Looking for the best buy compact camera? Our rigorous tests have put all the best models through their paces to bring you this definitive list of the finest ones around. Whether you want an affordable zoom compact or a premium all-rounder, here’s where you can step up from your smartphone and take your photography up a notch.
It’s pretty obvious that the compact camera market has suffered from the onslaught of the smartphone in recent years – and in many everyday situations, your phone will do the job just fine. But there’s still plenty of shooting opportunities that aren’t quite covered by the optics in your smartphone – so while basic point-and-shoots have pretty much disappeared from the market, there are still plenty of choices that can help take your photography to the next level.
The advantages of a dedicated compact camera are many and varied. A larger sensor is one obvious plus point, as well as tilting screens and physical controls for a more tactile experience. There’s also other niche compact cameras, such as waterproof models, super-long zooms and those with stabilizing gimbals, which all meet a specific need that a smartphone rarely can.
Top 10 best buy compact camera in UK
Here come our 10 best buy compact camera. Every product has specific features to serve multiple purposes. Find out which one pleases you most!
1. Sony RX100 VII
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.
2. Fujifilm X100V
The Fujifilm X100V takes what was already a special camera and fixes all of its weaknesses – it’s the perfect compact for the smartphone age.
The concept is the same as before: a stylish, pocketable design, large APS-C sensor, unique hybrid viewfinder and a fixed 23mm f/2 lens. All of those areas, though, have now been improved on the X100V, which brings a new tilting screen and improved autofocus performance.
Image quality has been improved, partly thanks to a redesigned lens, and low-light performance is better. Then there’s the higher resolution hybrid viewfinder – both optical and electronic – as well as support for 4K/30p video capture.
Sure, you need to add a filter for full weather-proofing and the cost will be prohibitive for some, but the X100V puts an impressive range of features into a polished, premium body, with throwback style that sets it apart from the crowd – yet still fits perfectly in your pocket.
3. Fujifilm X100F
You’d be forgiven for gawping at the pricetag. Unless of course you’re familiar with the award-winning line of X100 cameras. Fujifilm’s fixed lens compact beast has been hugely popular since it was first introduced in 2010. Almost 10 years later and the camera hasn’t changed much in essence. The focus of the X100 model has always been on delivering uncompromisingly excellent image quality and the X100F (£1,169) continues the legacy.
Ideal for travel and street photography, the X100F is a popular choice among discerning photographers, whether amateur or professional. That’s because it houses a large APS-C sensor, now upgraded in resolution from 16.3-megapixels to 24.3-megapixels.
4. SONY ZV1
Rather than updating its line of RX100 cameras, in 2020 Sony took the decision to create a dedicated vlogging camera instead. That decision made a lot of sense, considering the RX100 VII was already far in advance of others on the market.
If you’re somebody who favours capturing video over stills, then it makes a lot of sense to plump for this camera – especially as it’s cheaper than its RX100 cousins. If you are a vlogger who wants to be able to grab a couple of stills as and when necessary, it can do that pretty well, too.
Good examples of the video-friendly specs it houses include 4K video recording, a vari-angle 3-inch touch-sensitive screen and the ability to use an external microphone. You also get useful modes such as “product showcase” too.
5. Olympus Stylus Tough TG-6
Tough by name, tough by nature, the Olympus Tough TG-6 is waterproof to a depth of 15 metres, shockproof enough to withstand being dropped from a height of 2.1 metres, freezeproof down to -10 degrees Celsius, and crushproof enough to bear a 100kg load. This is a near-indestructible camera that’ll handle pretty much any punishment you can throw at it, whether you’re taking it up a mountain or down into the ocean.
This latest model comes with useful Auto and Scene modes designed to take the stress out of shooting. It’s geared towards those who enjoy the great outdoors, with built-in GPS, compass, altitmeter and more, all the data from which can be incorporated as metadata into your photos and videos. The TG-6 also features a “digital microscope” mode that lets you get close to your subjects with no loss in quality. It’s one of the best waterproof cameras around, and one of the finest compacts too.
6. Ricoh GRIII
This compact powerhouse made me want to take photos all the time. At first glance, the ergonomics on the cell phone-sized GRIII appear to be nothing special. But Ricoh has achieved a beautiful balance between pocket-ability and easy one-handed operation. The touch screen is snappy, and the menu system is simple to navigate. The GRIII may not be the prettiest or flashiest, but it packs a punch. The 24 MP APS-C sensor features in-body image stabilization (IBIS) and dual-type autofocus. I could go on and on about how wonderful the 12th iteration of the GR line is, but in short, it’s the one camera I could see myself purchasing as my everyday photographic travel companion. I even regularly recommend this camera to my pros as a handy backup.
7. Panasonic LUMIX DC-ZS70K
The Panasonic ZS-series (or TZ-series, for those in the UK) has long been an excellent pick for those in need of a versatile compact, and the ZS70 is no different.
The camera’s hallmark feature is its 30x optical zoom lens, which encompasses wide-angle (24mm equivalent) for those group shots, or can zoom right in (to a 720mm equivalent) to make far-away subjects appear large in the frame.
With decent autofocus, an electronic viewfinder, excellent image stabilization, a tilt-angle LCD screen for selfies, and a whole roster of other top features, the ZS70’s aspirations make it a real jack-of-all-trades.
8. Canon EOS M50
There are some interesting new connectivity features, courtesy of the built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. In addition to the usual remote control and image-transfer options, it’s now possible to have all of your images copy automatically across to your phone for sharing on social media. In addition, the EOS M50 can sync images automatically to PC or Mac computers via Canon Image Transfer Utility 2. In terms of design philosophy, the EOS M50 is very close to the firm’s entry-level DSLRs, with a single electronic dial for changing exposure settings and small set of buttons giving direct access to key functions. But this is all complemented by Canon’s superb touch interface, which should feel familiar to new users graduating up from smartphone cameras. The polycarbonate body feels robust enough and fits quite nicely in your hand, too. Overall, it looks like a really well-judged little camera at an attractive price, and with Canon’s huge brand-recognition behind it, well-set to become an immediate hit.
9. Cannon EOS M50
The Canon EOS M50 (EOS Kiss M in Asia) is an entry-level mirrorless camera that features an electronic viewfinder, fully articulating touchscreen, single control dial and a 24MP APS-C sensor – the same used by its M-series siblings. It has Canon’s latest DIGIC 8 processor and offers expanded Dual Pixel AF coverage, 4K/24p video capture (with a 1.7x crop) as well as Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and NFC.
In a lot of ways, it’s a beefier, viewfinder-sporting M100, the brand’s most affordable M-mount offering. And it will likely appeal to the same crowd: beginners and/or those stepping up from a smartphone as their primary photography device. But what’s really exciting about the M50 is what it might indicate about future developments in EOS M and Rebel-series cameras.
10. Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ100
At this year’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, the company announced the DMC-ZS100 (TZ100 outside of North America), which took the guts of the FZ1000 and shrank the body down to the roughly the size of a Sony RX100 IV. Naturally, you can’t stuff a fast 25-400mm lens into a compact body, but the ZS100’s 25-250mm equiv. F2.8-5.9 lens is nothing to sneeze at, either. The camera uses the same 20.1MP sensor as the FZ1000 which is more than likely the same as the one in the Sony RX100 II and III. The ZS100 is chock full of features, most notably its Depth from Defocus autofocus system, 4K video capture and electronic viewfinder. It also has a 3″, touch-sensitive LCD, Wi-Fi (but, unlike most Panasonic products, no NFC) and useful 4K Photo and Post Focus features.
Here’s a quick summary of the eight things to consider before buying a compact camera
- What sorts of things do you want to photograph?Will you be staying put or traveling with your camera?
- What is your budget?Like it or not this is going to be a huge factor in your decision-making process.
- Are you a beginner, intermediate or advanced photographer?What features do you need, what’s overkill?
- How will you be sharing your images?What size files do you need?
- How big are your hands?No seriously, this one is actually quite important.
- Do you want to have the option of upgrading your camera later?
- Do you want more control over your imagesDo you want to learn to get off Automatic and to process your photos?
- What brands of camera and models do your friends use?This becomes important later – read on to find out why.
I’m hoping this guide was helpful. Choosing the best compact camera doesn’t have to be hard, but you need to know what you want in terms of features and what you have to take into account given your room and listening limitations.