The cameras in today's smartphones are better than ever, but there are still limitations to even top-tier phones, such as the iPhone 7 Plus and the Samsung Galaxy S8. Wide angles, zoom lenses and aperture adjustments are all things smartphones still struggle with. Plus, there's always the chance that if you're using phone to text, check maps, and surf the web, it will run out of juice before you get a chance to grab that perfect shot.
Not only do compact cameras produce crisp images, they also aren't that much larger than a typical smartphone. And when you add in bigger batteries, expandable storage and more full-featured controls, it's easy to see why compact cameras are often the go to choice for frequent travelers who don't want get weighed down with a big DSLR or mirrorless camera.
Our favorite compact camera is the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-WX500, which costs just under $300 and has a wide focal range, flip-up LCD, and a bevy of other features, such as Wi-Fi and image stabilization.
On the other end of the spectrum, point-and-shoot cameras like the Polaroid Snap are fantastic, fun and inexpensive gadgets that offer the novelty of instant photos with the convenience of modern technology. With them, there's no more worrying about sharing pics on social media, because all you need to do is shoot, print and hand out a good 'ole fashioned photo to your friends and family.
If you're still not satisfied with the suggestions above, or are looking for something that can capture higher quality images, you may want to consider a bridge camera like the Canon Powershot G7X or the Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX100. Both of these cameras produce much sharper and more detailed images than less expensive point-and-shoots, while still retaining small and highly pocketable designs.
How We Tested
We test the cameras under similar conditions for each model to get a comparative overview of their capabilities. For some of the testing, we left the cameras on their default settings. Then, to get a sense of exposure accuracy, we shot the cameras on Auto or Program Auto and, when possible, one of the semi-manual modes (aperture-priority and/or shutter-priority modes) using various ISO settings depending on the conditions. At the same time, we took note of the cameras' speed and overall performance.
Most of our test shots were outdoors, which also gave us the opportunity to see how well LCDs performed under bright sunlight. In addition to shooting some quick video clips, we tried to check out at least one of each camera's special creative options.
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