8 Compact Cameras for Photographers Who Like to Travel Light

compact cameras Olympus Pen F
These compact cameras are small in size, but big on performance and features.

Compact cameras give photographers the chance to travel with gear small and light enough to fit in your coat pocket, yet still have access to incredibly good performance. Technology has come so far that the sensors and overall feature sets in compact cameras can (and do) rival cameras more than twice their size. If you’re a photographer who likes to sometimes leave their big bulky cameras at home so that you can travel light, these compact cameras are calling for you. Check out eight of our favorite pocket powerhouses after the break.

Captured with the Fujifilm X-T30

The compact cameras we have chosen to highlight are here because of their performance to size ratio. All of these cameras pack sensors capable of delivering some truly gorgeous images, their autofocus performance makes them a delight to use, and their overall feature sets will satisfy you. If you dream of hitting the streets with a compact camera, or travel without having to worry about image quality and performance, these cameras need to be on your radar. Check out eight compact cameras that would make us leave our larger camera bodies at home.

 

Olympus EPL9

 

Here are the pros and cons from our full review:

Pros

  • The instant film simulation isn’t exacting, but it’s still cool to play with
  • Small
  • Nice feel in the hand
  • Fast autofocus in most situations, though with varying accuracy
  • Colors can really pop when editing in Capture One

Cons

  • It deserves a viewfinder

Buy now ($449): Adorama

 

Fujifilm X-T30

 

mirrorless cameras

Here are the pros and cons from our full review:

Pros

  • Solid construction that we’ve come to expect and love with Fujifilm cameras
  • Compact
  • Lightweight
  • Almost everything that made the X-T3 such a hit

Cons

  • Lacks in-body image stabilization and weather sealing
  • Rear touchscreen only tilts up and down, unlike the X-T3 which also tilts to the right
  • Perhaps a tad too compact, particularly for photographers with larger hands
  • The new joystick is awkwardly placed on the rear of the camera body, making single-handed operation challenging
  • Unremarkable battery life

Buy now ($799): Adorama

 

Sony a6400

 

Here are the pros and cons from our full review:

Pros

  • Compact and lightweight
  • Fast and accurate autofocus
  • Excellent image quality
  • 11 FPS continuous shooting with AF & AE tracking (mechanical shutter only)
  • Improved Real-time Eye AF
  • Real-time Tracking
  • Real-time Animal Eye AF
  • 4K video recording without 30-minute limit
  • Competitively priced

Cons

  • Lacks in-body image stabilization
  • External battery charger not included
  • Single SD card slot with support for only up to UHS-I speed cards
  • The rear screen flips up into where the hot shoe is located and becomes essentially useless if you’ve got any attachments mounted onto the camera

Buy now ($898): Adorama

 

Captured with the Sony A6400

Pro Tip: Compact cameras are firm favorites with street photographers for a good reason. Their small size allows the photographer to draw very little attention to themselves, and their overall footprint will not make your intended subjects feel suspicious or insecure like they might with a full-size DSLR or Mirrorless camera. These compact cameras are also perfect for street work due to their high AF speeds. Of course, street photography is about more than just gear. If you are new to the genre and need some hints and tips, or if you need to learn how to approach subjects, then check out this easy to follow guide. It’s jam-packed with information that will help you get the most out of your camera, and help you create images that sing.

 

Ricoh GR III

 

Here are the pros and cons from our full review:

Pros

  • We’re smitten with the JPEGs and the color profile simulations
  • Snap focus is nice
  • Sharp image quality
  • The small size of the camera
  • Good battery life if you leave the screen off
  • USB charging
  • Touchscreen
  • We’re okay with APS-C, it makes shooting street much easier
  • Image stabilization is nice

Cons

  • We don’t really care for the RAW files. You may as well just embrace the flaws of the otherwise unique image quality
  • Autofocus is very slow
  • No weather sealing is a big problem
  • This camera desperately needed a faster aperture lens
  • Deep menus
  • No pop-up flash
  • Could have used a viewfinder

Buy now ($899.95): Adorama

 

Olympus Pen F

 

compact cameras Olympus Pen F

Here are the pros and cons from our full review:

Pros

  • The absolute best yet and, in some ways, almost perfect image quality from an Olympus ILC camera
  • Handles very much like an old analog camera
  • Feels amazing in the and for street photography
  • Thumb rest is absolutely fantastic
  • Autofocus performance is more than satisfactory
  • Not too large of a camera body
  • The knob that lets me shoot in black and white mode has me addicted to not only shooting in black and white but also very happy with the JPEGs
  • Flippin’ fantastic JPEG output
  • Great EVF
  • The electronic shutter is super nice
  • The most beautiful digital camera made thus far
  • 80MP High res mode is there, but I’m honestly not sure it should be
  • We haven’t been this excited about a camera since the Olympus OMD EM5

Cons

  • Price point
  • We really wish Olympus put some weather sealing into the camera

Buy now ($999): Adorama

 

Fujifilm X100F

 

compact cameras Fujifilm X100F

Here are the pros and cons from our full review:

Pros

  • Great image quality
  • One of the best autofocus cameras when it comes to candid street photography
  • Compact
  • Nice feel that you’d expect from a camera like this
  • Acros video is very welcome
  • AF selection point joystick was long overdue
  • So light, small, and great that you’ll want to take it with you everywhere
  • Much improved battery life

Cons

  • At this point, it could use sensor-based image stabilization
  • Could use a lens update, sometimes we feel like the lens isn’t doing the sensor full justice. Though we only speak of this in terms of optical sharpness. Otherwise, the character it delivers is fantastic
  • No weather sealing
  • Though not necessary, it would be nice to have a headphone and microphone jack for video shooting
  • Doesn’t adhere to Sunny 16 rules of metering, which is REALLY WEIRD

Buy now ($1,099): Adorama

 

Captured with the Ricoh GR III

Pro Tip: The great thing about compact cameras is they can easily slip into a coat pocket, and then you can effortlessly whip them out to grab an image or scene that presents itself in front of you. The bad thing about keeping a camera in your pocket, though, is that it will likely become dirty and covered in lint and debris quickly. We highly recommend you also keep a small camera cleaning kit on your person to wipe down your camera with when it picks up a little too much ick. This one has everything you need to keep your camera clean and, like your camera, it’s small enough to fit in your pocket.

 

Leica TL2

 

compact cameras Leica TL2

Here are the pros and cons from our full review:

Pros

  • Super solid build quality
  • Nice, big screen
  • Simple touchscreen interface, but can get complicated depending on how you configure it
  • Feels better in the hand than you’d think
  • Good image quality
  • Fantastic battery life

Cons

  • Autofocus is fast, but not fast enough for something like street photography
  • Attaching camera straps to it can be a bit of a pain

Buy now ($2,195): Adorama

 

Sony RX1r II

 

Here are the pros and cons from our full review:

Pros

  • Excellent image quality
  • Fast-focusing
  • Great lens
  • Small
  • Lightweight
  • For most of us, it’s all the camera you’d possibly need
  • EVF addition is welcome
  • Fair battery life for a Sony camera

Cons

  • Sometimes very hard to hold and shoot with when doing street photography
  • When used with a radio flash trigger, the EVF can get in the way

Buy now ($3,298): Adorama