Serious candid, travel, and street photographers now have digital options that rival the quality of legacy premium small film cameras made by brands like Leica and Hasselblad. We took a careful look at compact cameras released over the past year and found that the following three stand out for their respective price points.
Canon: 1-inch Sensor Produces Stunning Video
Canon’s G9X Mark-II offers the most outstanding still and video performance among mirrorless cameras under $500. Its smooth video at 1080p and razor-sharp stills are thanks in part to its 1-inch sensor – a generous feature in this price category. My only reservation about this camera is that you’re committed to its 10-30mm zoom lens, which is not interchangeable.
Panasonic: Pairing Small Size With Versatility
The Panasonic GX85 has a palm-sized form factor, and it accepts the G-series lenses of its larger-bodied siblings in the Lumix lineup. It also packs in dual-image, 5-axis stabilization technology, which greatly improves handheld video and slower-exposure stills. The GX85 strikes the best balance between cost and a rich feature set among our top 3 compact camera picks.
Fujifilm: Legacy Rangefinder Style Build, But Worth Its Cost?
At $1,300 for the body alone, the Fujifilm X100F is a considerable investment for most people. Its rugged, metal body that looks like a vintage rangefinder is partly to blame for the elite price. It makes sense, however, as this camera is clearly aimed at serious street photographers who feel nostalgia at its classic feel and no-nonsense features. This is the best digital pocket camera money can buy, short of making the giant price leap into Leica bodies and lenses.