Smartphone cameras are great, but they still tend to be rather limited when certain effects need to be achieved. Since not everyone wants to carry around a DSLR, there is a market for users who simply want a portable camera but one that is more advanced than what a mobile device can provide. Compact cameras are designed to address this need.
The great thing about compacts is that they have vastly improved since they first appeared, with some even rivaling DSLRs in terms of specifications and quality. With so many models to choose from, finding one that suits your needs can be rather daunting.
To help you choose, here are the best compact cameras of 2017:
There are many elements about the X100F that don’t make it ideal for many users: it has a fixed focal length, it isn’t the easiest to use, and it has a bank-breaking price. But all these nitpickings aside, it does offer quality, a much-needed feature of any camera.
The combination of a f/2.0 lens and a 24.3MP APS-C sensor ensures jaw-dropping image quality. With a hybrid viewfinder, users can choose between electronic or optical varieties depending on what suits them best.
While the X100F may not scream “the compact camera for everybody”, it does have a series of features that make its rather steep price worth it.
Panasonic Lumix ZS100
Known as TZ100 outside the US, this camera keeps the look of the travel zoom cameras Panasonic has become known for but adds a little extra. This time, Panasonic has fitted this model with a large 1-inch sensor, allowing pixel size to increase 2.4x more than in previous models.
Video recording capabilities are also supported, which will delight video enthusiasts. Even better, this model supports 4K as well as 1080p Full HD and 720p HD. The Lumix ZS100 is also equipped with O.I.S. image stabilization technology to ensure that images stay sharp even at low shutter speeds and when focal lengths are extended.
Sony RX10 IV
Bridge compacts aren’t technically compact cameras given their size, which is somewhat similar to a mid-level DSLR, but they are lumped into the category anyway. And the RX10 IV is one of the best examples of such a camera.
The Sony RX10 IV is an all-in-one bridge camera that falls under the “expensive” price tag but one you won’t regret due to superior performance. It offers a 24-600mm zoom range on its f/2.4-4 zoom lens. The 1-inch, 20.1MP sensor guarantees superb results and the improved AF system makes shooting a lot better.
Video capture is also on offer: 4K video at 24fps.
Panasonic Lumix FZ2000
Like the Sony RX10 IV, the Lumix FZ2000 is a bridge camera. One of the reasons many shooters favor bridge cameras is they offer a large zoom range while not breaking the bank. But in order to provide a large zoom, a small sensor is needed.
What Panasonic did differently with this model was sacrifice a large zoom range in favor of better image quality. They equipped this model with a large 1-inch sensor and shortened the zoom range to a 480mm equivalent, a shorter range than the usual offer on bridge cameras but can still suitable for everyday use.
So if you’re looking for a camera that can provide high quality images, offer a rather large zoom range, and retail at reasonable rates, this one is for you.
Canon PowerShot G9 X Mark II
A lot of compact cameras come with small sensors, but the trend in compacts has seen the use of 1-inch sensors like this Canon PowerShot G9 X Mark II. It is a decent enough compact but a couple of sacrifices had to be made for it to be “pocketable.” This means that a lot of features that photographers would love have been stripped away. But even with those gone, this camera can still deliver excellent results.
While still featuring a 20.1MP 1-inch sensor like its predecessors, this model differs with its new DIGIC 7 image processor which brings a lot of improvements, including an increased continuous shooting rate.
This models’ maximum aperture isn’t exactly the best, as is its zoom range. But despite its flaws, the camera is still a suitable level up from smartphone cameras. Plus, the built-in connectivity options – Bluetooth, NFC, and WiFi – are really helpful.
Sony RX100 V
Add this to the list of models that are “pricey but worth it.” Sony’s RX100 series has consistently produced cameras with features demanded by photography enthusiasts. And the RX100 V is no exception.
It still sports a 1-inch sensor but a much different one. The RX100 V uses a “stacked” sensor to allow the capture of high-speed data. So on top of being able to shoot video at 4K resolution, it is also capable of 40x slow motion and shooting 24fps stills in continuous burst mode.
The RX100 V also features a built-in electronic viewfinder and a 315-point phase-detection autofocus. For all its greatness, some users may take issue with it not having touchscreen functionality.
Panasonic Lumix LX10
When you want a compact with a 1-inch sensor that also delivers great results, look no further than the Lumix LX10 (known as LX15 outside the US). It has the right combination when it comes to features, performance, and price. However, it does have a lot of flaws.
First off, the camera doesn’t have a built-in electronic viewfinder. It also doesn’t have the best grip. But for all its faults, it does offer a pretty food 24-72mm lens that has an f/1.4 aperture. On top of all that are dual control rings, a touchscreen, great AF, and 4K video capture.
Canon PowerShot G1 X Mark III
This model is quite unique when it comes to compact cameras. Compacts usually have small sensors to fit into their rather small size, but Canon has managed to stick an APS-C sensor into this one. As such, this camera is able to deliver when it comes to images.
The G1 X Mark III also comes with a built-in electronic viewfinder and a touchscreen interface. Some might find the 24-72mm zoom range quite modest, but it serves fine for everyday use.
This model suits DSLR users who just want to leave their huge cameras at home while also bringing along an equally capable of taking quality snaps.
Olympus Tough TG-5
While there are lots of GoPro models to choose from when you want to document adventures, but being outdoors also means exposing yourself and your camera to various elements. As such, you need a camera that can handle changing environments but still deliver quality results. This need is addressed by the Olympus Tough TG-5.
The TG-5 is built for the outdoors. It can reach underwater depths up to 15m. It can be dropped from a height of 2.1m. It can withstand a 100kg force. And it can even survive in temperatures as low as -15 degrees Celsius.
This model supports 4K video recording at 30fps and 1080p recording at 120fps.
By all rights, this should be at the top of any “best of” compact camera list. However, its really blinding price makes it unsuitable for most users. But if you can spare resources for this camera, you won’t regret what it has to offer.
What makes this compact desirable is its full-frame sensor which enables the capture of stunning photographs. Leica didn’t hold back when it came to the other components: it has a Summilux 2mm f/1.7 ASPH lens, a 3,860,000-dot electronic viewfinder, a 1,040,00-dot three-inch touchscreen, excellent autofocus capabilities, and traditional exposure controls.
The 10 compact cameras listed here are but a few of the many available in the market, but they are among the best. They come in different varieties: travel compacts, bridge compacts, rugged compacts, and premium compacts (those with 1-inch sensors). There’s a reason for the list: there’s no one camera for everybody; we all have different needs and that’s how we must approach camera purchases.
Choosing a camera is also more than just looking at specifications; it’s also considering design. Whether you like great outdoor shots or just want a camera you can stick in a bag and not worry about it, you’ll find models of those in this list.