Best compact zoom cameras 2021: Pocket-sized gems that don’t skimp on quality

(Pocket-lint) – A top compact camera allows you to receive the benefits of DSLR and mirrorless image quality without the burden of carrying it around in a bag or around your neck.

Since this style of camera is small enough to keep in your back pocket, they make excellent options for those who need to react to shots around them or, simply, those who can’t afford the bulk of other camera types.

You might be wondering what exactly constitutes a compact camera, though. Well, aside from the size being small, all of these cameras will feature a non-interchangeable lens – either zoom or prime – and typically more of an old-style design.

In this list, we’ll be detailing the best compact cameras with zoom lenses at a range of different price points – read on to discover why you should consider these picks.

Best compact zoom cameras you can buy

PanasonicBest compact zoom cameras: Pocket-sized gems that don't skimp on quality photo 10

Panasonic LUMIX DC-ZS70K

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The Panasonic ZS-series (or TZ-series, for those in the UK) has long been an excellent pick for those in need of a versatile compact, and the ZS70 is no different.

The camera’s hallmark feature is its 30x optical zoom lens, which encompasses wide-angle (24mm equivalent) for those group shots, or can zoom right in (to a 720mm equivalent) to make far-away subjects appear large in the frame.

With decent autofocus, an electronic viewfinder, excellent image stabilization, a tilt-angle LCD screen for selfies, and a whole roster of other top features, the ZS70’s aspirations make it a real jack-of-all-trades.

The only downside, really, is limitations to low-light image quality.

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Canon PowerShot G9 X Mark II

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It may not be the most expensive or feature-packed device in Canon’s PowerShot line, but the G9 X Mark II is a great example of how you don’t have to shell out the megabucks to receive a top compact.

And when we say compact, we mean it. This model measures just 6.3 x 5.7 x 2.50-inches, with the 1-inch-type sensor providing excellent image quality – even when using the 3x optical zoom.

It’s not got it all – the fixed screen and lack of 4K video being notable issues – but it’s an excellent pick at a great price with plenty of controls.

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Sony RX100 V

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The Sony RX100 series has gone from strength to strength and of the newer iterations, the Mk5, is a camera that pretty much has it all.

It’s small enough to be pocketable, yet has a premium build, a pop-out built-in electronic viewfinder and stacks of features – not to mention great image quality and 4K movie capture from its 1-inch sensor and 24-70mm f/1.8-2.8 equivalent lens.

If being pocketable is a priority, this is one of the best options out there. It’s a tour de force. And can be found for relatively reasonable prices lately, too.

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Canon Powershot G7 X Mark II

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Like the G9 X detailed above, the G7 Mark II’s big selling point is the 1-inch sensor, which helps to provide outstanding image quality.

It doesn’t opt for the smaller scale of the Sony RX100 series (listed below) and there’s no viewfinder, but there’s still a lot to enjoy about Canon’s revamped take on the 1-inch market. Plus, the price is more within the reach of mid-level buyers than Sony’s advanced offerings.

Essentially, the G7 X series camera outshines the more affordable and slender G9 X and is more pocketable than the earlier G5 X and others in the range, without compromising on performance.

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Sony RX100 VII

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We’ve already featured the older Mk5 model, but the latest Mk7 is quite a different beast – and not just when it comes to pricing.

This newer model follows the mold set by the Mk6, which extended the lens further for greater versatility, and adds an advanced image processing engine and mic input.

However, you’ll need deep pockets to enjoy it – and not on account of its size, simply because the asking price hovers considerably above the four-figure mark.

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Sony DSCW810

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Another top compact from a bygone era, now a really strong pick for those looking for a budget camera to keep in their pocket.

The Sony W810 offers 5x optical zoom, 20.1MP detail and can shoot video in HD. While it’s true that most smartphone cameras have overtaken this humble compact, it’s still a good option for those looking to invest in a dedicated camera.

With features like image stabilization, as well as a range of different shooting modes and effects, it’s tough to go wrong with this Sony classic.

KidscamBest compact zoom cameras: Pocket-sized gems that don't skimp on quality photo 4

Kidscam Compact Digital Camera

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The compact cameras we’ve detailed above are all top devices for those in need of a compact, but none of them are as kid-friendly or wallet-friendly as Kidscam’s offering.

For the money, you get a good set of basic features for budding photographers to lean into, with 20MP shooting, 1080p video, face detection and a selfie timer.

We wouldn’t necessarily recommend this for anybody other than kids – since there are plenty of other low-cost options out there with more traditional designs – but it makes a great first camera.

Writing by Conor Allison. Editing by Max Freeman-Mills.

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