There are hundreds of digital compact cameras on the market, with advanced, superzoom and rugged camera options all being available, which makes finding the right one quite tricky.
The right choice, of course, depends on what you want from your compact digital camera. Maybe you’re looking for a high-end compact camera to take the place of your SLR, or perhaps you want something more basic to get a few snaps on vacation.
Whichever type you are looking for, we’ve pulled together a selection of what we believe are the best compact cameras on the market now.
Best compact digital cameras :
Specs: 16.3MP APS-C format CMOS II sensor, EXR Processor II, Full HD video
Fuji’s replacement to its popular FinePix X100 compact camera draws on user feedback to make improvements. The Fuji FinePix X100S uses the same APS-C format sensor, but with a 16.3 megapixel resolution and a new EXR Processor II and 6 x 6 RGGB filter array pattern.
We liked the retro design and control arrangement of the Fuji X100. Its image quality is also good, but it is surpassed by that of the Fuji X-Pro1, which is capable of producing pictures that aren’t far off those from some full-frame cameras.
Specs: 12MP X-Trans CMOS II sensor, 6 x 6 RGGB filter array pattern, 7.1-28.4mm f/2-2.8 lens
The Fuji X10 was our favorite high-end compact camera of 2012, and combining it with the same sensor design as one of our favorite compact system cameras – the Fuji X-Pro1 – bodes very well.
Fuji says it’s made 50 improvements on the X10 for the X20, including a new 2/3-inch X-Trans CMOS II sensor with 12 million effective pixels and a 6 x 6 RGGB filter array pattern, which combines with an EXR Processor II. The Fuji X20 also boasts a hybrid AF system and a Digital Trans Panel in the viewfinder.
Canon Powershot G1 X
Specs: Large 14.3MP CMOS sensor, 4x optical zoom, 1080p HD video, swivel LCD screen
Although the zoom range is limited when compared to other Canon G-series cameras, the trump card of the Canon G1 X is its unusually large sensor. A larger sensor has more surface area to receive light, improving image quality at high sensitivities and boosting dynamic range. Interestingly, Canon has opted to stick with the 4:3 aspect ratio, rather than 3:2 as most APS-C sensors are, even though the sensor in the G1 X is roughly the same height as APS-C format.
In order to make the most of what the sensor can offer, Canon has equipped the G1 X with the latest Digic 5 processor, which promises better control over noise at high ISO sensitivities, faster operation and smoother 1080p video recording.
The 4x zoom lens provides an angle of view equivalent to a 28-122mm lens on a 35mm camera, and the usual array of direct controls found on G-series cameras should make manual operation a pleasure.
Canon PowerShot G15
Specs: 12.1MP CMOS sensor, 5x zoom lens, f/1.8 aperture
At first glance, the Canon G15 looks pretty similar to the Canon G12, but there are a few significant differences. The most notable of these is the stacked or overlapping mode dial and exposure compensation dials on the top, and a new f/1.8 lens with 5x zoom.
Canon has manufactured a high-quality compact camera in the shape of the Canon G15. It is capable of producing great images with bags of detail, good punchy colors and pleasing shallow depth of field effects.
Nikon Coolpix A
Specs: 16.2Mp APS-C format CMOS sensor, 28mm (equivalent) f/2.8 lens, 3-inch 921,000-dot LCD
Nikon has given the Coolpix A the same 16.2-million-pixel sensor as the Nikon D7000, but it has left off the anti-aliasing (low-pass) filter to allow it to record sharper details in-camera.
Aimed at serious photographers, the Coolpix A has advanced exposure modes such as aperture priority, shutter priority and manual as well as fully automatic and scene options.
Our tests reveal that the Coolpix A can capture lots of sharp detail, on par with an SLR, but the file write times are a little longer than we’d like and vignetting is apparent in images shot with apertures down to f/8 and in some cases f/16.
Nikon Coolpix P7700
Specs: 12.2MP, 1/1.7-inch CMOS sensor, 7.1x zoom, 1080p video, 3-inch 921,000-dot variangle LCD
The Coolpix P7700 replaces the Nikon P7100 and sits at the top of Nikon’s compact camera line-up. It’s aimed at experienced photographers who want a smaller alternative to an SLR.
There’s a liberal covering of control dials and buttons on the P7700′s body giving quick access to features such as the shooting mode, sensitivity, white balance and exposure compensation to name just a few.
The lens offers an equivalent focal length range of 28-200mm in 35mm terms, and has a maximum aperture range of f/2.0-4.0.
Although the P7700 is capable of producing excellent images with lots of detail and nice colors, it is a little hampered by slow image processing making it unsuitable for shooting action.
Specs: 12MP 1/1.7-inch CMOS sensor, i.Zuiko Digital lens, TruPic VI processor, Full HD video
The Olympus XZ-2 follows the popular high-end XZ-1, touting a 3-inch tilting touchscreen with 920,000 dots, 1080p Full HD movie capture and full manual and semi-manual exposure controls. It also boasts raw image capture and can share photos straight from the camera to social networks.
Its super-fast i.Zuiko Digital lens has to be this camera’s standout feature, offering ultra-wide apertures and an impressive focal length range of 28-112mm, which sails past many of its hottest contenders, and produces sharpness straight out of the camera, which many of its peers fail to match.
Specs: 10.1MP sensor, 3.8x zoom, 24mm wide angle, full manual control
The Panasonic LX7 only has the same 10.1MP resolution of the preceding Panasonic LX5. However, the new model boasts a redesigned, high-sensitivity CMOS image sensor that claims better dynamic range and increased low-light performance.
Around the front there’s direct control for aperture, thanks to a retro-style aperture ring on the lens. On-lens adjustments are also available for focusing modes and image aspect ratios. Up on top, there’s a fully featured shooting mode dial that includes “intelligent” auto, access to scene modes, manual PASM controls and two custom shooting settings.
The f/1.4-2.3 zoom lens gives an effective 24mm wide-angle focal length. The downside is that it’s only a 3.8x zoom and is lacking at the telephoto end, equivalent to just 90mm.
Ricoh GR Digital IV
Specs: 10MP CCD sensor, 28mm (equiv) f/1.9 lens, 1,230,000 dot 3-inch LCD screen
A pocketable camera with a high-quality lens, equivalent to a 28mm lens on a 35mm camera, and a fast f/1.9 maximum aperture. The GR Digital IV follows in Ricoh’s tradition of producing high-quality compact cameras that are ideal for street photography.
Despite the compact dimensions, manual controls are easily accessible and a 3-inch LCD screen with an extremely high resolution of 1,230,000 dots has been squeezed onto the rear. Images can be shot in raw formats, too.
Strangely Ricoh hasn’t followed the trend of including HD video capability, the GRD IV will record video, but only at VGA resolution.
Specs: 12.4MP, 1/1.7-inch CMOS sensor, 3.3x optical zoom, 1080p video, 3-inch, 614,000 dot variangle screen
The Samsung EX2F improves on the Samsung EX1 by adding Wi-Fi capability for easy image sharing, boosting the pixel count from 10MP to 12MP and increasing the maximum aperture of the 24-80mm (equivalent) lens from f/1.8 to f/1.4.
Two dials on the top of the camera make selecting the shooting mode and changing key settings such as the drive mode very quick and easy. The function (Fn) provides a quick route to most other important features.
Our tests found that the Samsung EX2F is a very capable compact camera that delivers high-quality images with plenty of detail at the lower sensitivity settings, and natural color. It’s Wi-Fi connectivity is also well integrated so its easy to set up and use. You can share images on Facebook in next to no time.
Specs: 24.3MP Xmor CMOS full-frame sensor, 35mm f/2.0 Carl Zeiss T* coated lens, Full HD video
On the Sony RX1, the manufacturer has stashed a 35mm format full-frame sensor and a fixed length, 35mm f/2.0 Carl Zeiss T* coated lens inside a compact body. It also features a new Bionz processor, which enables Full HD video recording and sensitivity capabilities from ISO 50 to ISO 102,400.
The Sony DSC-RX1 produces superb images, with a fantastic amount of detail, color and dynamic range. It really is the best image quality you’ll get in something of this size. Of course, you’ll have to be prepared to pay a lot for this ultimate combination of quality and portability, not just in terms of asking price, but also in terms of inflexibility.
Specs: 20.2MP Exmoor CMOS sensor, 3.6x zoom, 1080p video, Bionz processor, f/1.8-4.9 lens
Though it’s a relative small compact camera, the Sony RX100 has a larger than average sensor. In fact its 20.2MP 1-inch CMOS device is the same physical size as the one in the Nikon 1 V1 and Nikon 1 J1, which are compact system cameras.
We love the build quality of the RX100 and it provides all the controls that demanding enthusiasts expect, plus the ability to record raw files. We especially like the control ring around the 28-100mm (equivalent) f/1.8-4.9 lens that can be used to adjust a selection of features including aperture.
Our tests reveal that the RX100 performs well across the sensitivity range (ISO 125-6400) and it produces, bright punchy images that aren’t excessively vibrant.
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