I’ve been saying for years that professional photographers have been neglected in the pocket camera world. I literally just got off the phone with my good buddy Ian Pettigrew. He asked me for advice on buying a nice compact camera, and we ultimately decided on a film camera. Fujifilm photographers used to have a ton of good options in the way of the XF10, the X70, and more. But these days we have barely anything. We really need them modern choices, and here’s why.
Years ago, when the compact camera market was healthier, photographers were beginning to gravitate towards mirrorless cameras and away from DSLRs. The market was healthy with compact options like the Sony RX1r, Canon G1x Mk II, Leica Q2, Fujifilm X100V, and more. But those options are more or less gone.
When I talked to my reps at Canon, they told me there is no market for a camera like that. And whenever I’ve talked to camera company reps, they mention compact cameras and point and shoots being marketed to consumers. Our Nikon reps say the same thing. But that’s too old-school of a way to think about them. We have to think about compact cameras for professional photographers.
It’s not just Ian that says this, though, I’ve talked with various photographers over the years that say the same thing. Some Sony Artisans I know have gone to Sony and told them to get back into making film cameras because they look at Generation Alpha and Gen Z and see them reaching for them. Indeed, the compact camera for the professional photographer needs to make a return.
Mirrorless Cameras are Too Big to Bring Everywhere With You
Mirrorless cameras are indeed smaller than DSLRs. But most of the time, we don’t want to bring them with us when we’re just having fun. I own the 27mm f2.8 R WR lens for Fujifilm that is more or less glued to my X Pro 3. But even that’s not compact enough. I want something that’s pocketable, durable, and powerful. Considering how much innovation brands have put into cameras, I’m sure it’s possible for them to make it.
The smallest full-frame camera worth talking about with interchangeable lenses is the Sony a7c. But even that can’t really fit into a pocket.
The Need for High Quality Images in Our Pocket
The only option many have right now is thier phone, but we’re willing to pay for something better. Consider the fact that film cameras are going for over $1,000 right now and they’re bought up in droves. The smallest ones are the Sony RX1R, the Fujifilm X100v, and the Leica Q2. But none of those can really go in your pocket.
When I’m out in the field shooting, I don’t always need two big cameras with me. A lot of the time, one main camera and one smaller camera is more than enough. So if I had a big camera and a compact camera with me, I’d be able to capture better photos than needing to use Apple’s Portrait mode to get something almost as good as what a dedicated camera can do. I do this speaking as both a content creator and a journalist.
The Need for Professional Features
These compact cameras should be capable of doing some serious work. So they’d need features like:
- Good high ISO output
- Decent resolution (the 40MP range is just fine)
- Weather resistance (a must-have feature)
- A small prime lens or a fast zoom lens
- Good battery life
- Pocketable design
Brands don’t have to look far for designs like this. OM System and Panasonic could probably make something like this. The Leica X2 was an absolutely fantastic camera that shot beautiful photos. But it wasn’t quite pocketable. Fujifilm had the XF10 and X70 that were pretty awesome. The Canon G1x Mk III was capable as a pocket camera with its zoom lens and APS-C sensor. And Sony isn’t going to make another RX1R because that Zeiss lens went with Zeiss when the two companies split up.
So seriously, what can us pros get?