The cameras in general and the compact ones in particular do not go through their best moment. The main reason is that almost all of us already have a more or less decent camera in our pockets, incorporated in the smartphone, perfect for “aim, shoot and share”.
However, it is convenient not to be deceived. The basis of photography is light and, as much as miniaturization progresses, the sensors and optics that incorporate telephones, including those of very high range, physical limitations mean that they are still (and, probably, always) far from a good compact.
This guide is aimed at those who want to go one step beyond what their smartphone offers , without having to spend a lot or carrying a heavy reflex camera and a lot of accessories.
Do I need a compact camera?
Some years ago the compact camera market was full of products of dubious quality (including those of manufacturers with little or no experience in photography) that sold themselves, mainly for all the advantages associated with digital photography and the boom of social networks .
Little by little, the first mobile phones and smartphones later improved the quality of their sensors and optics, providing a similar quality that ended up banishing most low-end compacts to a drawer.
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However, the tricks of marketing should not confuse us : taking pictures from a smartphone can be very comfortable, but also has serious limitations that begin with the selective approach, the limitations of optics when light does not accompany or chromatic aberrations. Aspects that are not relevant if the goal is to upload a selfie to Instagram but, if we are amateur photographers, they can be a problem.
When, a few years ago, the first compacts with one-inch sensor began to be commercialized , myths that had lasted for years were knocked down; finally we could take real photos and in low light conditions with a camera that can be stored in your pocket. Brands such as Panasonic or Sony were the first and have been refining years proposals that, once tested, tend to convince.
Currently there is a wide range of advanced compact cameras , not necessarily expensive, that offer image quality, ease of use and creative possibilities in light years of any smartphone (including those that exceed 1000 euros).
What should I know to choose a compact camera?
From our point of view, there are some essential aspects when it comes to selecting the best compact camera that is really worth it:
- The size of the sensor, which should be 1 inch or more.
- A powerful optical zoom, which justifies leaving the mobile for selfies.
- That is relatively small and light, so that we are not lazy to take it anywhere
- Forget the megapixels. Any camera or smartphone on the market has more than you need
- If we have to choose, better a luminous lens (the “f” how much less better) than one with a lot of zoom. Having both at the same time involves large and very expensive objectives.
Among the hundreds of cameras for sale you will see many that do not meet these conditions. I would not recommend them unless we have a very low-end smartphone and really want something very simple and cheap to “point and shoot”.
Above we have the micro four thirds, EVIL and the SLR, with many more possibilities but also more expensive and bulky. We will dedicate future chapters of this guide to them. As you will see below, we combine in our selection the purest compacts with two bridge models , which have the advantages and disadvantages that characterize this intermediate format. If you have doubts about choosing a bridge or do not recommend you take a look at this article.
We focus on the advanced compact that does offer significant added value compared to other formats and that, from our point of view, are the best options on the market for those who want to take a leap of quality in the photographs.
As we commented at the beginning of this text, the intention of this guide is to give ideas to those who are looking for something more than what a smartphone can offer them. If you’re not interested in optical zoom, you’re not going to switch from automatic mode or you never print a photo, it’s better to buy a smartphone with a good camera instead of a compact one.
If you can do without the powerful zoom and light optics offered by the bridge, it is a good idea to opt for a pure compact that weighs and occupies little. Otherwise, the two bridges we present are fantastic options that can even rival some mid-range DSLRs and kit lenses.
In addition, almost any current model has WiFi or Bluetooth connectivity and the ability to send our photos quickly and easily to the smartphone, where we can post them on social networks or share them with our friends and family.
With any of the cameras of our selection (necessarily limited, obviously there are very good models that do not appear here) you will find the quality jump you are looking for. We encourage you to expand these proposals by adding yours in the comments section.