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The best small-sensor cameras

Cameras that are equipped with a 1/2.3-inch sensor are optimized for compactness and portability. The light-sensitive area of these small sensors measures 4.55 x 6.17mm, which corresponds to merely 3 percent of the imaging area of a full-frame sensor (or 35mm film). Yet, because of the small size of their sensors, the lenses for these cameras can be kept small as well and the overall camera is light and highly portable. Many travel cameras therefore use 1/2.3-inch sensors.

Small-sensor cameras can still provide a very high image resolution of 20 megapixel or more, but compromises have to be accepted with respect to the possibility to creatively blur the background in images or the appearance of grainy noise when shooting in low light situations at higher ISO sensitivities.

1/2.3-inch sensor
Small 1/2.3-inch sensor vs film slide

There is quite a substantial choice of small-sensor cameras on the market. It is not easy to decide which one is best. Indeed, what does it really mean to look for the best small-sensor digicam? The camera that offers the best imaging experience? The one that is most portable? The camera that does not break the bank? The answers to these questions come down to personal preference, but hopefully the listings below will prove to be useful for your camera decision process.

The highest rated small-sensor cameras

Top Elo
Camera with highest Elo: Panasonic ZS80

The Camera Elo represents a comprehensive rating that takes the body, sensor and feature characteristics of digital cameras into account. It is based on the outcomes of thousands of pair-wise comparisons undertaken via the CAM-parator app.

The Panasonic ZS80 is currently the top-ranked small-sensor camera with a Camera Elo of 2382, followed in second place by the Sony HX99 with a rating of 2332. The table below lists the 10 highest ranked small-sensor cameras in descending order of their Elo. It also reports the cameras' DXO Mark sensor quality score, which can be taken as indicators of pure image quality. For both the Camera Elo and the DXO score, higher values represent better performance.

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The Cameras with the Highest Elo
    Camera
Model
Lens
Type
Camera
Elo
DXO
Score
Camera
Type
Resolution
(MP)
Video
Format
Camera
Launch
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
1.
 
Panasonic ZS80 24-720 mm f/3.3-6.4 238252 Compact 20.24K/30p Feb 2019 449 amazon.com
2.
 
Sony HX99 24-720 mm f/3.5-6.4 233251 Compact 18.04K/30p Aug 2018 449 amazon.com
3.
 
Nikon P950 24-2000 mm f/2.8-6.5 228752 Compact 15.94K/30p Jan 2020 799 amazon.com
4.
 
Nikon P1000 24-3000 mm f/2.8-8.0 227651 Compact 15.94K/30p Jul 2018 999 amazon.com
5.
 
Panasonic ZS70 24-720 mm f/3.3-6.4 227136 Compact 20.24K/30p Apr 2017 449ebay.com
6.
 
Canon SX740 24-960 mm f/3.3-6.9 222551 Compact 20.24K/30p Jul 2018 399 amazon.com
7.
 
Sony HX95 24-720 mm f/3.5-6.4 222351 Compact 18.04K/30p Aug 2018 429 amazon.com
8.
 
Olympus TG-6 25-100 mm f/2.0-4.9 222052 Compact 12.04K/30p May 2019 449 amazon.com
9.
 
Panasonic FZ300 25-600 mm f/2.8-2.8 221838 Compact 12.04K/30p Jul 2015 599 amazon.com
10.
 
Nikon A1000 24-840 mm f/3.4-6.9 217552 Compact 15.94K/30p Jan 2019 429 amazon.com
Note: DXO values in italics represent estimates based on sensor size and age.

You can access more detail on the listed cameras by clicking on the camera's name. Alternatively, you can compare two small-sensor cameras using the search boxes below. Just enter two model names into the input fields and you will promptly be taken to a respective comparison.

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    The most portable small-sensor cameras

    A well-known proverb states that the best camera is the one that you have with you. As such, a smaller and lighter camera will likely get more use than a bulkier and heavier model. The table below lists the 10 lightest small-sensor cameras that have been released since 2015 in ascending order of their weight.

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    The Lightest Models
        Camera
    Model
    Lens
    Type
    Camera
    Weight
    Camera
    Size
    Camera
    Elo
    Camera
    Type
    Resolution
    (MP)
    Camera
    Launch
    Launch
    Price (USD)
    Street
    Price
    1.
     
    Canon SX620 25-625 mm f/3.2-6.6 6.4 oz 3.8 x 2.2 x 1.1 in 1649 Compact 20.2 May 2016 279 amazon.com
    2.
     
    Canon SX610 25-450 mm f/3.8-6.9 6.7 oz 4.1 x 2.4 x 1.1 in 1549 Compact 20.2 Jan 2015 249ebay.com
    3.
     
    Ricoh WG-60 28-140 mm f/3.5-5.5 6.8 oz 4.8 x 2.4 x 1.2 in 1633 Compact 15.9 Oct 2018 279ebay.com
    4.
     
    Fujifilm XP120 28-140 mm f/3.9-4.9 7.2 oz 4.3 x 2.8 x 1.1 in 1928 Compact 15.9 Jan 2017 229ebay.com
    5.
     
    Fujifilm XP140 28-140 mm f/3.9-4.9 7.3 oz 4.3 x 2.8 x 1.1 in 2076 Compact 15.9 Feb 2019 229 amazon.com
    6.
     
    Fujifilm XP130 28-140 mm f/3.9-4.9 7.3 oz 4.3 x 2.8 x 1.1 in 2011 Compact 15.9 Jan 2018 229ebay.com
    7.
     
    Nikon W300 24-120 mm f/2.8-4.9 8.1 oz 4.4 x 2.6 x 1.1 in 2105 Compact 15.9 May 2017 389 amazon.com
    8.
     
    Sony WX800 24-720 mm f/3.5-6.4 8.2 oz 4.0 x 2.3 x 1.4 in 2162 Compact 18.0 Oct 2018 399ebay.com
    9.
     
    Sony HX99 24-720 mm f/3.5-6.4 8.5 oz 4.0 x 2.3 x 1.4 in 2332 Compact 18.0 Aug 2018 449 amazon.com
    10.
     
    Sony HX95 24-720 mm f/3.5-6.4 8.5 oz 4.0 x 2.3 x 1.4 in 2223 Compact 18.0 Aug 2018 429 amazon.com

    The most affordable small sensor cameras

    Budgetary considerations are almost always important when deciding on a camera purchase, so that the following listing should be of interest. It displays the 10 least expensive small-sensor cameras that have been released since 2015 in ascending order of their launch prices. The latter provide a good idea on the market position of the cameras, but it is often worthwhile to check the current pricing, as all except the most recent models might be available at discounts or as great deals on the pre-owned market.

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    The Least Expensive Models
        Camera
    Model
    Lens
    Mount
    Launch
    Price (USD)
    Camera
    Elo
    DXO
    Score
    Camera
    Type
    Resolution
    (MP)
    Video
    Format
    Camera
    Launch
    Street
    Price
    1.
     
    Fujifilm XP140 28-140 mm f/3.9-4.9 229 207652 Compact 15.94K/15p Feb 2019 amazon.com
    2.
     
    Fujifilm XP130 28-140 mm f/3.9-4.9 229 201151 Compact 15.91080/60p Jan 2018ebay.com
    3.
     
    Fujifilm XP120 28-140 mm f/3.9-4.9 229 192849 Compact 15.91080/60p Jan 2017ebay.com
    4.
     
    Canon SX610 25-450 mm f/3.8-6.9 249 154947 Compact 20.21080/30p Jan 2015ebay.com
    5.
     
    Canon SX620 25-625 mm f/3.2-6.6 279 164949 Compact 20.21080/30p May 2016 amazon.com
    6.
     
    Ricoh WG-60 28-140 mm f/3.5-5.5 279 163351 Compact 15.91080/60p Oct 2018ebay.com
    7.
     
    Canon SX410 24-960 mm f/3.5-5.6 279 115947 Compact 19.9720/30p Feb 2015ebay.com
    8.
     
    Nikon B500 22.5-900 mm f/3.0-6.5 299 190248 Compact 15.91080/60i Jan 2016ebay.com
    9.
     
    Nikon L840 22.5-855 mm f/3.0-6.5 299 179947 Compact 15.91080/60i Feb 2015ebay.com
    10.
     
    Canon SX430 24-1080 mm f/3.5-6.6 299 151649 Compact 19.9720/25p Jan 2017 amazon.com
    Note: DXO values in italics represent estimates based on sensor size and age.

    Further Reading

    Additional information on the calculation of the Camera Elo can be found on a respective Elo methodology page. Moreover, there are other rankings of cameras by category that might be of interest:

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