The best camera, they say, is the one you have with you. That’s usually your smartphone, but there’s only so much it can do. Even with software wizardry like Google Pixel’s Night Sight or two extra lenses on the back, a good compact camera gives you features like optical zoom, better image stabilization, and a bigger sensor for sharper photos, along with a way nicer dials and controls.
These cameras, sometimes called point-and-shoot cams, give you the tools to explore photography in ways that a phone’s portrait mode simply can’t. For us, a compact camera is all about portability. Can you put it in your pocket? What about a small shoulder bag? Even the biggest camera on this list easily fits into a purse or sling bag. Here are our favorites.
Be sure to check out our other buying guides, including the Best Action Cameras, Best Mirrorless Cameras, and Best Camera Accessories for Your Smartphone.
Updated September 2020: We added the Fujifilm XT-4 and fixed pricing throughout.