Photography / Buying Guide

Seven Pocketable Point-and-Shoots for your Next Adventure

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Sometimes you don’t want to bring your bulky DSLR or mirrorless camera on vacation or your next trip, but you don’t want to rely on your phone to capture some of those moments. This is precisely when the modern point-and-shoot camera is the perfect solution. The current crop has proven that you can do a lot in very little space, including outstanding optics, the latest sensor tech, and even video that rivals the latest pro cameras. Here are a few pocketable options that will make sure the photos of your next adventure are stunning.

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 V

First on the list is my personal favorite in terms of portability and features: the RX100 V from Sony. This camera truly is pocketable, and yet it features a relatively large 20.1MP 1" Exmor RS stacked CMOS sensor that offers phenomenal image quality and speed, including raw shooting at 24 fps and UHD 4K video. If you are a pro who loves your 24-70mm, you are in luck, because the RX100 V features an equivalent zoom range with an f/1.8-2.8 aperture. It also has a brand new Fast Hybrid AF system with 315 phase-detect points, making it great for fast action, and it can record super-slow motion at up to 960 fps using a High Frame Rate mode. That isn’t all for this tiny camera either, because it somehow manages to squeeze a 0.39" 2.36m-dot pop-up OLED EVF into the body and offers a 180° tilting 3.0" 1.23m-dot rear LCD, which is great for selfies. Feel free to check out the rest of the line, as well, if this is a bit too much for you. If you are going diving or snorkeling, you should definitely look at the MPK-URX100A Underwater Housing.

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 V Digital Camera

Ricoh GR II

Ricoh has been making capable fixed-lens compacts for a long time, so it is only fitting that the GR II makes this list. It squeezes a 16.2MP APS-C CMOS sensor into its svelte body and provides a 28mm equivalent f/2.8 lens that is perfect for most general-purpose shooting. This combination makes it incredibly slim, considering the power packed inside of it, and this version now incorporates Wi-Fi and NFC for connecting to your smart devices.

Ricoh GR II Digital Camera

Olympus Tough TG-5

If the reason you left your “real” camera at home is because you were worried about it getting damaged or dirty at the beach or while climbing a mountain, a tough camera is in your future. One of the best picks in this field is the Olympus Tough TG-5, with its ability to shoot raw photos and record UHD 4K video. It takes great photos with its 12MP BSI CMOS sensor and 4x optical zoom, which is equivalent to 25-100mm and has a fast f/2 aperture, but the critical features are the waterproofing down to 50', freeze proofing to 14°F, shock proofing to 7' falls, and crush proofing to 220 lbf. Additionally, as befits a camera designed to go almost anywhere, it has a Field Sensor System that includes a GPS module, manometer, compass, and temperature sensor, so you can recall where you were later.

Olympus Tough TG-5 Digital Camera

Ricoh Theta S

I know, this isn’t your conventional camera, but the Ricoh Theta S gives you something that you can’t get with the smartphone in your pocket: 360° spherical photos and video. If you got caught up in the VR craze of late, this is the best and easiest way to start creating your own content. It features two 12MP 1/2.3" sensors that output a 14.4MP image and can record Full HD video. Built-in Wi-Fi means you can connect right to your phone too, letting you share these unique images almost right away.

Ricoh Theta S Spherical VR Digital Camera

Panasonic Lumix DC-ZS70

Announced alongside the flagship GH5, the Lumix DC-ZS70 shouldn’t be overlooked. It has a huge feature set, considering its compact size, including a 20.3MP 1/2.3" MOS sensor and a 24-720mm equivalent 30x Leica DC Vario-Elmar lens. Surprisingly, this camera manages to fit a 1.166m-dot EVF beside the 3.0" 1.04m-dot touchscreen, which can tilt up 180° for selfies. It also offers UHD 4K video recording, a variety of 4K Photo Modes, 10 fps continuous shooting, and more, making it sound more like a top-tier mirrorless than a point-and-shoot camera.

Panasonic Lumix DC-ZS70 Digital Camera

Fujifilm X70

While the X100F gets, and deserves, more attention, Fujifilm’s X70 is also a capable compact that is more likely to fit in your pocket or day bag. The key to the X70’s remarkable quality is the 16.3MP APS-C X-Trans CMOS II sensor and Fujinon 28mm equivalent f/2.8 lens, which offer DSLR/mirrorless-level imaging performance with sensitivities up to ISO 51200 and 8 fps continuous shooting, but in a much slimmer and smaller package. This camera also offers a 3.0" 1.04m-dot touchscreen LCD, which can tilt up 180° for selfies, and Full HD video recording at up to 60 fps. To guarantee sharp shots, it has a 77-point AF system, and as part of Fujifilm’s system, it has numerous Film Simulation Modes.

Fujifilm X70 Digital Camera

Canon PowerShot G7 X Mark II

Last on this list is the PowerShot G7 X Mark II, which should be appreciated for its reliability and smooth operation. It has a 20.1MP 1/" CMOS sensor to capture high-resolution images and features a very versatile, yet still compact, 24-100mm equivalent f/1.8-2.8 lens. It also has a control ring on the lens for those who prefer physical control over their exposures. Built-in Wi-Fi with NFC is present in this model, as well, so that users can connect to their phones or the CS100 Connect Station and transfer their files. Full HD video at up to 60 fps can be recorded for a super-compact video solution.

Canon PowerShot G7 X Mark II Digital Camera

Do you have your own perfect travel companion? Is your smartphone perfectly fine for you? Let us know in the Comments section, below.

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I keep looking for something more modern than my now 5-yr. old Olympus P-5— even looked at Nikon's a900, which seems as capable as the above list— but with 16mp, m4/3, interchangeable 34 f1.8 for street work, 28-300 for general travel, and 18-36 for interiors I haven't found a replacement.  With a detachable, extraordinarily large & bright image EVF, an inconspicuous hinged LCD, 1/8000 shutter, weather resistant if not proof, small filters, and lenses that slip in vest pockets, including radio controlled mini-flash, it is travel-friendly tho not an all-in-one-pocket-able.  I would like the slo-mo features of the RX100 but not willing to risk the dust-sucking-in feature of collapsing lenses, or jamming of iris lens caps.  Perhaps Oly or Pany will come to my rescue!  

To protect the delicate Sony lens and shutter blades I use the MegaGear Multi-Coated LENS ARMOR UV attached FILTER. Iy screws into the filter thread and gives me great piece of mind. 

Norwood Hazard wrote:

I keep looking for something more modern than my now 5-yr. old Olympus P-5— even looked at Nikon's a900, which seems as capable as the above list— but with 16mp, m4/3, interchangeable 34 f1.8 for street work, 28-300 for general travel, and 18-36 for interiors I haven't found a replacement.  With a detachable, extraordinarily large & bright image EVF, an inconspicuous hinged LCD, 1/8000 shutter, weather resistant if not proof, small filters, and lenses that slip in vest pockets, including radio controlled mini-flash, it is travel-friendly tho not an all-in-one-pocket-able.  I would like the slo-mo features of the RX100 but not willing to risk the dust-sucking-in feature of collapsing lenses, or jamming of iris lens caps.  Perhaps Oly or Pany will come to my rescue!  

The new Pany makes it moot, but for me the old Oly Stylus 1s hits the mark. Same os as my OMD, supports the Oly/Pany remote flash system, has a useful zoom (28-200) and a fast lens (2.8) with a decent sized sensor. EVF is mandatory on a travel cam and a couple of aux. lenses are available to push the tele or wa end. It is a tad bulky. I sold my Sony mk IV and have never regretted it. A travel cam HAS to have a decent zoom!

If only it wasn't so hard to find a nice little camera that shoots raw that doesn't require me to replace my OS system and subscribe to Lightroom in the Cloud for life, just to add the photos to my workflow. I don't understand why they don't use native DNG format. The new cameras artificially require you to upgrade to the Cloud, when if you use their dorky software to convert the files, you can do it on a really old system. Only Leica uses native DNG, but I'd like a less expensive little camera.

I'm amazed by the RAW images I get from the Panasonic LX100 and surprised it's not on this list. The shots are often Indistinguishable from ones I grab with my 5D mark III. The lens is fixed but it's fast (f 1.8) and the zoom range fits my needs well (street photography) I use Lightroom and Photoshop via Adobe creative cloud and not bothered by the price and workflow but I know it's not for everyone 

Hi David,

The LX100 nearly made it, but it is a bit bigger than the "pocketable" options on this list. I tried to stick with really small options that are quite powerful here, going for the RX100 instead of the RX1R II for example. But thanks for throwing the LX100 in here!

Hi Slimblock,

Most manufacturers do offer their own raw conversion software with the camera (Sony even features a Capture One Express software that is superb). If you don't want to subscribe to the cloud then Adobe does still offer Lightroom 6 as a standalone purchase which does received raw updated.

I believe Pentax also uses native DNG (you have an option to use DNG or PEF as RAW format recorded by camera).

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