The Best Compact Cameras to Level Up Your Instagram

Your phone’s portrait mode is no match for these point-and-shoot cams.


THE BEST CAMERA, they say, is the one you have with you. That’s usually your smartphone, but there’s only so much it can do. Even with software wizardry like Google Pixel’s Night Sight or two extra lenses on the back, a good compact camera gives you features like optical zoom, better image stabilization, and a bigger sensor for sharper photos, along with a way nicer dials and controls.

These cameras, sometimes called point-and-shoot cams, give you the tools to explore photography in ways that a phone’s portrait mode simply can’t. For us, a compact camera is all about portability. Can you put it in your pocket? What about a small shoulder bag? Even the biggest camera on this list easily fits into a purse or sling bag. Here are our favorites.

Be sure to check out our other buying guides, including the Best Action CamerasBest Mirrorless Cameras, and Best Camera Accessories for Your Smartphone.

Updated September 2020: We added the Fujifilm XT-4 and fixed pricing throughout.

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  • canon cameraPHOTOGRAPH: CANONBest OverallCanon PowerShot G7 X Mark IIThis Canon sits right in the sweet spot for price, features, and image quality. The G7 X captures detailed images thanks to a big 1-inch sensor, and it comes with optical image stabilization and 4.2X zoom. The tilting touchscreen and built-in Wi-Fi increase its utility. I appreciate the wide selection of controls given the compact size. Canon found room for an exposure compensation dial and a front dial around the lens. This petite device also sports a comfy, confidence-inspiring rubber front grip and rear thumb rest that make it satisfying to hold. It’s not the newest on the market but it’s still a remarkably solid camera in 2020.$630 AT B&H PHOTO AND VIDEO$630 AT BEST BUY$630 AT CANON
  • This image may contain Electronics Camera and Digital CameraPHOTOGRAPH: SONYBest on a BudgetSony Cyber-shot RX100Need the basics? This tried-and-true Sony model, though several years old, is still a gem—especially since the price keeps dipping every time Sony releases newer versions. The latest is the RX100 VII and it retails for about $1,200. But for around $400, you can scoop up this earlier model. It comes standard with a 3.6X optical zoom lens. It lacks modern amenities like touch input and Wi-Fi, but the money you save can go a long way toward building up a solid photography kit complete with tripods, straps, and carrying cases.$448 AT AMAZON$450 AT BEST BUY
  • Image may contain Electronics Camera and Digital CameraPHOTOGRAPH: PANASONICBest for Zooming InPanasonic Lumix ZS100If you want to get up close and personal, Panasonic’s compact Lumix ZS100 gives you way more zoom than the competition. Rather than 3X or 4X optical zoom, this camera has a lens that can go up to 10X. The 1-inch sensor is on par with some of the best compact cameras. You also get 4K video (the two cameras above shoot at 1080p) and Wi-Fi along with a great touchscreen interface, which this camera feature-full and easy-to-use—even if the body isn’t as svelte as some of the others on the list.$398 AT AMAZON$398 AT B&H PHOTO AND VIDEO

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  • cameraPHOTOGRAPH: OLYMPUSBest for Outdoor AdventuresOlympus Tough TG-6Olympus is known for its great mirrorless cameras, but it also makes incredible, nigh-indestructible point-and-shoots. Though it has a small sensor, this pocketable juggernaut can dive up to 50 feet underwater, brave sub-zero climates, and survive minor drops and spills without flinching. Built-in GPS means location tags automatically get attached to each pic, and the f/2.0 lens is great for close-up photos of bugs and flowers. It’s built to endure harsh climates and accompany you anywhere your adventures may take you. You can read more in our review (8/10, WIRED Recommends).$449 AT AMAZON$449 AT B&H$399 AT WALMART
  • This image may contain Electronics Camera and Digital CameraPHOTOGRAPH: RICOHA Cult ClassicRicoh GR IILove shooting with the wide-angle lens of your smartphone? The Ricoh GR II sports a 28-mm field of view, similar to what your phone’s eye sees. But instead of a puny mobile image chip, you get a massive DSLR APS-C sensor that adds rich detail. There’s a reason it has a cult following online—it’s capable of downright gorgeous photos. On the downside, it’s bigger than most of the cameras on this list, but it can still fit into most pockets. It’s not great for video due to its poor stabilization, but built-in Wi-Fi will help you get your shots uploaded to social media in a jiffy.$700 $640 AT AMAZON
  • Fuji XT4 cameraPHOTOGRAPH: FUJIFILM For Street PhotographersFujifilm X-T4 CameraWhat is and isn’t a compact camera is a definition that’s constantly shifting. We went back and forth on this one, but given the X-T4’s size, picture quality, and other capabilities, we decided to include it here. This Fujifilm is an interchangeable-lens mirrorless camera, and because of that it’s not only the biggest camera on this list but it’s also one of the most versatile. Shooting portraits, street photos, or capturing those unguarded moments of everyday life isn’t always about having a big zoom or a rough-and-tumble chassis. For these photos, a camera with removable lenses gives you much more artistic freedom than a standard superzoom.The X-T4 features Fujifilm’s unique color handling, giving you the ability to flavor your photos with custom-made filters hearkening back to the days of film. Fujifilm cameras produce images you just can’t get anywhere else, and this is one of its best to date. Read more in our review (8/10 WIRED Recommends).$1,700 AT AMAZON$1,700 AT BHPHOTO$1,699 AT ADORAMA

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  • a phone with a moment lens attached to the cameraPHOTOGRAPH: MOMENTFor Phone LoyalistsMoment Telephoto LensNo, they’re not point-and-shoot cameras, but Moment lenses can take photos that rival (or exceed) the quality you get out of much bigger cameras. It’s a phone case with a secure metal flange that locks Moment’s lenses securely in place when you need it, enhancing your smartphone’s built-in camera and lens with added optical muscle. Our favorite is the 58-mm telephoto lens. It’s the most versatile in Moment’s range. The company also offers an anamorphic lens, a wide-angle lens, a fisheye lens, and a few others. They’re well worth a look if you can’t quite justify the cost of a dedicated point-and-shoot. The downside is you can only find cases for phones from Apple, Samsung, Google, and OnePlus, and even then you won’t find support for every single model.$145 AT MOMENT$120 $95 AT AMAZON$120 AT B&H

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A Natural Light and Pro Light Photographer who enjoys Photography and the world around it.

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