How we pick our products
Welcome to our big compact camera test 2023. Here we present all the compact cameras we have tested in detail. We have compiled detailed background information and added a summary of customer reviews on the web.
We would like to make your purchase decision easier and help you find the best compact camera for you.
You will also find answers to frequently asked questions in our guide. If available, we also offer interesting test videos. Furthermore, you will also find some important information on this page that you should pay attention to if you want to buy a compact camera.
- 1 Summary
- 2 The Best Compact Camera: Our Picks
- 3 Guide: Questions you should ask yourself before buying a compact camera
- 4 Decision: What types of compact cameras are there and which one is right for you?
- 4.1 What distinguishes an entry-level compact camera and what are its advantages and disadvantages?
- 4.2 What are the features of a compact camera for event photography and what are its advantages and disadvantages?
- 4.3 What are the features of a compact digital camera for sports photography and what are its advantages and disadvantages?
- 4.4 What are the features of a compact camera for photography and filming and what are its advantages and disadvantages?
- 4.5 What are the features of a compact travel camera and what are its advantages and disadvantages?
- 5 Buying criteria: Compare and rate compact digital cameras based on these factors
- Compact cameras are ideal for capturing the most important moments and events of the day in a photo. Thanks to their compact size, they fit into any jacket pocket and can always be taken along.
- There’s a compact camera for every type of photographer – whether you’re a beginner, globetrotter, event or sports photographer. There are even models that are very suitable for filming.
- Entry-level cameras are usually very simple and inexpensive. If you know a little about photography and need certain features, you’ll find that too in various compact cameras.
The Best Compact Camera: Our Picks
Guide: Questions you should ask yourself before buying a compact camera
What is a compact camera?
Since they only have a modest selection of functions and these are usually preset, they are particularly suitable as entry-level cameras. They are practical to carry around the neck with a suitable strap.
However, if you prefer manual settings and don’t want to settle for the pre-programmed ones for night shots, portraits or sports photography, compact cameras may not be the right choice for you.
What are the advantages of a compact camera compared to a smartphone, an SLR or a system camera? What are the differences?
As compact cameras have to compete more and more with smartphones, they also have increasingly better equipment. They are very easy to use and have a fixed lens, so you can start shooting right away.
System cameras, in comparison, have larger image sensors and interchangeable lenses. Because they have similar features to SLRs and are cheaper, lighter and easier to handle, they are a strong competitor to SLRs.
However, the shutter lag is longer, the focus slower and it is a mirrorless camera. SLR cameras also consist of two components, i.e. a camera body and interchangeable lenses. Compared to a compact camera, the image sensor is larger and the image quality is therefore better. In addition, SLR cameras have a viewfinder, which makes photography easier and allows a different view of the subjects.
For the two competitors of the compact camera, you have to dig much deeper into your pocket. Since with system cameras and SLR cameras all settings usually have to be made manually, you may quickly feel overwhelmed. In order to use these cameras properly, you have to get to grips with photography more intensively.
What is important in a compact camera? What should I look for when buying a camera?
Regarding the number of pixels, you should know that more megapixels are not automatically better. If there are too many pixels on the camera’s chip, image noise can occur very quickly and the image quality is consequently poor.
So make sure that the camera has good noise reduction, then the megapixel values can also be correspondingly higher. If the camera has no noise reduction, the megapixel number should be around 7.
Another important point is the ISO sensitivity. In order to take good photos even in low light conditions, you need a high ISO setting. Here, too, the amplification of the light can result in a noisy image – but better noisy than underexposed and blurred.
Many compact cameras also have a built-in image stabiliser to prevent blurred images. This stabilisation should be physical and not digital. Because the image quality suffers under a digital image stabiliser.
Otherwise, you can decide which compact camera you want to buy based on the different features. For example, if you want to see as many details as possible on the camera’s display, a large display is obviously better. This also makes it easier to judge how the photo will look in the end.
It’s best to research what compact cameras are available and what features they have so that you can buy the right camera.
Decision: What types of compact cameras are there and which one is right for you?
There are many different models that vary in size, price and numerous extras. With such a large number, it is difficult to keep track.
Therefore, it is advisable to think about what you actually want to photograph beforehand. If you know what you’re going to use the camera for, it’s much easier to find the perfect model.
One of these types could be the right one for you:
- Entry-level camera
- Compact camera for event photography
- Compact camera for sports photography
- Compact camera for photography and filming
- Compact travel camera
Take a closer look at the five categories to learn about their individual advantages, disadvantages and extras, and then decide which camera is right for you.
What distinguishes an entry-level compact camera and what are its advantages and disadvantages?
Easy to use, no superfluous extras and inexpensive – entry-level cameras are primarily intended for photography novices who are not particularly familiar with the technical details.
The automatic mode automatically optimises the camera settings as needed and you can start shooting right away. A zoom lens is certainly suitable for you as a beginner because you can use it to take landscape shots as well as portraits.
There are also models that include face recognition. This automatically focuses on the face. Another useful feature is the camera’s automatic shutter release when it detects a smile – taking photos has never been so easy.
In general, you will be interested in those models that make photography easier for you with various functions, so that you can get used to taking photos as a newcomer.
What are the features of a compact camera for event photography and what are its advantages and disadvantages?
Compact cameras with flash, zoom and a good battery are very suitable for getting started in event photography. To be able to take good photos at events even in low light, your camera should also have a flash shoe.
This allows you to easily take photos with a flash if necessary. If you want to do without a flash as much as possible, a fast lens can be an advantage.
To be able to edit your photos afterwards, the camera should be able to save photos in RAW format. This file format gives you a lot of leeway in post-processing. To ensure that you can take photos until the end of the event, we recommend that you make sure you have a good battery.
What are the features of a compact digital camera for sports photography and what are its advantages and disadvantages?
A compact digital camera that excels in continuous shooting is suitable for sports photography. However, to avoid blurred pictures when the shutter is released quickly, make sure you have a good image stabiliser. A fast autofocus, which focuses on one point at flash speed, also guarantees a snapshot.
Another important aspect is that when taking photos near water, you should make sure that your compact camera is splash-proof or even completely waterproof for safety’s sake.
What are the features of a compact camera for photography and filming and what are its advantages and disadvantages?
Are you looking for a compact camera that not only takes beautiful photos but also makes great videos? Then you should make sure that the camera has a microphone connection.
A microphone improves the sound quality in the video considerably. It is also helpful if there is a selection of good tripods for your compact camera so that your films are not blurred. A good battery that allows you to shoot long film sequences should also be part of the camera.
What are the features of a compact travel camera and what are its advantages and disadvantages?
Travel cameras should be particularly robust so that they survive your adventures undamaged.
Special seals are helpful, for example, so that the compact camera is dustproof and/or waterproof. There are even special models that can easily withstand double-digit sub-zero temperatures – Siberia and Antarctica ahoy! It is also an advantage if your future camera is light and handy so that it fits easily into your luggage.
With the GPS function, the camera can also save the location where your photos were taken. If it also has a long-lasting battery and, in the best case, a Bluetooth or WiFi function (so you can send the best snapshots directly to your smartphone and share them on Instagram and Facebook), you have found your perfect travel buddy.
Buying criteria: Compare and rate compact digital cameras based on these factors
Since there are so many compact cameras to choose from, we’ve put together a list of buying criteria for you. With the help of these points, you can compare different offers and find the best deal for you.
All in all, we present the following criteria:
- Size and weight
- Technical specifications
- Extra features and functions
- Price-performance ratio
- Scope of delivery
The following sections each refer to one of the points and explain the respective comparison criteria.
Size and weight
These are probably the two most important points when buying a compact camera: how much does the camera weigh and how big is it? Roughly speaking, a compact camera should fit in your jacket pocket.
At least, that’s what the handy compact cameras are advertised as. If you look at your favourite models in the shop, you can easily find out whether the camera size is right for you. Of course, there are also particularly small models.
As far as weight is concerned, most compact cameras are between 150 g-300 g light. Again, it’s probably best to hold the camera in your hand and see if it’s too heavy for you.
In terms of design, compact cameras are for the most part very simple, but still look good. Basically, compact cameras are very modern in terms of design.
Some models come in different colours, so you can choose your favourite colour. However, there may be price differences depending on the colour.
If you are not familiar with the technical specifications of a camera, it is difficult to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of different models. Therefore, we summarise the most important aspects here. Keep in mind, however, that the technical specifications alone do not determine the quality of a compact camera!
Since many newcomers to photography only look at the number of megapixels when buying a camera for the first time, digital cameras are in a real pixel race. Yet 5 megapixels alone are enough to print a photo. A good number of pixels for hobby photographers is therefore 7. With more megapixels, you should definitely pay attention to noise suppression, otherwise the image quality will suffer.
Depending on the different qualities and functions, the price can vary.
Your compact digital camera should have at least 3x optical zoom. However, most good compact cameras now offer a better zoom. Some inexpensive models have only a few zoom levels that are also fixed.
This means that you can no longer freely select the image section, but can only choose one of the individual zoom levels. Conclusion: The more zoom levels the better, and the best are even freely selectable ones. In our product selection we present, among other things, a travel zoom camera with 30x zoom.
To ensure that you can take sharp photos even with longer exposure times and long focal lengths, make sure that your compact camera has a mechanical or optical image stabiliser.
The size of the display is a crucial factor. For you to see enough on it, it should be at least 2.5 inches, but preferably 3 inches. Smaller displays only make it difficult for you to frame the picture you want to take and to judge the photo you have taken afterwards.
The ISO value controls the light sensitivity. However, the higher the ISO value, the more image noise. Normally, you will find ISO values between 100 and 3200 in digital cameras. However, more than ISO 800 is usually not recommended when taking photos with compact cameras, as otherwise the image quality suffers.
Here is a brief summary of the technical aspects:
|Megapixels||approx. 7 megapixels, if more, pay attention to noise reduction|
|Optical zoom||min. 3x, the more zoom levels the better|
|Image stabiliser||mechanical or optical|
It is important that the digital camera has the connections that are relevant to you so that you can connect it to your PC and TV without any problems.
Nowadays, all digital cameras usually have at least one USB 2.0 port, and some are even equipped with USB 3.0 or RJ45 ports. However, these are not absolutely necessary. To be able to show your videos and photos on the TV, your camera should definitely have an HDMI connection.
If you film a lot, a microphone connection and, if necessary, a headphone output would also be an advantage, so that you can control the sound better.
To make sure you get the perfect shot when you’re in a shooting frenzy, your compact camera often needs to be fast. Switching on, focusing, shutter release, continuous shooting – if the camera takes too long here, you may miss the right moment for a photo.
The switch-on time – i.e. from the moment the camera is switched on until it is finally ready – should at best take 1-2 seconds. Especially for sports photography or when travelling, a quick release of the camera is required. However, since with zoom cameras the zoom usually has to be extended first, a little more time is needed here.
To keep the shutter release delay as short as possible, you can pre-focus the subject. To do this, press the shutter release button only halfway. In general, a shutter release delay of 0.3 – 0.5 seconds is ideal.
Did you know that the largest camera collection contains around 4,424 cameras?
The owner of this all-encompassing collection – which also includes cameras with historical significance – is Dilish Parekh from India.
Extra features and functions
Many compact digital cameras are equipped with great and interesting extras. Full HD video, GPS, slow-motion videos, Wifi or NFC – the manufacturers know what to entice their customers with. But keep in mind that the price usually rises with the features.
Here it helps to think about which extras you really need and which are actually superfluous for you. For example, if you don’t necessarily want to shoot videos with your camera, you probably don’t need Full HD resolution and can instead focus on more important points for you.
Depending on where and what you want to shoot, your camera will need different extras. If you’re a beginner and don’t care much about special features, or if your budget is relatively limited, you can often save money by foregoing extra features.
You don’t want to miss out on small features like a tilting display, touchscreen or WiFi? Then your compact camera will certainly be a little more expensive, but these features can give you extra support when taking photos.
Think carefully about whether you really need additional accessories. If you know in advance what you really want, you can save a lot of money.
Some, but not all, manufacturers include a camera strap that allows you to wear the camera around your neck.
Of course, price plays an important role when buying a digital compact camera. Depending on your budget, your choice will be more or less narrowed down. But before you just look at the price, you should consider what the camera offers you for the price.
The more extras and bells and whistles a compact camera has, the more expensive it is. So if you have a limited budget, you should first put a lot of emphasis on the technical aspects. These will ultimately determine how good the quality of your photos will be.
Wifi and GPS are of no use if your camera doesn’t have noise reduction and the image quality suffers as a result. It is therefore important to set priorities and assess what the camera offers you and whether the price is justified.
Scope of delivery
If you have chosen a compact camera, you should check what is included in the package. This way you know what else you need to buy so that you can start shooting as soon as possible.
Usually, a USB cable, a video cable and software for data transfer are included in the package. A rechargeable battery will also be included, but in most cases you will need to buy the charger as well. Memory cards are rarely included and if they are, they are often very small. It is more worthwhile to buy a larger memory card.
The complete package usually includes a shoulder strap. You can use it to hang the camera around your neck so that it can’t fall out of your hand while you’re taking pictures. If you want an additional bag or protective cover, you have to buy it as well.
Image source: Dennis Klein / unsplash.com