We regularly tests the latest compact cameras. You will find all of the top products that have been tested in these leader-boards
- Our 1st place: Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 VI compact camera
- Our 2nd place: Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 VII compact camera
- Our 3rd place: Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX0
- Best list: digital compact cameras comparison
- Compact cameras testing: important criteria
- Compare Compact Cameras: Important Questions Before Buying
- The best compact cameras in comparison
Our 1st place: Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 VI compact camera
Bargain hunters are wrong with the Sony Cybershot RX100 VI. Anyone who can cope with the hefty price tag gets a top camera in mini format with enormous speed and great image quality for photos and videos – even in low light. A tribute to the tiny housing: few connections and a somewhat smaller viewfinder.
Our 2nd place: Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 VII compact camera
Mini camera, maxi price: the Sony Cyber-shot RX100 VII is one of the most expensive compact cameras. But also with the best cameras that can be found in (almost) every jacket or trouser pocket: The RX100 VII reacts at lightning speed and delivers photos and videos in great quality, even in low light. The most important improvement over its predecessor is the revised autofocus, which works even more precisely and offers many additional functions, such as eye recognition for people and animals.
Our 3rd place: Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX0
For photographers, the RX0 offers many functions that are difficult to use due to its small size, so that the automatic functions are used again. The RX0 thus delivers decent photos; Conventional digital cameras in this price range are better on average – the RX0 is more of a video camera in the end. Its comparatively large sensor also enables recordings with deliberate blurring – this also makes the tiny Sony more of a tool for video professionals who have exact image ideas and are looking for an extremely compact camera. So the RX0 is an action cam, just a very special one.
Best list: digital compact cameras comparison
Small, powerful and easy to use: compact cameras position themselves between smartphones and reflex cameras as daily companions for ambitious amateur photographers. But professionals also get their money’s worth with full-frame and compact cameras with interchangeable lenses in this segment. A good digital compact camera impresses with its handy size, good image quality and extensive but easy-to-understand functions. As a rule, these are cameras with a permanently installed lens and a viewfinder through which the subject is viewed. The cameras, which are at the very top of the list of the best, also have various image programs and clearly arranged control elements. When taking pictures with a digital compact camera, the focus should be on having fun with beautiful subjects, regardless of the technical know-how of the photographer. The price of the small cameras starts at around 50 euros, but depending on the equipment, a compact camera can cost several hundred euros.
Compact cameras testing: important criteria
The most obvious criterion when comparing compact cameras is the actual size – ideally it even fits in your trouser or jacket pocket. Most digital cameras are viewfinder cameras, which means that the subject is captured next to the lens via a viewfinder window or an (optical) viewfinder. In addition, with some models, the image is transmitted to a display. Here, for example, a section can be selected and additional settings can be made. Other important factors when comparing compact cameras are:
- Sensor : The size of the sensor determines the maximum image quality of a compact camera. A small sensor is particularly noticeable in poor lighting conditions, i.e. when taking pictures indoors or at dusk. If you are looking for a powerful camera, you should use a device with a large sensor. ? A typical size is the 1-inch sensor, which is mainly built into inexpensive compact cameras. Anyone looking for a professional device will find a high-end solution with full-frame sensors. These premium compact cameras also deliver images in RAW format, for example. A middle ground is the APS-C format or 4/3 inch sensors.
- Resolution : The maximum resolution of the images is calculated based on the sensor size. Inexpensive compact cameras already come with a resolution of over 20 million megapixels. However, a high number of megapixels does not make the test winner, as the resolution alone is not very meaningful. A small sensor can have a higher number of pixels than a large sensor if the latter displays each pixel significantly larger than the small image sensor. When comparing compact cameras, always put the resolution in relation to the sensor.
- lens: In order to save space, the lens of a compact camera is always permanently installed. However, some manufacturers have specialized in also offering compact cameras with interchangeable lenses – this gives professionals in particular a greater scope. ? When comparing lenses, pay attention to the focal length and aperture values. Put simply, the focal length describes the maximum zoom of a digital camera – the decisive factor here is the millimeter specification directly on the lens. The aperture describes the adjustable opening of the lens through which light hits the sensor. The larger the aperture, the better pictures will be, even in poor lighting conditions. Important: The smaller the number given under aperture, the more luminous the camera is. In the case of compact cameras, the aperture can usually not be controlled manually.
- Flash : In most digital cameras, the flash is built into the housing to save space – either directly in the device or the flash folds out at the push of a button. In order to save the battery of the device, however, the power of the integrated flash is limited. For maximum effect, some manufacturers allow professional compact cameras to be connected to an external flash unit via a flash base.
- Memory : Due to the small size of a compact camera, the internal memory of the devices is limited. The standard for external storage media are SD or microSD cards, which store up to 32 GB – so there is also space for high-resolution images in RAW format on the compact camera.
- Rechargeable battery : Hardly any compact camera is still powered by batteries today; lithium-ion batteries in various sizes have established themselves. The storage capacity is given in milliampere hours (mAh).
- Interfaces : In order to transfer the images from the camera to a PC or another device, the SD card can simply be inserted into an extra card reader. Transmission via USB or HDMI connection is much more convenient. It also works wirelessly via WLAN – the images can also be transferred directly to cloud storage and several people can access them immediately.
- Design : The design of the digital cameras is also compared in test reports. In addition to the material and workmanship, the arrangement of the display and the various operating elements are also decisive. The focus is on processing, especially with so-called outdoor cameras. The device should be waterproof and, if necessary, be protected against bumps and falls by an additional rubber coating. Due to the additional material, outdoor compact cameras are often slightly larger than the conventional models. The size of the display is decisive: If the display is too small, it becomes difficult to view the images taken directly via the camera and to make individual settings.
- Functions and programs : Depending on whether it is a device for everyday use or a versatile high-end compact camera, different functions and programs are available:
- Motif programs for automatic picture optimization
- Manual adjustment of the ISO value, i.e. the light sensitivity of the sensor
- Manual exposure correction, for example by gradually adjusting the aperture, exposure time or ISO value
- White balance, i.e. adjustment of the “color temperature”
- Self-timer and continuous shooting
- Image stabilizer
- face recognition
- GPS & Geotagging
- Video recordings
- Other display functions, for example showing a grid
Compare Compact Cameras: Important Questions Before Buying
The areas of application are as diverse as the equipment and functions of compact cameras. Find out in advance from test reports what what digital camera can do and use the leaderboard to decide on the cheapest camera that meets all your requirements. Before you buy, the following questions can also help you decide on a compact camera:
What do I want to photograph?? Outside or inside, landscapes or people: depending on the lighting conditions, whether a subject is moving or not and how large the distance is between you and the object to be photographed, other factors are important. ? Landscape and object photography, for example, require a large sensor with a shallow depth of field, portraits are best photographed with a high depth of field – so a small sensor is sufficient here. If you want to take pictures of subjects over long distances, you need a camera with a strong zoom, which is ideally linked to an image stabilizer. For indoor shots and photography at twilight, a powerful compact camera with the largest possible aperture is necessary. For outdoor and sports photography, good autofocus, fast shutter speeds and a low shutter release delay are important.
How much do I want to be able to influence my recordings manually?One advantage of inexpensive compact cameras is that there are preset image programs for almost every situation in which the exposure time and other technical subtleties are carried out automatically by the camera. What is a blessing to an amateur photographer can be a bane to a professional. With the more expensive high-end cameras in particular, however, many settings can be made manually directly on the camera. Cameras with interchangeable lenses increase flexibility and also belong to the premium segment.
Under what conditions do I want to take photos?Do I only use the camera at family celebrations or get-togethers with friends, or is it also used for sports, holidays in the mountains and on the beach? These questions not only focus on the final size of the compact camera, but also on the processing. On the beach, the housing should be at least splash-proof, but even better waterproof. For outdoor use in the mountains, an additional rubber coating protects against damage from falls and bumps. An additional GPS function also ensures that you will know which mountain a picture was taken on even after your vacation.
How often do I want to use the camera?The battery capacity of any inexpensive compact camera is usually sufficient for a family celebration. If you want to take a lot of pictures over several days or even weeks and want to charge or change the battery as rarely as possible, the capacity and charging time are important factors. The cost of a second battery is also crucial.
What do I want to do with the recordings?
If you only want to take snapshots for the family album or only want to view the pictures on the computer or tablet, a compact camera with a comparatively low resolution is sufficient. For professionals who want to have their pictures developed in large format, full-format cameras are interesting, or at least models with which you can take pictures in RAW format.