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The best compact cameras

Whether it is for travel or work, the best compact cameras are built for a life on the go. They are small enough to manage yet don't sacrifice features like zoom, 4K filming, and vlogging.
Written by Lena Borrelli, Contributing Writer on
Reviewed by Allison Murray

There are all types of cameras and features to be had these days, but first, you need to find the right size. These days, it is possible to purchase several different camera sizes, but sometimes, the moment calls for something more diminutive, something smaller that is easier to manage and store. That is when you need a compact camera. 

First, though, you need to find the best compact camera for your needs. Will you be using it for vlogging? Do you need a camera to take photos while you travel? Or, do you want special features like zoom and filters built right in?

That is where ZDNET comes in. We have scoured the market to find the best compact cameras available so you can get to photographing. 

More: 

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Excellent video quality
  • Built-in mic
  • Vlogger features
Cons
  • Limited lens width
  • No built-in viewfinder
More Details

Tech specs: Dimensions: 4.15" x 2.36" x 1.7" | Weight: 0.65 lbs. | Screen size: 3" Video capture resolution: UHD 4K30p | Photo sensor size: 1"

The Sony ZV-1 is an excellent fit for vloggers and other types of content creators with its compact form. It has an effective still resolution of 20.1 MP with Eye Autofocus and Autofocus tracking available in real-time, as well as a Product Showcase Setting that adjusts from faces to objects with automatic exposure. 

The screen measures three inches with a side flip-out three-inch LCD screen that also tilts up for better visibility. You will be able to connect to your 2.5mm microphone, HDMI D cord, or your USB Micro-B connection. It also comes ready with a 3.5mm microphone, Jack Mic jack, and MI shoe that all allow for improved sound. 

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • 4K live streaming
  • Tilting touchscreen
  • Excellent sensor
Cons
  • Limited 4K video
  • Mediocre lens
More Details

Tech specs: Dimensions: 1.6" x 4.1" x 2.4" | Weight: 0.82 lbs. | Screen size: 3" | Video capture resolution: 2160p | Photo sensor size: 1"

The Canon PowerShot G7 X Mark III is also a compact camera, offering a 20.1 MP effective still resolution with 4.2x optical zoom. It is WiFi-enabled with a three-inch screen and a one-inch photo sensor, producing 4K 30P/FHD 120P video. 

There is a special panorama feature that includes an optical image stabilizer with an optical sensor resolution of 20.1 megapixels and a 4.2x optical zoom. For use, you can use your camera with both Mac and Windows, and you even have the option to use your camera as a webcam.

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Lightweight design
  • Convenient tilt touchscreen
  • Fast speeds
Cons
  • Cannot change lens
  • Pricey
More Details

Tech specs: Dimensions: 2.1" x 5.04" x 2.94" | Weight: 1.05 lbs. | Screen size: 3" | Video capture resolution: 2160p | Photo sensor size: APS-C

Fujifilm X100V has a three-inch screen with a 23mmF2 lens. It has an effective still resolution of 26.1 MP with built-in simulation modes and a flash for better photos. It has simulation modes with 1x optical zoom with an expanded X-Trans CMOS 4 sensor and X-Processor 4 combination. X100V's advanced hybrid viewfinder lets you switch between the X100V's 0.52x magnification optical viewfinder (OVF) and 3.69M-dot OLED electronic viewfinder (EVF). 

There is a two-way, tilting LCD touchscreen that easily fits back into the camera, allowing you to record 4K video at 30 frames per second. You also have the option to use an adapter ring and weather-sealing protection lens that you can purchase additionally. 

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Fantastic zoom
  • LCD touchscreen
  • Pre-burst setting
Cons
  • On the larger side
  • No mic option
More Details

Tech specs: Dimensions: 4.52" x 2.61" x 2.17" | Weight:  0.87 lbs. | Screen size: 3" | Video capture resolution: 2160p

Panasonic brings the Lumix DC-LX100 II with a three-inch screen, 3x optical zoom, and an effective still resolution of 17 MP with exclusive Panasonic sensor technology. The photo sensor size is micro four-thirds with 4K video and photo captured within 30 frames per second. 

It offers 17 megapixels in 4:3 aspect for better and easier viewing. There are special effects, too, including miniature, monochrome, and toy settings, with focus stacking and 4K pre-burst. You will also find multiple connectivity options that include Bluetooth, USB, and HDMI for easier access. 

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Super fast shooting
  • Excellent 4K video
  • Impressive zoom
Cons
  • Tiny controls
  • No microphone mount
More Details

Tech specs: Dimensions: 4" x 1.68" x 2.38" | Weight: 0.61 lbs. | Screen size: 3" | Video capture resolution: 2160p

With 20.1 megapixels and 8x optical zoom, the Sony RX100 VII offers a BIONZ X Image Processor for better clarity and detail. A built-in flash is also incorporated, plus a powerful aperture high magnification zoom lens, so nothing is overlooked when you take your photos. 

A particularly impressive feature includes AI-based real-time tracking for stills, movies, and touch tracking that adjusts between human and animal for greater definition. When your photo is taken, the three inch-screen helps you preview to ensure it is the best you can take, and the HDMI and USB connections make for easy sharing.

What is the best compact camera?

The best compact camera is the Sony ZV-1 for its affordability and compact size.

All cameras can start to blend together after a while, so here we offer a comparison table to help you find the best compact camera for your needs.

Compact camera

Cost

Screen size

Dimensions

Effective still resolution

Sony ZV-1

$750

3"

4.15" x 1.7" x 2.36" 

20.1 MP

Canon PowerShot G7 X Mark III

$750

3"

4.1" x 1.6" x 2.4"

20.1 MP

Fujifilm X100V

$1,770

3"

5.04" x 2.1" x 2.94"

26.1 MP

Panasonic Lumix DC-LX100 II

$798

3"

4.52" x 2.17" x 2.61"

17 MP

Sony RX100 VII

$1,298

3"

4.0" x 1.68" x 2.38" 

21 MP

Which compact camera is right for you?

The right compact camera for you really depends on what you'll be using the camera for, what features are important to you, and what price you're willing to spend. 

Our expert recommendations can help you find the best compact camera for your needs. 

Choose this compact camera...

If you want...

Sony ZV-1

The best compact video camera

Canon PowerShot G7 X Mark III

A compact camera for vloggers and 4K filming

Fujifilm X100V

A high-priced option with an attractive and thoughtful design

Panasonic Lumix DC-LX100 II

A travel-worthy camera with zoom and a large sensor

Sony RX100 VII

A compact camera with a fantastic zoom feature

How did we choose these compact cameras?

In our search for the best compact camera, we considered several key features.

  • Size: When you are on the go, it helps to have a lightweight, portable camera that is easy to carry, so we considered the size of each camera when choosing the best compact cameras for your busy life.

  • Zoom: A camera's zoom can make a phenomenal impact on your photos, better capturing meticulous detail in each image.

  • Screen size: We looked for cameras with a 3-inch screen, which is the standard among the best compact cameras.

  • Cost: Price is always an important consideration, as many shoppers have a budget in mind when shopping for the best compact camera. 

Why do I need a compact camera?

A compact camera offers a smaller design that typically includes a lightweight build. This not only simplifies use but also makes for greater portability, making it easier to take with you on the go.

Do I lose features with a compact camera?

The best compact features are able to offer fantastic features like improved shutter speed, better ISO control.

How much does the best compact camera cost?

The best compact cameras range in price from around $700 to more than $2,000, depending on your budget. 

Are there alternative compact cameras worth considering?

You can find great quality compact cameras from brands like Sony, Canon, Fujifilm, and more. For those more flexible with their budget, here are a few alternative best compact cameras to consider. 

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