Best compact cameras in Australia 2020

Revealed: The best compact cameras for travel, low light, pro photographers and shoppers on a budget.

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The best compact cameras in Australia 2020

How did we pick this list?

Our editorial team selected the cameras in this list based on extensive research, real customer reviews and personal experience. For each category, we carefully selected parameters based on our research and identified the products with the highest review score within those parameters.

Read more detail on our methodology below.

Best compact camera overall: Fujifilm X100V

Pros

  • Retro styling
  • 4K video shooting

Cons

  • Full weather-sealing requires extra purchase
  • Complex menus

Specs: 26.1 MP X-Trans CMOS 4 sensor | 5.33 x 12.8 x 7.47cm, 478g | 3-inch external display

Price (RRP): $2,000

Buy at Amazon
Buy at Kogan

Why we chose it

When you're looking at the best of the best in compact cameras, you're well and truly heading into the mid-range zone for DSLRs. Fujifilm's highly rated X100V – with an average score of around 4.6 out of 5 on Amazon – delivers great images, courtesy of a 26.1MP sensor, as well as 4K video recording and a slew of other great features.

Fujifilm's X100V is the latest iteration of its popular and well regarded X100 range. As well as an updated 26.1MP CMOS sensor, there's a nifty 3-inch flip-out display and improved lenses. And, unlike many other cameras, it looks like someone took the casing from the 1970s, giving it a funky retro appearance, complete with physical dials for controlling the lens aperture, shutter speed and ISO settings.

The camera can be made weather-proof but you'll need to pay for an optional weather-proofing kit which seems a tad cheeky given the cost of the camera. But, otherwise, this is a premium camera that delivers great images and video and will satisfy those looking for some control while shooting their photos.

What users say

Incredible "Jewel" of a camera with stunning retro looks with modern appointments and excellent image quality. It's almost the perfect camera in every way."


Best cheap compact camera: Kodak PIXPRO Friendly Zoom FZ43

Pros

  • Solid image quality
  • Super-light and compact

Cons

  • Poor digital zoom
  • Low battery life

Specs: 2.29 x 9.14 x 5.64cm, 104.3g | 5X optical zoom | 720p video

Price (RRP): $135

Buy at Amazon
Buy at Kogan

Why we chose it

If you're looking for a low-cost camera that's light and compact and fun for the kids then the Kodak PIXPRO Friendly Zoom FZ43 is a great option. With over 1,000 purchasers giving it an average Amazon rating of more than 4 out of 5, Kodak has managed to create a decent camera that can shoot nice images without breaking the bank.

The 16MP sensor combined with the 5x optical zoom deliver clear images, and shooters can even grab HD video, albeit at just 720P. But given this snapper will easily slip into a pocket and you'll barely notice it – it weighs less than most smartphones – that's pretty impressive. It's powered by a couple of AA batteries so keeping it going is straightforward.

Throw in red-eye removal and face detection and you've got a spec sheet that just a few years ago would have cost five times more. But today, while there are table stakes in the compact camera world, they are impressive in a camera that costs not much more than $100.

What users say

Bought as a cheap and cheerful digital camera to take on holiday, wasn't expecting anything amazing but am really pleased with the picture quality. I uploaded the photos online to make a photo book and when it came the pictures looked great."


Best mid-range compact camera: Canon PowerShot G7 X Mark II

Pros

  • Low light performance
  • Image stabilisation

Cons

  • No 4K video
  • Limited zoom

Specs: 4.19 x 6.1 x 10.54cm, 453.6g | 20.1MP sensor | 3-inch touchscreen

Price (RRP): $949

Buy at Amazon
Buy at Kogan

Why we chose it

There are hundreds of options when it comes to mid-range compact cameras so standing out in the crowd is a challenge. Canon's G7 X Mark II manages to deliver a bunch of great features without breaking the bank which is why it has one of the highest review scores in the market. With users rating it 4.6 out of 5, Canon has produced a compact camera that will fit the bill for even the fussiest snappers.

Like a number of other manufacturers, Canon has opted for a one-inch sensor for this iteration of the PowerShot G7 X. It also boasts Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity so you can live-stream from the camera, making it a handy option for those looking for a little more control over the image output than you can typically find on webcams and smartphones.

The PowerShot G7 X Mark II supports 20fps burst shooting, 1,080p video – there's no 4K support – and a 4.2x optical zoom. That zoom is probably the biggest negative with what is otherwise a great camera. But it does handle external mics and HDMI output so you can view your footage directly on a big screen. There's a USB port for charging although there's also an external charger for the battery.

What users say

It is an excellent compact camera with very good image quality. Simple logical menus. The build quality is very good. Recommended for street and indoor photography. Excellent in low light too."


Best premium compact camera: Sony RX100 VII

Pros

  • Great image quality
  • Stabilised 4K video

Cons

  • Struggles in low light
  • Need to tweak settings to get best performance

Specs: 10.16 x 4.27 x 6.05cm, 275g | 8x zoom | 20.1MP sensor

Price (RRP): $1,799

Buy at Amazon
Buy at Kogan
Buy at Camera House

Why we chose it

With user reviews in excess of 4.6 out of 5 and comments like "most capable pocket camera ever made" from professional photographers, Sony has produced a great camera that delivers excellent still images and video that gives amateurs and pros plenty of options to get the images they want.

The autofocus feature is easy to use and lets you use the touchscreen to choose the focal point for autofocus. Burst mode is rated at 20fps. And while you can't alter the zoom while burst shooting, the autofocus accuracy and speed puts this camera on a par with specialist sports cameras.

All compact cameras come with compromises. For the RX100 VII, that compromise is with low light shooting as it has a limited maximum aperture. Interestingly, there is a microphone jack but there's no boot to hold a mic, although there are ways around that if you're using a wireless mic system.

What users say

Amazing point and shoot camera. Amazing 4K unlimited time filming. My go-to camera now."


Best waterproof compact camera: Fujifilm XP140

Pros

  • Dustproof, shockproof to 1.8m, freezeproof to -10ºC, waterproof to 25m
  • Compact and lightweight

Cons

  • Limited 4K video capability
  • Dull screen

Specs: 2.78 x 10.96 x 7.1cm, 207g | 4K video at 15fps, HD at 60fps | 16.4MP sensor

Price (RRP): $269

Buy at Amazon
Buy at eBay
Buy at Camera House

Why we chose it

Ruggedised cameras don't have to be big and clunky. The Fujifilm XP140 combines solid specs with a compact body that can handle almost anything you throw at it, which is why owners give it solid ratings of around 4.3 out of 5 across a variety of review sites.

Fujifilm has also managed to make the XP140 appealing by offering it in a range of colours. It comes in lime green, silver, sky blue and white bodies that house a lithium ion battery which lets you shoot about 240 images, saved to an SD card, a 3-inch touchscreen display and 16MP sensor.

Image quality is very good, according to professional camera reviewers, as the camera boasts scene and eye detection tech. However, while it can shoot 1,080p video at 60fps, its 4K recording ability is capped at 15fps. But, at the price and given its ability to withstand dust, water, extreme temperatures and deep dips into water, that's a minor quibble for those looking for a waterproof compact camera.

What users say

I love photography and I love the sea. After looking at several models I decided on this one, which after 2 and a half months of use, has not let me down. Perfect for a snowy day, risky sports or just a family trip."


Best compact camera for travel: Ricoh GR III

Pros

  • Great image quality
  • Image stabilisation

Cons

  • Limited optical zoom
  • No 4K

Specs: 24.2MP sensor | Bluetooth LE and Wi-Fi | 10.9 x 6.2 x 3.3cm, 257g

Price (RRP): $1,500

Buy at Amazon
Buy at Catch
Buy at eBay

Why we chose it

With reviewers on Amazon rating it a solid 4.5 out of 5, Google reviewers ranking it even more highly, and National Geographic ranking this as their favourite travel camera, the Ricoh GR III is tough to beat when it comes to compact cameras for travellers. It can take amazing shots and slip into a pocket when you're moving from location to location.

The 3-inch touchscreen makes it easy to change settings and view your images, with this iteration of the camera offering a faster lens drive system than its predecessors as well as three-axis image stabilisation for when you're not in a steady position. As well as the usual automatic mode when you're in a hurry, the touchscreen gives you full control over almost every setting you can imagine.

The Ricoh GR III works with a variety of external flash units as well as having a neat pop-up flash and can shoot full HD movies in the H.264 recording format. Some users note that the camera can get hot after prolonged use but, otherwise, this is a great snapper that will fit the bill for travellers.

What users say

Buy this camera. Just do it. The images are so sharp you could cut your eye. This camera is so well thought out and easy to use."


Best low light compact camera: Canon PowerShot G5 X Mark II

Pros

  • Touchscreen interface easy to use
  • Comfortable to hold

Cons

  • Battery life
  • Clunky pop-up viewfinder

Specs: 4K/30p and 1,080/60p video recording | Wi-Fi + Bluetooth wireless connectivity | 4.57 x 11.18 x 6.1cm, 340g

Price (RRP): $1,199

Buy at Amazon
Buy at Kogan

Why we chose it

Hundreds of reviewers from several online stores, as well as professional photography reviewers agree: the Canon PowerShot G5 X Mark II is a great camera in most conditions and excels in low-light situations. With scores ranging from 4.5 to 4.7 out of 5, depending on the site, this is a stand-out camera.

Canon has borrowed many features from its more highly equipped G7 X cameras in making the PowerShot G5 X Mark II. In fact, at first glance, they are indistinguishable from each other. Easy to hold, the PowerShot G5 X Mark II is responsive with very little shot-to-shot lag and it supports 30fps in burst mode. Autofocus performance when shooting photos isn't quite as responsive when shooting video according to reviewers.

If you're out for a full day, a second battery might be useful as the camera is only rated for 240 pics between charges – you can charge over USB but you'll need more juice than most phone chargers can deliver.

What users say

The touchscreen controls with this camera make changing settings an intuitive breeze. The photos this machine produces are darn good. Canon got it right with the versatile compact camera."


Buying a compact camera

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Compact cameras are a broad category that covers everything from sub-$100 kids' cameras through to high-end compacts that can shoot near professional-level images. What separates them from DSLRs is that they typically have fixed lenses. That means the lenses they ship with are what you're stuck with.

While that sounds like an inflexible approach, camera makers can still pack a lot of features in. And, over time, high-end features, such as image stabilisation and manual focus, have made their way from the pro-level DSLR range through to consumer-friendly compact cameras.

Compact cameras overcome one of the biggest challenges with DSLRs – they are much smaller and can easily slip into a pocket or bag. While a DSLR camera offers lots of flexibility with different lenses and filters, a compact camera can deliver great images from a much smaller unit at a much lower cost.

If you're relatively new to photography and want to take a step forward from your smartphone, a compact camera is a great investment. Most will let you play with settings such as aperture, exposure and other settings so you can learn the ins and outs of photography. That can be a great gateway before venturing into the world of DSLR photography.

For pros who already have invested in high level gear, a good compact camera can be a great accessory that lets you take high-quality images quickly from hard-to-reach places. It can help you scope out a location before carrying your heavy gear.

Compact cameras can take amazing images and video, offer more flexibility than your smartphone and are easier to use than a DSLR.

Do I need a compact camera?

While it's often said that the best camera is the one you have with you – and that means your smartphone – there's a strong case to be made for a specialised camera. Compact cameras fill the niche between your smartphone and a DSLR.

Unlike smartphones that typically have a set number of image options, compact cameras give you far more flexibility, with many supporting the ability to easily control aperture and exposure as well as offering advanced features like waterproof bodies. And, if you haven't made the leap to a DSLR, a compact is a great stepping stone if you're learning the ropes and want something small that can take great pics without the investment in lenses, flash units and the other accessories that follow a journey into the world of DSLRs.

One of the reasons smartphones have adopted multi-lens systems is to allow them to simulate the ability to have a physical zoom. Compact cameras have lenses that can zoom in and out without resorting to reducing the number of pixels in your image.

If you're looking for a camera that is easy to use, more flexible than your smartphone and gives you more control over the image you create, a compact digital camera is a great option.

What to consider?

When choosing a compact camera, there are a few things to consider. Budget is a great place to start. You can spend anywhere from $50 to $1,500 for a compact digital camera depending on the features, quality of the hardware and the brand.

Size and weight are also important. One of the reasons people eschew a DSLR is the size. A good compact camera may weigh just a few hundred grams and slip into a pocket or bag easily.

Ease of use is also important. Depending on your level of expertise, you may like to adjust settings such as exposure and aperture. Look at how the menus and controls work so you can decide whether they are easy for you to use. While many cameras offer these settings, some manufacturers make these features challenging to find and adjust.

Compact cameras offer two types of zoom: optical and digital. Optical zoom uses the lenses while digital zoom is like when you enlarge a scanned image. Eventually, if you enlarge a scanned image you end up with a fuzzy, pixelated picture. If you plan on zooming in on distant objects look at the level of optical zoom.

And finally, image stabilisation is useful. This uses mechanical and electronic means to remove the shudder that occurs while holding your camera. When you're zoomed in on a distant object, this can be a critical feature and well worth looking for when you buy a compact camera.

How to compare compact cameras

Want to find the best compact camera? Or maybe a phone camera or DSLR? Head to Finder's camera buying guide.

Methodology

7
Brands considered
50+
Products compared
7
Best compact cameras chosen
  • Our editorial team compared more than 50 compact cameras from multiple brands sold by Australian retailers and online stores.
  • We based our findings on real customer reviews across reputable websites, including Amazon, eBay, Google and Kogan.
  • We also consulted reviews from independent reviewers and consumer choice publications.
  • The products on this list are chosen by our editorial team and are not selected based on commercial relationships.

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