If you’re buying a camera for a young budding photographer this Christmas, we’ve tested heaps of compacts that are durable and a breeze to use. But we’ve also found plenty of shockers which we’ve confidently labelled as Don’t Buys.
Compact cameras won’t have the sort of features you’d find on premium DSLRs – think interchangeable lenses and settings that let you play around with advanced features like the shutter speed. That’s why they serve as a great first step for younger users. And they’re far more affordable, too.
One thing that our testing has taught us is that cheap compact cameras rarely perform well. So keep reading to see some popular models we’ve put through our lab, starting from under £100.
Best Buy compact cameras – take stunning pictures on the go
What makes a good kids’ camera?
A durable design
It’s important that the camera you end up with will survive bumps and scrapes. According to our most recent compact camera reliability survey, common problems with faulty cameras include the lens sticking, jamming or malfunctioning.
Consulting our expert compact camera reviews will help you choose a model that’s built to last.
Compared with DSLR cameras, compact cameras are far easier to carry around. Plus you won’t need to buy a tripod or additional lenses for a compact – all they’ll need to do is just point and shoot.
Some compact cameras are designed to be waterproof, making them ideal for a day at the beach or if they get caught out in a heavy downpour. Brands including Nikon, Olympus and Fujifilm all offer waterproof models.
Over in the Which? test lab we’ve had our hands on various waterproof compact cameras under £150. The list includes the Praktica Luxmedia WP240 (£66), Fujifilm FinePix XP140 (£129) and Nikon COOLPIX W150 (£132).
If you think a waterproof camera is the best option, jump straight to our guide on the top five best waterproof cameras for 2019.
Cameras with wi-fi support often enable you to transfer photos and videos to your smartphone, tablet or computer. Without wi-fi, you’d have to use a USB cable to connect the compact to a computer and drag pictures across manually.
Compact cameras on test
Canon IXUS 190 (£99)
- 20Mp resolution with a 1/2.3-inch CCD sensor
- 10x optical zoom, 4x digital zoom
- 720p HD video
This simple point-and-shoot camera is on sale for less than £100. At that price, you’re getting a 20Mp resolution with a 1/2.3-inch CCD sensor. It weighs in at just 139g with the battery tucked inside and will easily slip into a coat pocket.
With built-in wi-fi, you can link this compact camera to your smartphone or tablet via the Canon Connect app. With the app downloaded, you have the option to edit pictures and share them on social media.
Canon’s Easy Auto feature will help beginners get to grips with the camera. This mode will automatically choose the best image shooting settings depending on your environment.
To see if this compact camera is a bargain Best Buy, see our full Canon IXUS 190 review.
Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ80 (£240)
- 18Mp resolution
- 30x optical zoom
- 4K video support
This advanced pocket superzoom camera uses an electronic viewfinder to frame shots and comes with a three-inch touchscreen display, which makes it easy to go through the menus and settings.
You can film in 4K using the Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ80, which means video footage will look nice and detailed if you’re uploading content to sites like YouTube. With Panasonic’s Post Focus feature, you can review pictures after they’re taken and touch the part of the image you’d like to appear sharper. It’s a simple tweak that could be the difference between a decent picture and a brilliant one.
A control ring around the TZ80 lens is used to activate different functions, such as aperture, which is ideal for those who want to progress to more advanced photography techniques. But you can also customise the control ring so it provides a shortcut to other features you might use more frequently.
Is this 4K compact camera one of the best options under £300? Our full Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ80 review has more.
Canon PowerShot G9 X Mark II (£340)
- 20Mp resolution with 1-inch CMOS sensor
- 3x optical zoom
- 1080p Full-HD video
If you’ve got a little more money to play with, take a closer look at the Canon PowerShot G9 X Mark II. This camera, with its three-inch touchscreen display, is another that doesn’t feel too bulky but looks well made.
If the youngster you’re buying for is into Instagram or social media in general, this camera comes with a Creative Shot mode which will let them add filters to their photos.
Also, if they own an NFC-enabled smartphone (this technology lets you make contactless payments, among other things), they can tap the phone against the side of this camera to pair the two devices together. With the Canon Camera Connect app, they’ll then be able to share pictures wirelessly.
See what we thought of the picture and video quality in our full Canon PowerShot G9 X Mark II review.
Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX15 (£369)
- 20Mp resolution with 1-inch sensor
- 3x optical zoom
- 4K video
This more premium compact camera is definitely one for someone who’s showing a more serious interest in photography and videography. With a tiltable 3-inch touchscreen display, this 4K Lumix camera could be ideal for vlogging (you might not know what that means but your son, daughter, grandchild, niece, nephew or even godchild probably will).
The 4K Photo mode also enables you to film a video clip, pick a frame and then export that frame as a still image. This feature comes in handy for those who create videos to publish online and like to use a still from the video as a title image or thumbnail.
Like the Lumix DMC-TZ80 we mentioned earlier, this model comes with Post Focus to improve the quality of photos after they’re taken.
See how we rate this compact camera for image stabilisation and focusing speed. Head over to our Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX15 review.