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Six high quality compact cameras for street and travel photography

It’s been a long time since I reviewed compact cameras for , and a lot has changed since then. The issue is pretty clear – sometimes we don’t want to lug around our bulky gear, be it a rangefinder, or a full sized DSLR, or even a medium format camera. Recent pocket cameras have seen fantastic upgrades in sensor technology and lenses and the latest crop (pun intended) of compact street shooters really shines.

Canon-PowerShot-S110-Camera

Canon PowerShot S110
Canon’s latest PowerShot has a regular 1/1.7-inch CMOS sensor, but packs the powerful Digic-5 processor and with this system, you’ll experience excellent autofocus, tracking and high ISO performance, even in low lighting. The 3-inch touchscreen is a nice addition to this tiny marvel of technology.

features
12.1MP Resolution 1/1.7″ CMOS Sensor
24-120mm UA Lens (35mm Equivalent)
5x Optical Zoom, f/2.0-5.9 Aperture
3.0″ PureColor Touch Screen LCD Display
HS SYSTEM Technology, High Speed AF
DIGIC 5 Image Processor, Intelligent IS
Full HD 1080p Video with Stereo Sound
High-Speed Burst HQ, Manual Control Ring
ISO 12800, Multi-Aspect Ratio RAW
Smart AUTO, Movie Digest & Wi-Fi

purchase the Canon Power Shot S110 from amazon

Fujifilm-X20-Camera

FujiFilm X20
New electronics make this camera a joy to use, it is way snappier than its predecessor, the Fuji X10. The X20’s autofocus is, according to Fuji, the fastest in its class at .06(!) seconds. That, with the lack of a shutter lag and its classic styling make it an ideal candid street shooter to tag along.

features
12MP 2/3″ X-Trans CMOS II Sensor
Fujinon 28-112mm f/2-2.8 Zoom Lens
Advanced Optical Zoom Viewfinder
2.8″ 460k-Dot LCD Monitor
EXR Processor II
Intelligent Hybrid AF System
ISO 100-12800
Full HD 1080 Video at 60fps
Film Simulation and Advanced Filters
Die-Cast Magnesium Body Construction

purchase the Fujifilm X20 in silver from amazon
purchase the Fujifilm X20 in black from amazon

Olympus-Stylus-XZ-2-Camera

Olympus Stylus XZ-2
Olympus with its strong heritage has always been a little bit of an oddball for me in the digital world, but that clearly has changed since the introduction of the Olympus OM-D E-M5 and the XZ-2 seems to be the real Olympus Pen camera they always wanted to create. It has a fast lens with a backlit sensor and a built-in handgrip to boot.

features
12MP Resolution 1/1.7″ BSI CMOS Sensor
TruePic VI Image Processor
27-108mm f/1.8-2.5 (35mm Equiv) Lens
4x Optical Zoom
3.0″ Swiveling Touchscreen LCD Display
Dual Image Stabilization
Full HD 1080p Video Recording
In-Camera Panorama Mode
11 Art Filters
Built-In Accessory Port

purchase the Olympus XZ-2 from amazon

Panasonic-Lumix-DMC-LX7-Camera

Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX7
I think that Panasonic is making the right move by not increasing its compact shooter’s MegaPixel count. Panasonic clearly has a winner on its hands with the Lumix LX-5’s successor, which I always liked in terms of handling and image quality, partly due to the glass. A Time Lapse function is built-in, which in itself is a good reason for me to upgrade.

features
New 1/1.7″ 10.1MP MOS Sensor
Venus Engine Image Processor
Leica Vario-Summilux 24-90mm f/1.4 Lens
3.8 Optical Zoom Lens
3.0″ 920K-Dot LCD with Auto Brightness
Full HD 1080 Video Recording
RAW and RAW+JPEG Recording Options
Trust iA and iA Plus Modes
Creative Control Modes
Time Lapse Shot Function

purchase the Panasonic Lumix LX-7 on amazon

Sigma-DP3-Merrill-Camera

Sigma DP1 Merill & DP2 Merrill
The Foveon sensor produces an image quality that is truly in a different league, while the MegaPixel count may seem a little bloated, the pixels are so tiny that the DP’s photos are insanely sharp and detailed. The DP2’s fixed 45mm f2.8 lens is a welcomed feature for , albeit a little long in my opinion, but your mileage may vary and Cartier-Bresson shot with a 50mm all his life. Personally, I’d take the 28mm DP1 any day… Sigma surely has learned a lesson or two since the original DP1.

features
46MP Foveon X3 Direct Image Sensor
Dual TRUE II Image Processing Engine
28mm f/2.8 Prime Lens (Merrill DP1)
45mm f/2.8 Prime Lens (Merrill DP2)
50mm f/2.8 Prime Lens (Merrill DP3)
3.0″ High Resolution TFT Color LCD
Movie Mode
Advanced User Interface
Auto and Ring-controlled Manual Focus
RAW + JPEG Format Recording
4 Frames Per Second in RAW Format

purchase the 28mm Sigma DP1 Merrill on amazon
purchase the 45mm Sigma DP2 Merrill on amazon
purchase the 50mm Sigma DP3 Merrill on amazon

Sony-Cyber-Shot-RX100-Camera

Sony Cybershot RX100
Sony’s compact offering sports a huge DSLR sized 1-inch Exmor CMOS sensor in a relatively small package that blows the competition away in terms of noise and image quality. It’s not even too pricey at $648, and well worth the investment into a large sensor compact.

features:
20.2MP 1″ Exmor CMOS Low-Light Sensor
Carl Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T Lens
Xtra Fine 3″ LCD Display with WhiteMagic
Optical 3.6x Zoom & Digital 7.2x Zoom
Optical & Electronic Image Stabilization
Full HD 1080/60p Video Capture
Ultra-Fast 0.13 Sec High-Speed AF
Face Detection & 10 fps Burst Mode
Record Stills Using JPEG, RAW, or Both
Aluminum Body with Built-In Pop Up Flash

purchase the Sony RX100 from amazon

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A collection of New York black-and-white street photography from 2003-2013

About Markus

Markus Hartel is a (street) photographer, graphic designer and educator living and working in New York City.
You can purchase prints, or book a one-on-one street photography workshop directly on this site.

2 Responses to “Six high quality compact cameras for street and travel photography”

  1. Klaus says:

    Hi, you forget the great Ricoh GR V!!!

    Klaus

  2. Emanuel says:

    Ricoh GR V has aps-c sensor. These six, not