The best compact cameras in 2024: top quality cameras you can to take anywhere

The best compact cameras are perfect as a 'second' camera for DSLR or mirrorless camera owners who want to travel light now and again. They give little away in features or image quality, but they are small enough to slip into a jacket pocket. These are the ones we rate the highest.

With this guide, we have picked compact cameras that 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, and that we are used to getting in a DSLR or mirrorless camera. If you want something cheaper and simpler, we've got that covered too in our guide to the best point-and-shoot cameras.

The key point about 'compact' cameras is that the lenses are not interchangeable. The lens is built in which saves you having to think about which lenses to invest in and which lenses to pack. 

Sebastian Oakley
Sebastian Oakley

As Ecommerce Editor for Digital Camera World, and having been a professional  photographer for nearly two decades, I've seen and used a LOT of cameras, using compacts while on holiday or when I wanted to travel light. Now in my spare time, I use my trusted Leica M-E to shoot street photography, usually in black and white.

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The best compact cameras in 2024

Why you can trust Digital Camera World Our expert reviewers spend hours testing and comparing products and services so you can choose the best for you. Find out how we test.

Best compact camera overall

(Image credit: Gareth Bevan / Digital Camera World)
Best overall compact camera

Specifications

Sensor: X-Trans CMOS 5 HR Sensor
Megapixels: 40.2MP
Lens: Fujinon 23mm F/2.0 II
Monitor: 3in tilting LCD, 1,620,000 dots
Viewfinder: 3.69M-dot OLED EVF / OVF Hybrid
Continuous shooting: 11fps (manual shutter), 20fps (electronic shutter)
Max video resolution: 6.2K30p, 4K60p, HD240p, 4:2:2 10-bit, F-Log, F-Log2

Reasons to buy

+
Beautiful retro design and excellent build quality
+
In-body image stabilization
+
Much improved video quality
+
Big 40MP stills

Reasons to avoid

-
Premium price
-
6K video has a crop
-
Adapter ring an additional purchase

The new Fujifilm X100VI may seem unchanged on the surface, but I find it hard to complain when the design is as breathtaking and well-crafted as ever. Using the X100VI is still an absolute delight for me, especially with its hybrid viewfinder and manual dials that add a tactile element to my photography experience.

Thankfully, there are some noteworthy upgrades under the hood. With a new 40MP sensor, updated processor, and IBIS (In-Body Image Stabilization), the X100VI's stills and video capabilities have received a significant boost. From the initial samples I've taken, the results have been nothing short of excellent.

Admittedly, the price of the X100VI is the highest yet, which does make it a tough decision, especially when there are cameras with better technology available for less. However, for me, the iconic design and enhanced features make it a compelling choice despite the price tag.

Read our Hands-on of the Fujifilm X100VI

Best compact camera for YouTube

(Image credit: Rod Lawton/Digital Camera World)
Best for YouTube

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

Reasons to buy

+
Supplied mic windshield
+
Super-fast AF
+
Vari-angle screen

Reasons to avoid

-
Small-ish rear screen and not 16:9
-
No viewfinder

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 RX100s, the sensor and lens will probably be quite familiar. 

Where this camera excels is the controls, rear screen, and body, making it perfect for YouTube. It too has the popular 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, a 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. Unlike the Sony RX100 cameras, it doesn't have a viewfinder, but it produces high-quality images, is even better at video, and, best of all, it'll cost you less. 

Read our full Sony ZV-1 review 

Best for compact camera street photography

(Image credit: Liam Dunkley)
The best compact camera for street photographers

Specifications

Sensor: APS-C
Megapixels: 24.2MP
Lens: 40mm f/2.8 (equiv)
Monitor: 3-inch fixed touchscreen LCD
Viewfinder: Optional
Max video resolution: 1080p

Reasons to buy

+
Big APS-C sensor
+
Built-in ND filter
+
40mm f/2.8 lens

Reasons to avoid

-
Eye-level viewfinder costs extra
-
Only 1080p video
-
Luxury price tag

The Ricoh GR IIIx is a street-savvy version of the Ricoh GR III with a better-suited 40mm lens instead of the original 28mm. It does have a few other benefits to it, including an optional 1.5x teleconverter lens, which can be attached to the fixed lens for a more zoomed-in view.

For an APS-C camera, it's incredibly compact, making it ideal for street or travel photography, and with a wide f/2.8 lens, super fast eye AF, plus sensor-shift stabilization, it's great for portraits, too. It's pocket-sized but it's big on features boasting 2GB internal storage and built-in NDs. It truly is a compact camera aimed at photographers who want to have total control.

Read our full Ricoh GR IIIx review 

Best compact camera for stills and video

(Image credit: Future)
Best compact camera for stills and video

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 zoom lens
+
4K video, 4K Photo modes

Reasons to avoid

-
17MP is lower than some rivals

When it comes to big sensors, the struggle has always been finding a compact camera to match. But let me tell you, Panasonic has nailed it with the LX100 II. It's got the perfect blend of stellar stills and video performance all packed into a pocket-sized body.

What sets it apart is its Micro Four Thirds sensor, which is almost as large as the APS-C sensors found in many DSLRs. Yet, somehow, Panasonic has managed to shrink down the lens assembly to fit snugly within the camera body. It's truly remarkable how they've achieved such a compact design without sacrificing performance.

The LX100 II is a fresh take on the original LX100, which was starting to show its age. With its new 17-megapixel 'multi-aspect' sensor, you have the flexibility to shoot in different aspect ratios without compromising on image quality. And let's not forget the external shutter speed dial, lens aperture ring, and aspect ratio switch – they make shooting with this camera an absolute joy. Trust me, it's a game-changer.

Read our full Panasonic Lumix LX100 II review

Best compact camera for all conditions

(Image credit: James Artaius)
Best waterproof camera overall

Specifications

Type: Compact
Sensor: 1/2.33in
Megapixels: 12MP
Lens: 25-100mm (equiv.) f/2.0-4.9
LCD: 3in, 1,040k dots
Waterproof: 15m/50ft
Shockproof: 2.1m/7ft
Freezeproof: -10ºC/14°F
Max video resolution: 4K
Colors available: Red or black

Reasons to buy

+
4K video recording
+
Generous optical zoom
+
Built-in GPS

Reasons to avoid

-
'Only' 15m waterproofing 
-
Virtually identical to its predecessor, the Olympus Tough TG-7

The Olympus TG-6 was my go-to waterproof compact camera, and now it's back as the OM System TG-7. I'm glad to see it's pretty much unchanged because that's exactly what I loved about it. It's still my top pick for a rugged waterproof camera.

One of my favorite features is the built-in microscope setting, which allows me to capture stunning close-up shots. Plus, the Field Sensor System is a neat addition, recording GPS coordinates and ambient temperature along with my photos.

With 4K video at 30fps and the option for Full HD video at 120fps for super-slow motion, the TG-7 is quite versatile. The generous 25-100mm optical zoom lens lets me get up close to the action.

I appreciate the improved chunky handgrip, which gives me a secure hold on the camera, and the internal zoom mechanism means the lens is always protected from knocks and bumps.

Overall, the TG-7 is straightforward yet sophisticated, making it hands down the best waterproof camera I've come across.

Read our full OM System Tough TG-7 review

Best compact camera for budget

Panasonic Lumix ZS80

(Image credit: Gavin Stoker)
Best budget compact camera for those who want a decent zoom

Specifications

Type: Compact
Sensor: 1/2.3-inch CMOS
Megapixels: 20.3MP
Lens: 24-720mm equivalent, f/3.3-6.4
LCD: 3-inch, tilting 1040K-dot resolution LCD
Viewfinder: EVF
Max continuous burst mode: 10fps
Max video resolution: 4K
User level: Beginner / enthusiast

Reasons to buy

+
Massive zoom
+
4K video
+
Built-in flash

Reasons to avoid

-
Viewfinder is very small
-
Not great in low light 
-
Not a big upgrade from the SZ70/TZ90

When I worked at Wex Photo Video (a British camera retailer), the Panasonic ZS80/TZ95 was my top recommended camera for people who were after something compact, with a generous zoom that didn't break the bank. 

For such a tiny camera, it's hard to believe it has a zoom range of 24-720mm making it possible to shoot wide landscapes and objects far in the distance. With 4K video, a pop-up flash, a range of shooting modes you'd expect to find on a mirrorless camera or DSLR and a macro mode so you can focus as close as 3cm, it really is a jack-of-all-trades system.

 It might not have the fastest burst mode but at 10fps it's plenty quick enough if you're mostly looking for a camera to take on holiday or as an upgrade from your camera phone. 

Read our full Panasonic Lumix ZS80/TZ95 review

Best compact camera for stills only

(Image credit: Future)
Best compact camera for just stills

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
+
Useful 3x zoom range

Reasons to avoid

-
Just f/5.6 at full zoom
-
No 4K video

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 DSLR making this compact a great stills-only option.

The lens has a versatile 24-72mm focal range and retracts into the camera to make it perfectly pocket-sized when you're not using it. Unfortunately, it doesn't have a fixed aperture, so at 24mm you can shoot as wide open as f/2.8 but at 72mm the aperture will drop down to f/5.6, which isn't great.

The G1 X Mark III can only shoot 1080P video, not 4K, but that doesn't bother us much as it's not what we would buy it for. It can shoot at 7fps in continuous burst mode and has wifi connectivity for transferring images on the go. 

I did like this flagship PowerShot a lot, and the only thing putting us off is that it's been out for a while but the price has barely shifted. Maybe that's because of how good it is!

Read our Canon PowerShot G1 X Mark III review

Best compact camera with a 1-inch sensor

(Image credit: Gavin Stoker/Digital Camera World)
Best compact camera with 1-inch sensor

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 which will reduce image resolution and performance.

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 really fast variable aperture of f/1.4-2.0, making it the fastest compact zoom lens available. 

Overall, I think 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. It's just that... having used both, we'd rather pay the extra for the LX100 II.

Read our full Panasonic Lumix LX10 review

Best compact camera for megapixels

(Image credit: Gareth Bevan / Digital Camera World)
Best compact camera for megapixels

Specifications

Type: Compact
Sensor size: Full frame
Megapixels: 60MP
Lens: 28mm, f/1.7
LCD: 3in flip touchscreen
Viewfinder: EVF
Continuous shooting: 15fps
Max video resolution: 8K30p, 4K60p, 1080FHD120p
User level: Enthusiast/Expert

Reasons to buy

+
Excellent 60MP image quality
+
8K video
+
Leica build quality and handling

Reasons to avoid

-
Luxury price
-
Prime lens, not a zoom

Leica cameras are a bit like Marmite – you either love them or hate them. No matter where you stand, you can't deny they are incredible cameras that offer exceptional image quality. The new Leica Q3 features an impressive full-frame 60-megapixel sensor. It has a fixed 28mm f/1.7 lens, making it one of the fastest prime lenses available on a compact camera. This update to the Leica Q2 now also shoots 8K 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.

Read our full Leica Q3 review 

How to choose the best compact camera

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

1) Prime vs zoom lenses:
With 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. You may be happy with a single focal length prime lens, or you may prefer the extra scope of a zoom. The focal length range on these zoom cameras varies enormously - from 3x up to over 100x on a bridge camera.

2) Viewfinders:
If you find you use the rear screen on a camera most of the time, you may not need an eyelevel viewfinder – and this does give you more scope with cameras. Some photographers, though, would be lost without a viewfinder. 

3) Sensor size:
It is not just about megapixels, image quality also improves by using a larger sensor. Full-frame is the biggest size sensor found on compacts, but full-frame compacts are very expensive and have a fixed wide-angle lens. If you want a zoom, the biggest-sized sensor is APS-C which under half the size of full frame. But if you want a big zoom in a pocketable camera, then you will need a model with a 1in sensor (about a third of the size of an APS-C sensor). An MFT sensor is smaller than an APS-C sensor, but bigger than a 1in one. 

How we test compact cameras

During our testing process, we take compact cameras out into the real world, snapping photos in various lighting situations to gauge their performance. With a collective experience encompassing hundreds of models, our reviewers compare the results against both current competitors and past iterations. 

Our focus lies heavily on image quality, scrutinizing the details captured in each shot. Since compact cameras prioritize ease of use and portability, we also closely examine the ergonomics and handling of every model we evaluate.

See more on how we test products at Digital Camera World

Sebastian Oakley
Ecommerce Editor

For nearly two decades Sebastian's work has been published internationally. Originally specializing in Equestrianism, his visuals have been used by the leading names in the equestrian industry such as The Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI), The Jockey Club, Horse & Hound, and many more for various advertising campaigns, books, and pre/post-event highlights.


He is a Fellow of The Royal Society of Arts, holds a Foundation Degree in Equitation Science, and is a Master of Arts in Publishing.  He is a member of Nikon NPS and has been a Nikon user since the film days using a Nikon F5 and saw the digital transition with Nikon's D series cameras and is still to this day the youngest member to be elected into BEWA, The British Equestrian Writers' Association. 


He is familiar with and shows great interest in street, medium, and large format photography with products by Leica, Phase One, Hasselblad, Alpa, and Sinar. Sebastian has also used many cinema cameras from the likes of Sony, RED, ARRI, and everything in between. He now spends his spare time using his trusted Leica M-E or Leica M2 shooting Street photography or general life as he sees it, usually in Black and White.

With contributions from