Top 5 compact cameras

About The Author

CNET Editor

Lexy spent her formative years taking a lot of photos and dreaming in technicolour. Nothing much has changed now she's covering all things photography related for CNET.

Looking for a compact camera, but confused over which one to get? We've taken the guesswork out of the buying process with these top five models.

Each camera has been selected based on its overall portability (hence the compact category), feature set, build specifications and, of course, the all-important image quality. Four out of the five cameras listed below have manual controls; however, they are all very easy to use if you just want to point and shoot. They also deliver excellent results, even if you only ever shoot in automatic mode. Plus, most are thin enough to comfortably slip into a pocket or handbag.

Some other things to consider when buying a compact camera? Make sure to pack an extra battery if you're without access to a power point for a few days, and use a memory card that's capacious enough to store all of the photos and videos that you plan to take.

Speaking of moving images, all of these cameras are also very decent performers when it comes to HD video. While you're not likely to get the same extent of controls as found on a camcorder or video-enabled SLR, for casual clips and playback on a computer or TV, they will all do very well. Make sure to look at the video samples provided with each review.

Once you've decided on the right camera for you, don't forget to check out our tutorial on digital camera basics for all the information you need on how to use your camera and how to take better pictures.

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MeganC1 posted a comment   

I love the look of the TZ30 but most sales I've found list the US version (ZS20) would there be any issues using this in Australia?


Lexy Savvides posted a reply   

Hi Megan,

You won't have any problems using the camera here as the models are exactly the same - just with different names. The only issue you may have will come down to the power adapter being designed for a US plug.

You will need to check the warranty situation before buying. This will vary from country-to-country, and a camera purchased in the US may not automatically be covered in Australia should something go wrong. However, you should check and verify any warranty conditions before you buy, as these tend to change all the time!


Escaped labmonkey posted a comment   

The PowerShot S95 ticks all the boxes. Portability, fully-manual flexibility, and decent 720p video that records in stereo. That bright lens is worth its weight in frankincense. It even does a good job at karaoke! ;)

Good point though about the pop-up flash, luckily for almost all situations you won't need it. Also battery life is only ok. I feel better having a spare, and will usually need to recharge them both at least once per fortnight.

Beyond that, it's simply the best compact camera I've bought. The only way up from here is a micro 4/3.

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