Are you ready to step up to a more sophisticated model, or are you thinking about stepping down from a DSLR to something smaller and easier to figure out?
In either case, these cameras might be worth a look. They have enough advanced features for customizing your settings, but they’re small enough to travel well.
Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX100
CNET rating: 4 stars out of 5 (Excellent)
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The good: The Panasonic LX100 delivers really good photo and video quality, a great set of features and class-leading performance.
The bad: It’s got a fixed LCD, and the lens really needs a hood to minimize flare.
The cost: $861 to $898
The bottom line: With really good photo and video quality, a great set of features and generally class-leading performance, the Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX100 is probably one of our favorite compact cameras ever. It’s not for the inexperienced, though.
Canon PowerShot G16
CNET rating: 3.5 stars out of 5
The good: The Canon PowerShot G16 produces very good photos in bright light, and the fast lens, optical viewfinder and relatively streamlined design make it nice to use. Plus, it finally delivers solid continuous shooting.
The bad: It has a mediocre Wi-Fi implementation, no articulated LCD, and lack of manual controls while shooting video are among the ways in which the G16 lags behind the competition. And other cameras deliver better photos in low light.
The cost: $379
The bottom line: While the Canon PowerShot G16 is better than the G15 and remains a nice enthusiast compact, its low-light photo quality disappoints for the money.
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100
CNET rating: 4 stars out of 5
The good: Speed, good looks and pretty pictures number among the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100’s strengths.
The bad: The camera tends to clip bright highlights more than we typically see, and the slippery body lacks a grip. Plus, the lack of a manually triggered macro mode might put off some fans of close-up photography.
The cost: $448
The bottom line: The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100’s compact, elegant design, generally excellent photo quality, bright, fast lens, and speedy performance make a great package if you don’t mind spending a little more money.
Canon PowerShot G7 X
CNET rating: 3.5 stars out of 5 (Very good)
The good: The Canon PowerShot G7 X delivers excellent photo quality for its class, along with a fine lens and relatively streamlined shooting design.
The bad: Its performance and connectivity don’t impress, and some people may miss the hot shoe, the place on a camera where you mount a flash or other accessory that needs an electrical contact.
The cost: $560 to $700
The bottom line: The Canon PowerShot G7 X would jump from very good to excellent if it could just pick up the pace.
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX1
CNET rating: 4 stars out of 5 (Excellent)
The good: Great photo and good video quality in a camera with a nicely functional and fluid shooting design are the Sony Cyber-shot’s DSC-RX1’s highlights.
The bad: It lacks a viewfinder, autofocus is sluggish, and there’s no focus peaking in video mode.
The cost: $2,798 to $2,800
The bottom line: With a terrific lens and a great full-frame sensor, the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX1 delivers the best photos we’ve seen from a fixed-lens camera. But that certainly doesn’t come cheap.
Which camera is right for you?
▪ DSLR: Digital single-lens reflex cameras should give you the greatest flexibility for custom shots because you can adjust the settings manually and add accessories. For example, switch lenses for extremely close shots (macro) or for objects at a distance (telephoto). These cameras are also larger and tend to cost more.
▪ Compact: A good option for everyday use, these are often inexpensive and small enough to fit in your pocket. These days compacts may have advanced features such as touch-screen controls and Wi-Fi. The tradeoff with these models may well be limited options for custom settings. Look for models with versatile zoom lenses that capture wide angles and distance shots.
▪ Mirrorless compact system: These are small in size, like compacts, but allow you to switch lenses, as do DSLRs. These also give you options for manual settings to customize your shot. The name comes from the fact that they have no mirror or optical viewfinder to preview your shot. (The mirror in DSLR cameras reflects light coming into the camera through the lens and ultimately into the viewfinder.) But mirrorless cameras are smaller than DSLRs and easier to travel with. They are also quieter because there is no sound from a moving mirror. When silence is critically important, this camera can be superior.