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 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 just using your smartphone. But 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.
Below you'll find our recommendations for the best compact fixed-lens cameras to buy, narrowed down from over 75 cameras that we've bought and tested. If you want something relatively compact with an interchangeable lens, try the best mirrorless cameras for travel or the best mirrorless cameras. 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 of premium compact cameras. It's a beauty of a camera, taking inspiration from rangefinder SLR cameras of the past, with dedicated exposure dials and an offset viewfinder. It isn't just any viewfinder, either—it toggles between being an optical viewfinder, giving you a direct view of your subject and its surroundings, and being an electronic viewfinder, 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 full-frame-equivalent focal length is versatile enough for a wide range of photography styles. Inside, the camera is equipped with a tried-and-true APS-C Fujifilm sensor that delivers excellent overall image quality. That said, while this is a true photographer's camera, it isn't the most compact. 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 don't have over a grand of change just lying around to spend on a large-sensor compact camera like the Fujifilm X100V, there are more affordable options with smaller one-inch sensors that'll still get you solid image quality. The Canon PowerShot G5 X Mark II is one of the best in that category. It feels well-made and has some of the best ergonomics of any compact we've tested, with a surprisingly comfortable handgrip and thumb rest. It's got a tilting screen and a little pop-up viewfinder, as well, and while it's tiny, it isn't half-bad to shoot with.
The built-in lens is also pretty good. It can open up to a fairly wide aperture, and its 5x zoom is versatile. The camera also has 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 pretty sluggish and inaccurate, and battery life is limited. You'll get better AF and battery life with the higher-end Fujifilm, not to mention a better lens and viewfinder. But if you're looking for something more portable with a more affordable price tag, the G5 X is a very solid, versatile compact.
While the option to shoot with a viewfinder is nice, if you can live without it, the Canon PowerShot G7 X Mark III is similar to the Canon PowerShot G5 X Mark II but comes at a slightly lower price point. Popular among vloggers, it's a touch smaller than the G5 X Mark II, and its lens has a bit less zoom. It also has a tilting screen that can flip up to face you for vlogs or selfies.
This camera also uses a one-inch sensor, and you'll get a comparable image and video quality as the G5 X. It also has a quick burst rate to capture moments of fast action, although its AF system still leaves a lot to be desired as far as tracking moving subjects goes. As far as video is concerned, you won't get the best video quality or features, but it's solid for light video work and has an effective stabilization system.
Once you dip into budget territory, you're better off using a smartphone in most cases, but if you are looking for a simple point-and-shoot that won't break the bank or you 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 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. And 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 compact, 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.
While the Panasonic LUMIX ZS80 will get you incredibly long focal reach, the Sony RX100 VII is the best compact zoom camera we've tested if you're looking for a combination of zoom range and image quality. While larger sensor compacts like the Fujifilm X100V and the RICOH GR III tend to prefer fixed focal length prime lenses, they lack the versatility you get with a zoom lens. 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 continuous shooting? Check. Can it fit in a coat pocket? It sure can, making this a fantastic option for travel, too. Like the Canon PowerShot G5 X Mark II, it also has a pop-up viewfinder that's perfect for sunny days. Of course, battery life still leaves a lot to be desired, but that's common among all compact cameras. Though it isn't cheap, it's tough to beat among zoom-lens cameras for its sheer portability-to-performance ratio.
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, with a fully articulated screen that you can flip around to face you (the only camera on this list to have one). It also has a spiffed-up internal mic for better audio and a specialized AF mode for product vloggers that refocuses to any object held up in frame without having to hide your face. It's Sony, too, so the AF is reliably quick and accurate.
For those reasons, it has a slight edge over the Canon PowerShot G7 X Mark III, even though the Sony can only shoot cropped 4k. Both cameras struggle with battery performance, but the ZV-1's articulated screen and fantastic autofocus are ideal for vlogging and light video work.
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.
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.
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.