It’s nice to always have a camera on hand for those unexpected special moments. Phones are convenient. Most of us have one at hand regularly, after all. But, if you want the best quality images of your special memories, then you’ll need a proper camera.
The best compact cameras are small enough to always have with you. However, there are so many choices on the market, that it can be difficult to narrow down your options. Lucky for you, we have done all the research, and in this review, you will find the very best of the compact cameras currently available, plus a useful buying guide.
So, let’s go through them and find the perfect compact camera for you…
- 1 Best Compact Cameras In 2021 – Top 10 Rated Reviews
- 1.1 1 Canon PowerShot ELPH 180 Compact Digital Camera – Best Compact Camera for under 150 Dollars
- 1.2 2 Canon PowerShot G9 X Mark II Compact Digital Camera
- 1.3 3 Sony RX100 VII Premium Compact Digital Camera – Best Compact Cameras for Photography
- 1.4 4 Canon PowerShot ELPH 360 Compact Digital Camera
- 1.5 5 Sony Cyber-Shot DSCWX220/B Compact Digital Camera – Best Compact Cameras under 200 Dollars
- 1.6 6 Panasonic Lumix DC-ZS70K Compact Digital Camera
- 1.7 7 Sony RX100 Premium Compact Digital Camera – Best Compact Cameras for Low Light
- 1.8 8 Canon PowerShot SX740 Digital Camera
- 1.9 9 Panasonic Lumix ZS200 Compact Digital Camera
- 1.10 10 Canon PowerShot G5 X Mark II Compact Digital Camera – Best Compact Cameras for Traveling
- 2 Best Compact Cameras Buying Guide
- 3 So, What Are The Best Compact Cameras?
Best Compact Cameras In 2021 – Top 10 Rated Reviews
1 Canon PowerShot ELPH 180 Compact Digital Camera – Best Compact Camera for under 150 Dollars
The first product on our list of the best compact digital cameras comes from Canon, the well known, and much loved digital camera manufacturer. Their excellent PowerShot ELPH 180 is also one of the most affordable options on our list.
This might be the best affordable compact camera around. Yes, you read that right. This digital camera packs a fair number of features at an incredibly low price. Gone are the days of spending a fortune on a basic digital camera.
What features does it have?
The PowerShot ELPH 180 comes with Image Stabilization to help you capture clear images. It reduces the hand shake issues that lead to those annoyingly blurry pictures. This digital camera also features Smart AUTO, which selects the proper settings for predefined shooting situations.
This is an easy-to-use digital camera that is great for new photographers. It’s nice to have more control, but if you don’t know what you’re doing, that can be overwhelming. Luckily with this camera, there isn’t much more you need to do than point and click.
What about the image quality?
The PowerShot ELPH 180 has an 8x Optical Zoom, and a 20 Megapixel CCD sensor. Working with the DIGIC 4+ Image Processor, this all produces a high-quality image, especially for the price. You also get 720p HD video.
- Image Stabilization.
- Smart AUTO.
- 8x Optical Zoom.
- 20 Megapixel CCD sensor.
- DIGIC 4+ Image Processor.
- 720p HD video.
- Available in Red and Silver.
- Image quality does not compare with many more expensive options on our list.
- Lacks the durability needed to make this a life-long camera.
2 Canon PowerShot G9 X Mark II Compact Digital Camera
The next compact digital camera that we looked at is a big upgrade in looks, image quality, features, and of course, in price. It’s still only about a third the cost of the top-end of the range, making this a mid-range compact camera.
This is a classic looking compact camera, and we love it…
The first thing you’ll notice about the PowerShot G9 X Mark II is the old school silver with leather design. It looks like something from an old film, but it is loaded with modern technology. They do also make a black option if you prefer.
This technology includes a 3 inch LCD touch screen on the back. There are built-in Bluetooth and WiFi connections, which makes life much easier when transferring pictures to your device. It even works with the majority of iOS and Android devices.
Capture quality images in an ultra-slim, lightweight camera…
This beauty will easily fit in your pocket, so you’ll easily always have it at hand when you need it. The 1-inch high sensitivity CMOS sensor provides 20.1 megapixels, and there is also a 3x optical zoom. You’ll simply love the images you capture and also look good taking them.
- Beautiful silver and leather design.
- 3 inch LCD touch screen.
- Built-in Wifi and Bluetooth.
- High sensitivity 1 inch CMOS sensor.
- 20.1 megapixel images.
- 3x optical zoom.
- Built-in pop-up flash.
- Not the same high-level build quality of other Canon models.
- WiFi connectivity can be difficult for some users.
3 Sony RX100 VII Premium Compact Digital Camera – Best Compact Cameras for Photography
When it comes to compact digital cameras, not all models are on a level playing field. This becomes readily apparent the moment you look at the RX100 VII from Sony. Not only are the numbers more impressive, but the price difference is also hard to miss.
This is one of the best photographic compact cameras around. You no longer need to carry around a huge DSLR camera to capture top-quality images. The RX100 VII is small, and lightweight but packs a big punch with the Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T* 24-200 mm F2.8 – 4.5. This is a high-magnification zoom lens on a tiny compact camera.
There are a lot of features to play with, and lots of tech to produce the best images…
You get the newly developed 1.0-type stacked 20.1 megapixel Exmor RS CMOS image sensor. It’s the latest generation from Bionz X image processors. There is also 4K HDR (HLG) video recording. As well as a microphone jack, real-time eye AF for humans and animals, slow-motion options, and a great deal more to keep you entertained
It’s also one of the fastest compact cameras available…
This beauty has the world’s fastest, highly accurate autofocus. It can handle 0.02-sec. capture speeds. It also offers continuous shooting at up to 20 frames per second. Plus, the high-speed (up to 1/32,000 second) Anti-Distortion Shutter will help with ‘rolling shutter’ issues.
- Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T* 24-200 mm F2.8 – 4.5.
- 1.0-type stacked 20.1 megapixel Exmor RS CMOS image sensor.
- 4K HDR (HLG) video recording.
- Capture speeds up to 0.02-sec.
- High-speed Anti-Distortion Shutter
- Wi-Fi/NFC/QR code for file transfers and remote control.
- 3-inch tilt-angle touchscreen.
- The most expensive option on our list.
4 Canon PowerShot ELPH 360 Compact Digital Camera
Jumping things way back down into the ‘affordable for everyone’ category, we have the PowerShot ELPH 360 compact camera from Canon. This is a step up from the first item on our list, but nowhere near as pricey as the unit reviewed just above.
Need a compact camera with a quality zoom built-in?
This option from Canon offers a 12x optical zoom and Optical Image Stabilizer. That’s some major zoom power for such a small pocket camera. There is also built-in WiFi and NFC. We like how easy this makes transferring and sharing images.
What about the image quality?
There is a 20.2 Megapixel CMOS sensor and DIGIC 4+ Image Processor. This is then followed up with the ability to shoot 1080p HD video. Even in low-light, this camera provides stunning image quality for the price.
The LCD screen on the back is 3 inches to allow you to clearly see what you’re shooting. You also get the half-click autofocus that is well known in Canon cameras. It’s also more durable than you’d expect for the price point.
Have some fun with the features on this compact camera…
Plus, there is a Hybrid Auto that will record four seconds of video before every image you take. At the end of the day, you have a recap of the day. The camera automatically combines the clips and still images into a video you and your friends will love.
- Provides up to 12x optical zoom.
- Optical Image Stabilizer.
- Shoot 1080p HD video.
- 20.2 Megapixel CMOS sensor plus DIGIC 4+ Image Processor.
- 3 inch LCD screen.
- Hybrid Auto video of the day’s clips and images.
- The shutter lag is longer than with other options.
- Not the most durable compact digital camera.
5 Sony Cyber-Shot DSCWX220/B Compact Digital Camera – Best Compact Cameras under 200 Dollars
Our next product is one of the best value compact cameras in our review and the least expensive option from Sony. The Cyber-Shot DSC-WX220 is a great little camera at an even smaller price point. For those looking for an entry-level compact camera, this might be your best option.
Sony makes cameras with a wide range of features…
This particular camera provides a 10x optical zoom. If that isn’t enough, you then get a further 20x Clear Image Zoom G lens. You can capture top-quality in-focus images and pictures with a defocused background.
What’s the image quality like?
The DSC-WX220 produces images in an astounding 18.2 megapixels. It has an Exmor R CMOS Sensor that does rather well in low light. Especially when you consider the size and price of the camera.
The BIONZ X engine recedes noise and provides superior detailed images. You also get full HD 1080/60p video recording. The WiFi with NFC makes connecting with your smartphone, simple and painless. Plus, the camera shoots up to 10 frames per second.
- 10x optical zoom / 20x Clear Image Zoom G lens.
- Offers 18.2 megapixels.
- Exmor R CMOS Sensor does well in low light.
- BIONZ X engine.
- Full HD 1080/60p video recording.
- WiFi with NFC connectivity.
- Optical SteadyShot.
- Has a long image processing time.
- Not the most well-built compact camera.
6 Panasonic Lumix DC-ZS70K Compact Digital Camera
Jumping things back up into the mid-range options on our list of the best quality compact cameras is an entry from Panasonic. The Lumix DC-ZS70K offers a big step-up in image quality compared to the last two entries. It’s also still nowhere near as expensive as our top-priced option.
Panasonic does make nicer cameras, but it’s hard to argue with these features at this price point…
This compact camera provides 20.3 megapixel images. It has a MOS sensor that powers a 30x Leica DC VARIO ELMAR lens. This means you get a range of 24 – 720 mm. For such a small compact camera, that is one heck of a zoom.
The Lumix DC-ZS70K has a 3-inch touch screen with a 180° flip-front display. You’ll be able to clearly see what you’re shooting (even for selfies), and control your settings with ease. To help you to keep your images crystal clear, there is also a five axis Hybrid Optical Image Stabilizer.
What about video recording?
Yes, it does that too and in 4k QFHD 3840 x 2160. The camera even utilizes the Lumix 4K post focus that employs an internal focus stacking feature. The WiFi connectivity is pretty solid, as well.
- Captures 20.3 megapixel images.
- MOS Sensor.
- 30x Leica DC VARIO ELMAR lens.
- Zoom lens ranges from 24 – 720 mm.
- 3-inch touch screen with a 180° flip-front display.
- 4k QFHD 3840 x 2160 video recording.
- Doesn’t have the most user-friendly manual.
- Some users argue the viewfinder should be larger.
7 Sony RX100 Premium Compact Digital Camera – Best Compact Cameras for Low Light
This is an older model of the Sony RX100 series that we have already reviewed on our list of the best compact digital cameras. It still has plenty of features and produces some nice quality images. It’s also available at a much lower price point than the VII series reviewed above.
This is one of the best low light compact cameras…
The camera has a large 1 inch Exmor CMOS sensor that works really well in those darker conditions. It provides 20.2 megapixel images and full HD 1080/60p video. For those looking for a high-quality camera at a reasonable price, this might be perfect.
Zeiss lenses are known to be some of the best on the market. That’s why Sony has given the RX100 a F1.8 Carl Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T lens that provides 3.6x zoom. You can even shoot in ultra high-quality RAW files, or in the more compact JPEG format. The 3 inch LCD screen has 12m dots for accuracy and top control on available features.
What other features are included in this compact camera?
There is Steady-Shot image stabilization, Burst Mode for shooting at 10 frames per second, and a lot more. The front control ring is customizable, and there is a built-in flash with a range of 0.3 meter to 17.1 meter wide by 0.55 meter to 6.3 meter high.
More than anything on this camera, we appreciate the ISO sensitivity range of 125 all the way up to 6400. That plus the Exposure Compensation of +/- 3.0 EV in 1/3 EV steps helps you get the best images possible.
- 20.2 megapixel images.
- Full HD 1080/60p video.
- 1 inch Exmor CMOS sensor.
- F1.8 Carl Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T lens that provides 3.6x zoom.
- 3 inch LCD screen.
- Steady-Shot image stabilization.
- Wide ISO sensitivity range of 125-6400.
- The newer version may be more expensive, but it’s worth the technology upgrade.
- Does not shoot 4k video.
8 Canon PowerShot SX740 Digital Camera
In a similar price range as the previous two compact cameras, next, we have the PowerShot SX740 from Canon. This is a tiny camera with a huge optical zoom. For those looking to capture images at a distance, this is one of your best options.
One of the best compact zoom cameras on the market…
The SX740 offers an incredible 40x Optical Zoom. To help with the clarity, there is an Optical Image Stabilizer, and Zoom Framing Assist. This all runs on a 20.3 megapixel CMOS sensor.
The DIGIC 8 Image Processor produces nice quality images. There is also 4K video and 4K time-lapse features. Built-in WiFi and Bluetooth help you with connectivity.
We like the High-speed Continuous Shooting that is offered up to 7.4 frames per second. You can then bump this up to 10 fps with the AF lock on. Plus, you get a 3 inch LCD screen with a 180° tilt. This all comes together to make a great little compact camera.
- 40x Optical Zoom.
- 20.3 megapixel CMOS sensor.
- DIGIC 8 Image Processor.
- 4K video and 4K time lapse.
- 3 inch LCD screen with 180° tilt.
- The video quality seems a touch choppy for 4K.
- There are other compact cameras with more features at this price point.
9 Panasonic Lumix ZS200 Compact Digital Camera
Panasonic also makes the Lumix ZS200 compact camera. It’s a step up from many of the other compact cameras reviewed here. In fact, this is the best Panasonic compact camera we reviewed.
It’s also one of the best compact cameras with a viewfinder…
This beauty features an electronic viewfinder and touch-enabled LCD screen. You’ll get top-end image viewing. It’s also one of the easiest compact cameras to operate.
The Lumix ZS200 features a 15x optical zoom via the Leica DC Vario-Elmar lens. It shoots 20.1 megapixels and employs a 1 inch CMOS low light sensor. The lens will provide 24-360 mm to cover all shooting scenarios in excellent quality.
It even shoots up to 12800 ISO, which is rare in a compact camera…
For video, there is 4K 30p recording. Even better, Panasonic gave this camera the 4K Live Crop feature. This lets you turn 4K video frames into still images.
- 20.1 megapixels images.
- Leica DC Vario-Elmar lens shoots 24-360 mm.
- Shoots up to 12800 ISO.
- 1 inch CMOS low light sensor.
- 4K 30p recording.
- 5 Axis Hybrid Optical Image Stabilization.
- The LCD screen is fixed, with no rotation available.
- The electronic viewfinder could be larger.
10 Canon PowerShot G5 X Mark II Compact Digital Camera – Best Compact Cameras for Traveling
The last entry on our list of quality compact cameras is the PowerShot G5 Mark II from Canon. If you’re looking for DSLR level results, this is one of the best options.
This is one of the best traveling compact cameras. And the PowerShot G5 Mark II shoots 20.1 megapixel images. It has a 1 inch stacked CMOS sensor and DIGIC 8 Image Processor. This means you get some of the best images we’ve seen from a compact camera.
One of the best compact cameras with WiFi…
WiFi connection in cameras can sometimes be a pain. Either not wanting to connect, or just running too slow. Canon has this sorted with the G5 Mark II.
We also really like the 5x Optical Zoom that provides 24-120mm. It has Optical Image Stabilizers, as you would expect at this price point. It also shoots 4K 30p /FHD 120p videos.
- Shoots 20.1 megapixel images.
- 1 inch stacked CMOS sensor.
- DIGIC 8 Image Processor.
- 5x Optical Zoom with a 24-120mm range.
- Shoots 4K 30p /FHD 120p videos.
- Not the longest lasting battery.
- The pop-up viewfinder seems like it would be easy to damage.
Best Compact Cameras Buying Guide
That completes our list of the best compact camera reviews. There is a wide range of options available, so we will now take a look at the features to consider before making a purchase.
The First Is The Range Of Features You Need
Not everyone wants to pay for features they will likely never use. If you are simply looking for an easy-to-use point and click camera, save some money on feature upgrades. However, if you’re looking to get the most you can from a compact camera, you’ll need to spend a bit more.
There is no longer a huge difference between DSLR and the top compact cameras. You’re still not going to get interchangeable lenses with most compact cameras. But, you can get good low light image quality, 4K video recording, and even time-lapse.
How Much Of A Zoom Do You Really Need?
We get it. It is nice to be able to zoom in for that perfect shot that’s just a bit too far away. And some of these compact cameras offer really strong zoom features. You should note, though, with many of these, the image quality will drop the further you zoom.
Megapixels, Sensors, And Processing Power.
No matter your budget, you will want a clear image from your new compact camera. This means finding the right balance for the price, which is heavily related to the number of pixels, the size of the sensor, and the internal processing power.
Better processors will not only help you take better images, but they also help you do it faster. It’s worth noting how some options above will need time to process an image before you click again. This can be frustrating and is one of our primary reasons for upgrading.
So, What Are The Best Compact Cameras?
With so many compact cameras to choose from, the features become the primary selling points. And hopefully, we have helped you to narrow these down to the ones that you need and are most important for your style of photography.
If you still can’t make up your mind, we are right there with you. A number of these options could easily be considered the best digital compact cameras depending on your needs and wallet, that’s why we’ve included them. But for us, the one that stands out from the rest is the…
It has the specifications most will want, and is competitively priced as well.