Compact Camera Buying Guide:

What Are the Best Picks for 2024?

If you're looking to capture quality shots you just can't achieve with a smartphone and you don't want to carry a heavy DSLR around with you, a compact camera may be the answer. But with so many brands and features to choose from, which one is right for you?

We'll break down what a compact camera is and the key features to consider when buying one. We'll also recommend the best compact cameras for every occasion, with help from our Product Specialist Lizzie James at Jessops.


What is a compact camera?

Things to consider when choosing a compact camera

Recommended compact cameras

What is a compact camera?

A compact camera, also known as a point-and-shoot, is a small and portable digital camera designed for simplicity and ease of use. The beauty of a compact camera is that it can easily slip into your bag or pocket!

Unlike bulkier DSLRs, it doesn't have interchangeable lenses, but it packs everything you need into one sleek body. Whether you're on holiday, at a party, or just out and about, a compact camera is a handy companion for quick snaps and capturing memories.

Things to consider when choosing a compact camera


These are the number of pixels (tiny dots) that make up an image. A higher megapixel count means the camera sensor can capture more of these pixels, leading to clearer, more detailed photos. 

“Most modern compact cameras usually offer between 12 and 20 megapixels or even more, and this is enough for everyday photography,” says Lizzie. “If you plan on zooming in on the little details or you plan on printing larger images, it's best to go for the top end. This will give you the flexibility to crop, enlarge, and edit your shots without sacrificing image quality.”

Zoom range

While most smartphones do offer zoom capabilities, compact cameras take it up a notch, with some models boasting up to 30x magnification or even beyond. These cameras typically feature two primary zoom options: optical and digital. 

Many entry-level compact cameras primarily use digital zoom. While its quality has improved with technology, optical zoom is still the top choice for detail preservation.

Lizzie explains: “When choosing a compact camera, it's essential to check its zoom range, especially if you often find yourself trying to capture subjects from a distance or wanting to frame a larger scene perfectly.”

Low light performance 

Capturing low-light moments can be challenging, but the right compact camera can make all the difference. Here are some features to look out for:

"When choosing a compact camera, it's essential to consider your shooting scenarios," says Lizzie. "If nighttime photography is in your plans, it's best to opt for one with a larger sensor, brighter lens and wider choice in your ISO settings."

Wifi or Bluetooth

“In today's digital age, instant sharing and seamless transfers are a big deal,” says Lizzie. “Many compact cameras now come equipped with Wi-Fi and/or Bluetooth capabilities. This feature allows you to connect your camera directly to your smartphone, tablet, or computer, making it a breeze to upload, share, or back up your photos on the go.”

“If you're someone who loves to share moments in real-time or likes the convenience of wireless transfers, ensuring your compact camera has Wi-Fi or Bluetooth should be on your checklist.”

Touchscreen display

“Most modern compact cameras have touchscreen displays, which come with quick access buttons on the screen, simplifying the process of adjusting settings and reviewing shots,” explains Lizzie. “However, it's worth noting that some older versions may not include this feature.”

Shutter speed

Lizzie explains: “Shutter speed is the duration of time that the camera's sensor is exposed to light, allowing you to capture motion, create long-exposure effects, or freeze fast-paced action.”

“You usually can't adjust the shutter speed with basic compact cameras. But if you want to have greater control over your shots, you might want to invest in a compact camera that offers this setting.”

To learn more about the different features of digital cameras, read our beginner’s guide to choosing the best digital camera for you.

Recommended compact cameras

Best for beginners: Sony DSC-RX100 III | Only £479

"Most compact cameras are designed with ease of use in mind, making them an excellent choice for beginners," says Lizzie. "Their user-friendly interfaces, straightforward controls, and automatic settings allow even those with no prior photography experience to capture quality images with minimal effort."

"The Sony DSC-RX100 is specifically is great for beginners. It boasts a variety of shooting modes tailored for different scenarios, from portraits and landscapes to macro and sports action mode. This versatility allows beginners to experiment and learn the nuances of photography without feeling overwhelmed."

"It's also equipped with a lock-on autofocus. This ensures that even fast-moving subjects can be captured with clarity, making it easier for novices to get that perfect shot."

"Plus, it's on the lower end in terms of price for compact cameras, making it an excellent choice for those starting out in photography."

"This Sony camera is not only great for beginners but also comes packed with advanced features for when you progress in photography. What makes it stand out are its larger sensor and brighter lens compared to other beginner compacts, guaranteeing professional-quality results. It also offers both manual and automatic controls, giving you the tools to refine your photography skills.”

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Best for outdoor photography: OM System TG-7 Digital Camera - Black | £499

"This OM System compact camera is excellent for capturing all sorts of outdoor activities, with its dustproof and shockproof capabilities that can endure falls of up to 2.1 metres," says Lizzie. "It's also waterproof down to 15 metres and even remains functional in freezing temperatures to -10°C."

"It also excels in macro photography, with an impressive shooting range as close as 1 cm from the lens's edge and a maximum image magnification of 7x (35mm equivalent). This means you can explore the beauty of nature up close."

To learn more about close-up shooting, read our guide to macro photography.

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Best for vlogging: Sony ZV-1 Compact Vlogger Camera | Only £649

Lizzie explains: "This Sony camera features a screen that can be flipped out and tilted. This is incredibly handy for vloggers because it allows you to see yourself clearly while recording."

"It also comes equipped with a mic-wind screen that can be easily attached. This addition is a game-changer for audio quality, ensuring that your sound remains crystal clear, even in outdoor settings where wind can be a challenge."

"Plus, with 4K video capabilities and super-fast autofocus (AF), you can trust that your videos and images will always be of the highest quality, even when you or your subject is in motion."

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Best zoom capabilities: Canon PowerShot SX70 HS Digital Camera | Only £579

"With a 65x optical zoom and 20.3 megapixel CMOS sensor, this Canon pocket camera punches well above its weight," says Lizzie.

"The zoom is its real selling point: the range goes from a wide 21mm to an impressive 1365mm, and it can even digitally zoom up to 2730mm using 130x ZoomPlus. This means you can take wide-angle shots of landscapes or zoom in super close to far-away objects. There's also a macro mode that lets you capture extreme close-ups from as close as 0 cm."

"When you've got your shot, you can then use Bluetooth and WiFi to start sharing your hard work. It couldn't get much easier."

"There's also a handy remote live view feature that lets you see what your camera sees on your mobile device and take pictures from there. It's perfect if you're trying to capture wildlife and don't want to disturb them or if you're taking a group picture and want everyone in the shot. Just set your camera up in the right spot and click the shutter via your phone!"

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Best for film-image look: Fujifilm X100V Digital Camera | £1,349

"Fujifilm is renowned for its film simulation modes, which mimic the colours and tones of classic film images," explains Lizzie.

"The X100V compact digital camera offers various film simulation modes like Classic Chrome, Provia, Velvia, and others, allowing you to choose the film look that suits your creative vision."

The 26.1-megapixel sensor ensures maximum quality and I love how this camera has an electronic viewfinder, as it gives you a real-time preview of how your finished image will look."

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Find your perfect compact camera at Jessops

At Jessops, we have a wide range of compact cameras from leading brands like Canon, Sony and Nikon

If you're new to photography, take a look at our beginner’s guide to choosing the best digital camera, or if you're in search of a mirrorless camera, read our buying guide.

For more advice and inspiration, check out our blog. Or, if you're unsure about which product is right for you or have any questions, contact us today.

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