Having a high-end camera that has all the bells and whistles you need is true satisfaction, especially if you are someone whose profession relies on the field of photography. However, these cameras often fall short when it comes to convenience due to their sizes.
For instance, the Nikon D850 FX-Format DSLR will certainly gratify you since it can offer most of your professional photography needs. It has a 45.7 MP FX-Format BSI CMOS sensor and an EXPEED 5 Image Processor which can deliver some of the best quality stills. However, given its size (not to mention that it is at least 2 pounds in weight), you might feel restricted when using it for projects that demand you to move a lot.
Camera companies know this specific need of photographers. This is why as the years go by, more and more cameras in the smallest and most lightweight cameras possible. They give you the freedom to move and lift them with ease. Some of them include the sports cameras like the GoPro HERO9. In spite of its size, it delivers 5K videos and 20 MP stills with great clarity and stunning details. It’s even bragging in-camera auto-correct horizon leveling and the upgraded 3.0 versions of HyperSmooth and TimeWarp.
Sports cameras are really the top choice to consider if you are just after the size and convenience. However, if you want more freedom and control over your photographs, there are cameras with compact camera systems. Some good examples are the Canon EOS M50 Mark II and the Sony RX100 VII. Given their nature as mirrorless and point-and-shoot cameras, they are apparently bigger than sports cameras. Nonetheless, in their realms, their relatively tiny bodies are something that can leave professional photographers in pure awe. For instance, with Canon EOS M50 Mark II’s dimensions of 116 x 88 x 59 mm, it is equipped with a 24 MP - APS-C CMOS Sensor and has a 2360k dot electronic viewfinder. Most of all, it can also shoot 4K (UHD) videos!
That said, if you are looking for a really small camera and you are all about convenience, sports cams are great. They are also particularly created to give the best videos due to their nature and the software they come with. However, if you are a photographer or someone who has meticulous eyes towards details, point-and-shoot and mirrorless units would be better.
So, join us as we discuss the following cameras with some of the smallest camera systems. After being picked from the shortlist prepared by our research team, we were aided by SolidSmack’s photography editor, Evangeline Summers, in personally assessing and comparing the units. To carefully guide you in the right decision, we highlighted their best assets and we offer you Summer’s opinions about each of them. And by the end of this good read, we hope you’ll find the best option for you.
1. Canon EOS M50 Mark II
24.1 MP CMOS APS-C
4K up to 25/1080p up to 60p,
116.3 x 88.1 x 58.7 mm
The world of photography was amazed by the announcement of Canon M50 in 2018, believing that it is powerful enough for its size. Yet, the Canon surprised us again just in 2020 when it revealed the EOS M50 Mark II.
According to Summers, it has a very limited difference if you would just look at the hardware of EOS M50 and EOS M50 Mark II, especially when it comes to the 24.1 MP APS-C sensor of both cams. Hence, the same burst shooting speed and ISO. Also, the notable Dual Pixel CMOS AF feature of Canon in EOS M50 Mark II still doesn’t cover the 4K videos which leaves you the traditional contrast-detect option.
Nonetheless, the other sections of EOS M50 Mark II’s software come with great improvements which will benefit vloggers and other content creators. Besides being equipped with better autofocus both in photos and videos, it is an effective tool for vertical video recording. It is even capable of a wireless YouTube live-streaming function which is very ideal for vloggers. It also comes with few additions such as the Movie Servo AF, clean HDMI output, and movie record option.
All in all, given the useful things it adopted from EOS M50 and the new add-ons, EOS M50 Mark II can be considered as a well-priced mirrorless unit worth considering if you need a handy lightweight mirrorless camera.
2. Sony RX100 VII
20.1 MP 1" Exmor RS CMOS
4K UHD at 30p/24p
101.6 x 58.1 x 42.8 mm
Sony RX100 VII is the true master of compact cameras as it has managed to include almost all the major powerful hardware and software inside its small body. But don’t be fooled because despite its size, it comes with a 20.1 MP 1" Exmor RS CMOS and Zeiss Vario Sonnar high-magnification 24–200 mm zoom lens. It is also equipped with 357-point focal-plane phase-detection AF and 425-point contrast-detection AF. Even more, with its Real-Time AF tracking, its AF speed can go as fast as 0.02 sec which is truly and considerably fast. This can be both used on human subjects and animals which is the icing on the cake. Nonetheless, there are other things to appreciate about the Sony RX100 VII.
“This camera model is a monster for its specs, yet small in size,” Summers said. “Sony has done a great job not just at giving it with a great sensor and other electronics but so as with great capabilities. Besides the great AF speed and impressive magnification, this cam also excels in video recording with its 4K resolution at 30/24 fps.”
According to Summers, the Sony RX100 VII employs an extremely incredible 921k-dot 3.0-type 3-inch LCD monitor that tilts up appr 180° and down appr 90°. Fortunately, it comes with a touchscreen capability which allows you to do Real-time Tracking with just a touch of your finger. It also offers Touch Focus, Touch Pad, and Touch Shutter.
Further, the unit comes with the famous S-Log2 and S-Log3 video modes of Sony which can assure you of a film-like video. Lastly, we love its 2.36m dots electronic viewfinder which is relatively bright and detailed. The best part is that it pops up when you need it which makes the camera more compact!
3. Sony ZV-1
20.1MP 1" Exmor RS CMOS
4K UHD at 30/25p
105.5 x 60.0 x 43.5 mm
Sony ZV-1 has a 921k dots vari-angle screen which provides better flexibility of screen. It allows you to frame yourself easily whenever you are filming alone. This makes it a top choice for vloggers and content creators who don’t just need good stills but so as reliable videos. Further, it comes with a forward-directional on-board mic and detachable windscreen which gives you great audio perfect for vlogging and demanding video projects.
“Sony ZV-1 is actually designed for vloggers and this explains its size and features,” stated Summers, “Nonetheless, Sony equipped it with useful features that help highlight the subjects efficiently such as the Real-time Eye Autofocus and Product Showcase features.”
Sony has also improved the controls, audio, screen, and overall performance of the camera, so there are still a lot of things to look forward to in this model. For example, it excels exceptionally in delivering great AF which is very accurate and fast in a matter of milliseconds. It is also relatively very efficient in keeping the face of the subjects with the right amount of brightness and details. Most of all, we really approve of Sony’s move to make things easier for users in attaining a great blurred background without dealing with complex adjustments. With its bokeh background defocus buttons, users can achieve beautiful bokeh to highlight subjects instantly. Truly genius!
4. GoPro Hero9 Black
23.6 MP sensor
5K at 30 fps/4K at 60 fps
71.0 x 55.0 x 33.6 mm
GoPro Hero9 offers the latest features of the camera brand that you previously missed in the older models of the cam. Compared to Hero8 and Hero7, it boasts of a front LCD screen that allows easy framing for selfie shots.
“When it comes to the appearance of the Hero9, it is undeniable that GoPro has really created big upgrades on this model,” Summers said. “However, there are still lots of things to praise about Hero9 such as the improved resolution of videos and photos which now come at 5K and 20 MP, respectively. Not just that, it offers great flexibility since you can also capture videos in 4K resolution at 60 fps which is very, very amazing!”
According to Summers, Hero9 has also improved some of its other features such as the HyperSmooth and TimeWarp by upgrading them to the 3.0 version. It also comes with additional features like scheduled and duration capture and HindSight, with the last one enabling you to capture 30 seconds of the scene before pushing the shutter button.
“The upgraded versions of Hero8’s features are very flattering,” Summers said, “Especially the Hypersmooth 3.0 which gives you stabilized videos in any resolution you fancy. This is very exciting, not to mention that its Boost feature helps a lot to get more even shots.”
Besides delivering images with richer colors and great contrast and shadow details, the in-camera auto-correct horizon leveling is very helpful if you are obsessed with videos with leveled horizons.
“GoPro has also done a great job improving the capabilities of this model in capturing stills,” Summers stated, “Due to the enhanced sensor it comes with, the camera is now capable of providing images in higher resolutions and videos with sufficient detail.”
That being said, Hero9 - being the latest model of GoPro cameras - is the best option you can have if you want the best features and updates available. And although it is not so budget-friendly despite its size, it is a sure investment that can give you satisfying results even in the most extreme activities that often come with very shaky, unstable movements.
5. DJI Pocket 2
4K, 2.7K, and 1080p video at up to 60 fps
124.7 × 38.1 × 30 mm
DJI Pocket 2 is one of the most amazing camera models that are able to combine everything you need in such a tiny body. It is armed with great functions, allowing you to capture everything with nothing but pure ease. For instance, it has Hybrid 2.0 AF, live streaming support, and more microphones for better audio.
Further, the gimbal system of the Pocket 2 is unbeatable. It can stabilize the camera even with the biggest and abrupt movement. With the use of three modes (Follow, Tilt locked, and FPV Mode), you can be sure of a satisfying result.
Also, it has a smartphone app support that allows object tracking. You can also use it to aid you in filming yourself alone. With this, you can move with the assurance that you remain the subject on the frame. Most of all, it offers a live preview option on your own phone which makes it possible to help you see how it records your movement in each moment.
Also, it sports a 64 MP sensor and can capture videos at up to 4K. However, keep in mind that its stills only come at 16 MP resolution. As for its video capabilities, you will be overwhelmed at its ability to capture 4K, 2.7K, and 1080p video at up to 60 fps. You will also love its slow-mo option with up to 240p at FullHD resolution.
Small Cameras - Buyer's Guide
Most cameras that are small in size come with a limited set of features and less superior capabilities. For instance, some compact cameras don’t come with viewfinders due to their small-sized body. This could be an issue for compact cameras. If you intend to use it for daylight photography, you might find it challenging to capture photos and see the details on an LCD under the bright sunlight.
Nonetheless, there are also some models that offer this part such as the Sony RX100 VII. As for the sports cameras, the absence of viewfinders is not a problem at all since they often come with LCD ranging from 1” to 2”.
Between optical and digital zoom, the former is the one that should be prioritized when you are looking for a camera. It delivers better performance by adjusting the distance between the subject and the camera sensor. In this, there is little loss of information even if you zoom the image.
On the other hand, digital zoom only uses magnification technology which means it only enlarges the particular areas of the image. This results in lower quality of the image and the great loss of info if you would zoom in or crop the still. With all that, it is better to look for higher optical zoom at all times.
Some users prefer cameras with higher megapixels. Other users however prefer lower megapixels when it comes to compact cameras to give way to the burst rate of the camera. Since more megapixels mean bigger file sizes, the burst rate of the camera can be affected. However, if you’re really into quality stills, then go for higher megapixels.
Besides the size, the weight and design are also great factors that will help you enjoy a compact camera. Of course, a lightweight model is a very great choice, especially if you constantly want to travel light. It also allows better control over the camera. On the other hand, the design of the camera will determine how comfortable you will be as you grip it. With this, find a camera with a texture that isn’t so smooth. For instance, EOS M50 Mark II has a textured body that allows a solid grip.
Also, the idea of how “small” the camera is depends on the type of camera you need. DSLR cameras are apparently some of the biggest types of cameras. The same goes for mirrorless cameras, though they are relatively smaller than DSLRs. Nonetheless, they now have newer models that, when compared to older ones, can be considered smaller. If you want the best stills, we recommend opting for DSLR, mirrorless, or even point-and-shoot cameras. They are equipped with great software and functions which allow you to have full control over your photo qualities.
Small Cameras - FAQs
Small types of cams like sports cameras are often just meant for videos. If you want quality stills, compact cameras and mirrorless are better. They now come with smaller camera systems which make them more lightweight and easy to use.
No. The availability of viewfinders depends on the type of cameras. Viewfinders are commonly present in DSLR, mirrorless, and point-and-shoot models. However, sports cams do not include this feature but instead employ LCD.
Yes, the size of the camera usually affects the photos because of the sensor size. Large sensors deliver a bunch of good benefits such as more lights and details being captured, less noise, and more. It also allows the camera to achieve a higher resolution resulting in more detailed images.
There are small-sized cams like sports cams that are focused on delivering good videos. One example is the GoPro Hero9 that can shoot 5K videos at 30 fps.