Last updated: January 28, 2019

If you want a compact camera that produces great quality photos without the hassle of changing lenses, there are plenty of choices available for every budget. All of the cameras in this buying guide have zoom lenses, with focal length ranges mostly spanning around 24-70mm (equivalent).

The majority of the cameras in this guide use 1"-type sensors, which fall in-between the tiny chips used in smartphones and cheap compacts, and larger sensors found in mirrorless and DSLR cameras. Larger sensors offer more control over depth-of-field and usually (but not always) have less noise at high sensitivities.

Pocket option: Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 VA

The RX100 VA combines the bright 24-70mm equivalent lens with a combination of speed and AF capability unmatched in this class. More significantly, perhaps, it does so in a way that's pocketable.

It's AF is very impressive, whether using Eye-AF for people photos or its tracking AF that will continue to work even when shooting at 24 frames per second. Its 4K video capture, with working AF, on top of its stills capability it what seals our recommendation.

The updated 'A' version of the RX100 V features a handful of refinements from the Mark VI, including reworked menus, reduced viewfinder lag and a deeper buffer for continuous shooting. Overall it's the most image quality a keen photographer can fit in their pocket, but it's worth making sure you've got a spare battery on your person, too.

'Take control' choice: Panasonic Lumix DC-LX100 Mark II

The LX100 II isn't as small as the Sony, nor are its autofocus or video capabilities quite as impressive. Yet it remains one of the best small cameras a keen photographer can buy.

It offers better image quality thanks to a larger sensor and brighter lens than the Sony. It makes use of the greater size this brings by offering more and larger control points. So, despite a rather small viewfinder that refreshes one primary color at a time, the LX100 II is arguably the nicer camera to use if you want to get involved in the photographic process. In particular, we enjoy the aspect-ratio switch that encourages creative framing.

Which camera is the better choice for you will depend on what subject you tend to shoot (essentially: how sophisticated do you need the autofocus to be), but if you want a small camera to accompany you on your photographic journeys, the LX100 II is well worth a look.

We considered all of the cameras below when picking our winner, and even though Sony Cyber-shot RX100 V is our top pick, the cameras on our short list are also worthy contenders.

If you're not convinced by our recommendations, read through the full buying guide for a detailed breakdown of each contender's strengths and weaknesses.

Please note that in order to keep this guide as concise as possible, the Sony RX100, RX100 II and RX100 III are not included. You can learn more about them and which model is best for you in this article.

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