definitely makes a difference.
The image quality also benefits from the improved auto-focus, which is a lot better now in low contrast and low light scenes.
Did we saw already very outstanding lenses in this compact camera guide, the Canon G7X II has a rather solid and standard zoom lens.
Ranging from 24 to 100mm, which comes close to normal kit lenses. The zoom should be sufficient in most situations and as You can see in the picture above, at the lower end, You can capture some nice landscape photographs.
One characteristic that is remarkable is the max aperture of f/1,8 at the lower end, going to f/2,8 at the longer end.
The Canon G7X II might not look outstanding at a particular feature, but it is a really solid camera in every way. It is flexible in its use, thanks to the zoom lens and You can use it in lower light situations.
The LCD screen can be tilted and even shifted so that You can view the screen and face the front of the camera simultaneously.
So if You want a solid point and shoot camera, but are also interested in recording videos, for example for Youtube, then this feature is really neat and the reason You should go for the Canon G7X II.
Soft on the Edges
The Compact Camera for Street Photography
Are You a Street Photographer and don’t want to carry a heavy camera all day, or are worried that You look too suspicious with a bigger camera?
Street Photography is all about candid moments and big cameras can destroy those candid scenes when subjects realize that they are being photographed long before You made the shot.
In addition to that, bigger cameras always look a bit more intimidating and people are reacting more hostile towards You. With a smaller sized compact camera, You look more like a tourist exploring the city.
That doesn’t mean, that Your photographs are also on the level of the average tourist. Compact cameras can deliver high-class image quality at very low cost.
Be aware though, that You can’t change the lens and have to work with the focal length that You are given. With the high quality of sensors and the number of megapixels, that compact cameras have already reached, You still have some room to crop Your pictures and even if You were a little too far away, You can still save that image in post-processing.
Other than that, there are a lot of benefits when buying a compact camera for Street Photography.
Benefits of a Compact Camera
The best value for the money.
DSLRs or even Mirrorless Cameras with changeable lenses might not appear expensive at first, but if You do the math and take the lenses into account, then You realize very fast that those systems are not really a cheap hobby. Compare that to a compact camera, where You invest once and then can focus on taking amazing photographs, rather than debating about new gear.
Compact cameras are often easier to handle than DSLRs or other Mirrorless cameras. It might sound like a disadvantage, but Compact Cameras are often reduced to the essential features a camera needs. Yes, it might sound interesting that a Pen-F has a high-resolution mode, but how often would You realistically use it with all the limitations? Point and shoot cameras are often simple to use and if You are searching for an entry-level camera, You should look at compact cameras first.
Size of Compact Cameras
The most obvious benefit of a point and shoot camera is its reduced size. You might think that size isn’t important for You, but when You shoot with a bulky camera for a whole day outside, You will notice the weight on Your neck and the fun vanished rapidly. On the contrary, You can carry a compact camera on a wrist strap and just have it with You like a small bag. Another advantage is that it is more difficult to spot and doesn’t appear like a professional tool.
Do You visit a football match or a concert and want to take better images than with a mobile phone, then a compact camera is a way to go. Often times music venues are dark and big cameras aren’t allowed, nor is it really enjoyable to carry that camera all the time. In most cases, the venue policy allows compact cameras, so You can take that camera with You and even shoot in low light and get decent pictures that You can share with Your friend.
Fun with Point and Shoots
The most important factor why I like compact cameras, especially for Street Photography is the fun factor. I don’t have to think about much, other than carrying that camera with me and take pictures. “Point and shoot” is exactly the right term for this. I can just go for a stroll without focusing on Street Photography but are able to carry my compact camera in my pocket and if I see something that is of interest, I can still get professional level quality, that wouldn’t be possible with my mobile phone. Although mobile phones are already very good, they don’t offer the possibilities of manually adjusting the aperture or shutter speed, which are big factors for me. With compact cameras, I still have the freedom to control my camera and experiment with different settings and when I am done, I can just put the camera away again.