Memorable moments happen everyday, and if you aren’t toting around a way to capture them, you’re going to miss out on achieving the highest of honors: Instagram lordship. While every phone does come with a camera, needing to flip through apps to get some grainy shot out of the little aperture at the back of your phone is barely worth the trouble. Serious shutterbugs and amateurs alike need something that can snap a perfect picture at a moment’s notice. For them, a compact camera to catch each remembrance is an EDC essential.
Choosing the perfect everyday carry camera is a balancing act. Like all EDC gear, it needs to be tough enough to go through the wear and tear of daily life without breaking down or giving up. It must not take up much space, and it also needs to be capable of working fast, on the fly, since the whole purpose is to come out of your pocket and still produce high-quality images without hours of setup. For all the snap & go photographers out there, we found the 6 best compact cameras for EDC.
Pro: Dual lenses for front and rear cameras
Con: Cannot be used with phone in a case
Smartphone Solution: Generally speaking, when using a smartphone’s camera, you’re going to be using a fixed, wide-angle lens that works about the same as a 28mm with whatever megapixel arrangement came out of the box. Since you clearly can’t change this, what you can do is opt to slap on an extension that will alter the way your phone’s camera does business. The 4-in-1 option from ōlloclip is one of the simplest, most portable add-on lens sets you can fit in your pocket or backpack. Included is a wide angle lens, a fisheye, and macro lenses using 10x and 15x zoom respectively. They fit a wide variety of phones with new models coming fast and furious to keep pace with the market. While there are cheaper choices, they often give you only a single lens for a single purpose, which will leave you shooting blanks and missing the moment most of the time.
Pro: Decent built-in WiFi
Hard Knocks: When your everyday life involves more than cruising along the boardwalk and sipping martinis by the bay, you need a camera that can keep pace with a truly brutal existence. For that, we suggest going with the waterproof, shockproof, dustproof, batterproof, smashproof TG-860. Despite being made for life on the edge, it still brings a 3-inch LCD screen with 180 degree tilt, a 21mm lens that has a 5x zoom, and can be used as an action camera in a pinch with the 60p Sportcam mode. In true outdoorsy style, you can do geotracking and tagging right from the camera, and the on-board GPS means that if your day takes you into undiscovered territory, you can still make it home; all for a reasonable price.
Canon PowerShot S120
Con: Canon’s customer service is abysmal
Wee One: Canon’s S-Series of compact cameras goes back to the turn of the century, debuting in 1999. Naturally, they’ve made great strides forward, and now if you want to conserve as much pocket space as possible but still have 12 megapixels worth of shooting power at your disposal, then the S120 hits the mark. Using a highly specific 1/1.7-inch back-illuminated sensor, the discernment that this camera produces is astoundingly good for the price, particularly when compared with similar models. Reviewing your shots is simple with a big 3-inch, 922k-dot screen on the back with everything being run through the DIGIC 6 iSAPS processor. There’s a lot to love in a tiny package that drops down to about an inch wide. To save a little more scratch, you can snag the S110 without losing too much in value.
Sony Cyber-shot RX100 IV
Pro: Truly uses 4K shooting
Con: Not a true upgrade from the RX100 III except in video
Videographer: You aren’t going to go astray if you pick anything in Sony’s Cyber-shot line, so choose the one that fits your needs and suits your budget, but if you have the cash, get the RX100 IV. The camera is built with a load of video features to go along with its ability to shoot in stunning 4K. Even at high ISO’s, the IV comes through with minimal noise and deep color saturation that eclipses its predecessors and most of the competition. With adjustable picture styles, you don’t just get small alterations, but pictures that seem to have a whole different exposure, showing off the capabilities of the high-speed sensor and 20.2 megapixel lens. Stills are good, but video is where this really pops, so if you just need snapshots, save a few bucks and get a lower Cyber-shot. It won’t disappoint.
Leica D-LUX 6
Pro: Massive amount of interfaces
Con: Lacks a grip
Elite: Smaller than most hands yet a full work of art, this is everything you would expect from Leica, right down to the weighty price tag. Bearing an inordinate number of similarities to the Panasonic DMC-LX7, the D-LUX 6 has a 10.1 (touted as 12.7) megapixel 1/1.7″ CMOS sensor that manages to create brilliantly sharp images despite the ordinary MP count. Using a 4.7-17.7mm (24-90mm equivalent) f/1.4-2.3 lens, there’s plenty of play for the new user, but a field of riches for the professional who needs a backup camera for toting along day after day. The real story is the auto-focus, which is screaming fast and smooth for getting the shot without needing to take one for safety.
Pro: Quick WiFi connectivity
Con: Battery life is marginally disappointing
Fan Favorite: You’ll find no compact camera engenders the sort of zealous love that the Fuji X100T does, and with good reason. With its vintage design, it’s easy to underestimate this camera, but you’d be missing out on an easy photographic experience that can inspire amateurs and satisfy auteurs. Like the X100 and X100S, the T carries a 16 Megapixel X-Trans sensor on an f2 lens that works as a 35mm equivalent. A tight viewfinder captures an accurate focal point in a snap, while exposure is highly controlled whether taking still frames or shooting short films. Flip-flopping from optical to electronic views is easy, and everything about this camera screams elegant quality normally reserved for compacts in the multi-thousands price range.