The 8 Best Compact Cameras

Updated February 24, 2017 by Jeff Newburgh

8 Best Compact Cameras
Best High-End
Best Mid-Range
Best Inexpensive
We spent 39 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top choices for this wiki. If you're tired of the image quality your phone's camera provides, then consider one of these dedicated, pocket-sized photo solutions instead. Not only do they minimize the need to lug around heavy equipment, but they boast innovative features, including Wi-Fi connectivity, built-in visual stabilization systems, and intelligent auto-focusing technology in almost any indoor and outdoor setting. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to support our work. Skip to the best compact camera on Amazon.

8. Olympus Stylus VG-180

If you're new to the prospect of taking pictures on the go, the Olympus Stylus VG-180 is a formidable option without all the fancy bells and whistles getting in the way. That said, its Magic Art Filters can fill your shots with unique moods at any time of day or night.
  • has 14 scene modes
  • sleek and stylish design
  • small battery needs charging often
Brand Olympus
Model VG-180
Weight 10.4 ounces
Rating 4.0 / 5.0

7. Fujifilm Instax Mini 8

Simplicity describes the Fujifilm Instax Mini 8. Thanks to its automatic exposure measurement function, it is capable of signaling the appropriate aperture setting using its flashing LED, while its high-key mode allows for taking bright pictures with soft impressions.
  • slim and lightweight
  • very affordable price
  • not as durable as its competition
Brand Fujifilm
Model Instax Mini 8 - Black
Weight 15.2 ounces
Rating 3.7 / 5.0

6. Canon PowerShot SX720

Whether it's family vacations, parties, or capturing funny moments on film, keep yourself prepared for all these moments using the Canon PowerShot SX720. Its DIGIC 6 image processor boosts image quality of both stills and fast-motion video, even in low-light conditions.
  • 10x optical zoom with stabilization
  • records stereo-quality sound
  • battery is a pain to replace
Brand Canon
Model 1070C001
Weight 1.2 pounds
Rating 4.4 / 5.0

5. Nikon Coolpix S7000

The Nikon Coolpix S7000 uses Near Field Communication and integrated vibration reduction technologies for wireless image sharing and keeping both your 16-megapixel photos sharp and HD videos steady. Its 18 different scene modes automatically optimize the camera's settings.
  • 1-year warranty for parts and labor
  • has a convenient usb port
  • wi-fi connectivity is rather spotty
Brand Nikon
Model 26483
Weight 13.6 ounces
Rating 4.4 / 5.0

4. Sony DSC-RX100M5

Great for snapping selfies and eye-level photos of your pet, the Sony DSC-RX100M5 offers a 3-inch LCD capable of rotating to multiple angles. Its Zeiss optics also minimize reflections, allowing it to take high-quality images with precision and ample detail.
  • retractable oled viewfinder
  • dram in sensor for fast response
  • captures still photos from video
Brand Sony
Model DSC-RX100M5
Weight 1.3 pounds
Rating 4.0 / 5.0

3. Fujifilm X100F

The Fujifilm X100F leverages the X-Trans CMOS III sensor, which makes use of an aperiodic color filter array that eliminates the need for an optical low-pass filter. Its expanded phase detection area also provides for both improved shooting speed and accuracy.
  • 8-direction focusing lever
  • built-in iso dial
  • real-time parallax correction
Brand Fujifilm
Model X100F - Silver
Weight 7 pounds
Rating 4.6 / 5.0

2. Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX100S

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX100S boasts a Leica 24-75-millimeter lens with an aperture range of F1.7-2.8 for improved brightness. Its eye-level electronic viewfinder contains over 2.7 million dots, creating a framing experience that's nearly as crisp as your final images.
  • external flash included
  • manual aspect ratio switch
  • high-sensitivity mos sensor
Brand Panasonic
Model DMC-LX100S
Weight 1.7 pounds
Rating 4.7 / 5.0

1. Sony Alpha A6500

The Sony Alpha A6500 is equipped with a 5-axis, in-body image stabilization system that makes it easy to pair with a variety of lenses. Its newly-developed processor delivers instant snapshot review and a deep buffer of up to 300 JPEG images for ensuring photo consistency.
  • capable of capturing 4k video
  • 11-frame-per-second shooting speed
  • 425 phase-detect points
Brand Sony Alpha A6500
Model pending
Weight pending
Rating 5.0 / 5.0

A Matter Of Size

Throughout the years that I worked at a little camera store outside Philadelphia, a funny coincidence would often occur. The store was divided into two sides, the sales side and the prints side. I worked on the sales side. There were two doors at either end of the store that connected the sides, allowing customers to move freely between them, and allowing us to hear almost everything that was going on on the prints side.

Often, at the exact same time, a customer on the sales side would ask us why he or she still needed to buy a camera at all these days, since the camera on their phone was so good. Meanwhile, on the prints side, another customer would complain that the picture they had printed from their cell phone didn't look good enough.

The point is that all cell phones suffer from two build features that seem to always keep them just a step behind the camera competition: they have tiny lenses and tiny sensors. Take your phone out of your pocket right now and look at the camera lens. It's about the diameter of a cheap ballpoint pen. By extension, the sensor is even smaller, since a sensor larger than the lens in front of it would be a waste of space.

The compact cameras on our list, however, have much larger lenses and sensors. That means more light collection, the ability to zoom optically instead of digitally, better bokeh (that fancy effect that blurs the background of a picture), superior low light performance, and higher overall picture quality.

The other great thing about carrying around a compact camera is that, if you so desire, you can go untethered. One of the things about shooting with your phone that makes certain kinds of photography less exciting is that you're still connected to the world and its web. When you use a camera instead of your phone, you can leave the leash at home, go out into the world with fresh eyes, and take some great pictures.

Zoom To Roam

Camera manufacturers have bent over backward in the past few years trying to keep the compact sector of the market from dying out completely. They've added more and more features, unique capabilities, internet connectivity, and more to their lineup of cameras. While that's a great thing for the consumer, it does make it a little more difficult to compare one camera to the next. Fortunately, some of the same questions that apply to customers shopping for high-end D-SLRs work just as well for customers in the compact camera market.

For starters, what are you actually shooting? If you're trying to capture events in and around your home–birthday parties, graduation celebrations, etc.–you probably don't need a camera that boasts a giant zoom. You'll take most of your pictures at a wider angle, and you can always get closer to your subjects without much trouble. An added benefit to this kind of purchase is that less zoom means better pictures.

When a manufacturer builds a zoom lens, they have to calibrate it to be as sharp as possible at each point in the zoom. The way the physics of it pan out, however, sharpness is like eight ounces of water that has to be distributed across all focal lengths. If you have only one focal length, or one glass, you can put all of your water in that and achieve maximum sharpness. If you have a 20x zoom, you have to divide those eight ounces across 20 glasses, and none is as sharp (or as full) as that solitary one could have been.

If you're more interested in getting out and shooting wildlife or sports, anything really that keeps you at a distance from your subject, you'll want a better zoom. Even if your sharpness takes a hit, it always looks better to zoom in the camera than it does to crop in in post.

Finally, if you're interested in making a serious foray into photography, or if you know you're going to spend a lot of time shooting in very sunny areas, it's a good idea to try to find a camera with a viewfinder, or at least with the option to add a viewfinder. These make it much easier to frame up a shot when the glare from the sun slams into the back screen with all its might, and they take you one step closer to feeling like a pro with your camera held up to your face.

After that, you can ask yourself whether things like 4K video, image stabilization, WiFi connectivity, and other tertiary features matter to you. One of those might just tip the scales between two otherwise identical choices.

A Smaller Standard

Cameras have been pretty big from the start. Once the pioneers of the science developed their unique methods for capturing light, the plates on which they exposed their negatives and positives were nearly as big as a standard piece of paper. The reason was that there was no technology to increase the size of an image in printing, so you had to take a photo at the size you wanted it printed.

Roughly 150 years later, after celluloid film had become a standard in photography, manufacturers settled down around a 35mm format that would slowly, but surely, reduce the size of camera gear to something much more tenable for the average consumer. This level of standardization led to the advent of the disposable camera, among other things.

The compact cameras on our list wouldn't come into existence until digital photography entered the marketplace with any degree of success in the 1990's. At the time, the ability to see the picture you took immediately on a little screen seemed like a novelty, and the resolution couldn't compete with that of film for many years.

Still, even in those days, the success of smaller, consumer-oriented 35mm film cameras told camera companies that they had a market waiting for them if they wanted to release friendly, high-quality compacts into the world. So they did, and those little guys have been getting better and better ever since.



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Last updated on February 24, 2017 by Jeff Newburgh

A dedicated writer and communications professional spending his days lost in the intricacies of both proposal and freelance writing. When not sharing the knowledge of both fully and self-insured medical benefits to employer groups of all industries within California, Jeff Newburgh can be found at home spending time with his family and 3 dogs, pondering the next chew toy to be thrown, while kicking back and relaxing with a nice glass of red wine.


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