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 using a smartphone, which most people typically 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 75 cameras, 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 pretty much the gold standard for premium compact cameras, so it's no wonder stock is hard to find 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. Taking inspiration from rangefinder SLR 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 option on the list. 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 the Fujifilm X100V is a little too steep for you, the Sony RX100 VII is a fantastic point-and-shoot that comes in at a slightly lower price point. If you want a super portable camera that gives you a wide zoom range and plenty of features, the RX100 VII checks pretty much all the boxes. Snappy autofocus? Check. Blazing fast burst shooting? Check. Fits in a coat pocket? Check. Also, it has a pop-up viewfinder that's perfect for sunny days.
It does use 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 much 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 compact zoom 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, you can opt for a more affordable option like the Canon PowerShot G5 X Mark II that delivers solid image quality and plenty of features for its price. It's a well-built camera with some of the best ergonomics of any compact we've tested, with a surprisingly comfortable handgrip and thumb rest. It has a tilting screen and, just like the Sony, has a little pop-up viewfinder that's good for sunny days. 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 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 if you want to shoot at slower shutter speeds in bright lighting. That said, the autofocus on this camera can be sluggish and inaccurate, and like most compact cameras, battery life is limited. 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 budget territory, worthwhile options are fewer and farther between. If you're looking for something simple that won't break the bank or need zoom range that you can't get with your phone, the Panasonic LUMIX ZS80 is one of the few budget options worth considering. 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 the camera a ton of versatility, meaning you can 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 with larger sensors. However, the image quality is still decent and suitable for casual or on-the-go photography. While a lot of cheaper point-and-shoots forego a viewfinder, this one includes a small EVF that you can use on sunny days when it's harder to see the screen. 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. If you're looking for a compact vlogging camera, it doesn't get better than the Sony ZV-1. 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 microphone to reduce ambient background noise in videos and includes a specialized autofocus mode for product vloggers that shifts focus to objects held up in the frame without having to block your face.
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.
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.
Feb 11, 2022: Renamed the Panasonic LUMIX ZS80 from 'Best Ultracompact Camera' to 'Best Budget Compact Camera'.
Dec 13, 2021: Verified that picks were still accurate; no change to recommendations.
Our recommendations above are what we think are currently the best digital 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 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.