The best compact camera for 2024: top pocket choices to take anywhere

PRICE
VERDICT
REASONS TO BUY
REASONS TO AVOID
VERDICT
REASONS TO BUY
REASONS TO AVOID

Whether you’re upgrading from a smartphone or looking for a capable backup camera, the best compact cameras pack versatile shooting skills into pocket-friendly bodies. We’ve comprehensively tested a range of the top options and created this ranked list to point you in the right direction. Our selection covers everything from superzoom travel cameras to the best fixed-lens premium compacts and some of the best vlogging cameras.

We think the best compact camera for most people right now is the Fujifilm X100V. On paper, its fixed 23mm lens makes it a niche proposition. Yet the oft sold-out Tiktok sensation also offers a catalogue of premium features, including a tilting touchscreen, hybrid viewfinder and rapid autofocus. Its polished retro design is the definition of stylish, too.

If your budget doesn’t stretch that far – or you want a camera with a large optical zoom range – we also highly recommend the Panasonic Lumix ZS100 / TZ100, one of our favorite travel cameras. It pairs 10x optical zoom with a decent 1-inch sensor to produce rich, detailed images. It also benefits from an accessible touchscreen interface and an electronic viewfinder.

Our guide below targets take-anywhere cameras that offer something more than any smartphone – whether that’s thanks to their handling, viewfinder, zoom, sensor, or a combination of all four. If you’re not sure where to start, you’ll find expert buying advice at the bottom of the page, while links beneath each entry take you straight to the best deals available right now.

Written by
Tim Coleman
Written by
Timothy Coleman

Tim is TechRadar's Cameras editor, with over 15 years in the photo video industry and most of those in the world of tech journalism, Tim has developed a deeply technical knowledge and practical experience with all things camera related. He notes, "a number of the compact cameras in this list cost as much if not more than the latest flagship smartphones, but as dedicated tools with superior handling, you shouldn't write them off."

The quick list

Want to get straight to the best compact camera for your needs? Use our quick round-up below to immediately find a compact camera that suits you – and you can read more about it by jumping to our full write-ups and explanations using the links.

The best compact cameras in 2024

Why you can trust TechRadar We spend hours testing every product or service we review, so you can be sure you’re buying the best. Find out more about how we test.

Below you'll find full write-ups for each of the best compact cameras in our list. We've tested each one extensively, so you can be sure that our recommendations can be trusted.

The best compact camera for most people

Fujifilm X100V

(Image credit: Future)
The best compact camera for most enthusiasts

Specifications

Sensor: 26.1MP X-Trans CMOS
Lens: 23mm, f/2
Monitor: 3.0-inch tilt-angle touchscreen, 1.62m dots
Viewfinder: EVF
Continuous shooting: 11fps (mechanical), 30fps (electronic)
Movies: 4K
User level: Intermediate

Reasons to buy

+
Tilting touchscreen
+
Improved sensor and autofocus
+
4K

Reasons to avoid

-
Needs filter for full weather sealing
-
Fixed focal length
Buy it if:

✅ You want a stylish snapper: From its body design to its exposure dials, the X100V is packed with retro appeal.

✅ You want a unique shooting experience: If you haven't used the X100V's hybrid viewfinder, try it and thank us later.

Don't buy it if:

You want to buy it new: The X100V has proved the most popular compact camera in 2023 and is sold out everywhere.

❌ You want flexibility: As a fixed lens compact, you can't zoom in out or out for a different field of view from its 35mm focal length.

The Fujifilm X100V takes what was already a special camera and fixes all of its weaknesses, making it the perfect compact for the smartphone age. The concept is the same as before: a stylish, pocketable design, large APS-C sensor, unique hybrid viewfinder and fixed 23mm f/2 lens. But all have been enhanced on the X100V, which also brings a new tilting screen and boosted autofocus performance.

Our testing found image quality to be much improved, partly thanks to a redesigned lens, and the low-light performance to be better. One of our main complaints with the X100F was that its photos tended to be soft at f/2. Not so much with X100V, as we found it to offer great sharpness in the centre, even at the widest apertures. Then there’s the higher resolution hybrid viewfinder – both optical and electronic – as well as support for 4K/30p video capture.  

Sure, you need to add a filter for full weather-proofing and the cost will be prohibitive for some. But, the X100V puts an impressive range of features into a polished, premium body, with throwback style that sets it apart from the crowd – yet still fits perfectly in your pocket. 

If you do come across a Fujifilm X100V in the shops, it could be worth snapping it up because this Tiktok trend is on backorder in most retailers. 

Read our in-depth Fujifilm X100V review

The best value compact camera

Panasonic Lumix ZS100 / TZ100

(Image credit: Panasonic)
The best value premium travel compact

Specifications

Sensor: 20.1MP 1-inch
Lens: 25-250mm (10x optical zoom)
Monitor: 3.0-inch rear LCD
Viewfinder: EVF (0.2-inch, 1166k-dot)
Continuous shooting: 10fps
Movies: 4K
User level: Beginner/Intermediate

Reasons to buy

+
Useful optical zoom range
+
Has an electronic viewfinder
+
Shoots 4K video

Reasons to avoid

-
Small EVF
-
Fixed screen
Buy it if:

✅ You want power from your pocket: It's one of the smallest cameras in this guide, yet still boasts a 1in sensor and 10x zoom.

✅ You want a low-cost compact: While it's not exactly cheap, the ZS100 / TZ100 is one of the most affordable options in this list.

Don't buy it if:

You want the best possible image quality: Versatility comes with compromise, and you'll get better stills with some fixed lens options in this guide.

❌ You want a flip screen: The LCD screen is fixed which makes selfies and awkward shooting angles a challenge.

If you're looking for a travel-friendly all-rounder that has a viewfinder and doesn't break the bank, this is the compact camera we'd go for. It's since been succeeded by the ZS200 / TZ200, which is also worth considering – but if you don't need the newer model's slightly longer zoom (15x rather than 10x) and higher-res viewfinder, then you can save money by going for this older classic.

The ZS100 / TZ100 remains a solid middle ground between premium compact cameras with larger sensors (in this case, a 1-inch sensor) and super-zoom models with smartphone-beating reach. Its 10x zoom might now be matched by some smartphones, but in our tests the quality of this camera's lens and image processing produced vibrant, punchy photos with excellent detail. If you're looking to get high-quality images with minimal baked-in processing, then the ZS100 / TZ100 will serve you well and offer a more enjoyable photographic experience than any glass slab.

The downsides include a small and relatively low-res viewfinder, plus a fixed touchscreen. These are symptoms of this camera's age, but a small EVF is still better than no viewfinder when you're shooting in sunny conditions, and this camera otherwise offers modern conveniences like 10fps burst shooting, 4K video shooting and built-in Wi-Fi.

Read our in-depth Panasonic Lumix ZS100 / TZ100 review

The best pocket compact for features

Sony RX100 VII

(Image credit: Future)
The best feature-packed compact camera

Specifications

Sensor: 1-inch, 20.1MP
Lens: 24-200mm, f/2.8-4.5
Monitor: 3.0-inch tilt-angle touchscreen, 921,000 dots
Viewfinder: EVF
Continuous shooting: 20fps
Movies: 4K
User level: Intermediate/Expert

Reasons to buy

+
Sterling autofocus system
+
Lovely video

Reasons to avoid

-
Handling not ideal
-
Expensive
Buy it if:

✅ You need a complete pocket camera: The RX100 VII is arguably the most rounded pocket camera for photo and video.

✅ You shoot action: Lens zoom is limited, but the performance is not with super fast autofocus and continuous shooting. 

Don't buy it if:

You want excellent handling: Small it may well be, the RX100 VII isn't the most ergonomic option available.

❌ You rely on a touch screen: The function of the touch screen is limited, with no support for menu navigation.

In many ways, the RX100 VII is still best compact around right now. Its autofocus system, we found, is comfortably ahead of any other pocket camera, tracking moving subjects with great reliability and making clever use of its Face and Eye AF, even in video mode. Video quality is superb, while image quality is also stellar. But all of this comes at a huge price, and for many people that could be a deal-breaker.

Still, we can't avoid including it in this guide, as it's one of the best options around. If your budget allows, then you won't find a more powerful compact than the Mark VII. But if you're happy to sacrifice some of the latest autofocus features and a microphone jack, check out the RX100 VI, which offers most of its performance but costs a little less.

Read our in-depth Sony RX100 Mark VII review

The best compact video camera

Sony ZV-1

(Image credit: Future)
The best pocket vlogging camera for YouTubers

Specifications

Sensor: 1-inch, 20.1MP
Lens: 24-70mm f/1.8-2.8
Monitor: 3.0-inch vary-angle touchscreen, 921,600 dots
Viewfinder: None
Continuous shooting: 24fps
Movies: 4K/30p
User level: Beginner/Intermediate

Reasons to buy

+
Unrivaled autofocus
+
Hotshoe and 3.5mm mic port

Reasons to avoid

-
Touchscreen a tad limited
-
MicroUSB rather than USB-C
Buy it if:

✅ You want a powerful vlogging camera: The Sony ZV-1 is the best compact camera for YouTubers right now, shooting smartphone-beating 4K video.

✅ You want a compact you can grow with: Sony has made the ZV-1 simpler for beginners to use, but it's also jam-packed with pro features.

Don't buy it if:

You mainly want to shoot stills: While it's no slouch for stills, the lack of a viewfinder and moderate zoom range will limit some photographers.

❌ You need an all-weather action camera: The ZV-1 is packed with features, but one that's missing is weather-proofing.

If it's mainly video rather than stills that you're looking for from a compact camera, then the Sony ZV-1 is the one of the best options around. Not that it isn't also very capable at shooting still photos – it has the same sensor and processor as Sony's latest RX100 series cameras, after all – but the ZV-1's main strength are its video powers. 

That includes its class-leading autofocus powers, which helps it tenaciously lock onto people and moving objects in your frame. During testing, we found it to do an excellent job of keeping moving subjects in focus and tracking our eyes across most of the frame. Of course, the video quality from its 20.1MP 1-inch sensor is nothing short of impressive as well.

These are backed up by a 3.5mm mic port for boosting audio quality with an external microphone, and a hotshoe to help mount the latter. Its bright 24-70mm f/1.8-2.8 doesn't give you the same reach as the RX100 VII, but it does ensure that you get lovely background blur in both stills and videos – perfect if you mainly shoot portraits or vlogs. 

Sony has since released the ZV-1 II, but for us the successor was a puzzling update that in real world use offered little extra than the ZV-1 to justify its pricier tag. 

Read our in-depth Sony ZV-1 review

The best photo quality from your pocket

The Ricoh GR IIIx camera on a wooden table

(Image credit: Future)
The best compact for outright image quality

Specifications

Sensor: APS-C
Lens: 40mm f/2.8-16
Monitor: 3.0-inch TFT LCD touchscreen