Sure, it’s tempting to take photos on your smartphone – after all, it’s right there in your pocket. But there’s still a gulf between the capabilities of a phone and a dedicated camera. First off, the zoom on a camera is optical, not digital. Even the most advanced phones with multiple lenses can only snap the best-quality image at certain points. The rest is digital zoom, which is really just a way of cropping the image which loses resolution. With a camera’s adjustable lens, every shot has full resolution.
Second, the image sensor on a camera is much bigger than a smartphone can manage. A bigger sensor means bigger pixels, capable of drawing in more light faster. No smartphone can match this – for the light from the lens to cover the entire sensor, you need a bigger distance between sensor and lens than is possible if the phone is to be anything like slim. Look for camera sensors that are an inch or bigger in size for outstanding results.
Basic compact cameras are cheap, but that often means average quality. Advanced compacts, however, boast larger sensors, usually found on even pricier models such as SLRs and compact system cameras. Unlike those, compacts don’t have interchangeable lenses – which in turn means there’s no danger of dust getting into the camera body.
The latest advanced compact cameras offer a remarkable combination of features, size and price, and are ideal for taking on your trips. Here are some to consider.
SONY RX100 MK VII
Sony’s range of RX100 cameras is impressive and the Mk VII model offers an 8x zoom lens – good for homing in on that shy wildlife specimen. It’s all contained in a very compact body (4.0 x 2.4 x 1.6 inches; 10.7 oz.) – the flash and viewfinder pop up when needed. The one-inch, 20.1-megapixel sensor is responsive and effective. There are better cameras for lowlight photography but, overall, this model is hard to beat. The electronic viewfinder is bright and the LCD screen tilts for angled shots and flips around for selfies. It has a fast autofocus and can keep focus on moving objects, which works brilliantly. It also locks on to eyes in the shot so the subject is always in sharp focus. You can even record videos in superior 4K HDR resolution. $1,533; sony.com/electronics/cameras
PANASONIC LUMIX DC-LX100 II
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December 2019/January 2020