If you're looking to make the jump from the camera on your smartphone to a dedicated camera, getting a compact or point-and-shoot camera is a logical step. Compact cameras are typically small and lightweight, often pocketable, but without the complexity of an interchangeable lens, so you can focus on the pointing and shooting. Despite their small size, they still offer superior image quality to most smartphone cameras, as well as features like optical zoom and image stabilization, making them a great choice for travel photography or vlogging.
We've tested over 65 cameras, and below you'll find our recommendations for the best compact cameras to buy. These picks were selected not only based on their overall performance but also their feature set and price. You can also check our recommendations for the best point-and-shoot cameras, the best mirrorless cameras for travel, and the best digital cameras.
The best compact camera we've tested is the Fujifilm X100V. It's a premium model from Fujifilm's longstanding X100 series of compact rangefinder cameras, sporting a hybrid electronic/optical rangefinder that gives you an uninterrupted view of your subject. Though not as compact as some other models on this list, it's still very portable and manages to fit a large tilting touchscreen and APS-C sensor into its compact body.
It has a fixed prime lens with a 35mm equivalent focal length that's well-suited to capturing everyday moments or street scenes, and its 26.1 MP crop sensor delivers excellent JPEG image quality. Photos stay incredibly sharp and have minimal noise even at higher ISO levels. It also has impressive RAW noise handling capability, so you can shoot in more dimly-lit conditions without sacrificing too much quality. Like other Fujifilm cameras, it also has a range of 'Film Simulation' modes to emulate the color and tone of various classic film stocks, giving you more options to be creative with your photography.
Unfortunately, it lacks a proper handgrip, which can get uncomfortable to use for extended periods, particularly if you have larger hands. Its battery life is also on the shorter side, though this can vary with real-world conditions. It also tends to overheat and shut down when recording video at its highest settings for longer periods. That said, this is still one of the best cameras we've tested if you're looking for a premium point-and-shoot.
If you like the idea of a fixed prime lens camera with an APS-C sensor but want something even more portable, check out the RICOH GR III. Its autofocus system isn't as effective as the Fujifilm X100V's, and it has very limited video features. However, it's a great option if you want a lightweight, minimalist camera for street photography. It's remarkably small, and you can easily slip it into your pocket and have it on you, so you don't miss a moment. It has a simple design with few dials and buttons and a fixed touchscreen, but its magnesium alloy body feels sturdy and well-built. Its built-in lens has a 28mm full-frame equivalent focal length, which gives you a wide field of view but is still versatile enough for street, landscape, or travel photography. It also delivers excellent image quality and has great noise handling capability even in low light. That said, it has a very poor battery life, and you can't use it while it charges, but battery performance can also vary with settings and usage habits.
Get the Fujifilm if you want a more versatile camera for both photography and video. However, if you're primarily interested in photos and want an APS-C camera that's more portable, the RICOH is a good alternative.
The best digital compact camera that we've tested for travel is the Sony RX100 VII. This point-and-shoot camera is remarkably lightweight and portable, easy to slip into a pocket or travel bag, and it manages to fit both a pop-up electronic viewfinder and a pop-up flash into its compact body. Its screen can flip up for lower-angle compositions or flip-up to face you for selfies or vlogs.
It delivers impressive overall image quality, though its RAW noise handling capability is just okay due to its smaller 1-inch sensor. Still, it has an incredibly effective and reliable autofocus system, whether you're taking photos or shooting video of moving subjects. It also has a built-in 200mm equivalent zoom lens that gives you the versatility to capture far-off subjects or close-ups.
That said, its battery life is disappointing, though it does support USB charging, and you can keep using it while it charges, which is handy if you have a portable battery pack. However, it tends to overheat quickly, especially when shooting 4k video. Battery performance can vary drastically depending on your settings and usage habits. Still, this is among the best travel cameras we've tested.
The best digital compact camera that we've tested for vlogging is the Sony ZV-1. This premium camera aimed specifically at vloggers features several vlogging-friendly design elements, including a fully articulated screen that you can flip around to face you and a detachable windscreen for its built-in microphone to help reduce wind noise when shooting outdoors. Its built-in lens also offers a bit of zoom range if you want to adjust your framing or zoom in on a subject.
Video quality is amazing when shooting in more controlled lighting conditions in 4k resolution. Though low-light and FHD video quality are inferior, FHD still looks decent in well-lit environments. The camera also has an incredibly effective autofocus system that easily tracks moving subjects and keeps them in focus. It supports both face and eye tracking, and it even has vlog-specific settings like a 'Product Showcase' feature for product vloggers that's supposed to quickly switch focus to objects held up in frame.
Overall, it has a disappointing battery life, though it supports USB charging, and you can keep using it while it charges, which is handy if you have a portable battery pack. However, vloggers who record continuously for long sessions should note that it tends to overheat and shut down when recording for a longer time. Despite that, this is still one of the best vlogging cameras we've tested.
If you do a lot of livestreaming, the Canon PowerShot G7 X Mark III is a good compact alternative. Its video quality isn't as good as the Sony ZV-1, especially in FHD, but it has a built-in livestream function that lets you stream directly to YouTube using your smartphone as a Wi-Fi hotspot. It's just as small and lightweight as the Sony but lacks a fully-articulated screen; however, you can flip the screen up to face you if you need. Unlike the Sony, it can record 4k video without a crop, although its frame rates are more limited, as it can only shoot in up to 60 fps in FHD and 30 fps in 4k. Its autofocus system also performs noticeably worse, but on the upside, it has great overall video stabilization.
Get the Sony if you prioritize video quality and autofocus performance. However, if you do a lot of livestreaming and want built-in support for it, the Canon is a good choice to consider.
The best ultracompact camera we've tested is the Panasonic LUMIX ZS80. It's incredibly portable with a compact body that houses a 1/2.3-inch sensor and a built-in zoom lens with a long 720 mm equivalent max focal length, so you can zoom in on subjects that are far away. Its screen can tilt upward if you want to shoot from lower angles, and it has a small electronic viewfinder.
Despite its compact size, it still feels comfortable to use, with two command dials, customizable buttons, and a menu system that's remarkably easy to navigate. It delivers decent overall image quality, mostly limited by its small sensor, which introduces more noise and loss of detail at moderate ISO settings. The camera has a great autofocus system, though, and it does a good job tracking moving subjects for photos.
While the camera can record 4k video, it has very limited frame rate options since it can only shoot 4k at 30 fps with a noticeable crop. Its autofocus system also performs poorly in 4k. On the upside, it's notably better at keeping moving objects in focus when recording in 1080p, though it still struggles with tracking faces. Overall, this is still one of the best small digital cameras we've tested, especially if you want a compact camera with a lot of zoom.
Oct 15, 2021: Added the RICOH GR III as a 'Pocketable Alternative' to the Fujifilm X100V.
Sep 24, 2021: Added the Panasonic LUMIX LX100 II and the RICOH GR III to Notable Mentions.
Sep 03, 2021: Switched around the Sony RX100 VII and the Fujifilm X100V as 'Best Compact Camera' and 'Best Compact Camera For Travel', respectively.
Aug 16, 2021: Updated text for clarity and accuracy; no change to recommendations.
Jul 26, 2021: Reviewed picks for accuracy and clarity; no change to recommendations.
Our recommendations above are what we think are currently the best compact cameras for most people to buy, according to their needs. We factor in the price, feedback from our visitors, and availability (no cameras that are difficult to find or almost out of stock in the US).
If you would like to choose for yourself, here's the list of all our reviews for compact and ultracompact cameras. Be careful not to get caught up in the details. There is no single perfect camera. Personal taste, preference, and shooting habits will matter more in your selection.