2016 Roundup: Compact Enthusiast Zoom Cameras

29 Apr

The enthusiast compact market has exploded over the last couple of years, with almost every manufacturer offering a product with a 1″-type sensors. Most of those cameras are small (and sometimes pocketable) and feature fast (but short) lenses. They also vary in terms of design, control points, video specs and whether they have an EVF, so you’ll have some decisions to make. In this roundup, we’ll try to help.

Here are the cameras that we’ll be covering in this article:

  • Canon PowerShot G1 X Mark II
  • Canon PowerShot G5 X
  • Canon PowerShot G7 X
  • Canon PowerShot G9 X
  • Fujifilm X30
  • Fujifilm XQ2
  • Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX100
  • Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS100/TZ100
  • Sony Cyber-shot RX100
  • Sony Cyber-shot RX100 II
  • Sony Cyber-shot RX100 III
  • Sony Cyber-shot RX100 IV

As mentioned above, the majority of offerings in this category utilize 1″-type sensor, however two cameras offer even larger sensors. The Canon PowerShot G1 X Mark II is built around the largest sensor of the bunch at 1.5″, while the Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX100 uses a slightly smaller Micro Four Thirds chip.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, the two Fujifilm options use significantly smaller 2/3″ sensors, which is important, because sensor size can be a major indicator of potential – particularly lowlight – image quality. Also, cameras with larger sensors will generally allow for much more control over depth of field.

To further help you pick the right camera in this class, we’ve also created the chart below, which breaks down the equivalent aperture for each camera, as you work your way through the zoom range. Our article here explains the concept of equivalence, but at a high level all you need to know is that the lower the line is on the graph below, the blurrier the backgrounds you’ll be able to get and typically, though not always, the better the overall low-light performance.

This graph plots equivalent focal length against equivalent aperture – with both axes taking sensor size into account so that they can be compared on a common basis. Equivalent focal lengths offer the same field-of-view and equivalent apertures give the same depth-of-field and similar total light capture. For more information, click here.

On the following pages, you’ll find what we liked and didn’t like about each camera, links to our test scenes for image quality comparisons, and real-world galleries to give you a sense of how each performs outside the lab.

Articles: Digital Photography Review (

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