Best Compact Cameras of 2021 – Ultimate Buyer’s Guide

| Last Updated: June 28, 2021

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Despite the introduction of highly advanced smartphones, digital compact cameras have gained an edge in photography.

There are a lot of good reasons to compel you to invest in a compact camera. However, with a massive range of choices, buying the right model can be tough. Let’s help make this easier.

Read on to learn about the specs and details of our favorite products to help you choose one that will meet your photography demands.

Comparison of the Best Compact Cameras

  • Best overall for providing stellar images
  • 24.3-megapixel lens to give sharp images
  • APS-C sensor provides good low-light performance
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  • Runner-up for its design and functionality
  • 20.1-megapixel lens gives you desired images
  • AF acquisition speed of 0.03 sec that is pretty fast
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  • 1080p video shooting to provide HD shots
  • 20.1-megapixel lens is coupled with a CMOS sensor to mark perfection
  • Considered as the best for the money for being available at a reasonable price
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  • 4K video mode gives your HD shots
  • 24.1-megapixel lens is helpful in giving stellar images
  • Known as the best compact camera for travel due to its design
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  • 8x optical zoom to capture distant objects
  • 20.0-megapixel lens is quite impressive in performance
  • Best compact point and shoot camera for its remarkably fast functionality
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  • 3x optical zoom to take some impressive shots
  • 26.1-megapixel lens gives high-quality photographs
  • Known as the best compact mirrorless camera for accepting multiple lenses
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  • 25x optical zoom that is quite powerful
  • 20.2-megapixel lens is coupled with a CMOS sensor
  • Best compact camera under $300 for the exceptional features it provides
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What is a Compact Camera?

A compact camera is a small and portable device that is used for photography. It is basically designed to make photography easy. With its simple features, you don’t have to worry about fiddling with manual settings. It helps capture vibrant images with its default settings or you can manually choose the best settings according to the situation.

Fujifilm X100F

Compact cameras have brought a revolution in the market. Moreover, many advanced models are equipped with multiple professional-quality features that can be controlled manually in order to obtain the perfect shot. 

Best Uses for a Compact Camera

Having a great compact camera allows you to capture beautiful moments and share them with your friends and family. Moreover, this camera can be useful in various ways. Below are some of the best uses of compact cameras.

Quality Images

Compact cameras are specifically designed to take excellent images without the hassle of complex settings. You can take a perfect shot easily and in almost no time. They are quite useful for people who love to take fine pictures on trips and later share them with their friends.

Highly Portable

Being small in size and lightweight, compact cameras are very useful to take on any trip. They can easily fit into your pocket or purse and therefore, do not add much weight to your luggage. Moreover, they are quite a good alternative to expensive models during hiking, climbing, skiing, and boating, where you might worry about damaging your bulky, expensive professional camera. 

Professional Features

Compact cameras have been available to take stunning pictures for years. Additionally, many higher-end models are now equipped with advanced features that allow you to shoot at a quality similar to professional cameras. 

What Should I Look for in a Compact Camera?

Choosing a great camera among so many options can be frustrating at times. Below are some features that make for a good model. These will ease your decision making and you will end up having a camera best suited to your demands.

Optical Zoom

Being the main reason to invest in a compact camera, optical zoom is one of the most important features to look for in any model. It is generally recommended to choose a camera with at least 8x optical zoom.

Image Stabilization

Image stabilization is very helpful in avoiding blurry images as a result of hand movements. It allows you to take sharp images, even in low-light situations. 

Aperture Rating

Light enters the camera through the aperture hole. It is generally written as a sequence of numbers like 3.5-5.6. A smaller aperture number means bigger aperture in reality, and ultimately, the camera will allow more light to enter. An aperture of 3.5 or higher is normally ideal for a great compact model.

Manual Controls

In case you like to take more control over your photography session, you can go for a camera featuring manual controls. These let you adjust the settings according to your preferences. 

Sensor Size

The size of the sensor plays a crucial role in the quality of the image. A large sensor will produce better quality images compared to a smaller one. These days, one-inch sensor cameras have become very popular for their low-light sound performance. However, they are a bit more expensive.

Review of the Best Compact Cameras

Now that we are done with the important features to look for in a great compact camera, let’s jump to the next section which talks about the specifications of our top-picked products to help you make the right choice.

Let’s jump in!

Best Overall:
Fujifilm X100F

Fujifilm X100F 24.3 MP APS-C Digital Camera-Silver


  • Made of high-quality materials, thus, is durable
  • Long battery life to avoid frequent recharging
  • The hybrid viewfinder allows you to view the shot clearly
  • Equipped with a large sensor to shoot excellent pictures
  • Beautifully designed, this camera comes with a nice appearance


  • Video quality is only limited to 1080p
  • Face detection feature is not too impressive
  • Not suitable for individuals with a limited budget

What Recent Buyers Report

This product is very popular among its users for a number of reasons. It is highly admired for its beautiful design and efficient ergonomics that provide a nice grip. Moreover, its long battery life saves the user from the frustration of frequent recharging.

Why it Stands Out to Us

If you want a compact camera with high-end features, you must get your hands on this Fujifilm X100F. It is equipped with a professional APS-C sensor to help you take amazing photographs. Moreover, the hybrid viewfinder displays the shot to help you decide whether it’s worth capturing. 

Who Will Use This Most

This model is primarily for individuals who want a compact camera to capture vibrant images. Due to its exceptional features, this model can be used for street photography and you can take it with you on trips to capture the fun moments.

Bottom Line 

A camera with a number of features, the Fujifilm X100F is great at capturing some memories. Its long battery life and nice design make it stand out from the rivals. This makes it perfect for use by beginners to take some worthy shots.

Sony Cyber-Shot RX10 IV

Sony Cyber‑Shot RX10 IV with 0.03 Second Auto-Focus & 25x Optical Zoom (DSC-RX10M4)


  • LCD screen is responsive to touch
  • Screen can be tilted at any angle you want
  • Made of fine material that makes it last long
  • One-inch sensor provides high-quality images
  • Equipped with an ultra-zoom lens to capture distant images like a pro


  • A bit expensive
  • Relatively sub-par battery life
  • Quite a heavy model compared to others

What Recent Buyers Report

Similar to our best model, this product is also loved by users. The much-loved thing is ultra-zoom functionality that lets the user shoot really distant objects without making the image blurry. Moreover, it comes with the AF settings that take only 0.03 seconds to work, which is quite impressive.

Why it Stands Out to Us

One of the latest models in Sony’s line of premium compact cameras, the Sony Cyber-Shot RX10 IV is equipped with a set of exceptional features. It has a 25x optical zoom lens, and f/2.4-4 aperture gives you an edge of shooting even in low-light conditions. 

Who Will Use This Most

This amazing compact camera can be an ideal choice for any beginner who loves to take stunning shots. Moreover, some advanced features make it perfect for wildlife photographers as well, such as a tilting screen, 4k video shooting, and much more.

Bottom Line

A powerhouse of high-end features, the Sony Cyber-Shot RX10 IV makes its way to the runner-up position in our list due to many reasons. Its high-quality body construction, better image quality, and 4K video shooting mode make it one of our top-picked models.

Best for the Money:
Sony RX100 20.2 MP

Sony RX100 20.2 MP Premium Compact Digital Camera w/ 1-inch sensor, 28-100mm ZEISS zoom lens, 3” LCD


  • Ultra-slim and sophisticated in appearance
  • Large LCD screen lets you view shots clearly
  • Remarkably fast auto-focus and burst shooting
  • CMOS sensor is capable of providing good low-light performance


  • LCD is fixed
  • Face detection needs to be improved
  • Video shooting is only limited to 1080p

What Recent Buyers Report

This beautifully designed compact camera is highly appreciated by users. It is loved for being available at such an affordable price. Despite that, it doesn't compromise on the features. You will get all the top-notch features at a reasonable price.

Why it Stands Out to Us

One of the most affordable compact cameras, the Sony RX100 20.2 MP has various interesting features. It is equipped with a 20.1-megapixel lens, coupled with a CMOS sensor to give you vibrant and stunning pictures. Moreover, the large LCD and its sleek appearance add on to perfection.

Who Will Use This Most

If you don't want to splurge cash on a compact camera, then you must get your hands on this Sony RX100. It is a perfect choice for anyone who wants a model with great functionality at a reasonable price.

Bottom Line

A camera with extraordinary features, the Sony RX100 20.2 MP comes with an affordable price tag. Moreover, it is quite lightweight, which makes it easy to carry around. Similarly, the impressive shooting functionality gives you nice pictures, even in low-light situations.

Best Compact Camera for Travel:
Canon Rebel SL3

Canon EOS REBEL SL3 Digital SLR Camera with EF-S 18-55mm Lens kit, Built-in Wi-Fi, Dual Pixel CMOS AF and 3.0 Inch Vari-Angle Touch Screen, Black


  • Easy to handle and operate
  • Lightweight and small size make it highly portable
  • LCD screen is responsive to touch and can be tilted
  • Built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth technology make data sharing easy
  • Equipped with a CMOS sensor that helps in getting vibrant photographs


  • No headphone input
  • No image stabilization
  • Relatively short battery life

What Recent Buyers Report

Users have mostly positive reviews about this product. It is quite appreciated for its lightweight and compact design that makes it quite easy to carry around. Moreover, the 4k video shooting mode makes it perfect for shooting HD videos.

Why it Stands Out to Us

Equipped with a number of features, the Canon Rebel SL3 is considered the best model for travel. The reason is its compact body and extremely light weight, which enhances its portability. Moreover, 4k video shooting and an impressive lens with COS sensor act as a cherry on the top.

Who Will Use This Most

This model is best-suited for those looking for a great camera with exceptional features that is lightweight, as well. It is highly compact and thus, fits into your pocket or purse. You can take it with you on adventures like climbing, skiing, and boating without adding any extra weight.

Bottom Line

Great at capturing stunning shots, the Canon Rebel SL3 is very popular for the small size that allows you to take it anywhere you want. Moreover, it features top-end modes that help in getting stellar images in no time.

Best Compact Point-and-Shoot Camera: 
Canon PowerShot ELPH 180

Canon PowerShot ELPH 180 Digital Camera w/ Image Stabilization and Smart AUTO Mode (Red)


  • Easy to handle and use
  • Comes with a sleek and beautiful design
  • Compact size fits your pocket easily
  • Shooting functionality is remarkably fast and efficiently
  • Digital image stabilization helps in getting focused images


  • Fixed rear display
  • Battery life is not impressive
  • Video quality is only limited to 720p

What Recent Buyers Report

This camera is greatly admired for its point-and-shoot functionality allows you to capture a picture in no time. Moreover, it has all the necessary features and yet is highly compact in size. You can take it anywhere you want.

Why it Stands Out to Us

Very impressive in its design, this Canon PowerShot ELPH 180 is surely not to be missed. It is equipped with great optical zoom that lets you shoot distant objects like a pro. Moreover, the smart-auto mode is quite efficient in selecting the proper settings based on the shooting situations.

Who Will Use This Most

This camera is surely a nice option for people who want a model with fast functionality in order to have sharp and focused images. It does not require human intervention and thus, can be used by people of almost any age.

Bottom Line

A great camera for shooting stunning images in no time, this Canon PowerShot ELPH 180 comes with a sleek and beautiful design. Moreover, it has all the essential features required to take some worthy shots.

Best Compact Mirrorless Camera:
 Fujifilm X-T3

Fujifilm X-T3 Mirrorless Digital Camera (Body Only) - Black


  • A large sensor gives a good low-light performance
  • Equipped with OLED viewfinder to display the shots
  • Offers the liberty of changing lenses according to the demand
  • 4K video recording functionality is helpful in shooting HD videos
  • Weather-resistant body design can withstand any harsh condition


  • Manual focus is a bit tricky
  • Relatively higher noise levels
  • Slim design can make it feel unbalanced with large lenses

What Recent Buyers Report

This product is very popular among its users for a number of reasons. It is much-loved for its compact body capable of supporting various lenses according to the user's choice. Although working with the manual focus is a struggle overall, it is a great compact camera.

Why it Stands Out to Us

One of the best mirrorless compact cameras, the Fujifilm X-T3 packs a set of great features in a small body. Its great lens, with impressive CMOS sensor, gives fantastic pictures at low or high ISOs. Moreover, fast and smooth AF functionality is quite pleasing. 

Who Will Use This Most

This compact camera is surely a great choice for anyone who wants a mirrorless camera with high-end features. It can be used by wildlife photographers to capture their adventure, plus it is proven to be an excellent model for sports, as well. 

Bottom Line

The Fujifilm X-T3 is well-rounded for both photos and videos. Apart from its stylish appearance, it is equipped with serious image quality and impressive performance capabilities, even in low-light conditions.

Best Compact Camera Under $300: 
Canon PowerShot SX620

Canon PowerShot SX620 Digital Camera w/25x Optical Zoom - Wi-Fi & NFC Enabled (Black)


  • Stylish design enhances its appearance
  • Remarkably powerful ultra-zoom functionality
  • Equipped with a large sensor to give stellar images
  • Capable of shooting videos at 1080p to provide HD shots
  • Built-in Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity to share images instantly


  • Zoom lens is fixed
  • Does not support RAW files
  • Video quality is only limited to 1080p

What Recent Buyers Report

This product has received mixed reviews from users. The much-admired thing about it is its compact design and ultra-zooming capabilities that let you shoot distant objects without the image becoming blurry. Although there are some concerns over limited video quality, it’s still a great option at such a low price.

Why it Stands Out to Us

A compact camera which packs a number of features, the Canon PowerShot SX620 can easily fit into your purse or pocket. It is equipped with a 20.2-megapixel lens, coupled with a large sensor to offer high-quality images. Moreover, its three-inch display is bright and can easily frame your pictures and videos.

Who Will Use This Most

This model is highly recommended for those people who want a camera with exceptional features under $300. Its compact size makes it highly portable and the advanced features at this price make it stand out from rivals.

Bottom Line

Equipped with ultra-advanced camera technology, the Canon PowerShot SX620 has all the features that make for a great compact camera. With all the top-notch capabilities, you’ll honestly not find such a steal at this price.

Best Compact Camera Under $500: 
Panasonic Lumix ZS80

PANASONIC LUMIX ZS80 20.3MP Digital Camera, 30x 24-720mm Travel Zoom Lens, 4K Video, Optical Image Stabilizer and 3.0-inch Display – Point & Shoot Camera with Lecia Lens - DC-ZS80K (Black)


  • LCD screen is responsive to touch
  • Screen can be tilted at any angle you want
  • Comes with 4k video shooting to provide HD videos
  • A large sensor to provide impressive low-light performance
  • Equipped with a very useful zoom range to capture distant objects


  • Relatively smaller viewfinder
  • Too many auto-focus modes
  • Touchscreen controls can be confusing at times

What Recent Buyers Report

This superzoom compact camera is very appreciated for its ultra-zooming functionality that brings the distant objects in your frame. Moreover, it is admired for offering multiple features at a very reasonable price.

Why it Stands Out to Us

With extraordinary features, the Panasonic Lumix ZS80 is capable of providing decent performance. Thanks to its 30x optical zoom, 4k video shooting capabilities, and great touchscreen, it is surely one of the best compact models available in the market.

Who Will Use This Most

It is an ideal model for beginners who don’t want the hassle of bulky cameras to capture some worthy shots. If you have a very limited budget and want a decent model under $500, then you must consider the Panasonic Lumix ZS80. Moreover, it is very easy to handle, thus, can be used by almost everyone.

Bottom Line

Overall, the Panasonic Lumix ZS80 is a fine model with a remarkable zoom range. So, in case you want a great camera at a reasonable price without compromising on the features, this model will surely bring value to your bucks.

What Do I Need to Know Before Buying?

There are plenty of brands in the market that make good cameras. However, it becomes tiresome to choose the right one. Therefore, you must take some factors into consideration first to make a suitable purchase. These include:

Image Quality

This is undoubtedly the most important factor to consider while purchasing a camera. The image quality should be better than smartphone cameras.


A compact camera should be easy to handle and not require much human intervention. However, you can go for a model with expanded functionality to meet certain needs.


A great camera must have a number of additional features compared to smartphone cameras. Moreover, it should be capable of performing considerably better.

Battery Life

This factor is often overlooked, however, it must be carefully considered. The battery life of a camera is rated by the average number of shots it can take per charge. Generally, 300 photos per charge would be a good number to aim for.


Manufacturers generally offer a warranty period on their products. Since you are spending a lot of cash on a great compact camera, you should choose a model backed by a warranty of at least 2-3 years. 


When it comes to compact cameras, not everyone can afford to spend a lot of cash. Therefore, you must decide your budget first and then look for a model that lies within it. 


Getting a compact camera is an investment, as the market is filled with technologically advanced and refined models. Therefore, spend appropriately or else you’ll be only left with something terrible. So, before heading to make a purchase, go through our buying guide in order to make an informed decision about which compact camera to go for.

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Hi, I’m Andy. I’ve been taking pictures for just about as long as I’ve been old enough to hold a camera. I studied photography in community college after high school but was encouraged to follow a career path that was more stable. I do gigs here and there on the side but never took the leap to focus my efforts full-time. When Pam reached out to me through a mutual friend, I jumped on the opportunity to be a writer. Favorite type of photography: macro and street.