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Comparison of expert compacts – Tom's Guide

Comparable to that of mid-range SLRs (several hundred euros), so-called expert compacts The main difference between amateur models is better image quality, full manual release functions as well as the ability to save images in Raw format (uncompressed, unlike JPEG, but more delicate to process).

The bridges have experienced a healthy renewal in recent years. They were designed, the origin of digital photography, to bridge the gap between an offer in compact digital cameras which knew many limits and a reflex range at prohibitive cost. More and more marginalized by the qualitative progress of compacts and the drop in the cost of SLR cameras, they have now found real legitimacy thanks to a repositioning of prices of entry-level models and a real qualitative evolution of the most advanced models.

If you are not familiar with the terms used, we invite you to consult our glossary with the main terms used for cameras.

How to choose your camera (compact, reflex, hybrid)?

The recent evolution of the photo market having led manufacturers to privilege their margins, rather than the volume of camera sold, the general trend is an increase often more significant than in the past for the cost of cameras during range renewals. As the technical differences between two generations are not always decisive, we have chosen to continue advising some thoracically replaced models but still available due to a performance / price ratio clearly in their favor.

Our selection of the best compact experts 1 inch sensor

Canon G7X MkII-III: great compromise between price and performance

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In the straight line of the G7X, the second version stands out as its predecessor by the very interesting relationship between performance, versatility, size and cost. Velo and equipped with a bright zoom allowing a large variety of uses (equivalent to a 24-100mm), it is capable of providing images of good quality even when the brightness drops for a fairly reasonable cost. Stabilized on 5 axes, equipped with an adjustable and tactile screen (very useful in video, here limited to Full HD format) and the DIGIC 7 processing processor, it has very serious advantages to satisfy many users looking for quality, compactness and a very studied price for a compact expert. Version III incorporates a more recent DIGIC 8 processor and essentially offers a significant gain in burst (almost 20 fps against 8 fps) and UHD in 30p for a surcharge of around 20%.

Canon Powershot G7X: the powerful and versatile expert compact

WE LOVEThe perfect compromise Responsiveness The luminous zoom The adjustable touch screen

We are not bornVideo limit to Full HD (on Mark II)

Canon G9X MkII: performance, elegance, compactness and cost studied

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If, like the first version, the G9X MkII is able to produce good quality images in various situations, (it is equipped with a 1 inch back-light sensor, a good x3 optical zoom of good quality and a small integrated flash) its very studied look which mainly draws attention. Compact and elegant, its interface is very largely tactile (only 4 keys are present on the back) and it is equipped with an NFC wifi module. Really very responsive and pleasant to use in video thanks to a touch screen and a powerful AF allowing a choice of simple and effective focusing, it is therefore a real high-end compact with a particularly careful modern design. It is particularly suitable for users who do not want to compromise on quality or performance, and for whom classic expert ergonomics is not an imperative.

WE LOVEThe compact design The largely tactile interface WiFi and NFC The powerful auto-focus

Panasonic Lumix TZ100: image quality and versatility

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By offering a 10x zoom and a large 1-inch backlit CMOS sensor in a slim and compact case, the TZ-100 hits unmistakably very hard. The user thus has a solid image quality combined with great optical versatility (lens equivalent to 25-250mm). Equipped with an ergonomics and a very studied size, an electronic viewfinder to take over from the screen when the brightness becomes too strong, an effective stabilization and a video mode offering the 25p format in 4K-UHD (50p in full HD), it offers many options in a wide variety of areas. Logically a little behind in low light compared to less versatile expert digital cameras, it enjoys a quality / versatility / size ratio indicated today. A TZ200 has since emerged, but its only real contribution is a 15x zoom for a significant price difference, so we prefer the first version still available.

WE LOVEVersatility Ergonomics Electronic viewfinder Efficient stabilization UHD 25p video mode

Olympus Stylus TG-6: the compact performance tench

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Olympus Stylus TG-6 – 500 on Fnac

It replaces the TG-5 from which it takes the essential features: waterproofness and impact resistance, a backlit CMOS sensor of 12 Mpixels, the possibility of photographing in Raw, a very good macro mode, UHD video without cropping and the possibility of film in slow motion (degrading the definition). As on the TG5, manual mode is still not available and the selectable diaphragm values ??are very small, but the robustness / quality compromise it offers is unmatched.

WE LOVEThe very good macro mode The UHD video mode The slow mode The back-light CMOS sensor

We are not bornNo manual mode, little iris value available

Panasonic LX 15: the compact expert sign Panasonic

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With the LX 15, Panasonic fills in beautifully its absence in the field of compact expert generalists equipped with a 1 inch BSI CMOS sensor. It indeed offers real expert ergonomics, a good level of construction, a lens equivalent to a bright 24-70mm (f / 1.4-2.8), a very convincing image quality and a very good reactivity which places it at the level of its best competitors. It also offers a 4K video mode allowing a burst of 30 i / s 8Mp in photos for a reasonable price and a level of compactness higher than the LX 100. It therefore constitutes a compromise between space, photo / video performance and the cost of more interesting for an optical versatility equivalent to that of the Sony RX100 from version III.

WE LOVEErgonomics Reactivity 4K video mode 30 fps burst mode in 8MPixels

Our selection of the best compact expert micro 4/3 sensor or APS-C

Fujifilm XF10: APS-C, fixed wide angle and value for money

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Faithful to the philosophy of Fujifilm's X series, this XF10 is a very typical and elegant case, compact and light. It offers interesting performances with an efficient AF module, a maximum burst speed of 6 fps and above all a large CMOS APS-C sensor of 24 mgapixels associated with a light objective (image quality ensures in Jpeg up to 6400 iso!). While it will delight some, it will not however correspond to all users: its optics are a fixed wide-angle focal length (equivalent to a 28mm) and its video mode is in practice limited to full HD (UHD is available but only 15 i / s, an insufficient cadence for a fluid rendering of the movements). The X70 therefore does not shine with its versatility, but it will delight aficionados from the photo on the spot at wide-angle. Thanks to a very studied tariff, its report quality image price is nonetheless without equivalent

WE LOVEThe compact and light design The efficient AF The 24 MPix APS-C CMOS sensor The bright lens

We are not bornThe lack of versatility The video mode limited to Full HD in practice

Panasonic Lumix DMC LX 100 II: image quality, robustness and versatility

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The latest addition to the very good family of LX expert compacts, the LX 100 II is a very special device. It offers a micro 4/3 sensor of 17 mgapixels and a bright zoom equivalent to a 24-75mm f / 1.7-2.8 which should delight experts in search of compactness. The control of the camera is efficient and retro (like its look) is carried out in particular using a real diaphragm ring notched on the lens. The solidity is also well ensured by a fully metallic finish. Only regret: the viewfinder remains identical to that of the first generation, so it is not of the OLED type, and the rear screen is not adjustable.

(Test) Panasonic LX 100: the most expert of compacts?

We are not bornThe viewfinder which is not OLED The rear screen is not orientable

Our selection of the best high-end expert compacts

Fujifilm X100 F: excellence for purists

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Worthy heir to the X100 line, the fourth generation (F for oven) of this line intended for reporting enthusiasts takes up the ingredients that made the reputation of these seniors: a retro look of the best effect, a powerful hybrid viewfinder, a focal length fixed equivalent to a 35mm f / 2 combines an APS-C sensor able to deliver images of very good quality. The latter is a 24 mgapixel X-Trans III now well known for its solid qualities (perfectly usable images up to 6400 iso and even the maximum sensitivity of 51200 iso remains acceptable with a little post-production in Raw). Very clear progress has also been made in terms of responsiveness and video mode. Admittedly, 4K / UHD is still absent, but for the rest we don't have much to blame it for.

WE LOVEThe retro look The powerful viewfinder The quality X-Trans III sensor

We are not bornNo UHD video mode

Canon G1X MKIII: APS-C sensor and x3 optical zoom

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Until now, only a very expensive Leica model offered a compact equipped with an APS-C sensor and a zoom. If the couple CMOS sensor of 24 mgapixels / Digic 7 processor, already well known, delivers without surprise images of very good quality up to 3200 iso, the lens f / 2.8-5.6 equivalent 24-72mm is also beautifully made and the overall picture quality is really good. Canon has generally succeeded in its bet: the quality of manufacture and the comfort of use are of a very good level (the case is resistant to dust and humidity, it offers an OLED viewfinder of 2.36 million points and a beautiful adjustable multi-touch screen mounted ergonomic design allows numerous possibilities for personalized configuration. Thanks to a hybrid autofocus phase correlation / contrast detection module, the camera is reactive even when the light falls, and the sensor is stabilized on 5 axes. Firmly geared towards demanding photographers, its video mode suffers from the lack of UHD and connectors allowing the use of headphones and an external microphone (it offers full HD up to 60p). That said, for photo use, the compromise proposed between quality, versatility and size is very interesting.

(Test) Canon Powershot G1X MkII: image quality in all circumstances (or almost)

WE LOVEThe manufacturing qualityThe comfort of useThe OLED viewfinderThe adjustable multi-touch screen The reactivity

We are not bornNo UHD video mode No connection for an external headset / microphone

Ricoh GR III: fixed focal length and stabilized APS-C sensor

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With a very good APS-C 24 mgapixel sensor with a low-pass filter (for better resolution), the Ricoh GR III is an expert compact really intended for expert photographers. Fast, efficient, compact, it offers a really excellent image quality, even when the light drops and the sensor is now stabilized. Its 28mm f / 2.8 wide angle fixed focal length and the absence of UHD video mode (only Full HD mode is available) do not make it suitable for everyday use. Those who meet these limitations will nevertheless have an excellent device.

WE LOVEPhoto image quality The stabilized sensor Quick and efficient

We are not bornNot very versatile No UHD video mode

Sigma Quattro: the family of atypical experts

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The Quattro seem to come straight from March. Their look, first of all, reminds rather that of a spaceship than that of a digital camera. Then, they offer an incredible image quality (equivalent to 39 million pixels) but only in low sensitivity: as soon as the brightness drops the results deteriorate quickly. On the other hand, their lenses are very good fixed focal lengths (28, 45 or 75 mm depending on the model). Finally, don't try to film with it, it's impossible. The limits are many, but the image quality up to 400 iso is simply extraordinary.

WE LOVEPhoto image quality up to 400 isoExtra-terrestrial design

We are not bornNo video mode

Sony RX1-R II: the compact for superlative image quality

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For lovers of beautiful images for whom the price is not a problem, Sony offers a little gem: the RX1-R MkII. With a magnificent 35mm F / 2 specially designed by Carl Zeiss for this model, with a full-frame 42 mgapixel backlit sensor fitted with the best hybrids of the professional range, the image quality is superlative. Be careful because its price is a (d) measure of the quality of the images it delivers.

WE LOVEThe quality objectiveThe 42 MPixels full-frame sensorThe image quality

We are not bornThe price The priceAnd also the price

Our selection of the best generalist bridge cameras

Often considered, sometimes right, as large compacts equipped with powerful zooms, bridge APNs have one word: integrated versatility. Their reason for being is therefore the ability to do everything, or almost, without having to add additional elements. The objectives are therefore not interchangeable, they all have a flash retractile and offer a wide range of functions. Likewise, almost all the models incorporate a dual digital screen / viewfinder and orientable screens are common.

Panasonic Lumix FZ82: a good generalist bridge

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Heir to the very balanced FZ72 from which it takes up the lens (equivalent to a 20-1200mm f / 2.8-5.9), it is still built around a backlit MOS type sensor whose definition now reaches 18 mgapixels and associated with a Venus Engine chip of last generation for results of very good level compared to the competition. We also welcome the appearance of UHD in video mode as well as the qualities of autofocus and stabilization. A versatile, responsive box (ignition part) and efficient for the category that honors its seniors.

WE LOVEVersatility Responsiveness Efficient Autofocus Quality Stabilization

We are not bornIgnition too slow

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ 300: affordable quality

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Coming from a long line, the FZ 300 replaces the FZ 200. Like its year, it has good image quality in very varied situations thanks to its retro clear CMOS sensor of 12 mgapixels and its x24 objective with constant aperture f / 2.8 (sil you flat!). Certainly, other equivalent price models offer definitions and higher focal amplitudes, but these characteristics more interesting on the marketing level than on the ground, we prefer the balance and the quality of the FZ 300, which integrates on the other hand the video in 4K, offers a tropicalized finish and responsiveness is clearly improved compared to the previous model.

WE LOVEThe quality of the photo image The quality of the lens A balanced model

Our selection of the best expert bridge cameras

Panasonic FZ 1000/1000 II: versatile and powerful

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With a sensor similar to that of the first generation RX 10, this high-end Panasonic bridge offers twice the focal amplitude. Less bright than its competitor, the FZ 1000 is equipped with an autofocus module, a stabilizer and a video mode always very interesting. In long focal length, it even allows to approach the image quality of SLR systems, however more expensive. In short, thanks to a significantly lower price it is always in a very good position in this comparison and constitutes in our eyes the best compromise quality image / versatility / performance / cost of the range. An FZ 1000 II which improves the UHD video mode has been released, but considering the additional cost caused by the first version is still our preference for those who are not expert videographers.

(Review) Panasonic LUMIX FZ1000: the bridge that films in 4K

WE LOVEThe quality of a long focal length photo image The right compromise Quality / Versatility / Performance / Cost

Panasonic FZ 2000: a good evolution towards video expertise

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The FZ 2000 incorporates the main elements of the excellent FZ 1000. The optical versatility is slightly increased (we go from a x16 zoom to an x20), but it is thanks to the integration of many very advanced video functions from Panasonic's expertise that it differs essentially from its predecessor . Excellent in photo mode, it therefore offers expert videographers and even professionals a very serious, versatile alternative to SLR and hybrid cameras. The price difference with the FZ1000 is high enough that we advise its choice only to videographers.

WE LOVEPhoto image quality Optical versatility Video performance

Sony RX 10 Family: Uncompromising Image Quality

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Present in the family of bridges for many years, Sony offers the RX 10, a high-end device incorporating the sensor of the RX 100 IV associated with a bright zoom and good quality. The results in terms of image quality are widely available and aficionados of focal amplitude who do not want to get too cluttered or compromise on the final result will find their account. The second version mainly offers a UHD video mode and the third an excellent and much more versatile lens. The fourth, and latest to date, incorporates all the ingredients (optical versatility, image quality, very complete video mode), which it adds a formidable autofocus module, derived from the excellent Alpha 9, and a burst mode (25 frames / second with a very generous buffer). The price, the measure of its qualities, is really high for a bridge and, if you do not need the quickest burst of the market, version III still available can certainly satisfy you for a price certainly high but less exclusive.

WE LOVEThe quality of the photo image The bright zoom The very complete video mode The AF The burst mode The quality objective

Sensor, optical characteristics, mechanical performance?

Sensor size and type

For experts, image quality is essential and logically the compact digital cameras intended for them are equipped with larger and better sensors than those of lower range models (generally CMOS or visible). Interestingly: they sometimes have smaller definitions than the latter, proof that the race for pixels on small sensors is today mainly motivated by marketing considerations, to put it politely. We let you imagine what this means on cell phones equipped with sensors even smaller than those of entry-level compacts.

Whether for a compact expert or a bridge, choose for optimal results a device with clear CMOS sensor as large as possible. The minimum size here is 1 / 1.7 inches, but some more expensive models offer even larger sensors in 1 inch or APS-C format, or even very confidentially in 2436 format (eg the Sony RX1 series) . After, it all depends on your budget and your use, but we advise you to be very careful when buying, because depending on models and prices the quality of the images produced varies at all.

Image 18: Comparison: the best expert compact cameras and bridges "src =" "class =" wp-image- 104022Some high-end bridges like the FZ1000 or the RX10 incorporate thumb sensors

Optical features

In most cases, expert compacts are endowed with stabilized zooms
offering larger openings than those intended for amateurs, and
therefore better results in low light. Likewise, the materials
used when designing the objective lenses are to
better quality and they logically offer a increased optical definition (e.g. use of fluorite lens).

Barring exceptions, the greater its focal range, the lower the optical quality of a lens. So do not be surprised to find in this range APNs equipped withgoals less versatility than in the amateur range. We also invite advanced users looking for maximum sharpness to choose the least versatile lenses possible (ex .: fixed focal length).

Image 19: Comparison: the best expert compact cameras and bridges "src =" "class =" wp- image-104029Like the Fijifilm X100S, many high-end models offer fixed focal optics

In contrast, the bridge lenses are designed to cover large focal ranges, the least versatile of them indeed has a 10x optical zoom, which is far from being ridiculous, and the norm is around x30 (see x50). Rather than focusing on this criterion, therefore, be attentive to other parameters such as brightness.

In mid / mid-range, the one they have is generally limited, do the interest of a consequent size sensor
to compensate for this aporia, which they are not all equipped with.
Another crucial element, be very vigilant in the mid-range
presence of a real Big angle (equivalent 28mm or
minus), because otherwise your device will be very limited in
all low recoil situations (interiors, etc.) which are

Image 20: Comparison: the best expert compact cameras and bridges "src =" "class =" wp-image- 88227The opening of a device is indicated on the lens

The brightness of the lenses is a good indicator of their quality
for nophytes: in general, when you are facing a
optics indicating f / 3.5- (5.6 or 6.3 in general) it often
the object of a standard design without particular quality. go
openings lower or equal f / 2.8, special care was generally given to them. The second value (ex: f / 2.8-X)
is also very important because it indicates the opening
maximum in long focal length. Unfortunately, it is not uncommon
observe that the variation is not linear and that this value minus
is quickly reached when you zoom in.

Mechanical performance (precision / reactivity of autofocus and
speed of the shutter in particular) are also decisive in
long focal length, especially on moving subjects (e.g. animals, humans,
etc.). Prefer therefore cameras with AF system
phase correlation on the sensor or sensed contrast detection
(e.g. high-end Panasonic models). Likewise, a shutter which does not
would not allow reaching 1 / 4000th of a second is also not recommended.

Pay particular attention to the type of stabilizer About: if it is not optical (or at least mechanical), go your way, because it will not be of any real use to you (ex .: digital stabilizer).


We obviously advise you to favor models equipped with optical or electronic viewfinders to help out if necessary.

We note in passing that the optical viewfinders of expert compacts are often more comfortable than those of amateur compacts, when they are fitted with them. Their precision leaves too often to be desired and they only really become correct at the top of the range. The prices are then one and a half times two or three times higher than the first models.

In some cases, optional removable electronic viewfinders
exist. since they are not always compatible with
following models, their price is too often prohibitive our
eyes seen the regular renewal of ranges.

Finally, do not hesitate to go to expert compacts equipped withadjustable notches : time has generally proved their solidity under normal use, understand: in the absence of a significant shock when the screen is oriented. They can indeed be useful in many cases to find interesting viewing angles and often prove to be essential for correct use of video.

Construction and ergonomics

The family of bridges is vast and there still exists. If some have a robust design in metal, that of many models is entirely plastic. Compacts intended for experts, however, are generally constructed of metal. The latter offer ergonomics adapted to the possibilities of declutching: well-made menus and different buttons for choosing settings. Some so-called expert models are actually rather high-end amateur models whose image quality is undeniable, but which cannot, in our opinion, be considered as such due to the absolute priority accorded by manufacturers to compactness. Their use in manual mode is then made very difficult, because the buttons allowing non-automatic use have been sacrificed.

Image 21: Comparison: the best expert compact cameras and bridges "src =" "class =" wp-image- 104030With the RX100, Sony chooses compactness, to the detriment of the wheels

These devices must also offer sufficient grip to ensure good stability. Logical consequence: the expert models are larger that the compact amateurs, one wonders besides in certain cases if the apparatus which one has in the hands can still be regarded as a compact apparatus. The problem is generally proportional to the size of the sensor. The choice between quality and compactness is therefore a matter of compromise and in this area we cannot find your place a balance necessarily linked to the particularities of your situation.

Finally, in the mid-range, also be very careful about the type of battery supplied with the device and make sure it is rechargeable batteries supplied with the charger, otherwise you will be forced to buy batteries at a rapidly prohibitive cost over the long term or to acquire rechargeable batteries and a charger. In short, the initial economy has no interest.