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The Best Prime Lens Compacts

As the quality of camera-phones has improved substantially over the past years, the market for compact cameras has experienced a strong contraction. One niche that has survived the disruption is prime lens compacts. The latter are valued by enthusiasts for the fast aperture, high quality lenses that come with these cameras. Moreover, the absence of zoom convenience encourages the photographer to be more proactive and creative during the shooting process.

Travel prime
The Leica Q prime lens compact

Even though there are fewer options available for prime lens compacts than in other camera categories, it is not easy to decide which one is best. Indeed, what does it really mean to look for the best prime lens compact? The camera that offers the best imaging experience? The one with the highest sensor resolution? 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 Prime Lens Compacts

Top Elo
Camera with highest Elo: Leica Q2

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 Leica Q2 is currently the top-ranked prime lens compact with a Camera Elo of 2864, followed in second place by the Fujifilm X100V with a rating of 2812. The table below lists the 10 highest ranked prime lens compacts in descending order of their Elo. It also reports the cameras' DXO Mark sensor quality score (as far as these are available), 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
(FF equiv)
Camera
Elo
DXO
Score
Sensor
Class
Resolution
(MP)
Video
Format
Camera
Launch
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
1.
 
Leica Q2 28 mm f/1.7 286496 Full Frame 46.74K/30p Mar 2019 4,995 i
2.
 
Fujifilm X100V 35 mm f/2.0 2812- APS-C 26.04K/30p Feb 2020 1,399 i
3.
 
Zeiss ZX1 35 mm f/2.8 2736- Full Frame 37.44K/30p Sep 2018 5,999 i
4.
 
Fujifilm XF10 28 mm f/2.8 2608- APS-C 24.04K/15p Jul 2018 499 i
5.
 
Ricoh GR III 28 mm f/2.8 2523- APS-C 24.01080/60p Feb 2019 899 i
6.
 
Fujifilm X100F 35 mm f/2.0 2408- APS-C 24.01080/60p Jan 2017 1,299i
7.
 
Fujifilm X70 28 mm f/2.8 2358- APS-C 16.01080/60p Jan 2016 799i
8.
 
Sony RX1R II 35 mm f/2.0 228097 Full Frame 42.21080/60p Oct 2015 3,299 i
9.
 
Sony RX0 II 24 mm f/4.0 2272- 1-inch 15.44K/30p Mar 2019 699 i
10.
 
Leica Q Typ 116 28 mm f/1.7 225585 Full Frame 24.01080/60p Jun 2015 4,249i

You can access more detail on the listed cameras by clicking on the camera's name. Alternatively, you can compare two 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 Prime Lens Compacts with the Highest Resolution

    Perhaps your primary aim is to capture images with great detail, for example in landscape photography, or to have the ability to crop images heavily in post processing while still maintaining good image quality. In this case, the best prime lens compact might be the one with the highest sensor resolution. The following table lists the 10 cameras in the category with the highest megapixel count. Again, clicking on the camera's name will reveal further detail.

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    The Cameras with the Highest Resolution
        Camera
    Model
    Lens
    (FF equiv)
    Resolution
    (MP)
    Camera
    Elo
    DXO
    Score
    Sensor
    Class
    Video
    Format
    Camera
    Launch
    Launch
    Price (USD)
    Street
    Price
    1.
     
    Leica Q2 28 mm f/1.7 46.7 286496 Full Frame4K/30p Mar 2019 4,995 i
    2.
     
    Sony RX1R II 35 mm f/2.0 42.2 228097 Full Frame1080/60p Oct 2015 3,299 i
    3.
     
    Zeiss ZX1 35 mm f/2.8 37.4 2736- Full Frame4K/30p Sep 2018 5,999 i
    4.
     
    Fujifilm X100V 35 mm f/2.0 26.0 2812- APS-C4K/30p Feb 2020 1,399 i
    5.
     
    Fujifilm XF10 28 mm f/2.8 24.0 2608- APS-C4K/15p Jul 2018 499 i
    6.
     
    Ricoh GR III 28 mm f/2.8 24.0 2523- APS-C1080/60p Feb 2019 899 i
    7.
     
    Fujifilm X100F 35 mm f/2.0 24.0 2408- APS-C1080/60p Jan 2017 1,299i
    8.
     
    Leica Q Typ 116 28 mm f/1.7 24.0 225585 Full Frame1080/60p Jun 2015 4,249i
    9.
     
    Sony RX1R 35 mm f/2.0 24.0 190891 Full Frame1080/60p Jun 2013 2,799i
    10.
     
    Sony RX1 35 mm f/2.0 24.0 187593 Full Frame1080/60p Sep 2012 2,799i

    The most portable Prime Lens Compacts

    Almost by definition, prime lens compacts are relatively small. They are designed to be easy to take along and to avoid unwanted attention when in use. Compactness is therefore a desirable characteristic, and the best prime lens compact might be the one that is most portable. The following ranking lists the lightest cameras in the categroy that have been released since 2015 in ascending order of their weight.

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    The Lightest Models
        Camera
    Model
    Lens
    (FF equiv)
    Camera
    Weight
    Camera
    Size
    Camera
    Elo
    Sensor
    Class
    Resolution
    (MP)
    Camera
    Launch
    Launch
    Price (USD)
    Street
    Price
    1.
     
    Sony RX0 24 mm f/4.0 3.9 oz 2.3 x 1.6 x 1.2 in 2042 1-inch 15.4 Aug 2017 699i
    2.
     
    Sony RX0 II 24 mm f/4.0 4.7 oz 2.3 x 1.6 x 1.4 in 2272 1-inch 15.4 Mar 2019 699 i
    3.
     
    Ricoh GR II 28 mm f/2.8 8.9 oz 4.6 x 2.5 x 1.4 in 2156 APS-C 16.1 Jun 2015 699 i
    4.
     
    Ricoh GR III 28 mm f/2.8 9.1 oz 4.3 x 2.4 x 1.3 in 2523 APS-C 24.0 Feb 2019 899 i
    5.
     
    Fujifilm XF10 28 mm f/2.8 9.8 oz 4.4 x 2.5 x 1.6 in 2608 APS-C 24.0 Jul 2018 499 i
    6.
     
    Fujifilm X70 28 mm f/2.8 12.0 oz 4.4 x 2.5 x 1.7 in 2358 APS-C 16.0 Jan 2016 799i
    7.
     
    Fujifilm X100F 35 mm f/2.0 16.5 oz 5.0 x 3.0 x 2.0 in 2408 APS-C 24.0 Jan 2017 1,299i
    8.
     
    Fujifilm X100V 35 mm f/2.0 16.9 oz 5.0 x 3.0 x 2.1 in 2812 APS-C 26.0 Feb 2020 1,399 i
    9.
     
    Sony RX1R II 35 mm f/2.0 17.9 oz 4.4 x 2.6 x 2.8 in 2280 Full Frame 42.2 Oct 2015 3,299 i
    10.
     
    Leica X-U Typ 113 35 mm f/1.7 22.4 oz 5.5 x 3.1 x 3.5 in 1940 APS-C 16.1 Jan 2016 2,950i

    The most affordable Prime Lens Compacts

    Budgetary considerations are almost always important when deciding on a camera purchase, and the best prime lens compact might be the one that is available at the lowest price. The following table displays the least expensive prime lens compacts 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
    (FF equiv)
    Launch
    Price (USD)
    Camera
    Elo
    DXO
    Score
    Sensor
    Class
    Resolution
    (MP)
    Video
    Format
    Camera
    Launch
    Street
    Price
    1.
     
    Fujifilm XF10 28 mm f/2.8 499 2608- APS-C 24.04K/15p Jul 2018 i
    2.
     
    Sony RX0 II 24 mm f/4.0 699 2272- 1-inch 15.44K/30p Mar 2019 i
    3.
     
    Ricoh GR II 28 mm f/2.8 699 215680 APS-C 16.11080/30p Jun 2015 i
    4.
     
    Sony RX0 24 mm f/4.0 699 204268 1-inch 15.41080/60p Aug 2017i
    5.
     
    Fujifilm X70 28 mm f/2.8 799 2358- APS-C 16.01080/60p Jan 2016i
    6.
     
    Ricoh GR III 28 mm f/2.8 899 2523- APS-C 24.01080/60p Feb 2019 i
    7.
     
    Fujifilm X100F 35 mm f/2.0 1,299 2408- APS-C 24.01080/60p Jan 2017i
    8.
     
    Fujifilm X100V 35 mm f/2.0 1,399 2812- APS-C 26.04K/30p Feb 2020 i
    9.
     
    Leica X-U Typ 113 35 mm f/1.7 2,950 1940- APS-C 16.11080/30p Jan 2016i
    10.
     
    Sony RX1R II 35 mm f/2.0 3,299 228097 Full Frame 42.21080/60p Oct 2015 i

    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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