Photography-Factory : London's best professional photographers

The Top 5 Best Compact Cameras in the World 2013: Review and Comparison

“Which is the best compact camera in the world?”

As friendly & fun lovin’ professional photographers, we often get asked for expert buying advice on cameras. And why not? Who really knows the honest truth about which are the best cameras? Maybe some award winning pro photographers? We spend all day, every day using cameras as professional tools to make the best photographs possible. We do not really care about brand name status, PR, advertising, or press reviews – we test cameras by using them, flaws, bad design, weaknesses or quality issues will be revealed very soon in the heat of battle. Everyday we take quality equipment almost to it’s limits in a creative pact with tech Satan. We love cameras, if we are not using one, we are either thinking, talking or dreaming about how they could be better. We really know which of the best cameras are great and which “best cameras” only look great.  This is one area we have found the pro-user experience is highly important and on-line specs mean almost nothing.

The only problem: we are usually too busy taking photographs to give a complete and considered answer to these type of questions… So?  Where will the “good people of Gotham” look for expert yet honest camera advice? Alas, as far as the internet is concerned, it’s a dirty coin toss between: snobby photography Journalists (who always seem to be on someone’s payroll) or blogging geek-o-freaks (who love the new new new no matter how utterly crap it is to actually use and will bend low & lick the hand of any big company that gives them something to test and keep for “free”). People are not so dumb though, they can smell the sweet bias and buried bodies written about popular cameras on the internet. In the end, us prosumers let alone interesting consumers, feel uncertain & confused, and don’t buy anything at all, until some better stuff comes out. In the end all the bull does is sell a load of rubbish to people to lazy or busy to look into it and the rest of us just keep on using a scratched iphone to capture those  magic stumbleupons, all without much pride in the results. Pity, there are some amazingly good pocketable cameras out there right now, and a few are even great value too.

So it is no big surprise that on almost every big commercial shoot we do, there is that slightly “over friendly” person, basically a totally decent and honest civilian just looking for instant & detailed pro-photographer advice about buying the best digital camera out there. (Usually searching something with pixel mega-bling for themselves and their new found foto-passion? Or possibly a good value B’day present for a reluctant yet budding, rich yet poor, student relation?) They will mill around the studio waiting until everything seems to go quite and the flashing stops for a few moments, and just pose that quite important compact camera question, strait at one of us, in one super long sentence without stopping to for a breath. At that exact moment we will, of course, be deep in a small crisis, all wild eyed, holding a jammed $60,000 Hasselblad in one hand and two ringing mobile phones in the other…   (The other question we always seem to get asked at the most inappropriate moments is: “So, dude tell me, is it really true that Kate Moss is a raving ••••••• ?”) *

 

Luckily we love photography and have found a few days to compile a no BS review of the very best, small but truly brilliant digital cameras out there. All written after weeks and weeks of testing, arguing and using our considerable experience and professionals’ perspective. Still, this is a tricky question to answer. The very best digital compact? The answer will always depends on: who is asking, what they need a compact camera for, how much money they have to spend, how many megapixels they need** and an host of other flighty personal variables. (**that megapixel thing, it is a trick question – anything above 7 MP is all you or me will really “need”, like many things; size does matter -yes indeed, more is better -, but 7 is plenty, 12 is massive, bigger still is mostly a waste as you can’t use it all and definitely comes at a cost. Actually human eyes are only 2 megapixels each. The detail in a fine quality print, made from any of the cameras on this page will blow your socks off, even if printed as big as a wall). We think we have provided some real answers.

Enough of this intro small talk, The review and your answers are below, it is in the form of a shortish, easy to read, no nonsense 2013 top 5 review and buying guide, without loads of silly example images, all these cameras are great and take virtually perfect images:  Yes, the devil is in the detail, but he does not take the photos – you and I have to do that bit.

 

* (BTW The 5 top answers to the sleazy question about Ms Kate Moss – Model, are:  1) No Comment   2) That is such a looser question, Dude…)  3) She told me “we woz special” 4) Never, but Cara Delevingne!?! 5) No…

The keener observers may also like to notice this is the only professional photographers’ review not trying to sell you something from our site…every other review we could find on the net had a bunch of annoying greedomercial affiliate links, “so usefully” at the top and bottom of each page. Those selfless little bear traps trying to grab a bit of your money as they point you toward last year’s most popular (noisy and compromise ridden) compact camera from not the cheapest website. We don’t do that… we were just sick of all the BS and though we would tell it how it really is.

 

The 5th best compact camera in the world:

 Sony RX1

RX1 5th best compact camera

The Sony RX 1 compact camera is quite unique among current compact offerings: because basically it isn’t really a compact camera in specs, except for it’s size you might not recognise the basic layout –  disproportionately massive non-zoom non-retractable lens, huge chip with more mexapixels than some medium format cameras, batteries that last about as long as $50 lasts Ivana Trump, in fact this is almost a full digital SLR (and better than almost all of them) just without the clanky SLR stuff. In a mouthful it is a truly brilliant performer, with few limitations you could live with. (probably not unlike Ivana back when Donald Trump first married her)

This fairly small black hunk of slippery alloy and plastic (269g) has enormous quality and stunning potential in the right hands. It sports a fixed focal length 35mm F2 .0 lens built into the smallest body that could do the job of focusing a near perfect image onto one massive 24mp imaging chip. By massive what I mean is not the 24mp, it is the actual chip size, it is as big as a full 35mm film frame, by compact standards this is Gigantisaurus huge. This has several benefits; the first is that the pixels (all 24 million of them) aren’t so closely packed together like in almost all other compacts, which in turn means they don’t interfere with one-another which really means stunningly beautiful images free from noise in the dark areas. Another key advantage of having a large imaging chip is that the depth of field (i.e. the area that is in focus) is very narrow. The out of focus areas will be very blurry this tends to produce very cool pictures: things look super sharp and surrounded by sexy out of focusness. This chip is actually a lot better than most digital SLR’s! It’s a pity it can only be used with one 35mm lens  - one was built onto it – Still…. what an amazing lens it is! It is a Carl Zeiss Sonnar 35mm F2  lens and take it from us this is optical heaven on earth. The problem is without any ability to zoom at all, you are going to have to do some legwork when you wanna zoom. The rest of this camera is top notch too. It has a class leading 3 inch LCD on the back, unfortunately not a touch screen, still bright and very clear.

Now for that limitation, the only thing that is really wrong with this camera (apart from the fact you need three others and each with a different focal length lens attached), is the price! It’s basically unbelievably expensive for a compact camera, £2300 a slight pause is needed here…….. two thousand three hundred english pounds…..yes, i know, what a bummer, I was getting excited about maybe getting one myself, until that bit. Too much for a compact camera? Maybe , but is it a compact at all and are we right to compare it with them? It IS just the most expensive & beautiful lens with a huge very high quality chip attached on the end, total superbity. The sad truth about this stunning camera is that 80% of them will be bought by people with too much money, for other people with little ability and no interest: (most often: rich parents who have decided their student kid is too dumb/lazy/stoned to be a lawyer or a doctor, so by spending £2300 they will encourage them to be the next multi million earning David LaChappelle or Annie Leibovitz, like the world needs another of those anyway ( Sorry Annie, but you didn’t think you could fool all the people ALL the time?) it will end up being ignored by said student and any photographic latent talent will be brought to the surface by Instagram on a cracked iPhone 5. I guess sony could sell it to some people like this “you could argue that compared to the Leica M with a 35mm summicron for a total of about £10,000, it is actually quite good value”, a decent point… but the very very very smart Leica M is too big to be a compact and too expensive not to be considered jewellery, and there are some brilliant cameras below for a lot lot lot less than £2300 / $3700.

Other drawbacks of the RX1: battery life is a joke, only about 70 shots with flash and handling is a little “old fashioned” and clumsy, but not stupidly so -

I must say in quite a lot of situations where you need super hi-quality and outstanding resolution, it is the best camera you could possibly put it into your pocket if you do not mind: working an extra 3 hours a day for a year to pay for it and zooming in and out by running closer and further…. It could be worse, as my mum always says: “at least the exercise will do you good” and hell, with all those pixels you can always crop in a mile, if your feet are getting tired…

Verdict The Sony RX1 is a great camera but just too expensive for almost everyone, I will bet Donald Trump owned one for a while, then he got rid of it as too much trouble and now he just uses pricey disposables. (a little like his personal life (allegedly)) Sad, as to get great at photography you need to get to know one good camera thoroughly at some point in your life, and the RX1 would have been a great camera to become one with… don’t be put off. Moving on:

 

The 4th best compact camera in the world:

Leica D’lux 6 aka Lumix LX7

D-lux6 4th best Camera copy

These two models LX7 and D-lux6 are in fact the exact same camera, with different software and badges. The Leica costs considerably more around £500 v the Lumix at about £300 – fathom that? But that little red badge does say “I am a top professional” to people of a certain age, to us it says ” I have more cash than brains cells” but that might be true of all of us who want a better image that the frankly amazing one you get out of your Nokia camera-phone or any perfectly decent £150 Olympus compact . Panny n leicy (panasonic and Leica) is a marriage made in heaven.  They should be an unbeatable combination, a bit like Justin Beiber and Lana Del Rey had sex, how could the resulting spawn fail to be a great talent? (Bad example !)

Think about it, historically the best lens maker on the planet and a company with more patents in electronic image capture that any other, this Camera has designer baby DNA. First of all this is a great lens, let me rephrase that: THIS IS A REALLY GREAT LENS!  The “great” lens is a sharp as almost any prime, it has an almost perfect zoom range of 24-90mm equivalent and somehow also has a maximum aperture of f1.4  - this is almost unheard of in this type of camera and brings big benefits: gorgeous shallow depth of field (for a compact), brighter images, faster shutter speeds, higher (less noisy) sensitivity.

Another great thing about this lens is it can focus at very small distances, this can lead to some really Attenborough like close up nature shots with very out of focus backgrounds. The LX7 / D-lux6 is solid, it handles very well with full manual settings and very smooth operation. the screen is great and works well in bright light. It is a slick package overall. OK, at this point  let me say this is my actually personal favourite of these five cameras, but it has a few minor flaws that you have to live with. The only bugbears are it is not very pocket friendly, auto focus is not outstanding, and most annoying the lens only goes into the body a little and it has a separate lens cap that falls off if you keep the Camera in your pocket or a bag for a while, then that great lens will get a smudge or worse a scratch and becomes “a mostly poor lens that cost a lot” + regret. I think, if you need to keep it in a case, (and how can you keep a Leica in anything but a solid brown leather case with contrasting stitching?) then you have a much less “compact” situation… and that sort of ruins it a bit.

Still before you run for the hills tearing your hair out I have a small compensation – Slow motion – this camera shoot easily the best Video of these models, though that should not be too hard as they are all outstanding still Cameras really. But Panasonic make the real-deal hollywood motion picture v4k video type cameras and some of that special sauce has found its way into this tiny camera giving it fantastic broadcast quality video. The part that lights our cigar is the 120 fps slowmotion in HD (720p) too cool for school. (we like playing with slowmotion – e.g. )

There is a insider pro “tip” about this camera, it may soon get a lot better, Panasonic in the past have made a special super wide angle adapter for the predecessors of the LX7  (LX3 and LX5), hopefully they will soon bring one out for the this camera too. The adapter turned each of those cameras into a tack sharp 18mm super wide! It  costs about £170 for the LX5, but it turns a little cameras into one of the best things an idiot with money can buy for photographing small interior spaces and making them look amazingly good. Almost every estate agent in the world seems to have one of these in the top right draw of their desks, as they make any small flat (sorry Yanks: “apartment”) look huge and expensive with almost no discernible skill or effort. Anyhow, If you are house buying and you see one of these swinging around the neck of someone in the background at the estate office, run away, or at least make sure you see the apartment with your own eyes before making an offer.

So… In short The Panaica is a real gem, but as a broadcast video camera and (hopefully soon) an tiny 18mm superwide, is a little diamond. We have a LX7 and a  LX5 with DMW-LWA52 super wide adapter and these elegant and superb little cameras get used much more than you might think, definitely considering the choice of camera weaponry laying around our studios.

 

The 3rd best compact camera in the world:

Fuji X100S

 

fujifilm-x100s 3rd best camera

 

This fuji is one of the best Cameras ever made for shooting people in everyday situations, especially when they are running around with complete unpredictability, i.e. Kate Moss, people at good parties and small sugarised children. It is sort of like fuji put an experienced social photographer in the camera and let them take care of all the settings and hard stuff and you just get to chase the action, click and look totally fly doing it. It almost never messes up either focus, exposure, white balance and flash balance. The auto focus is fast and very good. It looks sort of like it dropped out of a glovebox of Steve McQueen’s mustang in Bullit, as seen from the front, from the back it has a daylight bright large “retina quality” screen. I could use this camera all day long, and when I have, it is still keeps amazing me to the very last shot. This camera is so capable that all you need to do is bring your creativity (and your legs again as it does not have zoom) This lens is a fixed 23 mm f 2.0 – this is about a 45mm equivalent. A little closer than the Sony and very much a people focal length, very similar to the way we see when we are looking at things that have our attention.

Maybe the lack of a zoom makes it too restrictive for many as a holiday camera, most people would like to take it easy on holiday, crossing the road backwards to take a snap of the hotel might be a risk too far for most. Not to mention, it costs a large amount: £1100 for a one trick pony. But unlike the Sony it seems decent value, as you will be using it all the time, and it is truly exceptional at doing something we all need to do, take brilliant natural pictures of the family.

The Fuji X100s would also be my first choice of camera if I were somehow shooting a sweet, laughing and nude Marilyn Monroe, in a big white bed with soft white linen, by a big sunny window. The fuji would look perfectly at home, it’s pictures just perfect.

 

The 2nd best compact camera in the world:

Nikon P7800

2nd best best compact camera

Okay get ready for this; P7800 is the best compact camera in the world, is without a doubt the finest handling and most fully featured compact camera in existence today. If it were a man it would be Daniel Craig as james bond 007, sharp infallible and deadly accurate, not gorgeous but passably handsome in a sharp dark suit, if it were a women it would be Kate Middleton, looking down at the rest of womenanity but not quite sure how it got there. (if it were a cartoon puppet it would be inspector gadget on processor hard drugs). It has a raft of technical features and given decent conditions and a skilful hand this Nikon camera can produce images as good as almost any DSLR available today. It is that go anywhere, do anything, super camera that you could hold comfortably in the palm of your hand – A camera this brilliant could only be dreamed about a few years ago. It’s auto focus is lightning fast and sets a precedent within compact cameras, it has an extremely wide usable zoom range effectively 28 to 200 mm equivalent, and although at f2 to f4 the lens is not quite as bright as the Leica D’lux 6 it is still extremely sharp accross the whole zoom range and in most cases will produce stunning results. It is amazingly good for macro work and very fast at focusing balancing all the variables that make good macro images as well as being stupidly sharp (did i say the bit about being sharp?). It has a fully articulating flip-out LCD screen which is enormously useful in real life situations and enables the camera to be used effectively even in the most awkward spaces, as well as this it has a very reasonable electronic viewfinder.. In terms of its physical controls it really is probably the best handling compact camera available its front grip and rear thumb-rest make it dreamily comfortable to hold with all of the controls coming perfectly to hand, and in this it truly outclasses its closest rival the excellent Canon G-15. The Nikon uses a 12 megapixel sensor: a backside illuminated CMOS measuring 1″ x 1.7″ (for some reason good sensors always seem to be measured in inches?). It’s colour accuracy it is also class leading: although sometimes the JPEGs coming out of the camera seemed a little dull compared to some other camera makers (Canon!) who artificially pimp the colours to slightly camp levels to make images feel extra super special, when they are not (when you need to saturate images, it’s best done in photoshop). Lowlight performance is superb too (this camera is so good i am getting bored) although there are 1 or 2 compacts out there that can compete. Probably this camera’s outstanding feature is its unbelievable levels of technical control, there is simply a completists set of semi automatic modes as well as full manual control giving you that feeling of being an expert in charge of the experts tool. If you’re going to have a compact camera with you this is probably the one you would want to have as it will, almost always, come back with the shot you hoped you could take, in reality or rather in real world situations, this camera will simply “get the photograph” and generally speaking that’s what you need to do. In many ways you may never even want or need another camera, the Nikon P7800 can be used as creatively as you like, and to top it, there is aways a mode or a setting to make the process faster & easier (if you have time to read that big ol’ 220 page manual right to the end). All so cleverly done so you, can concentrate on the important job of getting that shot.

The Nikon P7800 is the best compact camera out there right now, it only costs £350 and we have to recommend you buy one: So why isn’t it the No1 compact camera in the world? This is why:

 

The best compact camera in the world:

No 1:  Canon S120

We feel there is a standout winner in the compact camera arena at the moment: The Canon s120. By now you have read quite a lot and probably need to have a stretch and some fresh air. So… Our best advice is simply take a walk and while you are out buy this underpriced jewel and start using it on the way home and keep going. If you are a top international professional photographer like a couple of us here, or this is going to be your first ever Camera, take some images on the S120 and you are going to to have several Wow! moments, just looking at the stuff you have shot with this “forgeta-bout-it”ly small smudger.  So off you go, it’s only £320 ish…

OK, I will explain: This is a brilliant little camera, no question there. it is based on the close to perfect S110, only with a slightly brighter lens and much better video and sound (annoyingly it is 1mm longer). It is capable of amazing results, as are all the cameras listed above, I guess the point is; it is near to leading the field in every major area. We would say it is almost flawless given current technology, but that’s not really it’s true brilliance. This camera is (for something this good) very very compact, it is extremely slim and with the lens retracted is nearly totally flat, the ends are rounded just perfectly to slip into your pocket, it has a good built-in lens hood and so does not need a case to be carried. So it will be almost be unnoticed, until you need it. Whereupon it will start up extremely quickly (well under a second) and be ready to take a near SLR pro-quality photograph almost instantly. When it takes photographs, it will do “it’s part” of the task incredibly well, and with several creative modes will give your left brain a chance to go further than Canon’s spookily perfect automatic settings. Using the manual controls you can repeatedly make something that will be about 95% as good as it could have been if you’d have taken your Canon/Nikon £3000 DSLR & a prime lens with you. This camera does not skimp on the hidden costs, it’s processor is extremely powerful and fast, the lens cover virtually dust proof, the battery life astonishing, the auto focus instant (o.2 sec) (and very accurate), the lens is the perfect balance of extra wide zoom (24-120mm) a bright max aperture of f1.8, and crisp. It has a huge very detailed 3 inch LCD, the CMOS image sensor is 1.7 x 1 inch & 12.1mp which is the only thing that could be better in dreamland. Unfortunately only way to make a “better” Camera than this is to make it bigger (or do some  original physics and find a new dimension). Even making it with the best components know to science (brighter lenses, bigger chip, faster processor/bigger battery, stronger materials, bigger LCD, viewfinder etc) would improve this Camera a tiny amount, and it would always become bigger. Canon, we feel, have got this Camera about as right as it is currently possible. There a lot of great Cameras that come close to the Canon s120 and one or two even look better on paper, but in practice they fall short of being as good and without compromise.

The Canon s120 is a stunning compact camera, and just the perfect, functions, size, handling and shape. The whole point of a camera like this is you can take it with you at all times with ease, and be sure of one thing it is the best Camera it could be at this size; you are not giving a lot away to almost any camera available. The main standout feature for us is the handing, it is so comfortable and quick to use, the controls (especially the very handy programable control ring) are exactly where they should be and have all the correct shortcuts for finding what you need, when you need it, without much menu digging. As pro’s we can’t abide cameras that are unnecessarily slow or clumsy to use, the s120 is a joy to take images with, I honestly love using it, everyone here who has tried one and says the same thing, it is a dream to use. This is one of the very best compact cameras available today…But what makes it a true first, numero uno, stand out winner is: it really is a compact! The best camera you can have to take a picture is… the one you have on you when you need it, most likely the one you actually carry everyday! Not the expensive brick you leave at home because it’s a bit too big to fit in your pocket and forget. With phone cameras being so excellent of late, compact cameras need to make stunning images, be faultless, small and tough or what is the point? The S120 is the definition of that Camera, more than any other out there in 2013.

Maybe you would like to know a lot lot more about these and some of the others before buying? Of course, you are normal, go ahead! The net is full of great technical tests and reading endless comparisons does give you some idea of what you are buying. But unless you are ready to invest days of reserch and background checking, a lot of technical reviews and image comparisons will mislead you (if you know little) and confuse you (if you know a little) we often are amazed by the utter lies put out by some sites. As the bishop said to the beggar with better shoes “who can you trust when someone asks for your money?” We do this for a living (a loving!) and use all sorts of cameras every single day. Professional Photographers. Have some faith – The s110 is the one to get in 98% of cases, if you are unsure it is probably defiantly the one to get.

Maybe you think we have some kind of reason for a S120 bias? I guess everyone has the right to be suspicious of internet advice in these times.  We could be flunkies working for Canon? Trying to get in with them or get free gear? (Actually Canon UK are ****oles when it comes to supporting consumer reviews with demo cameras, never give ANYTHING away {to us} for free), possibly because we have slated them in the past (wait for our review of the Canon Pixma pro 1 if you think we have a “love Canon” agenda!). We have to buy all our Canon stuff at full price !- Some other makers do give stuff away or give reviewers sweet discounts…Just bear in mind we make money as photographers in fact we make quite a lot of money, we buy the gear we WANT to buy, because it is the best stuff we can find, in fact cost is often the last thing we consider. (that why we are not reviewing the “best value compacts”) In the long run it is a huge false economy to use gear that is second rate at it’s intended job, for us 365 times more than most.

This is the way we see it. For us the Canon s120 is the right camera to have in your jeans pocket every day of the year. You would still be buying a brilliant Camera if you purchased any of the others listed, and a lot of other Cameras we did not feel quite made this top 5 recommendation.

If you are still wobbling, pop around to a camera shop (if there are any left within 300 miles of you) pick up all the cameras above and have a play, you will leave with a box under your arm… ask the guy/girl in the shop for an opinion (she/he should know), but beware some shops pay differential commissions or bonus the guy that sells the most, say Sonys, each month. On the whole though, Camera shop staff will not steer you far wrong, after all most shops will let you take it back within a week if you are unhappy (some 28 days if you still have all the bits by then) that said, they often do exchanges though a gritted smile. So what have you got to loose? Let’s face it… nothing inspires one to take great pictures like buying a brand spanking new camera, some times I think motivation is the only reason to spend money in Photography.

 

We make our money as creative professional photographers. So if this review has been of some interest to you, then click  a sweet like on our new Facebook page : our Facebook page or tweet something about this article (or do both). It is worth more than money to us if you share this review and like our FB page, as social love brings us more chances to be found by clients and so do exciting and interesting new work.  (or maybe just mess about and have fun) Ok here is a little tip: the canon s110 is the recently discontinued version of the s120, it is actually a better camera in one very important way: it is slightly smaller it id 1 mm shorter and 3 mm thinner. they are also selling off the old stock very cheap on ebay if you can get one for under £230 they are an unbelievable bargain. Now can we have that Facebook share… this article took several months to compile and test and we have saved you a fortune buying that x15 heap of crap you could have ended up with.

 

 

 

 

 

245 Comments:

Strange choice for first place. Sony RX100 is near enough the same size and fits just as easily in the pocket, but with larger sensor, both physical dimensions and 20Mp, so more image detail can be captured, with better high ISO performance. Every other review on the planet has the RX100 ahead of the Canon S110, so I can only assume that you have an agenda.
Still, your entitled to your own opinions, but I know which I’d rather have in my pocket when a once in a lifetime shot presents itself. When this happens, I’ll be glad that I’ll be able to make a print almost twice as big as the Canon and still survive close examination.

You make a good point, but let me state for the record our “agenda” is that we tell it how we see it, based on our Professional Photographic experience (about 60 years between us all here). We can say with authority that the Sony RX100 is an almost perfect camera, with two car crash flaws that could have been put right for a few extra pounds. Sony decided to let the camera go to market as is, basically because to fix these issues would push the Camera above a certain carefully planned price point and would give them nothing to improve on in 13 months when the RX120 comes out. And they assumed that most users would be happy with the amazing specs, and a lot of very selectively blind reviews you can read on the net (often surrounded by the sickly sweet smell of affiliate links).
Firstly the camera makes a serious mess out of bright highlights, it blows out highlights that even an old Lumix LX5 could handle with ease. This is due to a mismatch between Sonys amazing chip and the processing engine they chose to put into the RX100, in order to keep down costs the processing engine is low spec for a 20meg chip and stop the shot to shot time being too noticeably long the processing is done in a hurry. This is the kind of processing that all cameras do behind the scenes and it is absolutely crucial in fixing highlight and noise issues, it is a very scary exercise to hack a compact camera and get a look at the real raw file direct from the chip. The other major flaw is the almost laughable rolling shutter effect when filming any moving object, it is quite a poor show on a modern camera and even an iphone 5 will make a better job of filming objects moving from right to left accross the frame. So in short the RX100 is a first place Camera except for taking pictures and shooting video… There is an old saying about Sony products, occasionally they are very good but stupidly expensive, but usually they are made to a price and only look good on a spec sheet. I feel that the RX100 does not come close to the top 5, what ever I have read, buy one if you like and make your own mind up, if you can avoid anything that shines, reflects or is moving it is a winner.

Ket Productions says:

I very much agree with this reviewer, I did keep my RX100 but it is deeply flawed, in very many common circumstances the shots are full of white areas where the highlights burned in. It takes out of focus portrait shots all the time. At the widest end the RX100 lens is only 28mm, the winning Cannon S110 is 24mm, a world of difference shooting indoors. Finally the RX100 is 37.4mm from front to back by a digital micrometer (Sony claim 36mm) the Cannon S110 is just over 26mm. The RX100 is a pain to carry in jeans, the S110 is like a cell phone. No contest I bought S110 and the RX100 is headed for fleebay.

an amateur photograph says:

I also agree with the different negative points mentioned by Shooter One above, although I think the RX100 is definitively not a bad camera and might have deserved to be in this TOP5, not as winner though.

I bought a Sony RX100 3 months ago, after I sold my Canon S95.

Result: after taking more than 2000 shots with it in a wide range of situations, I can say that the RX100 is a decent camera, but it is actually very disappointing after reading all the positive reviews and considering its retail price.

Firstly, it is extremely sensitive to flares and thus night shooting with strong artificial lighting is a nightmare. Your pictures will be full of flares/glares/halos around light sources. My S95 was barely affected by these issues.

Secondly, all the highlights are clamped. Interior photography with a dark room and a few lights will result in totally overblown highlights, no matter what HDR modes you use.

Thirdly, the image quality itself is the typical “Sony smudging” mess. At 100%, the IQ is really low. Of course, it will be less visible if you re-size down the pictures from 20Mpix to only ~4Mpixel, but the overall look of the picture will remain slightly affected by this watercolor effect that you find on all smaller-sensors Sony Camera. I wish they would have a more neutral treatment like Canon, that preserves the details with a very limited noise.

Fourthly, the contrast adjustment is too strong on their JPEGs. The picture will look naturally more appealing to a certain audience, but the blacks will be clamped and you will lose details in the shadows.

A said above, it has a nice spec sheet, something that might have impressed a lot of reviewer. But after actively testing it, I wouldn’t recommend it to photography amateurs that want good IQ.

Shooter One says:

It is a pity it could have so easily been a great camera, we could never recommend it as professional photographers. If they had put all the effort they put into sales into the camera…

Wow leaving out the sony RX100 is like having a best phone roundup and leaving out the galaxy S3 ???? It wins nearly every review out there. You guys are simply insane or plain dumb!

Thanks David, we are a little crazy, that much is true. Please read the reply to “pigman” above though before you buy any more RX100s.

I fully agree with Shooter One that RX 100 has its flaws since I owned one and have sold it last month. The click less control dial contributes to vague and un engaging shooting experience apart from the unpredictable Flash metering.
Rather than just getting angry on articles for no reason, i would advice you should ponder on the valid reasons these guys have made which is almost true as a (ex) RX 100 owner myself.

Surprised you left out the Olympus XZ-2. Only slightly bigger than my XZ-1, much better in low light, and still shirt-pocketable — which I agree is the No.1 criteria for a compact camera. Always there, always ready! Also, it has a hotshoe, which is a treat if you want to use FM wireless-remote flash in daylight, where optical-infrared slaves wash out. Noticed on Dpreview that the XZ-2 topped their compact camera list recently. What do you think?

After four Canon compacts and three dying prematurely of lens mechanism errors which continue to plague their lineup, the Canon certainly doesn’t look attractive to me.

Sorry “Bertha” (Ryan?) we were terribly slow clearing your comment as it arrived PM Sat, and we were (almost) all on our once a year company snowboard trip (we tried Big Bear in California – not bad… but the snow was icey so we drove to Lake Tahoe for the remaining five days and all 7 of us slept in the van!), we had to leave all the computers and DSLRs behind as they would have been frozen at minus 15 c or stolen from the Van). Hence we had only one member of staff on cover last week and no one to moderate the website comments this weekend.
We Would like to know what you replaced your string of Canons with? Most of these small zooms have issues with the lens plastic helical threads becoming damaged or wearing, If you continue to have this problem you are probably suffering from dust/sand ingress and i would suggest you try a sealed Camera, I like the Olympus TG-1, it is well proven and will not let you down in this way.

This is the best review of current small cameras on the internet, you guys are legends!
Please ignore the company trolls who write partisan comments for their bosses. I agree with your top 5 – this is the definitive list. I worked at Jessops in Oxford street until two weeks ago. I have used just about every digital compact imported into the UK. Between all the company bling and bribes; we in the shop still all know exactly what cameras are good and which ones are hyped. Your review tells more truth than all the “honest” camera press piled high. Good to find people who use these Cameras and not journalists who are full of bull. What do you think of the current bridge Cameras? would love to hear what you have to say there.

I to am dyslexic, reviews are hard going for me, I’m also fed up with DSLR hype. They are heavy, cumbersom and a nusance when on a day out, with nothing to do with picture taking!

I am getting old, so not so suptele. Hence, I favour 4/3 Panasonic, for the animated screen, in its day it was a good option. My DSLR Nikon has not been out for almost a year. The G1 Pansonic needs re looking at? The rear screen alone on the P7700 puts it at no.1 for me, plus the fact that its a Nikon and the price is realistic . . . Not the best reasons for a choice in puerist terms, but thats not always the reason for looking at other options?

Saul Weinstein says:

You have encouraged me to buy a new camera! You guys & girls need to take you time and write a bit slower next time :) Still this is the best review of smaller professional cameras I have found on the net. I tried all these Cameras, and I agreed with almost every point. Your review does not have a single camera in common with the awful 5 best compacts on DP review – Bravo. Please Please keep this up!

Dear Photography Factory your conclusions are flawless and sadly unique. The post is however quite long and slightly difficult read. If may I recommend a good copy editor; Juliet Doyle, she is just what you need. You are obviously impressive photographers, but you should let someone else proof your writing, it would look a lot more professional.

I still like your reviews, however, my initial enthusiasum over the P7700 is a little subdued. Should you not have mentioned how slow the Nikon is to process RAW-JPEG combination shots . . . according to DP it takes 4 to 7 seconds depending on the card used?
As this is how I shoot all the time, it obviously presents a problem?

Shooter One says:

Thank you for your input on this subject. We shoot raw plus jpeg on all our DSLRs, it is a bit “belt and braces” but it saves some time converting raws for email etc. We did read the DP review, but we did not feel that there was a noticeable problem on the P7700, we found processing time was only a problem when shooting rapidly for a string of shots, (the buffer fills in about 3 or 4 shots in rapid succession) then it does start to slow down considerably, I guess as it tries to write and process both files at once while waiting for the storage chip to accept more data. This is annoying but not entirely unique to this Nikon at all. Even then we thought that the delay did not seem to stand out in this Camera class. I would suggest grabbing one in a camera store and running a few shot, it is certainly what I will do this afternoon. Thank you for highlighting this, we certainly will add this to our findings if we find we can reproduce it.

Hi! Thx for interesting comparison. I wonder whats is your opinion on Sigma DP1 and Ricoh GDR IV as pro compacts.

I’m currently looking for small camera with hi-quality output, mainly for architecture photography, have you any suggestions on that topic?

​Best. Jan​

Shooter One says:

Hmmmmmmmm the Sigma DP1 and Ricoh GDR IV, these are both great cameras, they are both however a little old and are suffering most in the areas where big gains have been made in the more recent releases. Image noise, processing speed, autofocus speed and video resolution. The foveon chip in the Sigma has real potential, but it need more development to take advantage of its big intrinsic superiorities. I still feel if you are shooting architecture for your own reference then I would just get a lumix LX7 with the 18mm adapter for one shot interiors, if I wished to make art from architecture then I would not try to do it with a “small” camera, but if I had to stay this small for some very difficult and totally unsurmountable reason then I guess you need amazing glass, a wide angle of view and a big bad chip…. in a compact Camera, which is a problem as there is nothing out there that hits 10s in all those categories. So if I wanted to shoot art quality architectural photography I would just make myself a special Jacket with the biggest custom pockets ever seen and run out and buy a Ebony RW45E and a 72mm Super Angulon XL to go with it. You will never regret looking a lopsided fool when you see the results :)

Shooter One says:

Jan I would just like to update my last comment, i think that the right Camera for you might just be the Fujifilm XEi with the 14mm lens attached. Take a look at one this week, you may be very pleased…

I will. Thx a lot. Best :)

hello, I happen to agree on some strange reason with your picks, but I am curious as why you did not, include the fuji x20 on your list, considering the price. thanks

Shooter One says:

Hi Al
I hope the reason you agree is that we are correct, at least from a professional users viewpoint. I will call fuji today and see if I can get an Fuji X20 and a XEi to test asap, but as our tests involve 6 busy professional photographer people testing each camera and then finding an evening to discuss our thoughts as a group, it can take a little while… Over all the X20 looks something special… and well worth its price, but as they say the proof is in the eating…

I thoroughly enjoyed this review and am totally on board with the Canon S110 after reading. So here’s my question: I went into a store for some hands-on comparison and testing the S110. While there, I saw the G15. What’s your opinion and which is the better camera? I held them both and think the G15 size would not be an issue, so size is not the deciding factor. I am a hobby photographer always looking to improve my skills. I’ve used several digital compacts, then bought a Canon Rebel about five years ago, then a 60D which I currently use with several lenses. However, I want a good compact to keep with me at all times in addition to my iPhone 4S. Finally (sorry for all the detail), I’ll be going on a hike in the CO Rockies and want a camera I can carry that has some flexibility and will take good landscape photos. Also I shoot RAW and use Lightroom. Oh, in addition to scenery and flowers etc, I shoot my grand kids (with a camera) and want to make sure whatever compact I choose is good for that. I would appreciate your feedback and thank you.

Shooter One says:

The G15 is definitely a “better” camera than the s110, but it is not really a compact camera as such. It fits your requirements quite well. I often hike with a field camera in my pack so do not worry too much about the weight of getting a better shot is important. I have a G15 but it doe not get used much, i can do most things on the S110 and it is almost always there…

I ended up with the S110 and made the right choice. The G15 would not have been used much on the go because of the size. I haven’t put through all the paces yet, but so far I love it!

What about the Canon S100, its at a bargain price at the moment?

Shooter One says:

The S100 can be bought for a song at the moment, it is definitely a great bargain. I would say on the s110 is worth the extra easily. After all this is a review of the best cameras, we are working on a feature about the best value compact cameras in 2013, but that will be few more weeks.

Great write up.
We have been to the mall and out of state cameras stores to try all the current cameras but after reading this review it all make perfect sense.
I have bought the S110 for my self and a Nikon 7700 for my daughter.
Looking forward to reading more.

Great comparisons, well done chaps. Wondered if fuji x10(20) was worthy of comparison with the viewfinder and all?

Shooter One says:

The viewfinder is another great reason to buy the X20.

Thank you for the brilliant round up. Really helpful and Just what I needed, written in the manner that made it engaging. I am looking for the S110 online as I write this. Keep up the great work.

Shooter One says:

Thank you kindly, I hope you shoot some great stuff with it!!

Loved reading this post – really enjoyable and personable! I’m mostly a point-and-shoot kind of person but am looking into new camera to take on holiday with me (with particular interest in good ones for low-light conditions). Which camera would you say out of the Nikon 7700 and Canon S110 is better in low light? Or can you recommend any others that are perhaps even better?! Thanks.

Shooter One says:

Up until quite recently I would have given fuji the lead in low light photography with smaller cameras, but the others have all but caught up, and the main reason for buying the latest models as a replacement for an existing compact is their amazing low light ability. Of course having a wide maximum aperture really helps massively. If you can live without zoom two cameras stand out for astonishing low light performance: the Sony RX1 above and the Nikon Coolpix A, they are both dreamy smooth in near impossible light. If you need some zoom then i would go for a Pentax LX7 as the f1.4 aperture is several times brighter than a f2.8 lens.You will need to tolerate the short depth of field with it’s occasional focus compromises but i have used it at concerts and it can be brilliant (without flash) in modest light so long as you are close to the front and are only interested in one band member being in focus at a time.

Great review! some new options, options that i previously already dismissed (like the s110). Did you guys happen to get your hands on fuji x20 already? I need a new compact for backpacking. X20, rx100 were in the race, but your review made things complicated again ;-)

Thanx a lot!

Shooter One says:

The Fuji X20 looks to be great camera, with a very sharp lens and decently large sensor, as soon as we can get one of own to test for a few weeks we will answer this question in detail.

The only honest review of smaller cameras you can fine on the internet, bravo! You guys are so honest you must be poor!

Shooter One says:

Thank you Wallace,
Quite the reverse, we have a great living from using cameras, sometimes it pays to tell the whole truth… (just do not count photoshop on portraits)

Hi, thank you for your review. I am a Point and Shooter photographer hehehehe… and for it I’m looking for a very good compact camera. I wish, in a near future, learn more about photography, but not now.

What about the shutter speed, continuos mode and focus speed of S110 ? is it good , very good or so so ? One the things that I like so much of a DSLR is the continuos shot. You can make many photos in a few seconds and then, after, choose the better.

Sorry for my english, I’m having class yet! hehehehe.

Thank you very much.
Diego

Shooter One says:

Hi Diego
The shot to shot time of the S110 is very good considering, most compacts with video have a reasonable burst mode. The common problem here are models that offer very high megapixels at low cost, they generally cant handle the file sizes. Non of the models here has these problems as they are not really suitable for professional use if they have and problem here.

This is the best review of this type on the internet, well done guys and girls.
I love you videos too they are amazing!!!!

Ian McMillan says:

Brilliant review.
Many thanks

Honest review. narrowing my choice for a quality travel compact: G15, S110, Dlux 6 (or lx7) and the rx 100 (for comparison sake) ;which gives the best image quality. Thanks

Shooter One says:

Thank you for your question M
on pure image quality in everyday situations we feel that the G15 would just beat out the other cameras in your list, though in 80% of situations the RX100′s combo of big 20 MP and a decent Carl Ziess designed lens will have image detail to spare and would make the most impressive large print… I guess the solid fact is: if image detail is your main string in the complex cord of image quality, then you could tip towards an RX too. I am a serious image quality “freak” and have been know too take a pentax 6×7 and studio tripod on my beach holidays, so i know where you are coming from here. All in all From the cameras you mention I think in my “holiday mode” I would rather have an LX7, the image quality is stunning and the balance of factors other than pixel count make for the most appealing images to blow up…

I very much liked the honesty and up front nature of your reviews; it was a pleasure to read. I’m on the lookout for a new camera for mainly in-door shots of family and friends and would like something that performs well in low light conditions. I was looking at the Sony Nex 5r as I’ve briefly used a relatives Sony Nex C3 and liked the pictures he took. What is your view on the Nex 5r and hows does it compare to the Canon? After reading your opinion on the Canon S110 I’m think whether I should go for that instead.

Any advice would be much appreciated.

Thanks Shooter and greetings from Sydney. I may pick up the D Lux-6.

thank you so much for this, it has really made life easy. After reading a hundred reviews and taking a look at a million cameras available, i’m really tired and actually very glad i found this site. i just need some additional help to make up my mind for good – basically i am going to con my uncle into gifting me a camera and this is my only chance at getting an expensive one, because i definitely can’t afford them. Its like a once in a lifetime buy so I want to be 200% sure. my requirements are: not too bulky, want to carry it around but size doesn’t matter too much, i like a good zoom cause when i travel i take pictures from moving busses, manual mode is a must, raw and jpeg formats should be there, image quality of course, good macro and low light photography cause a lot of monasteries don’t allow flash inside and some cool features in b/w, if possible. i only take b/w pictures. what i have concluded after my research is that i like panasonic lx7 the best but initially i wanted g15. i’ve heard cannon’s g series is brilliant but g15′s review wasn’t that great. and i’m confused if should go in for micro slr’s or compact. dslr’s i can’t afford and analogues i love but developing is expensive and impractical for b/w (though i’m planning to buy a second hand one – any suggestions?). so please help my poor confused mind:) and sorry for the rambling.

Shooter One says:

If you have one shot at getting a great camera out of your uncle, go for broke and get a compact DSLR. It sounds like you will take some great photos on it. You can always sell it and buy a compact, if you fall out of love with lugging it about and taking the best images. Take a look at the Nikon 3200…

Half and crisps says:

Apologies
But you guys are the best reviewers on the net! Can you do a review of some other stuff? Maybe non camera stuff, your total honesty is really refreshing. Cars maybe?

Shooter One says:

Sorry we just do not have time… Anyway, there is only one real car: Ferrari, if you ever get to drive one you will understand.

I’m looking for a compact for macro shots, mainly of insects, as I simply wouldn’t take a larger camera with me on walks. Would you particularly recommend the Canon S110 for this, or something else?

Shooter One says:

One of the best things about compact cameras is they often have very good macro, this comes from having a smaller chip than SLRs and the way they tent to make the zoom lenses for them leaves them with a very simple solution to give superb macro, so most makers enable it. Also the contrast detection auto focus and back LCD help for quick focus, easy framing and getting the gear “in there”. I did have a Canon A650is (same lens as on the G9) some years back and that had amazing macro, it could fill the frame with with a 2cm object, it was a little soft at the edges but very crisp in the centre. Most modern cameras are as good, we did not test the macro on the S110 extensively, but it will be more capable that you need, unless you are taking a tripod. Testing the macro on small cameras is actually quite a fun and easy thing to do in a camera shop, i would suggest you take a small object that is able to stand up on it own and not just be placed on a table, (I have a little colourful angel statue that is sort of not too light or dark) and bring it to the camera shop and shoot it on all the cameras you are interested in!
I am definitely going to do some of that this afternoon! For insects I would look to something that has macro at the long end of the zoom, you will find that way you do not have to get too close to your subjects and make them walk off in mid shot. (a problem i never have in the studio as i shoot most of my best actor portraits on a 165mm lens and I obsessively brush my teeth 5times a day! ;)

The list seems to be slightly mixed up when looking at these different sized sensors, but I have to admit it si a very decent choice of the cameras. I love the Fuji X100s and being a Nikon shooter, P7700 has actually surprised me a pleasant way to made it on this list. Thank for tips guys. JP

Shooter One says:

You are welcome. With regards to sensor sizes – it is unusual to put these cameras together in a list but they have one thing in common and that is they all work for us as professional photographers, though in slightly different ways. We ranked them in order but they are all great cameras that could be used professionally under particular conditions.

Caroline Evans says:

More megapixels does not make for a good image! Having a bigger and better sensor does! Do you really think a little compact camera with 20 megapixels is going to be better than a DSLR with 10 megapixels? hoho

Shooter One says:

Of course we do not think that, and we do not say it either, We humbly suggest that you have misunderstood the article. Ho Ho?
I will give you the ADD summery: What we do try to say is = “What is the use of having a big (of course better) DSLR sitting at home, when you need to take a great picture? Better a great compact that your phone, here are the best ones we can find:” From our perspective: “a little compact” could be handy eve for a professional photographers. If you are one of those idiots that carries a full DSLR kit at all times and everywhere you go in life, great for you! I was that idiot myself for 10 years and acquired the skills and shot the portfolio that made several million dollars ultimately. Still i spent a good of that money with chiropractors, carriing two bodies, 7 lenses and a tripod to the corner shop. Admittedly I could have shot 80% of that just as well on something like a S110. Still, in a winner take all business like photography 80% is way not good enough, if you want to get to the very top, you need to have the best gear on you when you need it. Personally I am no longer in favour of this, as small cameras are now quite incredible, but as you explain, only up to a point.

Very impressive roundup and really DOES not have any whiff of not shrilling for other agendas like so many of the other blogs/web reviews. Really looking forward to hear the hands on with the Fuji X-20. Guess you guys may have already had experience with the X-10 which doesn’t appear in the top 5. Can see I’m going to end up with a Nikon DSLR and a compact. I’m also curious if there is a compromise smallish camera that handles sport/fast movement to some degree and what your take is on that (or whether I’m really asking for the world on that one :) ?

Shooter One says:

Thank you for your suport.
Small compacts that can make a good job of sports it a mighty high order, the main problem is auto focus, the AF systems in compacts are limited by processor power, motor size and maximum aperture of a small foldable long zoom. At the moment there is nothing I would recommend, if you are talking abut getting dirty “into the action” I would recommend a GoPro 3 black edition, the ultra wide stills are pretty awesome for a great wearable video camera!

Brilliant, at last a review I feel I can trust. I’ve been researching compacts for a while. This review says everything I needed to know. I can’t take my DSLR into arenas and yes it’s just sometimes too bulky and in peoples faces. I want similar results with a camera without some of the restrictions, so all you’ve said is relevant, thank you. I just love the Lumix Lx7, but then I feel I’m ignoring the advice of people who are far more in the know than myself! It’s just one question. Apart from the lens cap issue, which I can see being an issue; quality wise is there that much in it between the Lumix, Nikon and Cannon? I realise is this probably a stupid question given the fact you’ve ranked them! But I’m hoping there isn’t I suppose as i’ve ‘fallen’ for the Lumix.

Shooter One says:

Funnily enough I was at the O2 this week seeing a huge concert (as a civilian – no camera!). Standing in the 5th row being banged about by the black swarm, I was keeping an eye on the valiant attempts by the fans around me to get a decent picture on their phones and compacts… the only person who got anything halfway “pro” was a small girl (i think from italy) who had a fairly large backpack on at a certain point she extracted a decent SLR (looked like an Olympus E5) and began getting great shots by getting onto her (large) boyfriends shoulders… I guess if I were going to give you advice I would suggest the Nikon, as the stage is very well lit and the long zoom and faster AF will be the deciding factor. If you can get closer the LX7 will be the (very slightly) better image, and the lens has a better ability to handle the high contrast.

Jeff Bellin says:

I’m currently looking at the Nikon P7700 and Lumix LX7. Cost to me in the US is currently $389 vs. $376 respectively (the former comes with a medium carry case – note below). It is also nice to see they are both in your “Top Five”. It is also nice to see you step off the tall pedestal of professional photographers and be with us lowlife plebeian amateurs. ;-)

Anyway, I am stepping (up?) from a Fuji E550. I bought it when new in 2005 (and thought it took some GREAT shots), but it developed a problem and Fuji doesn’t work on these cameras anymore. (Is that the case with all manufacturers? The nice thing about analog film cameras is that they really don’t go obsolete!)

Could you directly compare the two I mention, aside from their size differences? I’m looking at ease of use, intuitive interface and, of course,overall quality. Their sensor sizes are identical, yet the Lumix has 10MP whereas the Nikon as 12MP, the former apparently having larger pixel size? Regarding their physical size, by the way, the Nikon doesn’t immediately appear immensely bigger, but the LX7 is just small enough to be able to fit into a jacket pocket. Not really so with the Nikon.

I’m really more of a casual photographer who occasionally gets the creative bug. I’ll see something and want to capture it in a fine, sometimes artful way. I do appreciate image quality the way I appreciate better analog music playback setup (i.e., vinyl or R2R setup) over digital in that the I find analog much better in terms of being more musical. And I still find film largely better than digital photography, too.

In the end, I’ll use whichever camera I get in whatever way takes advantage of its best attributes,gravitating toward its strengths.. I usually carried the E550 around in a small case (to protect it, but the case also carried spare batteries and memory cards), but I occasionally carried it around in a small shoulder bag with my sunglasses and other items if I were traveling and wanted not to carry more than one bag. If I got the Nikon, I’d always carry it around in a case (and a medium one, with room for accessories, is provided if you buy it from certain retailers). With the Leica, I might be able to put it into the shoulder bag.

There are a few additional hidden costs with the LX7, I have discovered. For one, the P7700 can hide the LCD against its body for protection. With the LX7, it’s probably best to get a protector for it to keep it from getting scratched. With the P7700, the lens on the camera is threaded so you can get filters and just put them on. With the LX7, you have to get an adapter in order to put filters or other accessories on the lens. Correct me if I’m wrong here.

Any other things I want to consider? I know I’ll have a very good camera either way.

Any thoughts from you would be helpful. Thanks in advance. (And you do realize I’m joshing you on the pedestal comment, I hope).

Shooter One says:

I think you have answered your own question, the LX7 would seem to be the better fit for you. You will be really happy stepping up for the Fuji E550 with either of these but the LX7 will probably make you happier. The only chink in your argument would be the cost of the filter adapter for the LX7, if you really are going to get the tinted glass bug, but as these small filters seem overpriced to me in a lot of ways it is not that much.

Nakul jena says:

Nikon DSLR D90 Is very good cameras,

Shooter One says:

Thank you for your contribution, Nakul. Personally I would say it was too, on the day it came out, but this is a piece about professional compact cameras. (??)

Nice review.
I used to have a Canon Ixus 700 and really liked it. I especially found the autofocus on my running / jumping etc kids really good. It`s always good to get the face instead of the back of the head because the auto focus was too slow :(

The Ixus 700 broke :( so I`m now in the market for a compact camera with THAT feature, a quick button-to-capture action, for exactly the same thing – fast moving kids on holiday.
Obviously taking some nice landscape and beach or posing shots would be a bonus. Does the Canon S110 fill this criteria? Also is there something similar to the quality/size of the S110 that has a proper viewfinder? I find them better than the LCD display.

Many thanks in advance.

Shooter One says:

It is probably too expensive for what you need… but your dream camera is almost the fuji X100s: try one, you could be happier with the size than you realise.

Paul Monaghan says:

I’d firstly like to congratulate you on your objective review. Well done. I’m currently in the market for a compact do it all type of camera having sold my D90 Kit a few months ago through lack of use. Prior to that I had a D70 and prior to that I had a Nikon compact and before that, yep you guessed it I had a Nikon point and shoot so it was always going to be a hard job to get me to change but you have done just that.

I have spent quite a bit of time reading reviews and not once had I considered the S110. I was always drawn to the larger “enthusiast” compacts but I was concerned that they would go the same way as the DSLR, unused and collecting dust so I held of making a purchase.

Thanks again
Paul

I need a camera that can take fast, clear, defined action shots of my dogs jumping through the air and running around without blurring… Is this a good option? I do not want to pay more than £400…does it have a burst feature?
Thanks

Shooter One says:

You really need a DSLR and a bright day to do this atall well. At that price point you will struggle to find a pro camera, but if you were thinking of trying to get those shots on a compact you will do 5x better on almost any current DSLR. For £400 ($650) I would get a Nikon d3200 with the 18-55mm vr lens it comes as a kit and some places seem to sell it for £399.99. If you take some time to be patient and repeat your setups several days running. Until you have mastered all the tricks, and worked out how best to get the dogs where you want them, your shots on this camera could be pretty much indistinguishable for stuff shot by a Pro on Pro-equipment.

Hi people,
Came across this very articulate review while trying to make the difficult but crucial decision about which camera to buy – I’ve always loved photos, and had a Lumix years ago, but only recently took things a step further by doing a basic digital photo course. Would like a camera compact enough to fit in my bag (not huge but not small!) but which has the features you’d expect in an slr so I can practise what I learned! Some of the language here is too technical for me, but the Nikon P7700 seems good. Haven’t got endless funds so price seems great. Going to LA next month so looking to buy shortly – any advice for a keen amateur appreciated!!

Shooter One says:

I would say that the P7700 Nikon might be you best bet from the cameras here – if you are willing to put in some time to master its myriad of cool functions. If you really need every penny, you could think of buying it in the USA, it will probably be a fair bit cheaper? (though the chance you could have to pay duty on your return and the possibility that you might have issues with the guarantee, and exchange rate commissions, might together negate the few pounds you save)

RJ Garduque says:

Awesome review! Your experience truly makes this column reliable. if the ranking would be changed according to shooting video, how would the rankings look like? THank you.

Shooter One says:

We did factor video into our review score, but as professional photographers we do not see video as critical on these cameras, I have used my Lumix LX7 Video, shot on a tripod and under good light, in TV broadcasts as a third camera, to 2 DSLRs and you would be pushed to spot any difference.

Hi Guys

An excellent review – really useful but fuunny too.

Can I ask you for an opinion. I’m just a bloke who needs a camera to take photos of my kids / holidays / and anything that catches the eye. I’m a point and shoot type of bloke and have never been out of an ‘auto’ mode. My now dead camera is a Panasonic Lumix something which was perfectly acceptable for my needs until it died.

I can now buy the s110 for a little over £200 and I was looking to spend about that much. Is this the camera for me or will it be over the top for my needs. I like the fact that the image quality is likely to be better than anything I’ve had before – I just want to make sure the s110 will work for an auto-mode duffer like me? Or would you recommend anything else?

Your answer is greatly appreciated and anticipated.

Thanks again and great review.

J

Shooter One says:

At that price I can see much reason for you not getting a S110, It is very fast in use and the auto and program modes are are probably the area the the camera stands out most. If price is a factor you are looking at a great fit, you can get slightly better auto focus but not without giving up a good deal of compactness or money (often both). I can’t see you being very unhappy with the s110 in the short term.

hi, i’ve read your list for the 2nd time, i’m still confused which one to get, i need the compact camera for shooting product (shoes & shirt) in my tiny room (with no good lightng), and ofcourse for travelling also.

which one should i get, canon S110, P7700, LX7, G15? T_T

thanks alot

Shooter One says:

I would suggest that all these cameras can do what you ask as well as compacts can, what you probably lack is a clear idea of how to get a good result with any of them. No camera is going to take a great picture for you, but I have a feeling that the LX7 is going to slow you down in a good way and help you find your pictures. As for product photography, lighting is much more important that the camera…

Nice reviews , very interesting and informative.
I wanna purchase a camera for point n shoot may be a bigger size within £400 , I searched the market and found Sony hx 300 and Nikon d 3000 as better options .
Can u plz guide me as to which one is better or if u can suggest a better camera within this price range , may it be a semi professional type like hx 300
Hope to hear from u very soon
Thanks

Shooter One says:

This is a post about compact cameras…. but quickly….The Nikon D3200 with the 18-55vr is probably the best camera kit for you in that price range- if I am guessing correctly which are the salient features of the two cameras you mentioned. You will not go far wrong, if you are happy with the size and ergonomics.

Niel Willson says:

I am a pro photographer and have been looking to update my LX5 for a couple of weeks now, done a heap of reading, and made a few trips to stores. Can I just say is you have written only unbiased review of small cameras on the net, and I am in total agreement with every line. Whoever you guys are (?), you are legends. Well done for not selling out, and not permitting any sales links on your site. Honestly Bravo!

Firstly, thanks so much for this wonderful review. I have been researching high end compacts and I was a able to narrow it down to 3 choices. My top choices are in the following order: Lumix lx7, Sony rx100 and Canon s110. However after this review, I am re-considering the Sony rx110. My question is, why is it that the Sony rx110 appear to have the best picture quality? All of the images I have seen from this camera have been amazing. I’ve compare the 3 from pictures on blogs to instagram. It seems like Sony has the upper hand in quality because their pics are more crisp and detailed. The lx7 was the runner up, but the canon pics did not impress me.

Also, what advantages the canon s110 have over lx7?

This is my first time buying a high end compact, and I want to make sure I get the best one. PLEASE HELP

Shooter One says:

“Why is it that the Sony rx110 appear to have the best picture quality?” The Sony RX110 has not been announced yet? Did you mean Canon S110 or the Sony RX1?
BTW they all have amazing image quality, they are all good cameras, the reason to get the Canon S110 is it is a good bit smaller. If you want really good image quality maybe a compact is not for you… get almost any DSLR, or a Leica M if you need to stay smallish and still need to max the max in image quality.

Thanks, I really appreciate your non-biased review of Pro level compact cameras. Reading through this entire site I noted the Canon G15 was mentioned several times but not reviewed. You said in one of your responses “The G15 is definitely a “better” camera than the 110s, but it is not really a compact camera as such. First I wonder why you do not consider the G15 a compact? Secondly as it would meet my needs would you please compare it to the P7700 and the P7000. I like to take landscapes, as well as flower pictures while hiking. At times I find wildlife to capture as well. I have used SLRs and DSLRs but want something more lightweight as I age and weight on my treks has become an issue. I have always had a viewfinder…tunnnel…and wonder about the P7700 with only a LCD screen. Any thoughts? Again thanks for your clear and objective reviews.

Shooter One says:

Luckily you have sort of answered your own question, and we are quite busy with taking photos in the once a year “british location week” (some laughingly call it “the summer”) as well as looking at some newer cameras for upcoming review: so can’t really conduct a review of the 3 cameras you like and write it up. Still… if you are willing to carry a Nikon D7000 while hiking, there is no contest here: that is the best camera of the three, in almost every are except size and weight. If you are not willing to carry it then the difference between the G15 and the P7700 is very little, so the viewfinder calls it in your case.

Grey nomad says:

After weeks of trying to work out for myself the ‘best high end compact camera’ for me, I found your excellent asessment of cameras I was considering for my own requirements – but I still need a little more help if you have the time. I travel, I am a landscape photographer and I like to work in aperture priority as depth of field is important to me, I like to have a lot of control over camera settings, I need a decent zoom and possibly the ability use filers. I already own DSLRs but am looking for a smaller lighter addition to my kit.
Of the your top 5 which one would you reccomend for my needs?

Shooter One says:

All these cameras have some form of aperture control. The filters are probably the catch here, We would suggest the Lx7 as it can be adapted to take full size filers that give you much more variably and scope that the specialist filters that come as relatively expensive options to some top end compacts.

Louis Deville says:

Article was really fun to read and your lack of bias is remarkable. Please please do more.

Hello there! I would love your help with my photography, do you guys do lessons or courses? Thanks a lot!

Shooter One says:

We have done personal tuition at about £1000 per day, and we are thinking of doing a mentoring program for about $3800 a year. Most of our ex-assistants and pupils are now successful photographers, a couple are quite famous (that is why they get paid quite badly). So I guess our influence has some effect, people say you can’t teach creativity, and I would say that is true… But you can inspire it; if you have it, thats why people throughout history have tried to meet and be around creative talent. Give us a call and we will try and point you in the correct direction.

Thank you for not bigging up the Terrible Sony RX100, I bought one of these because of the literally dozens of 5 star and top reviews it got on the internet. What a waste of money, the specs looked amazing, but in practice it is very poor in real life, with highlights blowing out everywhere. I can see you test your cameras and not just read the spec sheets and write a review. Thanks I will follow your recommendations in future.

You have such a good way of explaining this complex subject, camera writers are so often dry and boring. I
am going to deliver this as an example of good modern writing in my university project.

David Lloyd says:

Great reviews and appreciate the honesty. I had almost made my mind up and ready to purchase the canon S110, but then my mind was changed when the G15 and Fuji x100s got mentioned. Which compact will give the best picture quality? Not too worried with size, I will find a pocket to fit it. Appreciate the advice.

Shooter One says:

If you are not worried about size (why are you reading this review of the best compact cameras?), but do want the best image quality then you need look at something with interchangeable lenses and a bigger chip…

Hi Guys!

What would you say the best compact camera is for Landscape photos? My budget is around £500. Size doesn’t matter greatly but i’m after something that can easily fit in a rucksack and large pocket. I’m looking at the Fuji X20, Canon G1X and the Lumix X7 at the mo. Just getting a little confused with all the choice. Any help is much appreciated!!!

Shooter One says:

For pure landscape and on that budget – I would try the Fuji X20 of the three, but there is not a great deal in it. They are all great, you are the best part of the camera system! Just to go out and start taking images in the wild and do not pull any more hair about which of those three is slightly better :).

I was considering buying the sony cybershot rx100 until I read this review. I was also seriously considering the Samsung nx300, which offers interchangeable lens and high quality sensor from what I can gather. What are your thoughts about the samsung nx300. Is there a particular reason why it isn’t mentioned at all? thanks, jason

Shooter One says:

Both of these cameras have image quality issues, that would exclude them from professional use. They both look great on paper and are very popular with people who read internet reviews, alas until you live with them you will not find much out, other than some subtle moans on camera forums. THe NX300 looks nice and the main flaws are design based, the reason it is not in our review is that it is not a compact (too big, interchangeable lenses)

Hey! Im looking for a professional camera, and i have to make a choice between Sony Cybershot rx100 ii or Samsung nx300.. The sony is wonderful, i’ve tried it, but the samsung has a lot in common with the sony except you can change the lens, that is a good thing..
Which one would you recommend? And im surprise that the samsung is not there.. Is it because its not considered as a compact camera because it has a lens that you change?
Thank you sooo much

Shooter One says:

If you must…there is very little in it, of the two the nx300 probably just pips it. I would not use either if I could, but you can get really great results from both with little trouble.

Which compact camera do you recommend for me?
- it’s really to shoot quality daytime pics of my children when we are out and about. (Camera to fit in handbag – doesnt have to be tiny for jeans pocket!)
- I’m obsessed with image quality and colour (and yes I have to work on my steady hand and get good light :)
- I’ve been learning and using my Canon 450D on manual mode (zoom and fixed length lens) so I’d like a camera that gives me the ability to play with settings.
- ie I’m really looking for a SLR in a compact camera!
- is it possible to achieve a blurry background with a compact camera?
- video a bonus but not essential.
- willing to pay in the $500/$600 range if required.
Thanks for great info above.

Shooter One says:

Hi Lynne
If you could live without zoom, you are describing the Fuji X100s, SLR “out of focusness”, great “kid catching” focusing speed, excellent colour etc. The only problem is it is over a $1000 dollars new… hmmmm I would get one second hand, they are often bought by people with plenty of cash as a fashion accessory and end up on ebay almost unused not far from your budget.

Hi Shooter One
I studiously read from the top to the bottom of the page including the comments section. I and the rest of the readers for sure, truly thank you for such a blatant review. it’s an interesting read.
By the way, I stumbled on your site because I was scourging the net for different opinions of Lumix LX7. The other reason for such alarmingly studious scourging was due to the fact that my work has based me in Dubai where there are no policies of refund. Some shops gives us the luxury of giving back the product, but we are forced to buy something else from their shop, whether we like it or not. Hence this painstaking internet digging since spare cash is a luxury that I can hardly afford at this point of time.
My needs are a) photographs of my growing son, b) instant photos of nature as I travel c) low light photography like birthday parties, night shots of the city and of the city with the subject at the foreground. Your reviews gravitated me to p7700 and s110 apart from the lx7. I took a memory card, went around shops and clicked pics with lx7 and p7700 and reviewed the pics on my laptop. Couldn’t try s110 coz the shops around here still doesn’t have an open piece on display. My not so trained eye couldn’t find much difference between the quality of pics between lx7 and p7700 except that meter readings showed that the lx7 was a stop lower and the shutter speed higher than the p7700 (in almost identical situation since both cameras were in 2 different shops and locations, but it was night time, hence both shops were filled with their bright internal lightings). Secondly, I felt that the lx7 pics were a lil more brighter than the Nikon. If pocketability was not a major issue, just being compact is, then, out of the three – lx7, p7700 and s110, with gut feeling, which camera will you put your paws on?
I ask this question because after reading your review atleast 5 to 6 times, I feel the s110 took centre stage due to the reason of it’s pocketability.(apart from being the best in clicking quality pictures) Your answer will definitely make me go out and buy the one recommended and take part in a photography competition which will end on August 31st :).
And I thank you in advance for your time…and also for your patience towards laymen like us :D.

Shooter One says:

Hi Mike
I would not buy a camera (with my own money) from anyone I could not return and at least exchange for another. From your description of your requirements, I think your original idea is correct and you are probably going to be most happy with the LX7. Unfortunately I have to say that it is not perfect for everyone, maybe try all three out around a mall (i seem to recall that that is possible in Dubia, as people do not steal stuff there and they trust you to test drive camera/s on your own in the shop and often around the mall)
I would like to say that you seem the kind of person who will be able to get great shots out of all three of these cameras, so the differences will be down to handling, as professionals we like the Canon S110 in this regard… but our prefs are coloured by our professional’s love of seamless efficiency.
My guess is; if you can’t return cameras there, then there is probably be a great secondhand market for hardly used cameras, you might save a bundle of that scarce spare cash of yours!
PS do NOT NOT buy a second hand camera in Dubia without sight of the original sale receipt, or get a written assurance that the camera is not stolen, you do not want to buy a camera that could be stolen out there, (or anywhere) but in Dubia you have committed a serious crime.

Thank you for your inputs Shooter. Actually, that’s something that I didn’t think about before i.e. taking it around the mall and trying for a while. Am sure they’ll not mind. Even if they mind, I can put in a deposit. Yep, all points noted down including the pitfalls while dealing with the secondhand market. Actually, before writing this mail, I asked around for second hand shops. Seems it’s very hard to find one. Typical Dubai, all bling bling and everything brand new.
Anyways, a long weekend is been announced today due to the culmination of their fasting season. Hence I’ll be making one last try of the three models during this weekend and then make the sweet jump.
Thanks again Shooter 1, truly appreciate your feedback and keep rocking…..as usual!

Hi I have read through this twice, I like the sound of the s110 the P7700 and the LX7. I am leaning towards the P7700 basically because of the slightly larger zoom. Just wanted your opinion apart from these 3 are there any other cameras with a slightly bigger zoom which you would recommend, also low light is a main concern as my current camera is hopeless and that is the main reason I am looking for another one. I can then go to a shop and have hold to feel which feels right for me. Thanks.

Shooter One says:

There in lies the rub… the bigger the zoom range = so, the smaller the aperture becomes (ie the less light gets in) and so cameras with long zooms are not as good in low light, (they are also less sharp). Thats why we do not recommend any of the compact super zooms, as professionals we feel they are just not up to muster, and probably never will be, well at least until camera sensitivity becomes much better and aspherical lens elements get much cheaper ie 5ish years before we see a decent compact 1.4 super zoom for less than 3000 usd or a usable, detailed, low aberating, mid energy consumption, and noise free: 2000asa compact sensor chip.

Hello Shooter One,
I have read your reviews & discussions with interest.
I wonder if you could give me some advice too?
I know very little about cameras or photography & have an old point & shoot. I go to a lot of punk / psychobilly gigs, often in small dingy clubs / pubs where the lighting is poor, I like to take photos of the bands, audience & friends.
Usually the band members are leaping around & so there is a lot of movement combined with low light.
I occasionally strike lucky, but more often than not I find with the flash off the people are blurry & with the flash on all the stage lighting & atmosphere are lost.
I have fiddled with the limited settings, but still find that often my friends get better photos with their phones!
I would like to get a new compact camera & would appreciate some guidance on what camera would be best for me to use under these circumstances. I don’t want a DSLR, but I would prefer a slightly bigger compact if it would give better results than a tiny one.
I have been looking at the Canon G15.
Thank you.
Cathy.

Shooter One says:

I would not worry about a big zoom range or much flash as you can get very close to the band at those type of gigs and new cameras can handle 1200asa just shoot wide open (ie on the “A” setting, set at the biggest aperture), maybe if you work the band or manager you can even get on stage for one song and really get into the action. Shoot as much as you can, view everything in black and white, and I think you will soon be getting shots to make those pesky camera phones bleed lithium. I shot Kanye West like this a while back and the shots were “out of this world” – made me look like I was a live gig snapper extraordinaire… if it worked for me?

I would get something, small and tough without a zoom and with a big aperture…. if you can get real close to the band, fuji x100s? if you need to zoom then the LX7 will probably make the “best” images in difficult light but the Canon s110 will return slightly higher percentage “in focus” shots…..

PS those cool camera phones (Samsung particularly) do a lot of “photoshop” type tricks on the fly, to make the images look cool (sort of built in instagram”) you can learn to do that kind of thing to any images from any camera in photoshop.

Its one helluvan assessment. Im loving it…
Well, I needed an advice with a camera I intend to buy. I am planning on buying Canon HX50 but Ive heard some great things about the canon S110 as well. Im not a professional photographer but yes I am fond of photography otherwise and take lots of pictures. What would you recommend for such a user?
Your reply would be appreciated

Shooter One says:

I think the Canon HX50 has a great lens for the money/zoom range and is a possibly better “hobbyist camera” than an s110 if you are super keen, but it is not a compact… As a pro it is too big to carry in my jeans and no where near good enough to be worth hanging on my neck all day long, just in case something amazing pops up. Thus it is not a contender in this review, and if i was a keen hobbyist with a small budget I would probably get a Nikon D3200. Try those three to start and see how they work for you.

Now that a bit of time has passed since this great review was published and the discussion has got going, I just wondered whether you’ve had a look at the Nikon P330 and if so what you think of it. Thanks

These reviews are great and there are some really interesting comments from readers. I just wondered what you think of another small camera – Nikon P330?
Also I’ve noticed you’ve often mentioned the D3200 and I’ve been thinking about this camera as well, but I think I cannot use my old lenses with it ( I need the autofocus) do you think the D7100 is worth the extra expense ( I think old lenses will work on auto F) . Thanks.

P330 is a very decent camera, quite similar to the slightly smaller S110, but the S110 has much better handling though and the jpegs have a much more pumped look out of the box. But with out a single doubt the D7100 is the best camera of the three by a football field, but it is hardly a compact…

Dear Shooter 1,

Many thanks for your great review on Canon PowerShot S110 which have cleared much of my doubts about it.

However, I have just came across another seems-to-be-a-good option too yesterday – the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-WX300. Personally, I am much impressed by some of its features as demonstrated by the salesperson:- 1) Its 20x optical zoom where it is able to capture a very clear image and also, very smooth when zooming… 2) Its anti motion blur where it is able to capture a totally still image even with a very shakey hand holding the camera capturing the other moving hand… 3) Its low light performance also quite pleasing where it is able to clearly capture the objects in a drawer which is just slightly opened for the camera to be slipped into it… 4) Its intelligent sweep panorama which is easy to use… 5) It is much comparable to the S110 in terms of the size and weight. Both are also conveniently pocket-sized and light. However, WX300 is slightly cheaper though.

I need a camera for personal day-to-day easy-to-use and travelling purposes including capturing decent scenery view during the day and also, certain moments at the night/during a low light condition.

Need your advice on which should I go for between these two cameras. Hope to hear from you soon. Thanks in advance =]

Shooter One says:

On the whole, 20x zooms are a terrible compromise, with awful lenses and poor max apertures…. the W300 is a camera designed by the marketing dept, take a poor performing 20x super-zoom lens and then give it loads of megapixels to really show up the compromise, there are some parts of the zoom range where 5 megapixels would be too much, some camera phones are better! Sony were not just trying to get money for their shareholders though, they were just trying to give the public the spec they think they want, big zoom range, big LCD, lots of megapixels, under £200/$300 street price… result A fairly poor performer that sell by the bucket load. I should not bang down too hard on Sony, most camera companies make a camera like the wx300 some a lot worse, these types of camera are right for certain types of user, just not us. This is not really a camera that I would recommend to a professional photographer.

i want some holiday beach snap, landscape, protrait which one is better olympus XZ-1 or canon s100? anyone can suggest or recommand?

Shooter One says:

These are both “older” model cameras that can be bought quite cheaply second hand or on blowout sale. I would plump for the XZ-1 as it is probably slightly better built and I think would be he better buy second hand. New I would say the S100 just pips it with it’s better handling, and slightly better colour.

How about olympus sz-31?

Shooter One says:

Quite a pretty camera, with a 24x one camera does it all zoom range, but ultimately not really suitable to talk about in this “professional” review as it has the same problems and compromises as the vanilla sony W300 only worse as it is over a larger zoom range.

And yeah, how about the newer – Nikon P330 as compared to Canon S110?

Shooter One says:

Darrel – we are impressed by your reserch, unfortunately I have a “super famous” actor arriving here in 20 mins and the buffet breakfast is not all organic as specified in the rider! in the light of this “serious disaster” (according to the agents and handlers) I will have to cut our discourse short and give you our best advice…. “buy a Canon S120 and stop bugging me” ;) you will be happy and so busy taking great photographs that you should stop worrying about the stuff your compact of choice does not have…

P.S. If you cant wait or afford one, go for an S110 or a that nice P330 they are all excellent, and with a moment in photoshop they will all produce images that you would be able to put in a gallery.

Hi again Shooter One,
I just wanted to say thank you for considering my questions & taking the time to reply.
Best Wishes
Cathy

Just get in there and take pictures, BTW the G15 is a great camera in a some ways, it has very good 2.8 aperture at the long end of it’s zoom range, its basic flaw is annoyingly hesitant auto focus, that could be a real pain in low light fast moving gig situations…

Charles Grylls says:

Just purchased the Canon S110 along with a friend who is more expert – lovely camera, though we both agree on/off switch needs long nails/tiny fingers – S120 just released, bum !

Shooter One says:

We updated the site with a mention of the S120 within 50 hours of the surprise release. Take the S110 back, if you bought it in the UK your have 28 days and the power button is a fair reason, just trade up to a S120 and stick a little bit of black rubber onto the button to make it easier to press, there are even companies that make them to size for about $10!

Thanks for one’s marvellous review! I actually enjoyed reading it, you might be a great author. I am off to buy a canon S120 today.
I want to encourage you to continue your great writing, and have a lovely afternoon!

I came across your reviews while comparing a Fuji F900exr to a Nikon S9500 because I like the idea of a zoom lens. I do know that zoom lenses lose a lot of quality when zoomed, but do you still get a good quality photo when shooting at the wider angles? Would you recommend either the F900 or the S9500 for general purpose pictures ie: vacations, grandchildren. I like digital photography because I can crop all my photos the way I want. Would I be better off getting the CanonS120 and continue to crop my pictures before printing them?

We do not like these very long zooms, they are technically amazing, but they give away a huge amount in aperture and a too much in quality for professional photographers to be happy.
The fuji is probably the better camera as it’s auto focus sounds sounds so very capable, the nikon is fully auto only. I would ask myself why you need such a very long zoom? they are both about 500mm (in 35mm terms) this is the kind of focal length that sports and wildlife photographers like, but way too long for active shooting kids, even outdoors, unless you like to keep them where you can’t hear them :)
I think you would be much happier and get better images with a s120 or something more like that…
These cameras would be slightly better quality, in terms of sharpness, at there longest zoom settings that a crop to the same area from a S110, but the image would probably be less pleasing in other ways, as that long zoom lens is trying to be too many things and master of nothing.

Thanks for your response. I haven’t checked out the S110 but will be sure and do that.

david grandy says:

Really appreciate your honest and impartial review of those 5 compact cameras, most odd that the cheapest one got your recommendation.
Any chance of reviewing some dslr cameras and perhaps some ilc models in the near future?

Hello,

over all the reviews I read, I found this one to be very influential..
remaining drawbacks of the S110/S120 remain:
1) very limited battery autonomy (in the context of camping, many batteries would be required)..
2) still did not find if the touch screen could be really fully disabled if becomes an annoyance..

I have already bought both the Lumix LX7 and G15 before returning them back because of issues such as lens cap or bulkiness.. but I really like the overall G15 spécifications and characteristics (besides size)..

Any feedback on these issues!?

Hi luc
1) You must be shooting a lot of images or doing a fair amount of video on your camping holidays, I have 1 spare battery for my s110 and I have never needed more that those 2, even trekking a week with no power and shooting 50-80 pictures a day without flash I still had half a battery. Still extra Batteries are cheap on ebay and they are only a few grams, so i would not worry about batt life if I liked the camera enough.
2) Have not gotten a S120 yet, but according to the manual you can lock it, but you can’t do without it completely (if you hate using it).

Mr. Shooter One,
Thank you for the feedback.. Actually, I may be a compulsive shooter because I can take up to 200 pictures a day, sometimes a bit more (playing with parameters and taking advantage of the battery life of the Canon Powershot A620 I have been using for years). I have been so undecided this summer that I found a used (temporary) A620 to replace the one I had drowned in a after hesitating on the LX7 and the G15.

Regarding the touch screen, I have read about users annoyed by changing set ups through inadvertently touching the screen and I am quite comfortable with menus. Would love the G15 for its ergonomics, menus, buttons but it really is bulky for hiking etc..

Thanks again,

Luc

Just wanted to let you know. I have been looking for a few weeks. This is the best review of compact cameras on the internet, you guys are the bomb!

Old and Confused says:

Hi – Only review I have read all the way through – so thank you – but after reading half the comments started getting Number and Initial Blind – It’s a problem at my age…. Anyway what is the best budget compact camera for a non techie that takes photos in wet and muddy trees and field enduro racetracks for fun… I was thinking your number 1 would be perfect but just wanted to make sure that even I would be capable of getting the bike in the picture. Not something I achieve often so have taken to video on my phone. It is only for fun and the guys I go with. Just to be able to share those moments on fb. Thanks again and look forward to your reply :)

I ride an enduro (motorbike) and at some winter events you are going to struggle as all of these pro compact cameras do not do well in water, sand and mud. You might be better getting the new GoPRO, the stills are not bad, and the video is very good, you can even stick it to someones bike and get action stuff like you will not believe. As you guessed the Canon s110 / s120 is probably the best bet here for lovely handling and natural point, just don’t get it too muddy or you will find the zoom barrel gums up and it will be a £300 paper weight. To be honest Enduros are the province of SLRs, and cameras in plastic bags… :)

This is so awesome, the best damn photographers review on the internet, I can’t say how brilliantly you have summed up a very confusing and misleading sector of the photographic market. This will surely help me make a great decision.

Any thoughts about the forthcoming Leica C?

Not yet, but we are very interested in the Leica C: It could be a very cool looking camera (though it is totally over priced), I went into the Leica shop near us just off Barclay Square in Mayfair, and they were starting to tell me a few things about the camera that sounded promising but then I looked on the wall and saw that they sponsor an unbelievably bad british photographer called just “Rankin” (AKA the untalented “human photocopier” who embarrassingly is on TV here from time to time making pro-photography look like a great faux career for slightly retarded people with rich or influential families) So I figured that Leica in the UK have lost there way and forgotten everything they ever knew about pro-photography and marketing and just I just left the shop in total horror! I guess it would be Ok for a company who sell crap to the beginners to get a “famous name” to endorse their products. But Leica is aimed at Professionals and people who can spot a fraud “photographer” 10 miles away, talk about reverse marketing… Anyway the Leica C is an Audi designed (and what the hell do they know about cameras?) dressed up Panasonic Lumix DMC-LF1. Admittedly a pretty damn good 12 megapixel camera with a few flaws, but all that Leica seem to be bringing to the party is the pretty dress so I guess I would say the same thing i would say about the Lumix – no thank you. I feel this is the same territory as the ridiculous Hasselblad Stella… Take a potentially great camera with a few easy to fix flaws and then do absolutely nothing about those problems, with all your great camera experts apparently having a day off, use all that “talent” to dress it up real nice and charge a lot more than the already redundant donor camera… this is history repeating itself only with ever faster iterations. Super! I wish one of these idiot marketing people would come to us and ask what we would like to do with their best cameras to make them actually great, then they might build the camera we all want and maybe make themselves a fortune… I would not want a share of the profits, or even care what they called it so long as I could buy one and use it. Knowing the way the business is going, these once imaginative companies will just bring out a diamond covered small camera with a 40meg chip but a rubbish lens or unusable autofocus, then call it the “Rankin” and complain that no one is buying, cry for 5 mins when they go insolvent, get bought by Sony for nothing, eventually to become nothing more than a label on a slightly better than average lens on a poorly conceived but well marketed Sony camera with 41meg chip … and so on for ever. Business is about making money and giving people what they want. but hell, sometimes it is handy to occasionally get one thing right, don’t any of these guys care about what they are selling us?

Any thoughts on how the Nikon coolpix p7800 might fare here, given the addition of the viewfinder on top of the p7700 specs? Or the lumix lf1 as a more direct competitor to the canon 110?

Toying here between the p7800, lumix lf1, lumix lx7 or canon g15/16… Tough deciding!

The lumix LF1 is a very decent camera, it is trying to be a Canon s100 with a much longer zoom and crucially a viewfinder (admittedly not a very great viewfinder). But it is not as quite good as the canon in almost every way. I would say if your really need an EVF (electronic viewfinder) that badly in your compact camera, maybe because you are very longsighted or constantly taking photos in very bright sunlight of dark subjects, then this is the one, not because it’s overly long and dark zoom is anywhere as good as the name Leica printed on it, but because very few decent smaller compacts have a viewfinder at all.
Except:
Nikon P7800 This just announced camera should be a better bet than the LF1, though it is bigger so we are not happy with this size point. It too has a longer zoom, though with a much better aperture, also it has an EVF (on paper a slightly better one) until we can play with one it is hard to say much more. One thing – to fit on the EVF onto the 7700 frame, they have dropped the quick control dial – pity, but the 7700 was great to use with out it, so this should be an OK sacrifice.

The LX7 is talked about above but we think all three of these newer cameras are very “good” cameras, my gut tells me the Canon G16 is the camera for you, as of the four I think it is package I would most like to shoot with, but hey… if I was saying that kind of thing, I would rather have a Nikon D800 or even a D4 to take any shot, by a mile over a G16! This article is about COMPACT cameras for pro photographers, and small size and portability are key, It is very hard to have pocketable size in a camera that will keep a professional photographer happy(ish), i.e. in a camera where all the rest of the parts of the image chain are top notch in performance and the thing needs to handle swiftly and make almost no mistakes. It is obviously still very hard to make a great small cameras. It is nearly as hard to choose them, for us at the moment, it is still the s120. We shall see what is what, when we get to buy some of these new cameras… and test them, the way only we test them: shaking all the flaws out by using the hell out of them!

Thanks,

Echoes my own concerns re the LF1… the EVF, while present, is disappointing spec-wise. The Nikon is supposed to start shipping tomorrow, so hope to be able to get hands on in the next day or two, hopefully side-by-side with the LF1 and G15… I do like the indestructible build quality of the Canon!

I really do want a compact with a viewfinder as a carry-everywhere. Holding a camera at arm’s length just feels WRONG, so choice is rather limited.

Thanks again for your comments… and the no BS review above, a very refreshing read.

If you are willing to deal with rather odd look and slight loss of neatness, an external viewfinder would open up the field a little in terms of choice… there are some pretty good ones out there.

Shooter One
A slightly less technical comment from me but back in June of this year I was one of the first people to comment on your excellent original article. I took your advice, purchased the s110 and I just wanted you and the other bloggers here to know that it was an excellent choice. I’m no photographer, just a bloke who appreciates a nice shot of the kids, dog, holidays etc. I’ve now taken hundreds of photographs, in various lights, at various times and places and the camera has proved to be an excellent all rounder. Great quality and small enough to pop in my pocket.

Thanks guys!

JD

Thank you for taking the time to tell us that this piece helped you.

Hello, I would like to ask a question about size of these cameras. I am searching for a small compact which I would be able to have in my trousers pocket like mobile phone. My main camera is Canon 60D but it’s too heavy for everyday wearing.
I was little concerned about S110 that it won’t be that good as for example LX5 because of the lens aperture. But seems like it’s the best choice for me! Or is it possible to wear LX5 in trousers pocket comfortably? As I like the LX5 look more :)

I would test it in shops but they all have cameras attached to very short anti-theft cables so I cannot put them to my pocket :)

I would say the S120 (thats the one they are selling now) is the better pocket camera, but “not everyone wears the same trousers”, so you had better go back to the shop and see if what works for you. Just ask them that you would like to hold both cameras in your hand, and they will unbox a couple for you and let you test them in any way you would like, even putting them in your pocket for a short while to see how they feel in there. I have a celebrity story that illustrates this. unfortunately my lawyers would be nailed to the court doors if i ever let on who it is about….We used to have a studio in soho directly below a sex shop, one day I was due to start shooting an actress, (who everyone would know on sight) she was 5 mins late but eventually our door bell rang. Of course right at that moment I was up a ladder, and i wanted to be the one t come to the door, I jumped down the ladder, threw the gaffer tape to my assistant, but by the time I got to the door no one was there. I looked about but the street was empty. There was one guy, he could have been a celebrity type personal security guy? He was standing outside the sex shop. Suddenly the penney dropped, as it was raining slightly I guessed she had taken shelter in there, to protect her hair. Fair enough, I when strait into the shop to “rescue” her before she got scandalised by some crazy flasher or photographed by a passing paparazzi. I walked to the doorway of the back room and looked inside: and she was standing square at the counter, asking the spotty 21yr old assistant guy (he looked amazed she looked in-a-hurry annoyed) “which is the best dil-do? he said such and such and she fired back with “have you tried it?” he got a little embarrassed as a AAA hollywood actress was asking him if he had put that model thing up his but, and said “No not personally, but I have heard reports..” she cut him off and said “there is no certain way to know how objectively good any particular model would be, without testing it yourself” he slowly said “I guess so” like he was being asked a trick question, when she shot in with “so – have you got a place I can try that now?” he slowly when Red, I backed out the door unnoticed, and she smiled a left him go figure and to a lifetime to tell that one to a lot of people, including one day his own kids, who were not honestly going to believe him. Even when i tell it people go “nooooowaaaaay!”
Everyone is different, some people are very different.

Fantastic reviews – I bought the S110 yesterday and came or your site today and noticed you had updated it to S120 – are the improvements worth me taking the S110 back and getting a S120? Thanks again

Probably, get the 120, is the best answer i can give you, The images do look a little better and there is a slight improvement at hi iso. The rest of the stuff is not really worth it and the 120 is bigger. there are 6 of us here 4 would, 2 mould not…. Hope that helps…

Interesting read. I see you added the P7800 and S120 now. From a value for money perspective, would you rate the S110 over the S120? The S120 is nearly twice the price right now. Also, why don’t you have the Canon G16 in the list? You mention the G15 or G16 in the comments so I was curious. Is it because you already have the S120 there and they are quite similar in some respects? Also the X20 is quite well rated, but I guess you can’t fit that many into a top 5. Cheers.

We don’t see a great need for the G16, it is too big, when the S120 will short the same images almost every time, if the auto focus was brilliant it might be with the cary weight but it is basically the same speed in real life.
X20 is a good camera but for that money, it does not feel that it has a place in a professional photographer’s pocket. It would make the top ten.

Hi, can you please advise if S120 is worth extra £100-£150 over S110 for not professional casual and holiday shooting and especially night shooting?
Thanks

If you are shooting at night then Yes, the canon S120 is a good bit better in this area. I would do it.

hi shooter one,.
I’m confused,i have to choose lumix lx7 or canon s120,which one is better?
This is my first time to buy premium compact camera and i want the best one,
please HELP ME

The Canon is number 1 on our list, that should have been your hint Azam…

Hey, Shooter One

First off kudos on the brilliant review, it helped a lot!
In the review i noticed you mention the LX7 as your ‘favorite’ of the 5 cameras…i understand that best and favorite can be two very different things…but i am just curious about what exactly is it that makes you prefer it over the others?

I like the images from the LX7, they “look nicer”, the way Leica and Zeiss lenses always seem to just take nicer shots of people. I guess it is good contrast control thanks to good coatings and some post processing in camera. Images strait from most of the other compacts are either a little pumped and fake looking “Canon style” or neutral technically perfect looking “Nikon style”
I personally like it’s image output, But the LX7 is too slow and unintuitive to be a pro-winner here, and Canon 120 and all others shoot raw file format so you can have the images anyway you like in photoshop etc.

Thank you for your response Sir, much appreciated.

Thanks a million for the no-BS review. Just wondering what you guys think of the new Ricoh GR.

The Ricoh GR, I personally like “the make” Ricoh quite a lot, so I took a good look at one of these in a shop, is very similar to the Nikon A -they probably even share the same excellent aps chip.
They are both great cameras and the results are up there with DSLRs, I would probably recommend them both equality, except the Gr is very cool talking point and well thought out compact camera as they have been making top end pro-compacts for ages, they just have never had a chip to do the systems justice, until now. I would like to test one out properly for 2014, but I do not know anyone who owns one to lend us for a while. I have a feeling this camera is not going to get the audience it deservers, but not because it is not a brilliant camera, just because no one is going to find it. Someone needs to tell you these are great, and who can do that and be believable – when there are no more camera shops any more?…. Anyhow i could not find anything i did not like, if you were taken by it and the money is OK to you, then just go for it, and let me know what you find… I think you will be very happy. Come to think of it they do have very honest jpegs, a little natural, compared to most makes, or maybe the screen is a little flat? not really a handicap in-fact for a pro that is really another bonus.

Thanks for the reviews and answers to people’s questions. You have been very helpful and I have gone and liked your facebook page for ya!.

I was thinking hard what to go for as I had recently bought a DSLR but then I came across a deal for an S110 for GBP 127.00 delivered to my home and went for it. Looking forward to playing ’round with it

Cheers
Mark

That is a great deal!

… that’s new by the way.

Great review. Appreciate your unbiased opinions & patience in answering all queries. You pointed out 2 major flaws in Sony Rx-100 earlier. Just wondering what you guys think of the new Rx-100 II with respect to those flaws.

Thanks

Can’t say the the RX 100 MkII is wining us over, but it is an improved Camera in both of those areas, unfortunately the core flaw is the “weakness” of its real time processing and although they have jiggled their software to hide these flaws the images are still under par considering the spec, showing a little too much obvious work in trying to iron out artefacts. I would probably say that if you were given this camera (MkII) you should be happy with what you have, if it was my money I would not buy it. Sony are deliberately trying to fill a slot in the market with this Camera, and are not making a great camera, that lack of philosophy put me off. I will have to wait until we can test one fully to say if the few good images i took with one a few weeks back were just fluke or I might be wrong and sony have hit a good one at last.

Thanks for a great noncommercial type of review from a “real life” end user perpective.
I have had 4 SLR’s (analog and digital – Sony A700 is the latest one) and a bunch of lenses. After reading this review 6 months ago, I sold some of the lenses (that were hardly used) and bought the Leica. Haven’t regretted once, as it really is about daily portability. An SLR won’t do the job when it’s left at home, and I really don’t fancy iPhone shots.
The Leica is a bit expensive, yes, but it’s a great piece that takes absolutely stunning images and is really easy to use (to be honest, I didn’t use quite a lot of the SLR features, as SLR’s in my opinion are overbutton’ed for daily use).
Most of all, I tend to bring the Leica with me much more often than I ever did with any of my SLR’s, and the Mrs’ likes the less “tourist’ic” looks – as the Leica fits in my pocket.
The only bugger is, that I haven’t used my SLR one single time since I bought the Leica – can’t figure out if that’s good or bad.

We urge you, do take the DSLR out next time you are going out specifically taking pictures of someone fit a prime and shoot wide open f1.8ish, you will marvel at the shallow depth of field and tonal depth, the clarity in their eyes and the instant focus tracking… the pictures will be greater than great, and with all the experience you have amassed from daily use of your Leica, your shots should really swing. Their is no perfect camera, just a few good ones…

Martin Flibotte says:

Thank you for your review! This is, by far, the best review i read, not only on cameras but any product! The day I read your review, I ran to the store and bought the Canon S120. I almost bought the RX100 but I changed my mind after reading your review and your answers to the comments! For a while, I have been looking for an easy to use camera but good quality; I was at my 3rd micro 4/3 camera and still wasn’t happy about the size, ease of use, speed, photo quality…I am now back to what I like: taking decent pictures and not having to worry about the settings!

I bought a Canon S100 for month-plus trip to Europe in 2012. I loved the camera and photos it took, but the infamous Canon “lens error” problem surfaced a couple of weeks into my trip and it was unusable the rest of the trip. Canon, in its time, fixed that problem but ignored my note saying that videos also would not play back properly (blue and more). I love the camera but no longer trust it and was not impressed with Canon service either. On the fence as to what to take on the next trip, but dependability counts too.

Sad to hear about you having this problem, we have never actually met anyone real who had it, we assumed it was just an internet lie spread by some flunkies working for rival vendors PR company… We did trash a *SONY* compact in much the same way when it got some grit in it, but obviously no compact cameras do well with sand or grit in them as the tiny plastic helical gears used in all of the zoom compacts will Jam.

https://www.google.co.uk/#q=%22gjzweibel%40gmail.com%22

I had some kind of sensor/lens issue with an Ixus 500 I had which I hardly ever used (but which was quite old) and gradually one or both died – I started getting intermittent purple blurred weirdness in the display esp. when battery life was getting low (usually made it go away by focussing in on some strong light, sneaking in a dozen shots before it came back again), but gradually it became more prevalent, even with a new battery, until it was present all the time and rendering the camera a brick. The photos were the same as the view in the display. I think it was because the camera got humidity inside it over the course of one day although it was never used in the rain or immersed in water. I’d be a bit hesitant to buy another Canon based on my experience but maybe the same would happen to any other POS camera subject to such humidity abuse.

Changing the subject, I presume you don’t rate the MX-1 or XZ-2 highly enough for inclusion in your list? From what I’ve seen of the images from both, they have better ISO performance than the LX7 across the range.

Humidity is a problem for any camera, probably the worse issue long term, i worked in Hawaii for a few months, and all my gear was ruined except my old nikon f3as that just kept going when everyone else’s cameras were showing errors, 100% humidity is a killer.

MX-1 and the XZ-2 are great cameras but a bit big for a high place in this lineup…

Yes, I think you are definitely right about humidity. Nearly all compact cameras are not very well weather sealed. You rate the P7800 very highly and that’s quite the brick, but I am assuming it is there because of its capabilities and degree of physical user manual controls? Cheers. .

It is a fat bricky camera, but Nikon have been making pro cameras or a long time and it shows when you use it…

claire bernstein says:

Hi,
love your independence
love your no “bs” comments
thoroughly enjoyed your post…..and comments

and thanks much much for the readability: black on white and lots and lots of space

look forward to more posts.

Warmest,
Claire Bernstein

Hi,
I have tried to do some research on which is best for my need, but these things are way over my head! I’m just a beginner, I like photography and to be frank at present I want to buy a good camera mainly for for night shots(low light) like downtown or nature and casual use.Can you please suggest me a modern,digital SLR camera, with good resolution (above 20mp) and higher optical zoom.my range is around $700.
I’ll be looking forward for your response.
thank you

I would recommend a Nikon d3200 the kit zoom, and a 35mm f1.8 lens for low light stuff.

Hello Shooter One!
Many thanks for your review of the compacts! It is VERY GREAT! I honestly had lost hope to find nything of this sort in capitalism.
I have a burning question: what do you opine about Canon Powershot G1 X? What purpose is it good for? I am considering it as a semi-pro camera for my wife’s nature photography, but since the camera has no macro, I need to consider 3-rd party macro kit, which complicates the thing. So what do you think? Thank you!

G1x is a very nice camera, i am not sure that canon what the hell it is for? It is trying to be a lot of things (quite well) but mostly it is trying to look good in real life and on a spec sheet…. they are maybe just a little pricey…
I would honestly stay away from 3rd party macro stuff, mostly they they are soft as mush on the edges and they have all kinds of horrible problems like colours in the edge of sharp lines and nasty catchlights and Boken… a proper macro lens on a DSLR is almost unbeatable, I have a 40 year old nikon 55mm micro, and wow that lens takes AMAZING pictures on my D800! but it works great on the D3200 we were playing with for an upcoming test.

Hey Shooter One,

Okay so I was searching up different cameras to figure out which camera best fits my needs when I came across this great review. I am not any kind of professional photographer but I love taking A LOT of pictures, to the extent where my family and friends get annoyed. I mostly take pictures at family gatherings, outings with friends, or just any big events at college or weddings; so basically most of the pictures I take consist of family members, friends, and I, indoors and outdoors. The iPhone 4s just doesn’t cut it for me because the pictures I take are just never clear or good quality, so I decided to just give-in and buy a really good camera instead. I see that you have the Canon s120 listed as the #1 best compact camera, but I have always been told that the major feature to look for in a camera is the megapixels and I seen that the Canon S120 is only 12.1 megapixels. They have some cheaper cameras with more megapixels, so does that typically mean those cameras will produce a better picture? I just really want a camera that will get me a great, clear quality picture where I can zoom into the picture, when I upload it on the computer, and it still be clear with no fuzz. I also want a camera that still takes good pictures at night and with the flash, and a camera that is able to take good caught-in-action pictures, where if someone is running it catches that moment perfectly and clearly. I want the pictures that I take with this camera to be perfect without any photoshopping necessary. So will that Canon S120 really satisfy all the things I want in a camera?
I will greatly appreciate your response! Thank You. :)

two things
1) no camera is all things to all people….sorry about that
2) not all megapixels are equal and you do not need much more than 8 if they are bright, and most of all independent of each other.

third thing iPhone 5s has a very decent camera.
forth thing, actually a question: do you need a compact? a DSLR with a prime lens will be more fun and in a lot of situations take way better pictures… than a compact zoom….

Great article! So much time and effort has obviously gone in to it which is really refreshing.
I have been wondering what to replace my recently broken Panasonic compact with. Reading your article has made me realise how far compacts have come since I bought mine a few years ago and made me think twice about upgrading to a digital SLR.
I just wondered whether you would still recommend the Canon S120 even if I am not concerned by size at all? I always keep my camera in my bag, so whilst I don’t want anything massive, bulky isn’t really a problem as I will take the camera with me regardless.
I want to take better photos and am more than happy to spend the time learning about the camera, reading manuals and playing with settings but I also need something that I can just point and shoot and get a great picture, as with a 1 year old child the moment is often gone before you have time to adjust the dials! The two main improvements I would like over my current camera are better low light performance and better handling of motion. My budget is probably only up to around £375.
Thanks

if size is not an issue and it is just a matter of price, it is more a matter of what special offer or discount you can exploit to get the most out of your money… all in all i would probably get a Nikon d3200 for that kind of money it is a very versatile camera for the money.

Ronald Digsworth says:

Hi Shooter One
Excellent reviews and answers.
Just about to ‘drop the cash’ for a bargain Canon S110 (to try before going for the S120 when the price drops a little) when I noticed the very similar spec. new Fujifilm XQ1seemingly keeping a rather low profile. 1:8 lens, large 2/3″ (as X20) sensor, lens control ring, very compact ………
Any views on this yet?

Have not got hold of an XQ1 but it looks great the sensor is a proven winner and they make great glass, we like the macro a lot and the feature that creates the appearance of a super shallow depth of field, by blending shots looks fun for making your images look like they were shot on a bigger camera, we don’t like that it is almost a carbon copy of the canon S110 like the sony RX100, the aperture at the long end is a very small F4.9 and it shuts down from 1.8 pretty quick looking at the charts. I guess the best part it is good value. I would certainly like to try one.

I’m really sorry for asking you yet more questions (I bet you almost wish you hadn’t written such a great review!) however, your review has both helped and confused me!

I took photography in my third year at Uni but have hardly taken any decent pictures since as I don’t want to carry around an SLR. I’m now looking for a camera that will get me back into enjoying taking pictures. I want to go for a high end compact that will fit in my bag so can be slightly bigger than pocket size, and my main criteria is image quality especially in low light. I want to be able to blow up some of my landscape pictures.

Shops keep recommending the Sony RX range but they just felt horrible to handle (so I’m glad you were not that keen) so I have been looking at the Fuji X20 or something similar. As size isn’t so important (it’s mainly the quality of images) and I have up to £500 to spend, are you able to recommend a fab camera to get me snap happy again?

Thanks in advance for any help you can give!

Hi Hanna
You will really like the Fuji X20, but have you picked up some of the smaller Four Thirds systems They are pretty cool too… and you can change the lenses for some great primes.
Shops and the assistants often get uneven commissions and brand incentive bonuses, so do not get too excited by their recommendations if they feel wrong.

Hi Shooter One,

Thanks for getting back to me, I’m glad the Fuji X20 isn’t one to avoid! I really like the idea of a CSC camera but have no idea where to start and as I only have £500 at the mo I don’t know if I could get one with a decent kit lense. If one pops to mind that you guys rate let me know and I’ll go give it go!

Thanks

Very impressed when reading the reviews of those cameras. Would you mind telling which one is recommended for low light photograhy? I usually like taking pictures indoor without flash. LX7 is mentioned a lot in the comments. How would you compare it with S120? Thanks in advance.

Other than what we said above, not much, but if you ” like taking pictures indoor without flash” then the s120 is probably the better camera of the two by a small amount.

Shooter One, this article is been around for a long time and the best part is, the amount of interest it has generated and the amount of comments it has attracted since the day it’s been published. Thanks for giving us such a great feel of different cameras through words.
Shooter, how about having a new article with reviews of some new compacts which many of them have mentioned certain model nos. here including yourself? Am sure it would be a great read..

Thanks for the compliment, We are a little busy right now and were waiting for the new year, when it gets a little quieter we will start work on something new.

Shooter One – Thank you for challenging my review/spec blinding confusion! There are just SO many cameras out there; I am starting to see the light now.

I have a Canon DSLR and G11 (takes by far the most photos) and now want something smaller and adding some shallow depth of field creativity.

The LX7 looks a very good option but would the newer GM1 be worth the extra money for the larger sensor/lens options (assume the GX1 has issues. OK I admit I am still a little confused…..Many thanks again.

The GM1 with the Leica 25mm f1.4 looks a decent bit of kit…. but a lot bigger than in looks in the pictures.

The Leica F1.4 lens/GM1 would have been lovely but outside my budget!
After a lot of head scratching and hands on trials I went with the badboy RX100 II despite your reservations. It’s Auto is not so good (drops to 1/30th almost by default) but in A/S/M it is quite fabulous for me. I am using -0.3 exposure compensation by default and spot metering and am getting some great crisp, contrasty shots that are good enough for my needs and I think might almost embarrass my Canon DSLR at times. The great attraction was it’s very pocketable size and rather understated appearance. It is giving me the shallow depth of field (at wide angle at least) that I was almost looking for. Manually holding the flash with a finger to bounce off the ceiling has produced some great portraits too. If an LX8 comes out with a larger sensor I may be kicking myself though.
Thanks again for the interesting feedback.

Thank you for such a comprehensive review and for all your additional comments. I am just wondering which camera to purchase as I would like a compact camera and I primarily like to take photos of landscapes and close ups of flowers etc in the landscape. My existing camera is a Canon Powershot SX200IS and it is terrible. Most of the photos are over-exposed in the white areas. In Australia we have a lot of bright light and it is particularly bad here. So I am a little concerned that I will have this problem with the S120. Is the S120 ok in this regard? Can you recommend which of the 5 will give the best image quality? I prefer if the auto-mode works well too. Rather than having to play around with a lot of settings.
Also, I have always had at least 10x optical zoom, so I am interested in a camera with this level of zoom- (it doesn’t need to be enormous though) but I notice that you have mentioned several times that compact cameras with zoom lenses are no good.
I am extremely grateful for any advice as it is extremely difficult to choose a camera after my last disappointing purchase.

Basically, Quick holidays answer – all five have way more image quality than you need, 10x zooms are dark and soft and not very good, and the Lumix probably has the best control of brights and highlights.

Mars Observer says:

Interesting article and selection! I think many are ‘spot-on’.

I too though find it curious that the RX100 didn’t make the list, and the comments about blown highlights (I have not experienced the problem).

If it was an issue with the sensor or processor/RAW files I would think that would show up in DX0 Mark’s lab testing of dynamic range (though in fact the RX100 shows a half-stop better DR with a score of 12.4, compared to the S120′s score 11.9).

That makes me wonder if perhaps the issue is more one of metering.

For high contrast scenes I’ll typically expose for the highlights and recover the shadow detail if needed.

I wonder if those who have experienced the issue ever make any exposure adjustments. Just a thought. While it may be an extra step in some situations utilizing exposure compensation to get correct exposure is a valuable too, and I think you’ll ultimately find much better highlight detail from the RX100 and from the S120.

Shooter One says:

I suggest you do what we did and buy an S120 and an RX100 and use them side by side for a month… then try and make some sense out of that “missing half stop” of dynamic range??? It makes almost no sense to us, your explanation is quite possible, but even bracketing exposures I was not happy with the RX100 mkI or mkII.

I am a dermatologist who takes a lot of photos of my patient’s skin conditions, and am in the market for a new camera. I have usually hauled out my digital SLR, which takes brilliant photos as expected. But I now realize that portability is the way to go. If I have a camera in my pocket and am in another part of the building, I am more likely to take a photo rather than trundle back to grab the larger a Nikon. So the question is this: how good is the Canon S120 at taking close up and distance shots of skin? I am particularly thinking of the times when I am either shooting in low light without flash, with low light and flash, and also pictures with the typical types of artificial lighting. The pictures are placed in clinical software that usually doesn’t like very large files. Pictures could also be used in presentations and publications (with consent of course). That is, quality is critical. Although there is not the possibility to cross polarize the lighting on order to minimize reflection off skin, I am curious as to how it is likely to respond. Given its compact size, and the rave review you provide, I am seriously thinking about going this route. Any thoughts?

I have a couple of questions: how close up do you need to go? i.e. What would be the distance at the subject accross the frame, 10cm? And do you intend to use the built in flash?
We did not test the camera in this regard, but we would be happy to try out a few of the cameras we have in for our 2014 tests…

Almost a year old article when I reviewed, but well done; informative and an enjoyable read. I am not sure if any changes since published and like many I have considered either the Canon S120 or the Sony Rx100 M2. Local camera shop has the Canon on sale for $349 Vs the Sony @$750. while cost not the main factor, value always important to me.

Hey! Great post! I actually wanted to ask if y’all had any opinions on the Leica X2. It is insanely expensive, but another review I read (which actually had results very similar to the ones on here with a few exceptions) pretty much made it sound perfect for want I want and said it actually was worth it. I need a good compact-ish camera for the field work I am doing with primates, specifically gibbons. That means that I need a good camera that can take excellent videos, fantastically clear photos from far away (gibbons live in the trees so good zoom), handle clear still shots with movement (animals move, go figure), and can handle low lighting well. Really the Leica D’lux 6/LX7 (and they seriously have the same lens and take the same quality photo?) you mentioned sounds pretty perfect as well, but I am not sure how the “not outstanding” auto focus is going to affect me when photographing small, quick moving apes. Can you give me any advise? I don’t want to throw money around, but I also am probably going to only ever buy something like this once, so if it is worth it I would rather have the camera that is going to be the most “right” for what I am doing. I.e. the Nikon P7800 sounds pretty amazing, but it looses the sharpness from super far away (again… very small apes in very tall trees. I need all the help I can get!) I have a fantastic Nikon that I love but is just too cumbersome (and honestly I am afraid of damaging it) to take with me into the jungle, and I have a practically indestructible Olympus that I can fit into my pocket but takes dreadful shots so I really want something that is in the middle of the two that will give me breath-taking and clear (possibly even artistic) shots. Thanks so much for any help or insight that you can give me!

Gobons steal so i would never tempt them with a $2000 Leica X2, good camera though, just $1000 too expensive. I would get good insurance and take that Nikon D4 nothing else will come close for jungle field work.

I wan to buy my first camera. Which brand is convenient for beginner? I alwz travel, n alwz attend indoor function.

Tq

Nt shr I undrstn txt, prob Nkn bst 4 bgnir + ndor?

My favorite camera is (Canon EOS 6D Camera)

We are sorry about that.

I just wanted to say what a pleasure it’s been to read such a refreshing and honest review. Like many I’m just a point and shoot kind of guy. I’ve been looking for a better than average portable camera that will produce nice photos on auto and straight from the camera, without shooting in raw and messing about with levels and curves and god knows what else.
Its just for family, holidays and lots of indoor shots.

I had been looking at the S120, which I have played with in a few shops and found excellent to use, intuitive and very ergonomic. But then I was being told the RX100 was definitely the one I must get. But I’ve had a play around with it and it felt like everything the S120 wasn’t. It was cold, clumsy and not so easy to hold and use. I was thinking that maybe that was a price I had to pay to get better photos.

Sooooo this review has been hugely helpful and restored my confidence both in the S120 and in my own judgement.
Phew !

Thanks a million. I can now stop reading endless reviews and seeing close ups of trees and flowers and endless discussions on purple fringing.

Hi, like so many others I’m really blown away by this review. Yet again you’re a victim to your own success because I want to ask for specific advice!

I’m looking for something when travelling North and South America. The majority of photos will be landscapes/landmarks, like Grand Canyon, Machu Picchu etc.
I’m not very skilled, so great auto settings is a must.
Want to minimize luggage, so size and weight is important.
Budget is £350 max.

Was very keen on the Canon S120 after this review but have since read it doesn’t have a built in panoramic feature. I love this on my iphone and other cameras I’ve used.
Would you still recommend the Canon? Or would the P7800 be better?

i would say the canon will suit you better for light travel and a very easy auto, but take your iPhone for the grand canyon hyperanorama…

Your comments on this blog get funnier and more sarcastic haha BTW you don’t miss the exposure compensation dial on the Canon S-series then I take it?

Yes to be honest, loosing exposure compensation control from the lens ring of the S120 (now you can only do it though the dpad on the back) was a serious mistake that we are having trouble forgiving Canon for, this could be fixed in a firm wear update. As so many people complained we were giving canon a few weeks to get it sorted, but i think you are correct…. they have blown it.

Have you tested Fuji XQ1? I’m choosing between S120 and XQ1.

No but we would like to, it looks like a very good camera. Camera manufactures are afraid to lend us their new models as we quickly uncover their weaknesses, but if they were a little smarter they would pay us to do it for them – then they might start to make better cameras…. So sadly we have to wait for their production models and buy them ourselves, I am going to get online next week and buy this, the Nikon P330 and another Sony RX100 II and then test the crap out of them…. In the meantime If I were you I would give the XQ1 a try, fuji make great cameras and I am optimistic that they have something very good here. It only seems sad that they all only seem capable of copying each other again when there are so many great ideas so close to the surface.

Look forward to your part 2 and RX100 II revisited!
It would be well deserved if your company got commissioned by one of the more open minded manufacturers, to fine tune their camera before release. Just looking at the comments you have received and given, it could help them to launch an enthusiasts classic.

I know this isn’t the right place to ask a question but I hope an answer will be forthcoming. I am looking for two or three cameras – both point-and-shoot-tourist-type and as small as possible. One with a superb zoom and one that can take macros from very close. Not all of them for me of course!! Can you help please? Also, a very tiny one to stow in my jeans pocket, also a ‘good’ camera, but I don’t want to look as though I have a growth on my bum!
Thanks in advance

Jim Seekers says:

can you please tell me if the SONY RX1 and RX1R suffers from Blown out Highlight as the Sony RX100 does.
also I had a loan of a friends Nikon D80 and I had the sharpness and Qaulity up full and took the SD Card into Jessops and the Print out was Soft and very Little detail in the print out compaired to print out’s from compacts … Why.

Hi
I’m looking for a compact that has not got all the settings tied up in complicated menus,not very good at remembering where things are .I do prefer more button controls,does the updated “P7800″ to the “P7700″ have what I want?.Good article by the way.

Steven

Wonderful review (and stories!). Just hoping for a 2014 update – does the Canon S120 still stand at the top of the pile, and how does the Lumix LF1 compare?
Many thanks..

Hi, I am a gardener and need a camera to take photos of finished jobs. I also take shots on country walks. So, I rely on my samsung smartphone…which is ok but not like my LX3 I sold. Is S110 ok for me? (Garden shots are main priority). Great post…Thanks for sharing your insights with us.

Shooter One says:

I would probably get a Leica/Lumix for those garden shots as the colours out of the box might suit you more. The Canon S110/S120 etc are faster cameras but as it sounds like not much is moving in your shots…

Thanks for speedy reply regarding best compact for garden photos. Much appreciated. My LX3 was my first taste of quality photography. (I started from a low base). I had a look at some photos I took with the LX3 a few years ago and realised how good the quality was. So, I will now ponder buying the LX7. Thanks again.

Shooter One says:

I do not doubt it will bring you great satisfaction.

I fully agree with this brilliant top ten selection! By way of personal qualification I have worked in the watch business for 11 years and I own a Bertucci and the 2 Omegas – You guys are amazing for finding these watches in a world full of trash.

Seeing it was your review that led me to buying the Canon S110 about 7 months ago, I would like to give an endorsement for not only your review, but the camera itself. Blowing my own trumpet here but it is to explain my endorsement.

I recently uploaded a photo I took to National Geographic “Your Shot” assignment … Nature in Black and White. Out of 21,000 photos mine was selected in the top 25 for their story line and my photo is used as the cover shot. Now I have been contacted by a NG editor for permission to use the photo in one of their up and coming issues of NG magazine.

So do not doubt what Shooter1 has to say about cameras. My little pocket camera came in ahead of some serious cameras. Thanks guys

Hi,
I am looking for a compact that is capable of taking photos of peoples eyes for iridology. I know there are some good DSLR rigs for use indoors, however I need a compact to take impromptu shots.

Shooter One says:

that is genuinely a hard one… as quite a few have good close up optics (especially some of the zooms) but they generally have poor flash positioning and the colours are usually pumped or “consumer” Nikon are generally where i choose to look first for anything honest. I will take a look at get back.

Shooter One says:

Asking around the office everyone thinks an Lumix LX7 with a raynox closeup adapter is the way to go…

Thank you for your article. This is probably the best compact camera review available on the internet. I’m impressed in the way you struggled through the immense choice. I am looking for a high quality compact – tired from dragging around (much) a much too ***DSLR – but had no idea what to choose. I was nearly on the wrong track and wanted to buy the Sony RX100II, thanks to you saved from this misstake…. going for P7800 or S120…

Shooter One says:

Sony RX100II is not a massive mistake, it can be a great camera, but it needs some real care in some situations. You will love the low weight if you are used to a DSLR for sure, but don’t though it away just yet, compacts still have a way to go. I wish they would let us design them :(

Shooter One says:

I am waiting for 3d printers that cam make whatever you ask them to…

Guys, those trawling the web for recommendations because we are about to commit to new compact camera are anxious for an update, pleeeez! S120 is very attractive not least for your excellent comparative review, but also because its very well priced by comparison to the rest. But does it still hold true halfway through 2014 and is the S130 lurking around the corner?

Shooter One says:

Very good question, the new models will be announced around the end of August but we will not see review samples until about Nov so we will be looking at about Jan for our update, but to be honest in main areas these cameras are so close to the available tech that only breakthrough technology is going to make a significant change to the general line up. As none of these makers do any true blue sky reserch, if anything is hiding in the patents it will probably be apple or samsung that move the bar.

Thanks for your article and continuing responses on this forum. Is one of the 5 recommended compacts better than the others at making black and white images? I find that the level of abstraction introduced by black and white often renders rather banal images more interesting. You could call that a crutch, but I am not a pro, so … Also, if I may take you beyond the scope of your article, are there other cameras (south of $1000) that are especially good for black and white. I miss Tri-X but, as an amateur with very limited time to spend in a darkroom, it’s hard to argue with the convenience of digital, including shareability.

Shooter One says:

Normal black and white digital relies on lens ability over and above chip and processing – from these the lumix is probably the best…. but I doubt you would notice much between them, if you like a punchy 1960s looking black and white i would probably go with a nikon…

What a great resource! I hope there’ll be an update! I’ll be going to Alaska in a month or so and was thinking about replacing my old Lumix DMC-TZ3, which I use to supplement my bigger camera (a Mamiya). My buddy’s been urging me to get a Leica, and he does some nice things with his D-Lux 5 (?). Unfortunately, the rumors I saw claim there’s a new D-Lux 7 (+ Panasonic) coming out in September. That’s about a month too late for me! I shoot primarily landscapes, so I’d like some zoom and wider angle capability, plus the occasional macro, architecture and street shot. Should I just grab a D-Lux 6 (or some other Leica short of the M series!) and experience the mystique for myself? Ot could you suggest something other/better? Much thanks, in advance!

Shooter One says:

if you have the money, get the M. You will never regret it.

Thanks, Shooter One!

Thank you so much for your help. I was thinking Canon G1X Mk ii, Sony RX100 Mk iii or Canon S120. Chose the S120 ‘cos of size, price:image quality and the recommendations and comments in this fine article. Just took delivery and hoping Canon don’t announce the S130 tomorrow.

jean-brice says:

just to get things straight
i have been using both a leica M9 and a lumix LX3 for a good while now
i had a few photographs blown up from both for an exhibition
all B&W, low iso, on papier baryté
some of the M9 were blown up to 180×120 cm
some of the lumix up to 90×60 cm
both with fantastic results
both fantastic cameras
if you don’t need to go past one meter wide, shooting low iso, you don’t need a huge sensor and the LX3 was perfect and believing the improvements panasonic made the LX7 sounds perfect to me

A year later and still relying on that lousy camera that saved me in a July 2013 trip after drowning my old canon powershot.. still hesitating due to lack of battery automony of the s120…!!!

Would still prefer a camera slightly largers with no gizmos such as touchscreen and WiFi but autonomy in the range of 350-400 pictures..

Luc

Refreshing website and attitude. You mention a few times that these cameras can take pictures as good / almost as good as a DSLR – would you recommend owning any of them instead of one? Obviously the portability is appealing. I am looking to become more advanced at photography on a £400 budget, both as a hobby and as an extension to my job as a graphic artist (Photoshop user). In return for your advice I will point out there is a grammatical error on your website (I will leave you to find it): “A guiding light to the profession, it is only with deep regret that we acknowledge he will probably never played Doctor Who a roll.”

Shooter One says:

Sgorry we are a bit dyslectic…
With a budget of £400 i think you would be far better buying a real DSLR, as any compact that can compete is going to be a lot more and will always be compromised in some area. Take a look at the Nikon D3300 or the Lumix D6 if you need small.

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