If you want a compact camera that produces great quality photos without the hassle of changing lenses, there are plenty of choices available for every budget. All of the cameras in this buying guide have zoom lenses, with focal length ranges mostly spanning around 24-70mm (equivalent).
The majority of the cameras in this guide use 1″-type sensors, which fall in-between the tiny chips used in smartphones and cheap compacts, and larger sensors found in mirrorless and DSLR cameras. A few go even larger, with Canon’s PowerShot G1 X Mark III featuring the same APS-C-size sensor as some of the company’s DSLRs. Larger sensors offer more control over depth-of-field and usually (but not always) have less noise at high sensitivities.
Our Pick: Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 V
The RX100 V is the flagship camera in Sony’s pocketable fleet. It has virtually every feature you’d want in a compact, and some that you never knew you needed. Its 1″-type 20MP stacked CMOS sensor and fast and sharp 24-70mm equiv. lens produce exceptional photo quality, and the RX’s 315-point hybrid AF system performs well when it comes to tracking subjects, even at an amazing rate of 24 frames per second.
One of the RX100 V’s most endearing features is its pop-up electronic viewfinder, which comes in very handy when shooting outdoors. The camera captures amazing 4K video, and features like S-Log2 will appeal to enthusiasts. In the negatives column: while your mileage may vary, we’re not huge fans of the fiddly controls or user interface on the RX100 V. Battery life is on the low end, as well.
The RX100 V is a pricey camera, but if you want bleeding-edge tech in your pocket, it’s the camera to get.
Also consider: Canon PowerShot G9 X Mark II
While it doesn’t have incredible burst rates, the ultra-compact Canon PowerShot G9 X Mark II is an amazing value camera, with a street price well under $500.
It uses the same 20MP 1″ CMOS sensor as other Canons, meaning that you’ll get pleasant-looking JPEGs, and a modern Digic 7 processor that allows fast (ish) burst rates and a large buffer. The F2.0-4.9, 28-84mm equivalent lens isn’t the brightest out there, but it’s more than enough for most folks.
Those who are used to smartphones will feel right at home with the G9 X II, which is operated largely via its touchscreen display. Canon’s wireless system includes both NFC and Bluetooth, allowing for easy pairing, photo sharing and remote control. What’s not to like? Well, the G9 X II doesn’t record 4K video, and its battery life is pretty low. Even so, for those seeking a camera that you can carry everywhere, the G9 X II is worth a look.
We considered all of the cameras below when picking our winner, and even though Sony Cyber-shot RX100 V is our top pick, the cameras on our short list are also worthy contenders. If you’re not convinced by our recommendations, read through the full buying guide for a detailed breakdown of each contender’s strengths and weaknesses.