10 Best Compact Digital Cameras – Travel Camera Reviews – Popular Mechanics


While it’s easy to pull out your smartphone for some quick pics, real digital cameras still provide unrivaled photo quality. Whether you need to capture landscapes, action shots, or get crystal-clear details of your new car or latest garage upgrade, these devices can properly handle your photography needs, even in low outdoor lighting. And the good news is: you don’t need to lug around a bulky DSLR to shoot high-quality images. These digital compact cameras are all great options for getting sharp photos and video right from your pocket.

Check out quick reviews below of our top-five compact cameras, or scroll deeper for helpful buying info and full reviews of those models plus other high-ranking options.

The Pros of a Compact Digital Camera

Phone cameras are great for when you want to snap a quick shot and upload to Instagram right away, but if you really want to impress people with your photography, take great portraits, or get pro-level details from your shop, you’ll need a real digital camera with the right features.

“A phone is handy,” Lynsey Addario, a Pulitzer-Prize-winning photojournalist told Popular Mechanics. “An f/1.4 lens and a big sensor is something different altogether. If you want to invest in photographing—even your everyday life—you need the right tool.” That’s why she carries a dedicated camera when shooting anything from the Iraq war to Syrian refugees.

You may not require a discreet device for dangerous reporting missions like Addario, but you’ll want the same quality features and compact design. Look for features like fast start-up and autofocus, high zoom, large sensors, 4k video, and electronic viewfinders. Compacts with the largest sensors like the Panasonic Lumix LX100 II may sacrifice some pocketability, while small, cheap options like the Canon PowerShot ELPH 360 have fewer manual controls. You may also want to consider if a camera’s battery life will make it through long days, if it has a rugged, waterproof build for outdoor adventures, and if it connects to Wi-Fi to upload your photos online right away.

How We Rated Them

We researched 14 expert sources and 4,000 consumer reviews to select the top 10 compact digital cameras of the year. To determine our Total Expert Score, we calculate the ratings from trusted publications such as Tech Radar, CNET, Digital Trends, Digital Camera World, and Digital Photography Review, and convert them to a 100-point scale to make it easier for you to weigh the best options. Our Consumer Score represents the percentage of consumers who rated the product at least 4 out of 5 stars on retail sites like Amazon, Best Buy, and Adorama.


Expert Pick


Fujifilm T-X30

Total Expert Score: 92/100 | Consumer Score: 89% give it 4 stars or higher
A durable, versatile mirrorless digital camera to accompany your travels.

26.1 MP | 30 FPS | Video: 4k | Battery Life: 380 shots
Dimensions (WxHxD): 4.7 x 3.3 x 1.8 in. | Weight: 383 g | Display: 3 in.

The new 2019 Fujifilm X-T30 upgrades the previous X-T20 model that Addario recommended in 2017. About the X-T20, she said, “You spend the money for the durable body, sharp photos, and Fujifilm’s wide range of excellent lenses.” With the X-T30, you get all of that, plus improved handling, a tilting LCD touchscreen, and more. Sports and action photographers will love its fast autofocus and 4k video quality.

The X-T30 also has the same large APS-C sensor as the X-T3 in a more affordable and compact body. One reviewer on Adorama commented on its “outstanding build quality,” “travel-friendly design,” and “great photo quality.” So basically, everything you’d want in a travel companion.


Best Large Sensor


Panasonic Lumix LX100 II

Total Expert Score: 82/100 | Consumer Score: 75% give it 4 stars or higher
A class-leading premium compact filled with updated features.

21.7 MP | 30 FPS | Video: 4k | Battery Life: 340 shots
Dimensions (WxHxD): 4.5 x 2.6 x 2.2 in. | Weight: 392 g | Display: 3 in.


Panasonic

Panasonic Lumix LX100 II

amazon.com

  • Large sensor and viewfinder
  • Bluetooth connectivity
  • Too large for small pockets
  • No tilting screen

Known for their large four-thirds sensors, Panasonic’s Lumix LX series cameras create superior images in all lighting conditions compared to other compacts. The new LX100 II is no exception. Tech Radar reported that it “feels just like its popular predecessor: a portable, responsive premium compact camera with a fast lens and appealing external controls.”

Though it has the same viewfinder and most of the same controls as the 2014 model, users enjoyed its new grips, better resolution, and touch-sensitive (but fixed) screen. One professional photographer on Amazon concluded that this camera is “an extraordinarily customizable, well-balanced, beautifully built compact camera that will please anyone, but especially those who understand photography or are willing to learn.” For a more affordable, but still high-quality option, consider the previous Lumix LX100 model for $600.


Best Video


Sony CyberShot RX100 IV

Total Expert Score: 87/100 | Consumer Score: 84% give it 4 stars or higher
Impressive 4k video and viewfinder packed into this compact camera.

20.1 MP | 16 FPS | Video: 4k | Battery Life: 280 shots
Dimensions (WxHxD): 4 x 2.29 x 1.61 in. | Weight: 298 g | Display: 2.95 in.


Sony

Sony CyberShot RX100 IV

$898.00

amazon.com

  • High-resolution viewfinder
  • Great slow-motion video
  • Low battery life
  • No touchscreen

The Sony CyberShot RX100 IX offers the best balance between photo quality, size, and price tag. It also boasts a tilting screen and pop-up electric viewfinder, but has no touchscreen. CNET wrote that it’s a good choice for photographers “looking for an advanced compact with class-leading video capabilities.”

There are cheaper compacts for high-quality stills, but the CyberShot’s action shots cannot be beat. One Best Buy reviewer wrote that despite its cost, it “will grab pro-level shots right out of your pocket.”


Best Waterproof


Olympus Tough TG-5

Total Expert Score: 80/100 | Consumer Score: 76% give it 4 stars or higher
This little compact can tough it out on any outdoor adventure and in any weather conditions.

12 MP | 20 FPS | Video: 4k | Battery Life: 340 shots
Dimensions (WxHxD): 4.4 x 2.6 x 1.3 in. | Weight: 250 g | Display: 3 in.


Olympus

Olympus Tough TG-5

$399.00

amazon.com

  • Sharp image quality
  • Durable
  • More expensive than other compacts

The Olympus Tough TG-5 is certainly tough enough to handle your travel or shop needs: It’s able to survive 50-foot dives, 7-foot falls, and below-freezing temperatures. Tech Radar named it “the best rugged, waterproof compact you can buy,” and Wirecutter selected it as the best waterproof camera for photo enthusiasts. Don’t be fooled by its rugged exterior! It can still produce clear, stunning images.

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Users enjoyed using the TG-5 at the beach, underwater, and for other outdoor adventures. One Amazon reviewer claimed that it “works fantastic underwater and on land.”


Best Budget


Canon PowerShot ELPH 360 HS

Total Expert Score: 80/100 | Consumer Score: 91% give it 4 stars or higher
A practical budget compact with fast performance in auto mode.

20.2 MP | 30 FPS | Video: 1080p | Battery Life: 265 shots
Dimensions (WxHxD): 3.9 x 2.3 x .9 in. | Weight: 147 g | Display: 3 in.


Canon

Canon PowerShot ELPH 360 HS

$179.00

amazon.com

  • Fast start-up and autofocus
  • Light, small body
  • Wi-Fi connectivity
  • No tilting touchscreen or viewfinder
  • Low battery power

The Canon PowerShot ELPH 360 HS sacrifices a premium exterior and controls for its small, simple, and affordable design. But it still captures sharp images, even in low light. You’ll also be less likely to miss a wildlife or action shot thanks to its speedy start-up and autofocus system.

There’s also no need to mess around with manual controls with the ELPH 360. Best Buy reviewers loved using it as a travel camera in auto mode. Gadget Review wrote that this model offers “a host of solid features in an easy to use design at a desirable price point,” including its LCD screen and built-in Wi-Fi and NFC connectivity.


More Great Options to Consider


Leica D-Lux

Total Expert Score: 85/100 | Consumer Score: 91% give it 4 stars or higher
Consider this Leica design as an alternative to Panasonic’s Lumix LX100.

12.8 MP | 30 FPS | Video: 4k | Battery Life: 300 shots
Dimensions (WxHxD): 4.6 x 2.6 x 2.4 in. | Weight: 405 g | Display: 3 in.


Leica

Leica D-Lux

amazon.com

  • Large sensor
  • Impressive electronic viewfinder
  • Lacks good grip
  • No tilting touch-sensitive screen

The Panasonic Lumix LX100 and the Leica D-Lux share the same large sensor and high-quality lens. However, Leica’s model differs with its smooth, rounded design and rectangular control buttons. Amazon reviewers recommended buying the optional case due to the lack of front grip on the camera, but either way, the D-Lux offers professional handling and performance.

The almost-identical Panasonic Lumix LX100 may cost a little less, but Tech Radar concluded the D-Lux is still a great option for photographers “looking for a smaller, high-quality alternative” to large DSLRs. It’s well-suited for experienced photographers who want a compact with pro-level image quality and manual controls.


Canon PowerShot G9 X Mark II

Total Expert Score: 84/100 | Consumer Score: 90% give it 4 stars or higher
A truly pocketable point-and-shoot perfect for staying connected while traveling.

20.1 MP | 8.2 FPS | Video: 1080p | Battery Life: 315 shots
Dimensions (WxHxD): 3.9 x 2.3 x 1.2 in. | Weight: 206 g | Display: 3 in.


Canon

Canon PowerShot G9 X Mark II

$529.99

$429.00 (19% off)

amazon.com

  • Built-in Wi-Fi, NFC, and Bluetooth
  • Large 1-inch sensor and 3x optical zoom
  • Lacks 4k video
  • No electronic viewfinder or tilting screen

This Canon PowerShot’s slim size, light weight, and connectivity make it a great option for traveling and outdoor adventures. At only 7 ounces, its smaller than other compacts with 1-inch sensors, which produces high-quality photos in low light. However, it lacks an electronic viewfinder, tilting screen, and 4k video, making it better for those who just want to snap quick stills.

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Wirecutter selected the G9 X Mark II as its point-and-shoot budget pick that’s best for beginners or casual shooters because its easy controls make “transitioning from smartphone shooting simple.” However, both beginners and expert photographers looking for a pocketable point-and-shoot enjoy using it in auto mode. One reviewer on Best Buy writes that “at its now pretty common $429 price, it’s a no-brainer to add to your camera arsenal.”


Ricoh GR II

Total Expert Score: 81/100 | Consumer Score: 89% give it 4 stars or higher
A lightweight, large-sensor compact best for landscapes and street photography.

16.2 MP | 30 FPS | Video: 1080p | Battery Life: 320 shots
Dimensions (WxHxD): 4.6 x 2.5 x 1.4 in. | Weight: 251 g | Display: 3 in.


Ricoh

Ricoh GR II

$546.95

amazon.com

  • Compact, light body
  • Large APS-C sensor
  • Lacks image stabilization and 4k video
  • Complex Wi-Fi connection

More pocketable than other compacts with large sensors, the Ricoh GR II is a great option for traveling. Many users prefer the Ricoh to DSLRs for outdoor photography. One wrote on B&H Photo Video that it can “take photos quickly without slowing anyone down.” However, its wide-angle lens is more suited to landscapes than portraits or action shots.

PC Mag awarded the Ricoh its Editor’s Choice award, writing that it is “a modest update to many a photographer’s favorite pocket camera.” But if you need a camera that will seamlessly connect to the internet to upload photos on-the-go, keep in mind that some users report connectivity issues with the Wi-Fi system.


Panasonic Lumix LX10

Total Expert Score: 84/100 | Consumer Score: 77% give it 4 stars or higher
This balanced compact is a smart upgrade from your smartphone cam.

20.1 MP | 30 FPS | Video: 4k | Battery Life: 260 shots
Dimensions (WxHxD): 4.2 x 2.4 x 1.7 in. | Weight: 310 g | Display: 3 in.


Panasonic

Panasonic Lumix LX10

$699.99

$497.99 (29% off)

amazon.com

  • Accurate autofocus
  • Stable 4k video
  • No electronic viewfinder
  • Poor battery power

Photographers will love this Panasonic Lumix if they need a compact that has it all at a good price. Reviewers like the manual and automatic controls, and the quality of its video. Digital Photography Review said, “Its price point, broad stills and video capability, and likable handling probably make the LX10 a well-balanced camera.”

It’s successful thanks to its 1-inch sensor, fast autofocus, stabilized 4k video, and flip-up touchscreen. However, it lacks an electronic viewfinder and good grips. A reviewer on Adorama explained, “If you’re a smartphone user looking to find a camera that takes better pics, the LX10 is a great option.”


Nikon Coolpix A900

Total Expert Score: 80/100 | Consumer Score: 73% give it 4 stars or higher
Feel free to travel anywhere with this sturdy, thin compact.

20 MP | 30 FPS | Video: 4k | Battery Life: 270 shots
Dimensions (WxHxD): 4.5 x 2.7 x 1.6 in. | Weight: 298 g | Display: 3 in.


Nikon

Nikon Coolpix A900

$396.95

amazon.com

  • Tilting LCD screen
  • 35x optical zoom lens
  • Not as sharp images
  • No viewfinder

Gadget Review emphasized all of the “great features” on the Nikon Coolpix A900 for it being “a relatively thin camera.” These elements include its tilting LCD screen, wireless Wi-Fi connectivity, and 4k video—especially at its low price point.

Users enjoyed bringing it along on their travels because of its rubber grip and light weight. One Best Buy reviewer who bought the Coolpix for a trip overseas explained, “I wanted something easy enough for a novice to use and something that would not be too cumbersome or fragile. This met all my needs and took amazing pictures.”



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