(Pocket-lint) – A top compact camera allows you to receive the benefits of DSLR and mirrorless image quality without the burden of carrying it around in a bag or around your neck.
Since this style of camera is small enough to keep in your back pocket, they make excellent options for those who need to react to shots around them or, simply, those who can’t afford the bulk of other camera types.
You might be wondering what exactly constitutes a compact camera, though. Well, aside from the size being small, all of these cameras will feature a non-interchangeable lens – either zoom or prime – and typically more of an old-style design.
In this list, we’ll be detailing the best compact cameras with zoom lenses at a range of different price points – read on to discover why you should consider these picks.
Best compact zoom cameras you can buy
Canon PowerShot G9 X Mark II
It may not be the most expensive or feature-packed device in Canon’s PowerShot line, but the G9 X Mark II is a great example of how you don’t have to shell out the megabucks to receive a top compact.
And when we say compact, we mean it. This model measures just 6.3 x 5.7 x 2.50-inches, with the 1-inch-type sensor providing excellent image quality – even when using the 3x optical zoom.
It’s not got it all – the fixed screen and lack of 4K video being notable issues – but it’s an excellent pick at a great price with plenty of controls.
Panasonic LUMIX DC-ZS70K
The Panasonic ZS-series (or TZ-series, for those in the UK) has long been an excellent pick for those in need of a versatile compact, and the ZS70 is no different.
The camera’s hallmark feature is its 30x optical zoom lens, which encompasses wide-angle (24mm equivalent) for those group shots, or can zoom right in (to a 720mm equivalent) to make far-away subjects appear large in the frame.
With decent autofocus, an electronic viewfinder, excellent image stabilization, a tilt-angle LCD screen for selfies, and a whole roster of other top features, the ZS70’s aspirations make it a real jack-of-all-trades.
The only downside, really, is limitations to low-light image quality.
Canon Powershot G7 X Mark II
Like the G9 X detailed above, the G7 Mark II’s big selling point is the 1-inch sensor, which helps to provide outstanding image quality.
It doesn’t opt for the smaller scale of the Sony RX100 series (listed below) and there’s no viewfinder, but there’s still a lot to enjoy about Canon’s revamped take on the 1-inch market. Plus, the price is more within the reach of mid-level buyers than Sony’s advanced offerings.
Essentially, the G7 X series camera outshines the more affordable and slender G9 X and is more pocketable than the earlier G5 X and others in the range, without compromising on performance.
The Sony RX100 line is renowned for its quality, but that quality comes at a lofty price – unless, of course, you opt for an older model, like the original from the series.
Though you don’t get nearly half of the fancy features of the latest Mark VII device, you do still get excellent image quality in a compact package.
There’s a 1-inch sensor to help with that, with the control ring giving you access to aperture settings and more for more control over your shots.
Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS25
The Panasonic ZS25 may have been superseded by newer models over the years, but it now finds itself in the reach of those exploring budget compacts.
For the casual photographer, you get a solid collection of features. The huge zoom level is backed up by the option to switch between automatic/creative shooting modes and manual controls, which let you fiddle around with shutter speed and aperture.
You’re likely to outgrow it fairly quickly, since there’s not a great amount of depth to the manual control, but it’s a very nice starting point for those who want to brush up on their photography.
Another top compact from a bygone era, now a really strong pick for those looking for a budget camera to keep in their pocket.
The Sony W810 offers 5x optical zoom, 20.1MP detail and can shoot video in HD. While it’s true that most smartphone cameras have overtaken this humble compact, it’s still a good option for those looking to invest in a dedicated camera.
With features like image stabilization, as well as a range of different shooting modes and effects, it’s tough to go wrong with this Sony classic.
Kidscam Compact Digital Camera
The compact cameras we’ve detailed above are all top devices for those in need of a compact, but none of them are as kid-friendly or wallet-friendly as Kidscam’s offering.
For the money, you get a good set of basic features for budding photographers to lean into, with 20MP shooting, 1080p video, face detection and a selfie timer.
We wouldn’t necessarily recommend this for anybody other than kids – since there are plenty of other low-cost options out there with more traditional designs – but it makes a great first camera.
Writing by Conor Allison. Editing by Dan Grabham.