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The 6 Best Compact Cameras - Spring 2022 Reviews

Updated
Best Compact Cameras

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 70 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 compact cameras for travel, and the best digital cameras.


  1. Best Compact Camera

    The best compact camera that we've tested is the Fujifilm X100V. This premium retro-style camera uses a larger APS-C sensor and has a unique hybrid optical/electronic viewfinder offset from the center of the body. You can use it as an OVF for an uninterrupted view of your subject and their surroundings, or flip a switch and use it as an EVF to get a live preview of your exposure settings as you shoot.

    The camera's built-in lens is sharp and fast thanks to its fairly wide f/2 aperture, and its fixed 35mm-equivalent focal length is suitable for a range of everyday photography. It delivers excellent JPEG image quality right out of the box, with photos that look sharp and detailed even at higher ISO levels. It also comes with several film simulation profiles, meaning you can play around with the look of your photos. It also handles noise well at higher ISO levels for RAW low-light shooting. Its autofocus system does a reasonably good job tracking moving faces and objects, though it can sometimes lose track of fast-moving subjects.

    That said, it's not the most portable compact camera, though it can still fit into a small bag or even a larger coat pocket. Also, while its dedicated exposure dials are great for enthusiasts who prefer to have more control over exposure settings, they may take beginners some time to get used to. All in all, though, this is one of the best digital compact cameras that we've tested thanks to its unique design, sharp built-in lens, and amazing image and video quality.

    See our review

  2. Pocketable Alternative

    While the Fujifilm X100V is a stellar camera, it isn't the most compact option, so if portability is what you're after, consider the RICOH GR III. It uses an APS-C sensor, so you're getting similar out-of-camera image quality. It even has slightly better high ISO noise handling if you shoot in RAW, although its built-in lens has a slightly smaller max aperture, meaning the Fujifilm is still a bit more adept in low light and gives you a shallower depth of field. The lens also has a shorter 28mm fixed focal length, giving you a bit of a wider field of view that's well-suited to landscapes or busy street scenes. Because of its size, it has a more minimalist design, with fewer buttons and dials and no viewfinder. However, it's still decently comfortable to shoot with, and it's significantly lighter. That said, its screen is fixed, making it harder to compose shots from different angles, and it has disappointingly short battery life.

    Get the Fujifilm if you want a camera with more robust features, including a hybrid viewfinder, tilting screen, and better battery life. However, if portability and discretion are priorities, and you don't want to compromise on image quality, the RICOH is a great alternative.

    See our review

  3. Best Compact Camera For Travel

    If you're looking for a point-and-shoot that's small and versatile enough for travel, check out the Sony RX100 VII. This premium compact camera is remarkably lightweight and portable yet still features a small pop-up EVF and a pop-up flash. Its built-in lens ranges from 24 to 200mm (full-frame equivalent), giving you the flexibility to zoom in on subjects that are farther away or take wider-angle landscape shots.

    Like most Sony cameras, it has an incredible autofocus system with integrated subject tracking and face and eye detection. It does an amazing job of keeping moving subjects in focus even as they move around the frame. The camera's overall image quality is excellent out of the box, although sharpness begins to decline at higher ISO levels. Its high ISO performance is also unremarkable when shooting in RAW, but that's expected due to the camera's one-inch sensor, which is smaller than the sensor of an alternative like the Fujifilm X100V.

    Unfortunately, its battery performance leaves a lot to be desired. It's only advertised to last for approximately 260 photos, and it lasts for under an hour when continuously recording high-quality video. To prevent overheating, you can only record 4k video in five-minute intervals by default, though you can turn this setting off if you'd like. Note also that battery life can vary with different settings and usage habits. Overall, this is still one of the best compact cameras we've tested, and it's a great option for travelers, thanks to its size and versatility.

    See our review

  4. Best Compact Camera For Vlogging

    The best digital compact camera 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 the 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.

    See our review

  5. Alternative With Livestream Support

    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 over a Wi-Fi connection. It's just as small and lightweight but lacks a fully-articulated screen; however, you can flip the screen up to face you if you need. 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 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.

    See our review

  6. Best Budget Compact Camera

    If you're on a budget and just need a simple point-and-shoot that won't break the bank, take a look at the Panasonic LUMIX ZS80. This compact camera uses a small sensor, letting it have a built-in superzoom lens while staying very portable. The lens can extend to a maximum focal length of 720mm (full-frame equivalent), giving the camera a ton of versatility, so you can shoot everything from landscapes to close-ups or zoom in on very far-away subjects.

    As far as image quality is concerned, you're getting what you pay for. Out-of-camera photos lack the clarity and sharpness you see on some of the more expensive models above with larger sensors. However, image quality is still decent overall and suitable for general or on-the-go photography. The camera's autofocus also does a good job of keeping moving subjects in focus. It's pretty comfortable to shoot with, too, thanks to its small handgrip bump and plenty of customization options. It even has a small EVF that you can use on sunny days when it's harder to see the screen.

    Unfortunately, the camera struggles in low light because of its small sensor. It has a maximum native ISO of just 3200, which you can extend to 6400. However, noise becomes noticeable as soon as you start raising the ISO, so you can't shoot in more dimly-lit conditions without compromising image quality. On the upside, the camera has a solid battery life for a compact, though you can't use it while it's charging. All in all, this is one of the best small digital cameras you can get if you're on a tighter budget.

    See our review

Notable Mentions

  • Canon PowerShot G5 X Mark II: The Canon PowerShot G5 X Mark II is a good overall camera. Its autofocus system is mediocre, and its image quality isn't as good as the Sony RX100 VII or the Fujifilm X100V. That said, it's significantly cheaper if you don't want to spend as much on a compact camera. See our review
  • Canon PowerShot SX740: The Canon PowerShot SX740 is a decent ultracompact camera that's a tad more portable than the Panasonic LUMIX ZS80. That said, its autofocus system isn't as good, and it isn't as comfortable to use. See our review
  • Panasonic LUMIX LX100 II: The Panasonic LUMIX LX100 II is a compact camera with a Micro Four Thirds sensor and an effective 17-megapixel resolution, so it's a good option if you're looking for a compact that fairs well in low light. Enthusiasts should appreciate its dedicated physical controls for aperture and shutter speed and its rangefinder-style design. However, its overall image quality and autofocus performance aren't as good as the Fujifilm X100V. See our review

Recent Updates

  1. Feb 11, 2022: Renamed the Panasonic LUMIX ZS80 from 'Best Ultracompact Camera' to 'Best Budget Compact Camera'.

  2. Dec 13, 2021: Verified that picks were still accurate; no change to recommendations.

  3. Oct 15, 2021: Added the RICOH GR III as a 'Pocketable Alternative' to the Fujifilm X100V.

  4. Sep 24, 2021: Added the Panasonic LUMIX LX100 II and the RICOH GR III to Notable Mentions.

  5. Sep 03, 2021: Switched around the Sony RX100 VII and the Fujifilm X100V as 'Best Compact Camera' and 'Best Compact Camera For Travel', respectively.

All Reviews

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 U.S.).

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.

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