Buying guide: 10 best compact cameras you can buy right now

10 best compact cameras in 2016

The term’ compact camera’ used to mean cameras small enough to fit in a pocket, but the definition has grown a lot bigger (as have a lot of the cameras).

These days, a ‘compact camera’ is taken to mean one that doesn’t take interchangeable lenses. It can mean a camera which is actually small enough to put in your pocket, but it can also include big, DSLR-style bridge cameras, and powerful, high-end cameras for enthusiasts.

So we’ve rounded up our ten favorite compact cameras of all types. There are cameras here for every type of user, from novice to expert, and for every price point. We rate them not just for their picture quality or photographic features, but also their value for money, design and usability.

If you need a bit more help figuring out what kind of camera you need, then read this article: What camera should I buy?

Or if you already know what kind of camera you want, then check out our more specific compact camera guides:

Otherwise, keep reading to find out which are the best compact cameras on the market right now, and why.

Panasonic LX100

1. Panasonic LX100

A compact masterpiece, with a big sensor, classic controls and a viewfinder

Sensor: Micro Four Thirds, 12.8MP | Lens: 24-75mm, f/1.7-2.8 | Monitor: 3-inch, 921K dots | Viewfinder: Yes | Continuous shooting: 11fps | Movies: 4K | User level: Expert

See more Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX100 deals

Big sensor, small body Traditional controls Prone to lens flare Modest resolution

Keen photographers usually go for a DSLR or a compact system camera, but they also want something that will slip in a pocket for those days when the big camera needs to stay at home. Usually, that means putting up with a smaller sensor – but not this time. Somehow, Panasonic has shoehorned a CSC-sized Micro Four Thirds sensor into a compact camera body. Not only that, it’s added an aperture ring on the lens, a shutter speed dial on the top AND an electronic viewfinder. It has a specially-designed super-compact wide-aperture lens and it can shoot 4K too. The LX100 was expensive when it was launched, but the price has fallen steadily, and this is still an amazing and unique camera.

Canon PowerShot G5 X

2. Canon PowerShot G5 X

Canon’s big-sensor high-end compact combines power and value

Sensor: 1-inch, 20.2Mp | Lens: 24-100mm f/1.8-2.8 | Monitor: 3-inch articulating, 1,040K dots | Viewfinder: Electronic | Continuous shooting: 5.9fps | Movies: 1080p | User level: Intermediate/expert

See more Canon PowerShot G5 X deals

Big-sensor image quality External controls A tad big for a trouser pocket Random Creative Shot effects

The arrival of new 1-inch sensors has transformed the high-end compact camera market, allowing makers to get closer to DSLR quality but still keep the cameras small. The Canon G5 X is a brilliant example – it might look like a DSLR (it has an electronic viewfinder), but it’s a lot smaller. The image quality is great, the external controls will be popular with enthusiasts and the lens has a good maximum aperture across its zoom range, which is great for low-light photography and blurring backgrounds.

Panasonic FZ1000

3. Panasonic FZ1000

The FZ1000 combines a bridge camera zoom with a big 1-inch sensor

Sensor: 1-inch, 20.1 megapixels | Lens: 25-400mm, f/2.8-4 | Monitor: 3-inch articulating, 921K dots |Viewfinder: EVF | Continuous shooting: 12fps | Movies: 4K | User level: Intermediate

See more Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ1000 deals

1-inch sensorWide maximum apertureComparatively largeScreen not touch-sensitive

This trend towards bigger sensors shows up in the Panasonic FZ1000 too. Bridge cameras are very popular because they offer a colossal zoom range at a modest cost. To design a big zoom, though, the makers have to use a tiny sensor – and here Panasonic took the wise choice to sacrifice zoom range for better quality. Like the Canon G5 X, the Panasonic FZ1000 uses a 1-inch sensor, and while the zoom tops out at 400mm equivalent, which is relatively short for a bridge camera, that’s still plenty for all but the most extreme everyday use. We love the FZ1000 because it delivers both image quality and zoom range – and the price is pretty competitive now too.

Sony RX10

4. Sony RX10

Hard to categorise and easily overlooked, the RX10 has a brilliant lens and a big sensor

Sensor: 1-inch CMOS, 20.2MP | Lens: 24-200mm, f/2.8 | Monitor: 3-inch tilting, 1440K dots | Viewfinder: EVF | Continuous shooting: 10fps | Movies: 1080 | User level: Intermediate/Expert

See more Sony RX10 deals

Constant f/2.8 maximum aperture1-inch sensorShort zoom range for a bridge cameraExpensive

We like the Sony RX10 for the same reason we love the Panasonic FZ1000 – it combines a big zoom range with a bigger-than-usual sensor. DSLR and mirrorless camera owners might sneer at a 1-inch sensor, but it’s much bigger than the sensors used in regular compact cameras and bridge cameras and this has a big impact on picture quality. The problem for the RX10 is that its 8.3x zoom range is too short for it to be considered a ‘bridge’ camera so people don’t know how to categorize it. But that 24-200mm lens is remarkable – its constant f/2.8 maximum aperture is unheard of in a compact camera with this kind of zoom range. And yes, we know there is a RX10 II out now, but it adds high-speed tech which makes it a LOT more expensive. While you can still get it, the original RX10 is our top tip.

Sony RX100 IV

5. Sony RX100 IV

Sony’s super-high speed sensor tech is brilliant but pricey

Sensor: 1-inch, 20Mp | Lens: 24-80mm f/1.8-2.8 | Monitor: 3-inch tilting, 1,229K dots | Viewfinder: Electronic | Continuous shooting: 6fps | Movies: 4K | User level: Expert

See more Sony RX100 IV deals

High-speed shooting and 4K Compact design The tech makes it expensive Only a 3x zoom range

Sony uses this new 1-inch sensor size again in its highly popular RX100 camera series. These are powerful but highly pocketable cameras with the controls and image quality demanded by enthusiasts. The RX100 IV goes a step further, though, with a new ‘stacked’ sensor design for high-speed data capture. This means it can shoot 4K video, amazing 40x slow motion and 16fps in continuous burst mode. Unfortunately, this does impact on the price, which is why the RX100 IV isn’t higher up our list.

Panasonic TZ70/ZS50

6. Panasonic TZ70/ZS50

If you need a big zoom without the big budget, you need a travel camera

Sensor: 1/2.3-inch CMOS, 12.1 | Lens: 24-720mm, f/3.3-6.4 | Monitor: 3-inch, 1040K dots |Viewfinder: EVF | Continuous shooting: 10fps | Movies: 1080 | User level: Basic/Intermediate

See more Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ70 deals

30x zoom rangeManual control and raw filesQuality limited by sensor sizeNo touchscreen

Big-sensor bridge cameras are all well and good, but they’re hardly pocket-sized. And while a high-end compact gives you great picture quality and professional controls, you don’t get much of a zoom range. And both are pretty expensive options if you just want a do-it-all camera to take on vacation. This has led to a big market in versatile ‘travel’, or ‘long-zoom’ compacts. Panasonic kicked off this whole camera genre with its TZ-series, and these are still the best. The TZ70 has a 30x zoom and some remarkably powerful features, including full manual exposure modes, the ability to shoot raw files and even an electronic viewfinder. The small sensor is a necessary evil for this type of camera, but the quality is fine for casual use. Panasonic has announced two new models – the TZ80 and TZ100, but we haven’t reviewed those yet, and in the meantime the TZ70’s price has dropped to very tempting levels.

Fuji X100T

7. Fuji X100T

Fuji made its reputation with this fabulous retro-themed high-end compact

Sensor: APS-C X-Trans, 16.3MP | Lens: 35mm, f/2 | Monitor: 3-inch, 1040K dots | Viewfinder: Hybrid optical/EVF | Continuous shooting: 6fps | Movies: 1080 | User level: Expert

See more Fuji X100T deals

Beautiful design Hybrid viewfinder Fixed screen Fixed focal length lens

At the opposite end of the scale to the Panasonic TZ60 travel camera is the Fuji 100T. It’s a beauty both to look and and to use, but it’s not for everyone! It’s a relatively large, retro-styled camera with a fixed focal length 35mm equivalent f/2.0 lens, and designed for photographers who hanker after the weighty feel and manual external controls of traditional 35mm rangefinder cameras. It’s a relatively specialised camera you’ll use for a certain type of subject (street photography, for example) and most owners are likely to have other cameras too. The original X100 revived Fuji’s fortunes and gave its rivals the jolt they needed to develop their own classically-designed cameras.

Fuji X30

8. Fuji X30

A camera for enthusiasts, blending power, performance and affordability

Sensor: 2/3-inch X-Trans, 12MP | Lens: 28-112mm, f/2.0-2.8 | Monitor: 3-inch tilting, 920K dots |Viewfinder: EVF | Continuous shooting: 12fps | Movies: 1080 | User level: Intermediate/Expert

See more Fuji X30 deals

Great viewfinderX-Trans sensorSmaller sensor than someEffect modes are JPEG only

We also rate this smaller X30, also from Fuji, which proves you don’t have to pay a fortune for a top-quality high-end compact camera. We like the Canon G5 X, Sony RX100 and other cameras with 1-inch sensors, but the Fuji X30 also scores heavily, and for two reasons: it’s very good value for money for what it delivers – especially at current prices – and the 2/3-inch Fuji X-Trans sensor punches well above its weight, with excellent film simulation modes, dynamic range expansion and shadow/highlight contrast control. The X30 is nicely made, too, with a solid-feeling body, traditional manual zoom ring and a very good electronic viewfinder.

Canon SX60 HS

9. Canon SX60 HS

A massive 65x zoom makes this bridge camera a good all-rounder

Sensor: 1/2.3-inch back-illuminated CMOS, 16.1MP | Lens: 21-1365mm, f/3.4-6.5 | Monitor: 3-inch articulating, 922K dots | Viewfinder: EVF | Continuous shooting: 6.4fps | Movies: 1080 | User level: Basic/Intermediate

See more Canon PowerShot SX60 HS deals

Terrific 65x zoom range Manual control and raw files As big as a basic DSLR Quality limited by sensor size

Having complained at the top of our list that regular bridge cameras use small sensors that compromise the quality, we’re still going to recommend the Canon SX60 HS. The Panasonic FZ1000 and Sony RX10 are big and expensive, and the Canon is much more manageable in both respects. In fact, at current prices it’s a bit of a bargain. Its 1/2.3-inch sensor has a back-illuminated design for better light gathering, and while its 65x zoom has now been beaten by the 83x zoom on the Nikon P900, it’s still right up there with the biggest on the market. You get an articulating LCD, full manual controls and the ability to shoot raw files, so the SX60 is about as good as regular bridge cameras get.

Sony W800

10. Sony W800

It’s cheap, it’s simple and it still gives you a 5x zoom

Sensor: 1/2.3-inch, 20.1MP | Lens: 26-130mm, f/3.2-6.4 | Monitor: 2.7-inch, 230K dots | Viewfinder: No | Continuous shooting: 0.5fps | Movies: 720 | User level: Basic

See more Sony DSC-W800 compact camera deals

Compact and lightweight Low price Poor quality in low light Soft-looking panoramas

But lastly, if price is the biggest factor, then you can hardly do better than the Sony W800. At this end of the market you have to tread a careful line between ‘cheap’ and ‘rubbish’, and the W800 keeps you firmly on the side of ‘cheap’. Its 20Mp 1/2.3-inch sensor and 5x zoom lens deliver perfectly satisfactory quality for a budget point-and-shoot camera, and both the build quality and the styling are a cut above what you might expect at this price. It’s small, light, easy to use and gives you just enough manual control to cope with the occasional tricky situation.

, Best cheap camera, Best high-end compact, Best bridge camera, Best travel camera, Best waterproof camera


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  1. Reply Maybelle Jakubowski February 19, 2016 at 5:16 am

    I love the Nikon Coolpix P600

  2. Reply Miss Bessie Larson February 19, 2016 at 10:51 am

    Do you know what compact means???

  3. Reply Wellington Bechtelar February 19, 2016 at 7:36 pm

    Having just re-read the review from Feb'12 on the Fuji X-S1 bridge camera, and now reading the review on the Fuji HS50EXR bridge camera,(their latest HScamera) it looks as if the favourite is the HS50EXR, and yet the X-S1 is in their 'X' range so should be the better camera?? Does anybody have experience of both cameras and or a good like-for-like user comparison?
    Thanks All.

  4. Reply Sigrid Prosacco PhD February 19, 2016 at 8:43 pm

    I think that even in 2013 you still need to compare these new fantastic compacts to the "old" Panasonic LX7. I believe that LX7 will still stand the test of camparison by some camera-buyers.

  5. Reply Aiden Hagenes February 20, 2016 at 6:11 am

    Buy a second hand Fuji X-E1 and make sure all the firmware is up to date and you'll have a camera capable of producing top quality pictures either as a superior no brain holiday point and shoot or as an easily usable enthusiasts compact camera.
    Sure it's not absolutely the latest model but I know from personal experience just what a capable camera it is.

  6. Reply Dr. Margarett Upton PhD February 20, 2016 at 8:00 am

    Really great post i liked the way you have added the all collection.


  7. Reply Mellie Kulas February 20, 2016 at 11:23 am

    I own an X-S1 (and a bunch of higher-end cameras), I don't own an HS50EXR. I'd still place my bets on the X-S1.

    The HX50EXR is probably a more traditional bridge camera. It's cheaper (at least based on original price, not necessarily street price), it's got a totally insane zoom range, it's smaller (the X-S1 is about the size of a smaller EOS Rebel DSLR), etc. Being newer, it also has some more trendy features: more video modes, high speed video, etc. They both shoot in raw, which is pretty important if you're trying to cross that "bridge" away from simple P&S models.

    However, here's the thing… given the sensor sizes and the lenses, the X-S1 is all "real" pixels (same sensor as the X-10). Based on diffraction limits at MTF-50, the 2/3" sensor in the X-S1 and an f/2.8 lens, the camera could support up to about a 14Mpixel sensor without selling you "marketing pixels".

    On the other hand, the HX50EXR, with it's 1/2" sensor and f/2.8 lens, can only really resolve about 12Mpixel worth at f/2.8… so you're paying for 4 million marketing pixels. It's not that it's the marketing pixels themselves that matter, but between increased noise and lower dynamic range (the result of pixels stepping on one another due to diffraction-based blurring), you're getting a lesser image than if they had used a 12Mpixel sensor. It's not a dramatic difference, simply because it's not a dramatic overstep, but it's real.

    I think part of the rejection of the X-S1 was its original $800 price tag. It was, after all, an X-series camera, which implies a correct design (eg, no marketing pixels), a better quality Fujinon-branded lens, etc. But there just was no market for a higher-end bridge camera in 2012… maybe not even now. You could get a much better Micro-Four-Thirds or even entry-level Canon or Nikon (though not was as good a lens) for the same or less money. Of course, with street prices of the X-S1 as low as $300, the equation changes a bit these days.

    So, that said, why do I have an X-S1? Well, mostly for concert venues. I can't bring my Olympus OM-D or Canon 6D into most concerts or festivals or even some museums without a press pass. But they let the X-S1 through because it doesn't have an interchangeable lens… that's the criteria. But I have a stranger application… I think most bridge cameras are sold to people who want a DSLR but can't afford one. And I was pretty happy to have the X-S1 at Firefly last June… there was dust everywhere, but that's a well sealed camera (another "X" thing)… I would have had to send the Oly or Canon out for cleaning immediately… the X-S1 I could clean myself, nothing gets inside. It's also a heck of a lot lighter than a big Canon… not lighter than the OM-D E-M5, but I'd need a bag of lenses along with me. And when you're shooting a stage from a distance, a 600mm equivalent isn't a bad thing to have along.

    All that said, lots of the press is recommending the Panasonic FZ200, which uses a Leica-branded constant f/2.8 lens (35mm equivalent 28-672mm) to get around their use of the traditional tiny 1/2.3" sensor. I'd expect the Panny to perhaps outperform the X-S1 at very long focal lengths, but the X-S1 to take the prize at shorter lengths. The smaller sensor does allow for a smaller camera, too, which I think its often a figure of merit for this class of camera.

  8. Reply Prof. Esteban Hermann February 20, 2016 at 11:41 am

    I read a post that was talking that Sony is going to provide the super zooming in their smartphone.
    here is the link – http://greybmusings.wordpress….

    Now I believe that most of us will prefer a smartphone and as Sony is always providing quality in its smartphone cameras. I think the handycams gonna find a good competition.

  9. Reply Adrien Langosh February 20, 2016 at 4:06 pm

    Hi Angela,First thank you for sharing this great reviews and guide!I am a huge fan of underwater world and i have tried Nikon d10 and AX100.No offense but finally i sent them to my friends since they worked not really well…Right now i am using Pentax WG3,have you heard about this one?Have a look at this one http://www.bestunderwatercamer… and .It is really worth it.
    Thank you again!

  10. Reply Miss Elisa Thompson February 20, 2016 at 5:37 pm

    You have totally missed out the best beach sports underwater camera the gopro hero 3 black edition check it out

  11. Reply Bernie Zulauf February 20, 2016 at 6:18 pm

    I was looking for a good waterproof camera and I also worte a post (in Italian) on my blog about that: "Come non scegliere una macchina fotografica nel ventunesimo secolo."

    I have some question for this blog now about cameras reviewed here.

    Panasonic FT5/TS5: seems timelapse has a lot of problem and is locked to a maximum of 60 frames (3 sec video !!) and you can sat minumim pause of 60 seconds and is not easy to find a DC power supply.

    Sony: poor features IMHO

    Coolpix: no timelapse

    Olympus TG-810: better than TG-2 but does not record in fullHD !!

    Fuji XP-30: better than XP200 but no fullHD

    Pentax WG3-GPS: good camera but very poor quality images, a lot of "noise" on the big CMOS !!

    Canon: poor features IMHO

    Can you confirm allsome of this problem ?

  12. Reply Dr. Guillermo O'Kon February 20, 2016 at 7:20 pm

    If this is the best cameras of 2015, why are the comments 2 years old? Why does the URL say "best-compact-camera-2013"?

  13. Reply Johnny Conroy February 20, 2016 at 9:32 pm

    E.c. ok some of my cameras are not better but still no timelapse or other

  14. Reply Estel Keeling III February 20, 2016 at 10:09 pm

    Check out the video reviews of the waterproof Canon D20 it takes some amazing photos for a compact, and is alot less bulky then using a housing on dslr http://underwatercamerabuyer.c

  15. Reply Evan Hane MD February 21, 2016 at 1:24 am

    So guys… what IS your judgement, concerning these superzoom cameras? I´m just about to buy one, but can´t decide, even after reading all the reviews above. I already have a Canon 600d, but would like a small very capable superzoom. I used to have a Canon Powershot SX1 with 20 X zoom, and I loved it. But what should I choose now? Please help ASAP!! Cheers from Denmark, Carsten.

  16. Reply Prof. Sister McClure I February 21, 2016 at 4:39 am

    What about Ricoh GR, Canon S120 or Sony rx100's series?

  17. Reply Judge Koss February 21, 2016 at 3:21 pm

    I really wish you guys had reviewed the Sony Cybershot DSC-WX150. I am debating between that, the SX260 HS, and the ZS20. I have a HX9V right now, but I will probably sell it as it is too big to carry around on a regular basis (my fear with the SX260).

    Anyone have and suggestions, comments on this?

  18. Reply Mozelle Veum Jr. February 22, 2016 at 12:39 pm

    these are not compact. get it together folks

  19. Reply Prof. Miles Kuhic III February 22, 2016 at 12:48 pm

    which camera do you have Rec Lapse and motion detection

  20. Reply Elisa Dickinson February 22, 2016 at 3:20 pm

    I have recently bought a second hand Canon and am finding it difficult to get clear shots. Is this likely to be a sensor cleaning issue? I'm pretty new to this but am surprised at how shaky the shots are!

    Thinking of sending it off here:… to see what can be done.

    Any advice?

  21. Reply Sophie Bergnaum February 22, 2016 at 8:35 pm

    With 4K HD Video and underwater capabilities you missed on the GoPro Hero 4 Black camera.

  22. Reply Dr. Kennith Auer February 23, 2016 at 3:08 am

    The best way to make a good choice for buying a digital camera is by reading reviews from people who actually purchased the camera. Amazon is the perfect place to accomplish this, as a matter of fact, here is a list of cameras with the best reviews: – I would have been really lost without this.

  23. Reply Constance Kovacek February 23, 2016 at 3:57 am

    Not a photography fanatic and recently bought a Fujifilm JX550 compact as I thought it was a simple point and shoot (was I wrong) I'm not a great fan of "Digital" and this camera for me is a digital nightmare, too many setting options, and how do I get rid of all the displayed icons in the viewfinder – they even come out on photos I've taken, and the date stamp wont turn off! This camera has to go – straight in the bin unless I get some help. The user manual is no help.

  24. Reply Prof. Carmelo Rodriguez V February 23, 2016 at 3:50 pm

    Can anyone advise between Panasonic gx7 and Sony NEX-6 or maybe NEX – 7?

  25. Reply Prof. Bryce Sawayn DVM February 23, 2016 at 8:57 pm

    Canon PowerShot G15 is my favourite compact, if you hurry you can buy it for $429 at , better hurry though they only had 2 left in stockat this price when i bought mine

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