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Best point and shoot compact camera

If you're shopping for a point and shoot compact camera, you've come to the right place! At my sister-site Camera Labs I write in-depth reviews of cameras but understand you're busy people who sometimes just want recommendations of the most outstanding products.

So here I'll cut to the chase and list the best point and shoot compact cameras around right now, with links to my reviews.

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Gordon's favourite compact camera right now: Sony Cyber-shot RX100 III

Sony RX100 III review


The market for compacts aimed at enthusiasts is one of the fastest-growing right now and there's loads of great options. Canon's S120 and Panasonic's Lumix LF1 lead the field at the pocket-end, while at the chunkier-end are models like the Canon G1 X II, Lumix LX100 and Fujifilm X100T. But for me the best models in this category sit in the middle, just thick enough to accommodate a larger sensor for better quality, but remaining thin enough to squeeze into most pockets. My personal pick is the Sony Cyber-shot RX100 III, although the Canon G7X is equally good in different ways. I appreciate these are not cheap cameras, so if you're looking for something more affordable, scroll down for other great options.

Sony's RX100 III is the latest in its enormously popular 'compact-with-a-big-sensor' series. Like the earlier models, the RX100 III is equipped with a 20 Megapixel 1in sensor that has about four times the area of a typical phone or point-and-shoot camera, allowing it to deliver lower noise and greater tonal range. The lens on the new model is 24-70mm f1.8-2.8 compared to 28-100mm f1.8-4.9 on the Mark II. So while the latest Mark III can't zoom as far, it can go wider, and crucially stays much brighter at the long-end, making it better in low light and for delivering a shallower depth of field. The other big difference is Sony's managed to squeeze a popup electronic viewfinder, that's surprisingly good. There's also a built-in ND filter, higher bit rates for 1080p, slow motion 720p, a screen which can angle round to face the subject for selfies, and support for downloadable apps. The RX100 III may now have more competition than ever from the likes of Canon and Panasonic, but it remains one of the best compacts around. If you don't need the viewfinder, consider the earlier RX100 II or Canon G7X below.

Pros: Big 1in sensor in a pocket body. EVF, bright lens, Wifi, tilting screen, XAVCS.
Cons: No touch-screen. Lens range not as long as Canon G7X.
Overall: One of the most compelling compacts for enthusiasts just got even better.

Highly Recommended Alternatives

Panasonic TZ60 / ZS40 review


The Lumix TZ60, or ZS40 as it's known in North America, is the latest version of Panasonic's eternally popular travel zoom series. Like Canon and Sony, the latest Lumix sports a long 30x zoom range, equivalent to 24-720mm, but unlike its rivals, Panasonic has amazingly managed to squeeze an electronic viewfinder into the corner. The view may be small and relatively low resolution, but it offers a useful alternative to composing with the screen in bright light or when you need maximum stability at the long zoom. The TZ60 / ZS40 also aims for a more demanding photographer with RAW, focus peaking and a customizable lens control ring, and there's also built-in Wifi, NFC and GPS. It may be larger than the earlier TZ40 / ZS30 and lack its touchscreen and built-in map, but the TZ60 / ZS40 takes a refreshing step-up to satisfy enthusiasts who want a pocketable super-zoom.

Pros: 30x zoom, viewfinder, Wifi, GPS, RAW files.
Cons: Chunkier than its predecessors and loses their touchscreens too.
Overall: A good choice if you want a 30x pocket superzoom with high-end features.

Canon SX700 HS review


At the top of Canon's 2014 compact super-zoom line-up, the PowerShot SX700 HS provides a big 30x zoom range in a compact body. Different people want different things from a travel zoom and the competition in this market segment is intense. Canon's approach is simple - provide the longest zoom in the most compact possible body at a price that undercuts the competition. Of course there are less expensive second tier models available from Sony and Panasonic, not to mention Canon itself, but Sony's HX50 lacks GPS and often costs more, and although the Lumix TZ55 / ZS35 is cheaper, it 'only' has a 20x zoom. Sure, there are things you wish the SX700 HS could do better; a panorama mode wouldn't go amiss, battery life is below par, remote shooting via Wifi is quite basic and it's time Canon updated its slow motion video offerings. But none of this got in the way of my enjoyment of the SX700 HS nor prevented me getting some great shots.

Pros: 30x stabilised zoom; 1080p video; Wifi with NFC; best quality of peer group.
Cons: No auto panoramas, no touchscreen, basic remote control via Wifi.
Overall: Out-featured by the Lumix TZ60 / ZS40, but better quality & cheaper.

Canon G7X review


The PowerShot G7X is Canon's answer to Sony's RX100 series. Canon's taken the same 20 Megapixel 1in sensor (delivering a big upgrade in image quality over typical phones or compacts) and squeezed it into essentially the same sized body. The big difference here though is Canon has equipped the G7X with a 24-100mm f1.8-2.8 zoom, giving it longer reach than the RX100 III without losing the f2.8 aperture - this is great for portraits and macro shots. Canon's also fitted a screen that can angle forward to face the subject and unlike Sony, it's touch-sensitive too, allowing you to tap to reposition the AF area or pull-focus while filming. The AF system is faster for stills and more confident for movies, and it's cheaper than the RX100 III. If you don't need the viewfinder of the Sony, it's a great alternative!

: Big sensor in compact body; bright zoom; great AF; Wifi; touch-screen.
Cons: No viewfinder, nor means to mount one. Screen tilts uo but not down.
Overall: A highly compelling rival for the Sony RX100 series.

Canon SX60 HS review


Canon's PowerShot SX60 HS is the company's latest DSLR-styled super-zoom camera. Successor to the massively popular SX50 HS, the new model extends the optical range from 50x to a whopping 65x, making it the joint longest in the World (at the time of writing). The SX60 HS takes you from 21 to 1365mm, or extreme wide angle to extreme telephoto, covering every eventuality. It also includes 1080 / 60p video, manual control, support for RAW, high resolution viewfinder and screen, mic input, Wifi with NFC, and a particularly neat Zoom Assist feature that automatically adjusts the lens zoom to always keep someone in the frame if they move too close, too far, or off the side. It's not the cheapest super-zoom around, but it is the best-featured of the small sensor / big range models.

Pros: 65x zoom; articulated screen; flash hotshoe; 1080p; RAW; mic input; Wifi.
Cons: No eye sensor for EVF; no slow motion HD video; no touch-screen.
Overall: Canon's best-seller gets upgraded with a longer zoom, Wifi and more!

Canon S120 review


Canon's PowerShot S120 is a pocket-sized camera aimed at enthusiasts. Like previous S-series models, it packs a bright zoom lens, support for RAW and high degree of manual control into a very small body. The PowerShot S120 shares the same 12 Megapixel resolution and 5x 24-120mm equivalent zoom range as its predecessor, but the lens is now a tad brighter with a focal ratio of f1.8-5.7. The touch-screen remains 3in, but it's now higher resolution and you can tap to pull-focus while filming. The built-in Wifi is now easier to setup, there's focus peaking assistance for manual focusing, 1080p video at 60p, enhanced HDR modes and a trio of new astro-photography presets. The big new feature this time though is quicker performance with faster AF, shorter shutter lag and best of all significantly improved continuous shooting. After years of selling compacts with poor burst shooting, the S120 can now fire-off five frame at over 12fps and then continues at 9.4fps pretty much until you run out of memory. There may be tough competition from Sony's RX100 series, but the S120's quality comes close at lower ISOs and it remains cheaper and more pocketable.

: Very compact body; manual control; RAW; 1080p video; Wifi; touch-screen.
Cons: Lens aperture slows down at telephoto end. Needs smartphone for GPS.
Overall: One the best choices if you want a very small camera with manual & RAW.

Sony HX50V / HX60V review


The Sony Cyber-shot HX50V was the first pocket camera to feature a 30x optical zoom range, boasting a 24-720mm equivalent range. It also features a 20 Megapixel CMOS sensor, 3in screen, full manual control (if desired), 1080p movies, 10fps continuous shooting, built-in Wifi and GPS (on the V version), and a hotshoe for accessories including an EVF, flash or external microphone. This makes it one of the most feature-packed pocket super-zooms to date, but there's a few downsides to be aware of including a screen that's hard to see in bright conditions, basic Wifi compared to models like Panasonic's TZ40 / ZS30, and strangely the miniature effect can't be applied to movies. I'd recommend comparing very closely with the Lumix TZ60 / ZS40 and Canon's SX700 HS, which is exactly what I've done in my SX700 HS review. But there's no denying the draw of a 30x zoom in a pocketable body.

Pros: 30x zoom in pocket body; Wifi and GPS in V version; 10fps shooting.
Cons: Screen hard to see in sunlight; basic Wifi features; no miniature effect for video.
Overall: Ideal if you want a big zoom in a small body.

Canon ELPH 340 HS / IXUS 265 HS review


Canon's ELPH 340 HS / IXUS 265 HS is a classy point-and-shoot camera with a 12x optically stabilized zoom, 3in screen, and Wifi with NFC that lets you transfer images wirelessly. It features a 16 Megapixel CMOS sensor rather than a CCD for better quality in low light. The ELPH 340 / IXUS 265 can also capture Full HD 1080p, offers cunning wink, smile and face self-timers and a wealth of creative effects, albeit still not a panorama mode. It's an excellent choice for those looking for a versatile and classy point-and-shoot compact with good image quality and a capable zoom range without breaking the bank. If you're looking for a true budget model in double-digits though, go for the PowerShot A2500 below.

Pros: 12x stabilized zoom; Wifi; quality 16 Megapixel sensor; 1080p video.
Cons: Close to the price of some pocket superzooms with longer ranges.
Overall: A desriable point-and-shoot compact for the money.

Canon PowerShot A2500 review


Canon's PowerShot A2500 is one of the lowest-priced point-and-shoot cameras that's worth having. Despite a double-digit price tag it packs a good quality 5x zoom, 16 Megapixel sensor, 720p video and 3in screen into a surprisingly classy-looking body. Revealingly the same sensor is employed by many models higher in Canon's compact range, meaning the A2500 shares their image quality until you get to the noticeably pricier HS models. So while the lens isn't optically stabilized and the video is 720p rather than 1080p, the A2500 represents a good solid budget camera which shares key aspects of pricier models. If this is how much money you have to spend, then I'd strongly recommend the A2500. No wonder it's become one of the best selling budget cameras around.

Pros: 5x zoom; 16 Megapixel sensor; 720p video; low price.
Cons: Disappointing quality in low light; no Wifi; lengthy shooting menu.
Overall: If you have a double-digit budget, this is the best camera for your money.

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