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The best compact cameras in 2022: small enough for a pocket but still top quality

best compact cameras Fujifilm X100V
(Image credit: Fujifilm)

The best compact cameras give little away in features or image quality, but they are small enough to slip into a jacket pocket. Many DSLR and mirrorless camera owners get a premium compact camera too, as a go-anywhere companion on trips and outings where a full-size camera just wouldn't be practical.

With this guide, we're picking physically compact cameras which nevertheless have sensors large enough for high-quality images and the mix of automatic and manual controls that enthusiasts and experts will be looking for. If you want something cheaper and simpler, we've got that covered too in our guide to the best point and shoot cameras.

You might imagine that one compact camera will be much like another, but there are some key distinguishing features to take into account before you make a decision.

1) Compact cameras with zooms: The point of a compact camera is that the lens is non-interchangeable, so the one it comes with will have to do all the jobs you want the camera for. Usually this means a 3x zoom range, just like a DSLR or mirrorless camera's kit lens – often, though, the lens on a compact camera will have a wider maximum aperture range, which is a nice bonus.

2) Compact cameras with no viewfinders: This sounds like a disadvantage, but if you find you use the rear screen most of the time anyway, it's not a huge loss. Cameras with no viewfinders may be cheaper and/or smaller without compromising on quality – the Panasonic Lumix LX10/15 is a good example.

3) Compact cameras with prime lenses: A camera with a fixed prime lens sounds pretty limiting, but if you have a favorite focal length you use all the time, it's not such a big deal and it does encourage you to use your feet more! Many photographers choose a compact camera for street photography and travel, where a 28mm or 35mm equivalent lens is ideal.

These are the things you'll need to think about when choosing the best compact camera, but just to make those decisions clearer we've given each type its own section below.

The best compact cameras in 2022

Best zoom lens compacts with viewfinders

(Image credit: Canon)

This top-quality APS-C compact really is like a DSLR in your pocket

Specifications
Type: Compact
Sensor: APS-C
Megapixels: 24.2MP
Lens: 24-72mm f/2.8-5.6 (equiv.)
LCD: 3in vari-angle touchscreen, 1.04 million dots
Viewfinder: EVF
Maximum continuous shooting speed: 7fps
Max video resolution: Full HD
User level: Enthusiast/expert
Reasons to buy
+
Very compact for sensor size
+
Excellent image quality
+
Decent 3x zoom range
Reasons to avoid
-
Just f/5.6 at full zoom

The Canon G1 X Mark III might be pretty pricey but it's practically a DSLR in a compact body. It boasts an impressive 24-megapixel APS-C sensor, the same sensor you'll find in the Canon EOS 80D. It has a versatile 24 - 72mm focal range that retracts into the camera to make it perfectly pocket-sized when you're not using it. Unfortunately, it doesn't have a fixed aperture but we can forgive that considering the size. At 24mm you can shoot as wide open as f/2.8 but at 72mm the aperture will drop down to f/5.6. It's capable of recording full HD video, can shoot at 7fps in continuous burst mode and has wifi connectivity for transferring images on the go. It might sit at the top price end of compact cameras but it's in a class of its own for a premium compact camera with a zoom. 

(Image credit: Panasonic)

A faster lens than the Canon G1X III and with a lower price tag

Specifications
Type: Compact
Sensor size: Micro Four Thirds
Megapixels: 17MP
Lens: 24-75mm, f/1.7-2.8 (equiv.)
LCD: 3in fixed, 1,24 million dots
Viewfinder: EVF
Continuous shooting: 11fps
Max video resolution: 4K
User level: Enthusiast/expert
Reasons to buy
+
Only compact with MFT sensor
+
Fast f/1.7-2.8 lens
+
4K video, 4K Photo modes
Reasons to avoid
-
17MP is lower than some rivals

The trouble with big sensors is that you need big lenses to go with them, so there goes any kind of pocketability. Usually. But Panasonic has really hit the sweet spot with the Panasonic LX100 II. It combines a Micro Four Thirds sensor that's not much smaller than the ASP-C sensors in mode DSLRs, with a miniaturised lens assembly that powers down into a camera body slim enough to carry around anywhere. The LX100 II is a brand new version of the original LX100, which was, admittedly, starting to show its age. The new model has a 17-megapixel ‘multi-aspect’ sensor, which means you can use its native 4:3 aspect ratio, the 3:2 ratio used by most DSLRs and mirrorless models, or a 16:9 ‘wide’ format without losing lots of megapixels through cropping. With an external shutter speed dial, lens aperture ring and aspect ratio switch, the LX100 II is a dream compact camera for enthusiasts and experts.

(Image credit: Canon)

A smaller 1-inch sensor but a great zoom range and compact design

Specifications
Type: Compact
Sensor: 1-inch
Megapixels: 20.1MP
Lens: 24-120mm f/1.8-2.8 (equiv.)
LCD: 3in tilting touchscreen, 1.04 million dots
Viewfinder: EVF
Maximum continuous shooting speed: 30fps
Max video resolution: 4K
User level: Enthusiast/expert
Reasons to buy
+
5x f/1.8-2.8 zoom lens
+
4K video
Reasons to avoid
-
Pop-up viewfinder feels fiddly
-
Only a 1-inch sensor

One of the biggest limitations with the first two cameras on our list is the zoom range. While a 24 - 72/75mm focal length is still pretty good, you'll still struggle to shoot anything that far away. The GFX Mark II comes with a zoom range that covers 24 - 120mm and has a variable aperture of f/1.8 - f/2.8 which means after at the telephoto lens you can still achieve a shallow depth of field. It does have a smaller, 1-inch 20MP sensor but that can be expected with the longer zoom range. It also features 4K video, a super-fast burst mode of 30fps, a slightly bigger body and a tilting, LCD touchscreen. It has a pop-up viewfinder should you choose not to shoot in live mode and also has a pop-up flash just in case you need some extra light. If you can live without a bigger sensor and would prefer a camera with a quick burst mode, this could be perfect but if you want something with a bigger sensor, read on.

(Image credit: Sony)

Amazing tech, blinding speed, but very expensive for a camera with a 1-inch sensor

Specifications
Type: Compact
Sensor: 1in
Megapixels: 20.1MP
Lens: 24-200mm f/2.8-4.5
LCD: 3in tilting, 922k dots
Maximum continuous shooting speed: 20fps
Max video resolution: 4K
User level: Intermediate/expert
Reasons to buy
+
Very small
+
Wide zoom range
+
4K video and fast burst shooting
Reasons to avoid
-
Price!

The Sony Cyber-shot RX100 VII is mad on any number of levels. The plus points include its impressive 24-200mm zoom range in such a small camera, its pop-up electronic viewfinder in a camera that looks too small to have one, and its good-sized 1-inch 20.1MP sensor. It can also shoot 4K video, which is good, but then it all starts to get quite strange. This camera has a super-high-tech 357-point phase-detection autofocus system, a 20fps continuous shooting speed (up to 90fps in Single Burst mode), and 0.02sec AF response with Real-Time AF tracking. It also has Sony's S-Log2 and S-Log3 video modes for high-end video recording and color grading – all in a pocket-sized camera. All this power is great, and deeply impressive, but it pushes up the price considerable and to some (well, us) might seem out of place on a camera like this. Nevertheless, if you've got the cash, this camera does things that few other compact cameras can.

Zoom lens compact cameras with no viewfinders

(Image credit: Panasonic)

5. Panasonic Lumix LX15 / LX10

A cheaper alternative to the Panasonic LX100 Mark II but no viewfinder

Specifications
Type: Compact
Sensor: 1in
Megapixels: 20.1MP
Lens: 24-72mm f/1.4-2.8
LCD: 3in tilting, 1,040k dots
Maximum continuous shooting speed: 10fps
Max video resolution: 4K
User level: Intermediate/expert
Reasons to buy
+
F/1.4 max. aperture (at wideangle)
+
Swift and accurate AF system
Reasons to avoid
-
No electronic viewfinder
-
No proper grip

The Panasonic LX15, which goes by the name LX10 in North America, lacks a viewfinder and rather than including  a Micro Four Thirds sensor it has a smaller 1-inch 20-megapixel sensor. However, it is capable of recording 4K video and it has a super-responsive touch screen which makes focusing really easy. It has a zoom range of 24 - 72mm and a variable aperture of f/1.4 - f/2.0 making it one of the fastest, compact zoom lenses available. Overall, it's a great little camera that has a perfect balance of features, performance and pricing. It's small enough to fit in a pocket but is powerful enough to take some stunning photos. 

(Image credit: Sony)

A LOT cheaper than the RX100 VII and better for vlogging – but there's no viewfinder

Specifications
Type: Compact
Sensor: 1in
Megapixels: 20.1MP
Lens: 24-70mm f/1.8-2.8
Screen: 3in vari-angle touchscreen, 921k dots
Max video resolution: 4K
Mic port: Yes
User level: Enthusiast
Reasons to buy
+
Supplied mic windshield
+
Super-fast AF
+
Vari-angle screen
Reasons to avoid
-
Small-ish rear screen and not 16:9

Aimed at vloggers, the Sony ZV-1 might just look like another variant from the RX100 range but in reality, it's so much more. If you've used one of the RX100's, the sensor and lens will probably be quite familiar. Where this camera excels is the controls, rear screen and the body. It too has the poplar zoom range of 24-70mm with a variable aperture of f/1.8 - f/2.8 however, there is a big change in minimum focusing distance as you zoom which is annoying especially if you're using it to record video. The SteadyShot active stabilization wasn't the best however the autofocus is very impressive. It has a vari-angle, rear tilting screen that means it's perfect for recording yourself or taking selfies and it comes with a mic-wind shield which means its audio quality even with the built-in mic is still pretty good. It doesn't have the same quality viewfinder as the RX100 VII or the longer zoom range, but it produced high-quality images, even better at video and best of all, it'll cost you less. 

(Image credit: Canon)

A decent camera for vlogging and stills, if you don't mind no viewfinder

Specifications
Type: Compact
Sensor: 1-inch
Megapixels: 20.1MP
Lens: 24-100mm f/1.8-2.8 (equiv.)
LCD: 3in tilting touchscreen, 1.04 million dots
Viewfinder: No
Maximum continuous shooting speed: 30fps
Max video resolution: 4K
User level: Enthusiast/expert
Reasons to buy
+
Uncropped 4K video
+
Livestreaming
Reasons to avoid
-
No viewfinder
-
No hotshoe for mics

Until the arrival of the Sony ZV-1 (see above), the PowerShot G7 X Mark III was our top choice for vloggers. While it might be now overshadowed by the newer ZV-1, there's still a lot to like about the G7 X Mark III. Popular with YouTubers, this compact camera can shoot uncropped 4K video using the full width of its 1-inch sensor, and has a 3.5mm mic port to allow you to plug in an external microphone for superior sound quality (though the lack of a hotshoe means you have to think a little more about the best way to set it up). The G7 X Mark III is also capable of livestreaming footage to your platform of choice – whether that's YouTube, Facebook, Twitch or whatever else – expanding your options as a vlogger. The lack of a viewfinder may be a deal-breaker if you're planning to shoot stills as well, but as a capable, portable video solution, the G7 X Mark III is outstanding.

Compact cameras with prime lenses

(Image credit: Fujifilm X100V)

A beautiful, retro-styled classic. Not that cheap, but a lot cheaper than a Leica!

Specifications
Sensor: APS-C
Megapixels: 24.3MP
Lens: 23mm f/2
Monitor: 3in fixed, 1,620,000 dots
Viewfinder: Hybrid optical/EVF
Continuous shooting: 11fps
Max video resolution: 4K UHD
User level: Expert
Reasons to buy
+
Beautiful design and controls
+
Sharper, closer focusing lens
+
Hybrid optical/electronic viewfinder
Reasons to avoid
-
Expensive right now

We were expecting Fujifilm to put its latest 26.1-megapixel sensor into the new X100V, but the company has done a lot more besides. The X100V has a new, sharper lens than previous X100 models, in order to do full justice to the latest sensor, and the tilting touchscreen on the back makes this camera much easier to use at awkward angles, without compromising its slimline design. The improved autofocus and 4K video capabilities bring this classic camera design right up to date. The X100V has external lens aperture, shutter speed and ISO dials which, for those raised on film cameras, are just wonderful to use – and it's amazing how they encourage all the key exposure skills photographers still need but which are easily forgotten about with 'P' modes and digital interfaces. It also has a clever hybrid optical/digital viewfinder which is not just super bright and clear but lag-free too.

(Image credit: Leica)

Fabulous Leica quality and a huge 47MP full frame sensor

Specifications
Type: Compact
Sensor size: Full frame
Megapixels: 47MP
Lens: 28mm, f/1.7
LCD: 3in fixed touchscreen, 1.04 million dots
Viewfinder: EVF
Continuous shooting: 10fps
Max video resolution: Full HD
User level: Enthusiast/Expert
Reasons to buy
+
Superb Summicron 28mm f/1.7
+
Full frame 47MP sensor
Reasons to avoid
-
Fixed LCD panel
-
No pop-up flash

Leica cameras are a bit like Marmite - you either love them or hate them. No matter which side you stand on, you can't deny they are incredible cameras that offer exceptional image quality. The Leica Q2 features an impressive full-frame 47-megapixel sensor, it has a fixed 28mm lens at f/1.7 making it the fastest prime lens available on a compact camera. It doesn't shoot in 4K but if you can cope with full HD it can still record good quality video. The biggest downside of this camera is the thing that will put most people off - the price. It's an insanely expensive bit of kit and it would probably be higher on our list if it didn't cost an arm and a leg. You could pick up one of the best mirrorless cameras and a lens for less, but sometimes the experience of using a Leica is worth the money. Other than the price, they're relatively hard to get hold of so if you have your heart set on one, you might have to hunt for one first. 

(Image credit: Ricoh)

A really compact 'street' camera but a viewfinder is an optional extra

Specifications
Sensor: APS-C
Megapixels: 24.2MP
Lens: 28mm f/2.8 (equiv)
Monitor: 3in fixed, 1,037,000 dots
Viewfinder: Optional
Continuous shooting: N/A
Max video resolution: 1080p
User level: Enthusiast/expert
Reasons to buy
+
Small size
+
24MP APS-C sensor
Reasons to avoid
-
1080p video not 4K
-
Viewfinder optional

The Ricoh GR has a long history, both as a premium-quality compact 35mm film camera and now as a digital model. However, its specs and its performance are now looking a little behind the curve compared to its latest rivals. GR fans, or GRists as Ricoh call them, will love this update of an iconic camera. But in the world of multi-lens camera phones the wider appeal of this fixed lens compact will probably be limited. This is a beautiful-sized APS-C compact, ideal for carrying around in the pocket, and for discrete street photography. But this is sold at a luxury price that we do think is no longer justified by the the build quality or the feature set.

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Rod is the Group Reviews editor for Digital Camera World and across Future's entire photography portfolio, with decades of experience with cameras of all kinds. Previously he has been technique editor on N-Photo, Head of Testing for the photography division and Camera Channel editor on TechRadar. He has been writing about photography technique, photo editing and digital cameras since they first appeared, and before that began his career writing about film photography. He has used and reviewed practically every interchangeable lens camera launched in the past 20 years, from entry-level DSLRs to medium format cameras, together with lenses, tripods, gimbals, light meters, camera bags and more.