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Guide to buying a good compact camera

Useful tips for buying a compact camera.

When looking to buy a compact camera, there are several factors to consider to ensure that you get the best camera for your needs. Here are some things to look for before making a purchase:

How to buy a Good compact camera

Image Source - Pexels

The most important feature to consider when buying a compact camera is the right balance of image quality and Portability. Look for a camera that has a High-resolution sensor that means more Mega Pixels, good low-light performance which in a way means a better performing Processor, a quality lens, which would be a fixed non changeable lens and most importantly, a Bigger sensor. Ideally opt for a sensor size equal to or closer to 1 inch.

Opt for Higher Resolution

This is the foremost thing that you check. yes, higher the number is almost always better but this does not mean that you simply go for an insanely high number and ignore all the other parameters of a camera. Around 12 to 24 mega Pixel is a good enough starting point.

Bigger Sensor Size is better

Something no one gives importance to but the whole thing revolves around how big your sensor is. Bigger the sensor, better it is. A camera with lower megapixel but a bigger sensor size may actually be better than the one with more megapixel but a smaller sensor size.

Better Processor means better Quality

Always opt for a better and more advanced processor which usually would mean a more recent processor. It is the processor which interprets, evaluates and ultimately puts across the collected information on the sensor. In General better processor will provide better performance of the camera in low light conditions and a better Dynamic range.

Lens Quality

Opt for a good quality lenses. While Canon and Nikon have their own lenses, Sony has Zeiss lenses and Panasonic Lumix has Leica lenses. Prefer lenses with more maximum opening that is a smaller number. f2.8 would be a better choice than f5.6

Zoom range

This is what attracts most of the buyers. How many X the zoom lens is. Bigger the Zoom lens number is not essentially a better lens. Consider the zoom range of the camera for practical purposes. Only very few compact cameras have a fixed lens, while most of them have a zoom lens that can go from wide-angle to telephoto. Decide what type of photography you will be doing and choose a zoom range that fits your needs.

Lesser difference between the extremes of a zoom lens is always better, be it a professional lens or the one on compact, point and shoot camera.

We more often need wide angles on our compact everyday cameras where as we are usually attracted more towards the telephoto side of the camera lens. Because we use a compact camera for daily use, a better wide angle lens should ideally be a preference.

How to buy a Good compact camera

A Bigger Zoom lens will also make the lens protrude out more which is obvious but ensure that the camera stays compact when the lens is retracted and inside the camera body as such. Image Source - Sony

Size and weight

The whole point of a compact camera is that it's small and easy to carry around, so size and weight are important factors to consider. Make sure the camera is comfortable to hold and fits in your pocket or bag easily.

Is this going to be your second or additional camera besides a DSLR?

If so, then opt for a camera which is extremely light and fits in your pocket. Maybe you are buying it for those moments when you do not wish to lug around your heavy workhorse camera. so, avoid buying one of those hybrid cameras which cant fit in a pocket.

How to buy a Good compact camera

Being a Hybrid model, the camera is not very compact. This is a version of the camera which is ideal for someone looking for a camera in a segment between very compact and relatively more automatic compact camera and a much more versatile and controllable DSLR. Image source - Canon

Another category of compact cameras is the one with a compact size but interchangeable lenses. EOS M series of Canon is one example. But go for this category if you are not looking for an extremely small size which can fit in the pocket. The difference here is also that the lens when not in use cannot be retracted inside the camera body and the size always remains relatively bigger as compared to conventional compact cameras which have retractable lenses irrespective of their focal lengths. The advantage is that you have more flexibility of using different and better quality lenses.

How to buy a Good compact camera

This is a more compact camera from Minolta and obviously has less features and controls.

How to buy a Good compact camera

Go for a camera which is small enough so as to carry it simply in the pocket of your jeans or Jacket. Image Source - Sony

User interface

Consider how easy the camera is to use. Does it have manual controls for more advanced users, or is it more geared towards beginners? Make sure the menu system is intuitive and easy to navigate. You can tryout the camera before you buy so that you have a better ideas of its ease of use.

File Formats

What are you buying the camera for? Opt for the RAW format if you wish to have more control over the images after you have shot them. RAW allows much more scope of enhancing the images at a later stage as compared to JPEG format. Compare RAW and JPEG

Good to have a Viewfinder

Not every compact camera comes with a viewfinder. Personally, I prefer shooting through the camera's viewfinder and not through the rear LCD screen. To those who started their photography career in the digital era or those who are graduating from a mobile phone, this should not matter so much. But having an inbuilt viewfinder, helps in bringing the camera closer to eye and the body which makes it all more stable. It also helps exclude everything else from the scene and allows you to concentrate more on what you are seeing through the viewfinder alone. Of course it allows you to get a far much better idea about the exposure and other parameters in broad day light when the external LCD screen is highly influenced by the outside light.

How to buy a Good compact camera

Having a retractable electronic viewfinder is a big bonus especially when shooting outdoors in the bright sunlight. .Image Source - Sony

How to buy a Good compact camera

You can get an idea as to how compact the camera is besides having some of the best features amongst the compact cameras. Image Source - Sony

LCD Screen

A good quality screen is in no way connected to the Good quality of the Image which is produced on the sensor but as we live in the ever evolving world of Mobile phone camera with excellent screens, it certainly is a good idea to opt for a good LCD screen. Check for the size and resolution of the screen. Bigger the better.

Swivel Screen is better

It works much better especially when you are buying the compact camera to click a lot of selfies. It also helps in making Vlogs. But this may add to the overall size of the camera.

How to buy a Good compact camera

The ability of the LCD to swivel is a great advantage to take selfies as well as to shoot images from less convenient angles and positions. Image source - Canon

Video Capabilities

The camera should have the capability of shooting videos and if it has 4k resolution, it's ideal.

InBuilt Flash

The compact camera must have an inbuilt flash. If it protrudes out, it's better as the chances of Red Eye are reduced when the flash is away from the lens axis. Check if you have features to control the flash as that will allow more flexibility on how you illuminate your subject.

Social media connectivity

Most of the new compact cameras comes with some sort of easy connectivity with your Mobile phone so that you can quickly share your images as you shoot. Its good to have these options as your compact camera is a substitute for your mobile phone camera to have better quality images.

Battery life should good

Check the battery life of the camera. Make sure it can last for a full day of shooting, and consider getting a spare battery if necessary. You will have to check out some reputed review on the camera you are planning to buy as otherwise, it will be difficult to get an idea. However, if its otherwise a high end model, the battery should last long enough and it should not be problem to have an extra battery. Battery life depends a lot on its usage pattern also.

Should be able to attach Accessories

Do check out if there is any scope of attaching any accessories like an external Flash for example. Can it be attached to a tripod if required? You should be able to attach an external mic, which is very important if you plan to shot videos.

Build Quality

Unless you are planning to subject your compact camera to a rough and tuff situation, this should not really be a priority. In most of the cases with weather sealing and other such factors, the price of the camera may increase and there may be less emphasis on other quality features. You need such kind of a water proof camera only if you frequent such places prone to water or you are keen to explore underwater photography.

How to buy a Good compact camera


The most important factor here is the reason of your purchase. Is this going to be your stand alone camera? Are you a serious Amateur? Are you as a Pro buying it for the days when you wont like to carry your mainstream professional camera. How much can you afford to spend on it? Why not use a Good Mobile Phone camera which you carry around anyways. Why not buy a good mainstream Mirrorless camera it self if you are planning to learn photography and gradually move on to be a more professional level. Mirrorless cameras are not too small but relatively lighter than their counterpart DSLR camera which have the additional weight of the Mirror as well.

The Range of compact cameras varies a lot and you can opt to go for the one which fits your need.

By considering these factors, you can choose a compact camera that will give you the image quality, versatility, and portability you need for your photography.

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