The best camera is the one you have with you.
In this Article we'll discover five amazing premium compact cameras under $700.
These cameras are small and they all have built-in zoom lens. If you will ask why the price point is so high? This is because all these cameras produce absolutely amazing image quality They're portable, they are fast both in operation and auto focus and it's really almost is a DSLR level.
But who might want such pricy performers. Well, I can see three categories here.
First category: people who want to step up from their smartphones, they want to have full control and much much better image quality and wider zoom range.
Second category: people who want to learn photography but at the same time they don't want to invest in interchangeable lenses or another accessories.
Third category: people who already have the DSLR system or mirrorless system but they want something small, pocketable that will always be with them. Later we will see image quality comparison of all these cameras, but now let's find out which are these five best premium compact cameras, what specifications they have and what feedback they have.
5th place: Canon G1X II
On the fifth place we have Canon G1X II. This camera has 12 megapixels and if you will not do any professional work with this camera then 12 megapixels will be enough for anything. The sensor is 1.5" which is pretty big and it's about same size as we have in micro four-third systems. These systems mostly are with interchangeable lenses.
Zoom range is pretty wide here as well: 24mm-120mm with aperture f2.0-3.9. Aperture at widea ngle is pretty fast but at the telephoto range it is little bit too slow but don't forgetthat we have a very wide range here. If we wanted to know what depth of field this camera will produce comparing with full frame camera system and this equivalent is F3.82 - 7.5. So if full frame camera had a lens with aperture 3.82 - 7.5 then the depth of field would be be exactly the same as from Canon G1X II. This isr eally amazing results. If we will compare equivalent of let's say sony a6000 with the KIT lens then this equivalent wouldbe F5.25 - 8.4. This camera will produce even more shallow depth-of-field then any Canon, Nikon, Sony or another crop camera with KIT lens. Pretty amazing results here i'would say!
There is no many external controls here but we do have tilt up and down touch screen which is very handy because you can place this little camera at high or low angles and see your screen before you take the picture. Also touchscreen is handy because you can tap the focus and at the same time take the picture.
Camera has 5.2 fps, 5cm macro at wide angle, Wi-Fi with NFC that that will help to share your images in social networks much faster.
Unfortunately there is no 4K video here and there is no slow motion as well.
There is ND filter her. It darkens up the scene to let the shutter speed be slower or the aperture be faster. For video it will help to get the more natural look of the video because shutter speed can be left slower to reach 1/30 of a sec. In the photos it will help to separate your subject from the background much more efficient because aperture will be left much faster in the situation when there are a lot of light.
Usually videos which are taken from such cameras handheld are pretty shaky and here we have optical image stabilization that will help to get much smoother movments in video. Also in photography optical image stabilization is very handy. It will help in low light situations if your subject isn't moving, so you will get much sharper results.
This camera has a built-in flash which is bouncable to about 80 degree. This is extremely helpful in shooting indoors. Even if a build-in flash is not bouncable, placing a mirror and bouncing it of the cells will result in a phenomenal difference in the image.
This camera will produce about 240 shots of one charge. Optional electronic viewfinder is possible here through multifunction hot-shoe. Weight is about half kilo and this camera is the biggest of the all five here but still it is a coat pocketable.
There is no USB charging in this camrea but the biggest disadvantage of this camera is a Wi-Fi button allocationi t's just placed under your thumb and you will press this Wi-Fi button accidently again and again.
The prices of Canon G1X II is around $700
4th place: Panasonic Lumix LX-100
On fourth place we have a Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX-100. It is very similar camera to the previous Canon G1X II and it also has 12 megapixels with a micro-four-thirds sensor here. Even if a micro-four-thirds sensor is little bit bigger than 1.5" sensor, this camera is using it in a little bit cropped mode so actually used area of the sensor is about the same.
The canon zoom range is a bit shorter: 24 - 75mm but the aperture is significantly faster, it is F1.7 - 2.8. But where this camera really shines is the equivalent depth of field or aperture, it is F3.7 - 6.16, it's actually very close to the real full-frame result here and it is much better than any crop camera with the kit lens also. There are many external controls here which is good but on the other side there is notouc hscreen, no tillt screen here which I think is the biggest disadvantage of this camera.
11 frames per second and 6.5 fps in auto focus mode makes this camera really suitable for sports. Same five centimeters macro capabilities here on the wide angle.
There is Wi-Fi with NFC as well but unlike Canon G1X II this camera do have 4k video and a little bit of slow motion a 1080p. Thereis no ND filter and built-in flash here but there is optical image stabilizatio. 300 shots on one charge, no build-in flash. But it has electronic wiefinder. It is about 400g in weight. Size is a little bit smaller than Canon G1X II. It is coat pocketable and almost jeans pocketable.
There is no such a nice feature when you can charge the camera via USB wire but Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX-100 has one unique feature: it is possible to change aspect ratio with a physical switch that definitely will be helpful for people who are seeking or learning photography competition.
In summary: what is good about Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX-100 it is best-in-class shallow depth of field that will give you subject separation and blury background, very good video as Panasonic is known for its great video capabilities, convenient controls, fast speed and a good low light performance.
What is bad about Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX-100: it is hardly jeans pocketable size, lack of tilt screen and ack of touchscreen.
Thep rices of Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX-100 is around $600-$700.
3rd place: Canon G7X II
In our top 3 list there are smaller cameras, they will fit in your jeans pocket, they are fast and they will deliver very good image quality. On the third place we have Canon G7X II. This is a 1" sensor camera with 20 megapixels.
It has wide zoom range from 24-100mm, fast aperture F1.8 - 2.8 but not so shallow equivalent depth of field because of asmaller sensor, still it's very close.
The lens rig can be switched from step to stepless which is good and helpful for video. It has tiltable up-and-down touchscreen, 8fps, 5cm macro at wide angle, WIFI with NFC.
No 4k video but there is alittle bit of slow motion, ND filter, optical image stabilization and build-in flash that can be bounced to about 60 degree. 265 shots on one charge, No viewfinder, No Hot shoe but the weight of 220g and small sized will allow you to keep this camera always with you. Just take also USB to micro USB wire and you will be able to even charge this camera from any USB source.
This camera has very good color reproduction algorithms, excellent ergonomics and grip and physical dial for exposure compensation that will be helpful in many situations.
The only drawback I can see in the Canon G7X II to is the average video quality and no slow-motion. It goes about $700.
2nd place: Sony RX100 III
On the second place we have Sony RX100 III, The mark-1 was the camera that started the high quality premium compact camera class. If you compare it to Canon G7X II we have same sensor, same aperture, zoom range is a little bit shorter 24-70mm.
Sony has no exposure compensation dial and no touchscreen which I think is the biggest disadvantage of RX100 III. About same speed about same macro and same video quality however sony has a bigger bitrate and video quality is little bit better.
Now, what else is different here: the built-in flash is bouncable to the bigger amount of degree, Sony can shoot more images on the one battery charge and it has built-in electronic viewfinder. Therest is more or less the same except maybe zebra pattern and focus peaking in video or live-view mode.
At the end of the day the difference between sony and Cannon is achoice between a touchscreen and EVF, and in my opinionon the touchscreen wins here because actually in real life with such small cameras people very rarely use electronic viewfinder. Because the camerais so small and it's not really comfortable to hold it against your eye, is much much easier to hold it in hands.
The price of Sony RX100 III also is around $700.
1st place: Panasonic Lumix LX-10/15
It is newesr one and (at least on the paper) outperforms the Sony nad Canon camera. What is the difference? The aperture at the wide angle is faster by 2/3 of a stop but moving zoom further it falls very quickly to 2.8 anyway.
It has tilt-up touchscreen, better macro, and 4k video with a very good slow motion at 1080p. No ND filter, no EVF but there are some very unique features like 4K-photo mode when you can shoot a short clip of video in 4k resolution with 30 frames per second and later you can choose any frame and save it us an image. Also there is a postfocus feature, this means you can shoot a frame and the camera will take this frame for about 2 seconds and later you can decide what should be in the focus. You can just tap on the screen and this area will be in focus, very interesting and very cool feature. Another similar feature is called focus stacking mode: so you shoot same frame for about 2 seconds and tell the camera: "I want this image to have everything in focus" and this will happen.
On the negative side we haves mall buffer and this camera tends to hunting in video mode.
Let's summarize: what extra we have over our Canon and Sony options? We have a better macro, better video with 4k and slowmotion and we have those nice post focus, focus stacking and 4K photo mode features here. The prize is even a littlebit cheaper than a Canon and Sony options, it's about $650. Taking into account that this camera is pretty fresh - the prices should drop by the time.
Image Quality Comparison
But honestly, at least for me, it will be very hard to choose between top three cameras in this list. now let's move on and see how image quality difference between all these models. On Dpreview.com we have one useful tool called: "Studio scene comparison tool" and "Old studio comparison tool". Here we can choose our camera models choose a JPEG or RAW, highlight specific area in a scene and then we will be able to see the specific area of all camera models.
Let's take a look at the JPEGs and the lowest possible ISO. At such low ISO all four models produced very similar results. Canon and Sony gives a little bit more details. Both Panasonics are softer. Take in mind that such small and built-in lenses tend to give less consistent results across all the frame.
Lets take a look at the quality at ISO 6400. Looks like G7x II gives more natural look but both Panasonic's high ISO JPEGs looks plasticy.
Let's compare RAW results. And we have opposite situation at least at lowest ISO both Panasonic's now produce a little bit more details and sharpness here. So if you choose Panasonic it's definitely better to shoot RAW and processor images later in RAW converter.
Also take in mind that we are comparing a 100% actual size here, in real life you will never notice such small differences. However what you might notice is the difference of high ISO. Let's keep RAW format and move to ISO 6400. And it is clearly visible that bigger sensor or LX-100 gives a cleaner result, Canon and Sony produce similarly good result for a one inch sensor. And the LX-10 is definitely worse here. Seems not so good high ISO result is the reason why LX-10 has a plastic look at JPEGs - the camera just use aggressive algorithms for noise reduction.
Now let's change the cameras to see also G1X II and let's include the Sony a6000 with a sharp prime lens as a measure of exceptional quality. Now we can see how our small premium compact cameras with build-in lenses compares to one of the best crop sensor camera Sony Sony a6000 with one of the best sharp prime lens. To my surprise at low ISO JPEGS there is almost no difference and on the high ISO the difference is noticeable but it's really not so big. As you can see every camera in our top list has its own strengths and its own weaknesses. Choose your camera based on your feelings, you will be happy with any of our top 5 cameras as they all produce amazing, sharp and colorful result.