6. Olympus Pen E-PL9
Type: Mirrorless | Sensor size: Micro Four Thirds | Resolution: 16.1Mp | Effective focal length: N/A | Viewfinder: None | Monitor: 3.0-inch tilt-angle touchscreen | Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth | Max movie resolution: 4K 30p | Size, weight: 117 x 68 x 39mm, 380g
Simple to use yet stylish and effective, the Pen E-PL9 shoehorns a lot of camera into a very slimline package. It remains very compact when adding the 14-42mm EZ Pancake kit lens, which features movie-friendly motorized zoom. The camera has a three-axis sensor-shift image stabilizer which enables stabilization with any attached lens, for capturing movies as well as stills. Movies themselves can be shot at resolutions of up to 4K at 30fps, and there’s also an option for high-speed capture in 720p at 120fps.
Taking selfies and capturing yourself in movies benefits from a tilting LCD screen with a 180-degree flip-over facility, and the autofocus system comes complete with face-detection and eye-detection options. As well as Wi-Fi, the camera has built-in Bluetooth, for easy paring with other mobile devices.
7. Olympus Tough TG-Tracker
Type: Action | Sensor size: 1/2.3-inch | Resolution: 7.2MP | Effective focal length: 13.9mm | Viewfinder: None | Monitor: 1.5-inch, flip-out | Connectivity: Wi-Fi | Max movie resolution: 4K 30p | Size, weight: 35 x 57 x 93mm, 180g
Despite being very small and lightweight, this action camera has a stylish design that’s more reminiscent of a miniature camcorder than a digital matchbox. A tough cookie, the Olympus is waterproof down to 30m, freezeproof to -10C, crushproof to 100kg, and can withstand being dropped from 2.1m. Other adventurous features include GPS, an electronic compass, an accelerometer, a thermometer and even a manometer, plus a ‘headlight’ for taking a shot in the dark.
There’s no need to worry about focusing, as the built-in ultra-wide prime lens enables a fixed focus setting that keeps everything sharp from 20cm away to infinity. Even so, putting yourself in the frame can be a bit hit and miss, as the flip-out LCD doesn’t rotate and can’t be viewed from in front of the camera.
8. Panasonic Lumix GX80 / GX85
Type: Mirrorless | Sensor size: Micro Four Thirds | Resolution: 16MP | Effective focal length: N/A | Viewfinder: Electronic | Monitor: 3.0-inch tilt-angle touchscreen | Connectivity: Wi-Fi | Max movie resolution: 4K 25p | Size, weight: 122 x 71 x 44mm, 426g
Panasonic has made quite a name for itself in producing stills cameras that are equally adept at shooting video. The Lumix GX80 (known as the GX85 in the US) is a good case in point. It’s well-built yet much more slimline than a DSLR, despite having an excellent built-in electronic viewfinder, as well as a tilting LCD touchscreen. A retracting 12-32mm kit lens continues the compact design theme. One disappointment with the rear LCD is that the amount of tilt is relatively limited, so you can’t keep an eye on yourself when you’re in front of the camera.
Autofocus performance is excellent for both stills and movie capture, as is the 5-axis sensor-shift image stabilizer, which can work on its own or in conjunction with optical stabilization (if featured in an attached lens). 4kK 25p movie capture is welcome but, as with most Micro Four Thirds cameras, the 16MP stills resolution looks a bit dated.
9. Sony Cyber-shot RX100 IV
Type: Compact | Sensor size: 1.0-type | Resolution: 20.1MP | Effective focal length: 24-70mm | Viewfinder: Electronic | Monitor: 3.0-inch tilt-angle | Connectivity: Wi-Fi, NFC | Max movie resolution: 4K 25p | Size, weight: 102 x 58 x 41mm, 298g
Disarmingly small and simple in its appearance, the RX100 Mk IV is nevertheless a powerhouse of a compact camera, complete with a built-in zoom lens that has an effective zoom range of 24-70mm and fast f/1.8-2.8 aperture rating. It’s not just the lens that’s fast either. Thanks to a remarkable ‘stacked’ CMOS image sensor with an onboard DRAM chip, it’s capable of super-speed shooting. Incredibly quick shutter speeds of up to 1/32,000th of a second are available, complete with an anti-distortion function to avoid rolling shutter effects when shooting video. The Sony also enables high-frame-rate video at up to 960fps, resulting in a 40x super slow-motion facility. Even stills shooting is rapid, at up to 16fps utilizing the full 20.1MP resolution of the 1.0-type image sensor.
Stills and video can be composed using the pop-up electronic viewfinder, or via a tilting LCD that can be flipped upwards through 180 degrees for viewing from in front of the camera. You can capture video at resolutions of up to 4k 25p, although UHD video clips are limited to a maximum duration of just five minutes. The same limitation applies to the newer RX100 V edition, which has a more advanced autofocus system but is more expensive to buy.
10. Sony Alpha A6000
Type: Mirrorless | Sensor size: APS-C | Resolution: 24.3Mp | Effective focal length: 24-75mm | Viewfinder: Electronic | Monitor: 3.0-inch tilt-angle | Connectivity: Wi-Fi, NFC | Max movie resolution: 1080 60p | Size, weight: 120 x 67 x 45mm, 344g
Newer stablemates of this camera include the A6300 and A6500, which add 4k movie capture and five-axis stabilization respectively. The A6000 is rather less expensive to buy and still has a lot going for it. It packs a 24.3MP APS-C format image sensor into a very compact mirrorless design, with a fast hybrid phase/contrast autofocus system and high-resolution OLED viewfinder. The 16-50mm kit lens is well worth having, giving an effective zoom range of 24-70mm, complete with optical stabilization and motorized power zoom.
For easy sharing with compatible smartphones and tablets, the Sony has NFC as well as regular Wi-Fi connectivity. Smart remote control is also available via a smartphone app, but the versatility of the tilting LCD screen is more limited. It doesn’t tilt far enough to enable viewing when you’re ‘in front of camera’, and it’s not a touchscreen either.