These days, there seems to be a lot of hubbub about mirrorless cameras and full frame DSLRs.
But not all photographers need all that firepower. In fact, a small compact camera system will do the trick for a lot of folks.
Fortunately, the compact camera market has improved drastically over the years, and now you can get a fully-featured, yet petite camera that offers plenty of resolution, manual controls, and other features that allow you to fine-tune the images you take.
What’s more, there’s a compact camera for every budget.
Here are a few top choices to consider in the budget, mid-range, and high-end compact camera market.
Keep in mind, though, that regardless of your budget, you can stretch it even further by buying a pre-owned compact camera system.
The Best Budget Compact Camera: Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX100
This nice-looking little camera sports a 12.8-megapixel micro four-thirds sensor with a Leica DC Vario-Summilux f/1.7-f/2.8 lens.
Though the megapixel count isn’t what you find in full-size digital cameras, it’s still got plenty of juice to produce detailed images. That’s especially true with the large maximum aperture of its built-in lens.
The lens has a 24-75mm focal range, giving you the ability to photograph all sorts of subjects, from wide-angle shots of landscapes to close-up portraits.
The 2.764-million-dot electronic viewfinder is bright, clear, and accurate, helping you to compose images as you see fit.
The three-inch 921,000-dot LCD screen is also clear and bright for accessing the camera’s menu system and reviewing your images.
This camera has many handy features that extend its capabilities, too.
It’s got 4K Ultra High Definition video capabilities at 24fps or 30fps. You can also shoot full HD video at 60fps.
There’s built-in Wi-Fi and NFC for easy photo sharing, 22 onboard photo filters for adding an artistic touch to your images, and manual control rings and dials for precise adjustments to camera settings.
- Get the Specs and Pricing on Pre-Owned Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX100 Cameras
- Understanding Camera Specs: What’s Most Important For You?
The Best Mid-Range Compact Camera: Sony Cybershot DSC-RX10 III
If you’re in the market for something a little more capable, the Sony Cybershot DSC-RX10 III is a great choice.
It has a 20.1-megapixel 1-inch CMOS sensor paired with a built-in zoom lens with a focal range of 24mm to a whopping 600mm. That certainly gives you more than enough range for a varied day of shooting with the ability to photograph extreme close-ups of things like wildlife to wide-angle shots of large landscapes.
With an aperture range of f/2.4-f/4, it doesn’t offer the same wide-open capabilities as the Panasonic, but it’s certainly nothing to thumb your nose at, either.
The 2.36-million-dot OLED electronic viewfinder is gorgeous, and the three-inch 1.228-million-dot LCD offers sharp resolution for inspecting images and taking shots in live view. It helps that the LCD also tilts for low-angle shots.
Like the Panasonic, this little Sony sports Ultra High Definition 4K video as well as full HD 1080p video.
There’s also built-in Wi-Fi and NFC, optical SteadyShot image stabilization, 14fps continuous shooting capabilities, and an ISO range up to 12800 for enhanced low-light shooting.
What’s more, this camera is a little larger than the Panasonic and feels more like a DSLR in your hand if you like that chunkier, heavier feel when you’re shooting.
- Get the Specs and Pricing on Pre-Owned Sony Cybershot DSC RX10 III Cameras
- The Pitfalls of Buying Used Camera Gear
The Best High-End Compact Camera: Leica Q TYP 116
As compact cameras go, it’s hard to beat the Leica Q.
With a 24.2-megapixel full frame CMOS sensor, it’s every bit as capable of taking highly resolute images as the Nikon D810s and Canon 5D Mark IIIs of the world.
The built-in Leica Summilux 28mm lens has a constant aperture of f/1.7, making it ideal for low-light shooting and getting wide-angle shots of subjects. Of course, it’s fixed at 28mm, so it doesn’t have the astounding focal range of the Sony.
The contrast-detect autofocus systems and Leica Maestro II Image Processor aid in taking photos of moving subjects in quick fashion as well.
Like the other camera on this list, the Leica has a beautiful electronic viewfinder, though, with 3.68-megapixels of resolution, it’s by far the most detailed of the bunch.
The three-inch 1.040-million-dot touchscreen LCD is also a step up from the Panasonic and Sony options.
This camera has built-in Wi-Fi and NFC, full HD 1080p video up to 60fps (though no 4K video), 10fps continuous shooting, and an aluminum and magnesium alloy body that looks good and is highly durable.
Its mechanical shutter is a gem as well, supporting speeds that range from 30 seconds to 1/2000 seconds. The electronic shutter extends the shutter speed range up to 1/6000 seconds.
With manual controls, aperture priority and shutter priority modes, and selectable exposure compensation from -3 EV to +3 EV, this camera is as fully featured as they come.
- Get the Specs and Pricing on Pre-Owned Leica Q TYP 116 Cameras
- What You Need to Know About Full Frame vs. Crop Sensor Cameras