Looking for a portable and small compact digital camera? We’ve used many and looked at hundreds of different options to come up with this best compact cameras of 2018 list.
Sure- cell phone cameras have gotten better, and will continue to get better, but even the least expensive compact cameras offer significant value over your Apple iPhone or Samsung Galaxy smart phone camera in the following ways:
- Zoom. Compact digital cameras have optical zooms that range from 3x to 30x. Your cell phone likely has little or no optical zoom. This means that when you zoom in on your phone, it’s “digital zoom”, which creates an image that’s low quality and pixelated. Taking pictures at longer distances than 20 or 30 feet where you want detail is where you see a HUGE difference between your smart phone and a digital camera.
- Low Light capability. Ever used your smartphone to take a picture when it’s dark out? How’d the picture turn out? Pretty crummy? We though so. The best compact cameras in our list have the ability to take good pictures in low light condition like early mornings or late nights. They also have optimized flashes, so when you take a picture, the flash affects will be more natural and lifelike.
- Manual options. Stand alone compact digital cameras offer quite a bit of manual options within their menu. Want to take burst shots? it’ll do that. Want your camera to automatically adjust settings based upon the “scene” conditions? Most will do that too. All digital cameras offer a wide variety of manual capability, whereas your smart phone camera generally uses post editing to alter the image once it’s already been taken.
- Battery. Ever notice when you use your cell phone camera, it kills your battery life, and then you’re stuck with a dead phone? Using a separate device specifically for pictures will ensure that that doesn’t happen. Also, digital camera battery life normally runs from 200-500 shots per charge depending upon the model.
There are some key advantages to compact point and shoot cameras over larger and bulkier options like DSLR’s or Mirrorless cameras:
- Cost. Compact digital cameras generally run from $99-$299. An inexpensive DSLR will start at around $400.
- Size. Compact cameras are small enough to be easily portable and stowable.
- Ease of use. Our picks below have very friendly menu’s and settings, and are also comfortable in your hand.
The ELPH 190 is the latest by Canon in a long line of excellent compact cameras with better than average optical zoom capability of 10x. Image quality is great as a result of the 20MP CCD sensor. We also like the various IS (Image stabilization) modes that enable the picture taker to make sure pictures turn out clear and not blurry. As of production colors available are black, red, and blue.
The Canon Powershot SX720 camera is really impressive. In a very competitive niche category of premium compact cameras, this pick isn’t the most expensive (Sony’s RX100 V is $1,000), but it does provide excellent value. Too start, it’s comfortable in the hand with it’s slightly extended hand grip. Optical zoom of 40x is revolutionary for this size of camera. This camera also excels in low light situations because of it’s excellent image processor. Excellent travel camera when you don’t want to lug a larger camera around, but still want superb image quality.
The smallest of our best of list, this diminutive camera is a great value at under $80. It’s one of the few cameras still produced that offer AA batteries for power, making it quite convenient whenever you need more juice. We liked it’s face detection software built in that did a good job of making sure people’s faces turned out sharp and clear. Image quality is good with a 16mp sensor, and it does also take 720p video. Available in black or red, there are also bundles available on Amazon that include an SD memory card if you need one.