If you're looking to jump from your smartphone camera to a dedicated camera, getting a compact camera (also known as a point-and-shoot) 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 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.
Most of our picks here are higher-end point-and-shoots. Cheaper options typically aren't worth the investment over simply using a smartphone you most likely already own. If you're an enthusiast who needs a compact camera to shoot with on the side, or you like the idea of a dedicated all-in-one camera, there are plenty of premium options to choose from, and we've included a budget pick as well to round out the list.
We've bought and tested over 80 cameras in our lab, and below you'll find our recommendations for the best digital compact cameras to buy. If you want something relatively compact with an interchangeable lens, try the best mirrorless cameras for travel or the best mirrorless cameras in general, which tend to be more portable than traditional DSLR options. Alternatively, if you're looking for a small camera to vlog with, you can also take a look at the best cameras for vlogging.
The Fujifilm X100V is the gold standard for premium compact cameras, so it's no wonder it's hard to find in stock these days. Even if you manage to find one, viral demand has caused prices to surge in the US. Still, it's a beautifully designed camera, worthy of its place at the top of this list as our best compact camera. Taking inspiration from vintage cameras of the past, it comes with dedicated exposure dials and an offset hybrid viewfinder with amazing functionality. You can toggle between using it as an optical viewfinder, giving you a direct view of your subject and its surroundings, and an electronic one, which lets you preview exposure settings and picture profiles in real-time.
The camera's built-in lens is sharp and fast thanks to a fairly wide f/2 aperture, and its 35mm-equivalent focal length is versatile enough for a range of photography styles. Inside, the camera has an excellent APS-C sensor that delivers amazing overall image quality. That said, this isn't the most compact of compact cameras. If you want a truly pocketable camera that still delivers high-quality images, check out the RICOH GR III. It also uses an APS-C sensor but leaves out a viewfinder and other bells and whistles for a pared-down but super portable camera that's perfect for street photography.
If you'd prefer a compact camera with a zoom lens, the Sony RX100 VII is a fantastic point-and-shoot that's a tad more accessible than the Fujifilm X100V. With a highly portable design, a wide zoom range, and plenty of extra features, the RX100 VII checks all the boxes for a portable zoom camera. Sony's autofocus is also hard to beat, and the camera has a blazingly fast 20 fps burst rate for fast action. It even has a little pop-up viewfinder and pop-up flash, all while easily fitting into a coat pocket.
That said, this camera uses a smaller one-inch sensor than the X100V, so image quality isn't quite as impressive, but it's still a lot better than most compact cameras and smartphones. Battery life also leaves a lot to be desired, but that's a problem with compact cameras as a whole. On the upside, it has a versatile zoom lens that gives you more flexibility with framing than the prime lens on the Fuji. While it isn't cheap, the RX100 VII is one of the best digital compact cameras you can get, thanks to its sheer portability-to-performance ratio.
If high-end options like the Fujifilm X100V or the Sony RX100 VII are out of your price range, a mid-range option like the Canon PowerShot G5 X Mark II delivers solid image quality and plenty of features at a more reasonable price point. It's a well-built camera with some of the best ergonomics of any point-and-shoot we've tested, with a surprisingly comfortable handgrip and thumb rest. Just like the Sony, it has a little pop-up viewfinder that's good for sunny days, along with a tilting screen that you can use for low-angle shots. It also uses a one-inch sensor for better-than-average image quality.
The built-in lens is quite good, too. It can open up to a fairly wide aperture, and its 5x zoom capability is pretty versatile, although it doesn't have as much range as the lens on the RX100 VII. Still, you get extra features like image stabilization and a built-in ND filter to help you shoot at slower shutter speeds in bright lighting. That said, the autofocus on this camera can be sluggish and unreliable, and like most compact cameras, battery life is limited. However, if you're looking for something a little more affordable, the G5 X is a very solid and versatile point-and-shoot.
Once you dip into the budget territory, worthwhile options are fewer and farther between. However, you're not totally out of luck, thanks to the Panasonic LUMIX ZS80. It has a smaller sensor than any of our previous picks, but the lens can extend to a max full-frame equivalent focal length of 720mm, giving you a ton of zoom range to shoot everything from landscapes to close-ups of 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 that use larger sensors. The image quality is still decent and suitable for casual or on-the-go photography. While many cheaper point-and-shoots forego a viewfinder, this one includes a small EVF, which can help with framing and composition. It also has a solid battery life for a point-and-shoot, so while it doesn't feel as premium as other options, there's still a lot to like about this camera if you're on a tighter budget.
Compact cameras are some of the best small digital cameras you can buy for vlogging, thanks to their ease of use and portability, and the Sony ZV-1 is among the best we've tested. It's designed specifically for vloggers—the only camera on this list with a fully articulated screen you can flip around to face you. It also comes with a removable windscreen for its mic to reduce ambient background noise. Plus, it has specialized autofocus modes for vloggers, including a 'Product Showcase' mode that prioritizes any objects held up in the frame.
The Canon PowerShot G7 X Mark III is also a popular point-and-shoot camera for vlogging. Unlike the Sony camera, it has a built-in livestreaming feature that lets you stream directly to YouTube, though you need a certain amount of subscribers to take advantage of it. Both cameras struggle with battery performance, but the ZV-1's articulated screen and fantastic autofocus give it an edge for vlogging and light video work.
May 11, 2023: Renamed the Sony ZV-1 from 'Best Compact Camera For Vlogging' to 'Best Compact Vlogging Camera'.
Mar 13, 2023: Checked that picks were still the best options for users for their given categories.
Jan 12, 2023: Checked that picks were still accurate; no change to recommendations.
Nov 15, 2022: Moved the Sony RX100 VII up to the 'Upper Mid-Range' spot and shifted the Canon PowerShot G5 X Mark II down to 'Mid-Range'. Removed the Canon PowerShot G7 X Mark III but added mention of it as an alternative to the Sony ZV-1.
Sep 16, 2022: Restructured article for clarity and to align better with user expectations; removed irrelevant Notable Mentions.
Our recommendations above are what we think are currently the best small digital 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 ultra-compact 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.