5 Best Large Sensor Compact Cameras in 2018 (Great Alternatives to Bulky DSLRs)

The list of top rated digital compact cameras with large sensors (1-inch or larger) for travel and street photography. Great alternatives to DSLRs.


Truth is:

The sensor is the soul of a digital camera.

It’s something that determines image size, how bright and sharp your photos are, or how well they perform in low light conditions.

And guess what?

Many modern compact cameras come with a 1″-type sensor size (or larger) which basically increase the quality of pictures.

So…

Today, we’ll look at the best large sensor compact cameras for 2018-2019. (These compacts sure are great alternatives to bulky DSLRs.)

In here, I will offer my top 5 choices across various budgets and brands.

But first… 


What’s the big deal about large sensors?


A large sensor allows you to:

  • achieve high resolution, 
  • reduce crop factor,
  • get high image quality in low light,
  • increase the wide dynamic range of a photo,
  • create a stronger amount of background blur (aka bokeh),

… Clearly, there are a lot of benefits to it.

That is why all the best cameras (both DSLRs and mirrorless) have sensors that are 1-inch or larger.

Now, here’s an overview of what to expect in this post:

5 Best Large Sensor Compact Cameras in 2018

  • Leica Q – Hands down the best fixed-lens mirrorless camera money can buy. 
  • Fujifilm X100F – A great compact for travel and street photography in 2018.
  • Canon G9X II – Best budget compact camera with 1-inch sensor (for travel).
  • Panasonic Lumix LX100 – Great 4K point-and-shooter with micro 4/3 sensor.
  • Ricoh GR II​ – Best value for money. Legendary among street photographers.


Before we move on…

A quick video to understand digital camera sensors:

Alright, let’s dive in.


The Best Fixed-Lens Mirrorless Camera in 2018


Leica Q (Typ 116)

  • Type: Large sensor compact
  • Weight: 640 g
  • Sensor size: FX (36 x 24 mm)
  • Resolution: 24 MP
  • LCD: Fixed
  • Touchscreen: Yes
  • Weather resistant: No
  • ISO: Auto, 100-50000

Let’s face it:

Leica Q hands down is the best fixed-lens mirrorless camera money can buy.

Now…

As a rule, Leica digital compact cameras have 2 things in common:

  • insanely high price tag,
  • features and ergonomics close to perfection.

In any case, Leica Q is a dream for many photographers.

Here’s why:

  • burst rate up to 10 frames per second,
  • it offers outstanding image quality,
  • great placement of manual dials,
  • extremely sharp focus,
  • quiet and vibration-free leaf shutter,
  • good low-light performance,

… Just to name a few.


Leica Q Video Review: Hands-On Field Test


Chris had prepared a great video review on this camera. It’ll help you understand whether the high cost is justifiable in this case.


Let’s Talk a Bit About This Camera…


Q: What is this camera about?

Leica Q (Typ 116) is a premium compact with a fixed 28 mm f/1.7 lens and a 24MP full-frame sensor.

To give you perspective:

It sees the world as an iPhone but gives out photos slightly larger than that of 5D III – 6000 x 4000 px.

Some complain about 28 mm lens but, frankly, it just means you’ll have to physically move to change the distance. And the quality you get is sure worth it.

The f/1.7 lens takes great pics even in dim light conditions and is awesome for macro photography.

Speaking of which…

You’ll love love the ring to move from normal focus ranges to macro mode.

(Overall, the manual adjustments on the lens are fun to use.)

Macro Mode in Leica Q (The best full-frame compact camera)
Switching to Macro Mode made easy.

Q: How fast is autofocus?

It’s incredibly fast, you won’t have anything to complain about.

If we compare it with 5D III again with some fast lens, then I’d say they are approximately the same in terms of speed.

Either way…

Leica Q is probably the fastest large sensor compact camera there is today.


Q: What photography styles is this camera for?

The uses Leica Q is best for:

  • travel,
  • macro,
  • landscapes, and,
  • street photography.

(In terms of landscape shots, read the next question.)


Q: Will it replace my DSLR for landscape work?

I doubt it.

I mean you can still take decent landscape shots 

… but in fear of repeating myself I’d say it’s more of a walk around camera which is great for taking photos of your family, during travel, and for macro photography.

Remember that it’s a fixed 28 mm focal length.

Here’s food for thought:

  • If your photographs aren’t good enough, you’re not close enough.” (© Robert Capa)

Q: What about video shooting?

Generally speaking, video recording is possible in Full HD at 50/60 fps.

Here’s what I think:

Leica’s target audience isn’t so much interested in video than it is in stills. This being said, it’s not trying to compete with Canon or Sony cameras in terms of video.

I mean I personally am not much of a video person, so to me it’s just a small bonus. 


Q: How’s the battery life?

That’s a good question.

I’d say the battery isn’t phenomenal but it isn’t bad either. You can always buy an additional battery, just to be safe.


Q: Is there anything else to consider?

It might be a minor thing but the strap that comes with the camera isn’t great.

Consider buying a quality Rock n Roll strap (though it’s not vegan-friendly).


Leica Q: The Best Large Sensor Compact Camera


Without a doubt:

Leica Q is close to perfection.

I mean…

  • It has a nice minimalistic body,
  • It shoots amazingly well,
  • and doesn’t take up much space in a camera bag.

(I’d definitely recommend it to desperate travellers.)

Bottom line:

I’d say if you can afford it, you’ll absolutely LOVE it.



A Compact for Travel and Street Photography


Fujifilm X100F

  • Type: Large sensor compact
  • Weight: 469 g
  • Sensor size: APS-C (23.6 x 15.6 mm)
  • Resolution: 24 MP
  • LCD: Fixed
  • Touchscreen: None
  • Weather resistant: No
  • ISO: Auto, 200-12800 (expands to 100-51200)

Look:

Fuji X100F is a premium large sensor compact camera with that cool retro-design.

(Just like Leica Q it also comes with a fixed lens.)

Now…

What will you like about it?

This Fujifilm camera:

  • offers a unique hybrid viewfinder,
  • its body has a solid metal construction yet is light (and pocketable),
  • provides incredible image quality,
  • has a great bokeh and a slightly wide focal length,
  • records Full HD video at 60 frames per second,

… Just to name a few.

Without a doubt, this camera gets a lot right!

One more thing:

If you specialize in street photography or just want to have the camera to document your life as you see it, then Fujifilm X100F is a really solid option for you.


Fuji X100F Large Sensor Compact (Video Review)


Pablo shares his thoughts on why X100F is a great large sensor compact camera for street photographers.

(Notice how awesome the image quality is.)


Answers To The Questions (You Might Have)


Q: What’s so special about its viewfinder?

As mentioned earlier, Fujifilm X100F offers a unique hybrid viewfinder. What it means is that it can work both in OVF and EVF.

And it’s made easy:

Basically you have a switch and you turn the Hybrid OVF into a full fledged EVF.

Now…

The electronic viewfinder (EVF):

  • Displays the image with the same brightness and color that you’ll see on the photo, though in low light conditions it might show a bit of digital noise.

The optical viewfinder (OVF):

  • Provides a bright and clear picture in any shooting conditions, but it’s impossible to track the correct exposure and white balance on it.

Q: What can you say about the lens?

This camera features a 35mm equiv. f/2 fixed lens.

This means that you can rely on its confident work in low-light situations and you’ll have a nice background blur. 

Another thing:

This fixed 35mm camera lens can be seen as a restriction in a sense that you can’t zoom in, for example, to shoot some sports events, but this focal length is sort of a benchmark for street and documentary photography.

Why?

Because 35mm focal length most closely resemble the perspective of the human eye.

And that’s why Fujifilm X100F is considered to be one of the best street/travel photography cameras available on the market.

Street photography with Fujifilm X100F (one of the best large sensor compact camera)
33.0mm · ƒ/2.0 · 1/90s · ISO 3200

Q: What photography styles is this camera for?

Like I said earlier, X100F is great for high quality street photography.

But it’s also suitable for:

Some say that it’ll work for landscapes too, if you’re willing to think of it differently…

… But remember that it’s a 35mm focal length, so you’ll have clear shots of things that are within normal viewing distance.


Q: How’s the battery life?

Frankly, you won’t be exactly thrilled.

It’s good for about 400 pics and you’ll likely to charge it often.

This camera is awesome though, so, as a solution, just keep a spare battery handy.


Q: What’s new in X100F compared to previous X100 series?

That’s easy.

X-Trans CMOS III with a resolution of 24 megapixels and a hybrid focusing system.

If you’re a previous owner of X100 series, you’ll notice that X100F is faster, both the start-up time and autofocus. 

Speaking of which:

Without doubt, you’ll have an improved AF experience.

You’ll have 49 phase detect AF points and 325 focus points in total. For quick selection of AF points, there’s a joystick.

Note:

While joystick is a joy to use, it’s pretty sensitive so be careful not to unintentionally move it (and therefore change the focus point).


Q: How does it compare to X-T20?

In a nutshell:

The X100F has the brains, feel and image quality of the Fuji X-T20 but it’s even more compact, has a silent leaf shutter, ISO dial and full complement of rear buttons.

More importantly:

You can truly take it anywhere all the time without ever agonizing over which lens(es) to bring. 🙂


Q: Fujifilm X100 or Ricoh GR II for street photography?

The answer to this question you will find in the Ricoh GR II section below.

(Click here to jump straight to the Ricoh GR II section now.)


Fuji X100F: Best Premium Compact Camera 2018


Here’s the truth:

This compact camera with a large sensor is nothing short of impressive.

Especially for:

  • travel photos, and,
  • street photography.

It gets better:

The price-value on this camera is amazing.

You won’t find a better large sensor compact camera without spending thousands of dollars on it.



Best Budget Large Sensor Compact Camera 2018


Canon G9X II

  • Type: Large sensor compact
  • Weight: 206 g
  • Sensor size: 1″ (13.2 x 8.8 mm)
  • Resolution: 20 MP
  • LCD: Fixed
  • Touchscreen: Yes
  • Weather resistant: No
  • ISO: Auto, 125-12800

Truth is:

Low cost compacts with large sensors is a rare class of photography equipment. 

Why?

Because the larger the sensor, the more expensive the camera is.

The 1-inch type cameras are not as great as micro four-thirds, but they still provide an awesome image quality.

The features you’ll love in G9X II:

  • great image sharpness,
  • pretty fast autofocus,
  • decent focal range,
  • high portability,
  • improved image stabilization,
  • RAW and low-light capability,
  • large 3” touchscreen with intuitive menus and settings.

… Just to name a few.

Without a doubt:

Canon Powershot G9X II is one of the best, most affordable 1-inch sensor compacts on the market today.


Are Canon Powershot Cameras Worth The Money?


Ted Forbes is a professional photographer who’s very well familiar with Canon Powershot cameras, so watch the video below to hear his honest opinion:


What’s So Great About Canon G9X II?


A bit about its features:

First of all, the lens has a large aperture (f/2 in wide-angle position) and 3x optical zoom.

In the wide-angle position, its viewing angle is equivalent to 28 mm on FX cameras, which is more than enough for the majority of tasks.

(This viewing angle is approximately equal to that of the smartphone lenses.)

It gets better:

G9X II offers the following:

  • smart autofocus system,
  • fast burst rate of 8.2 fps, and,
  • a built-in Intelligent image stabilization.

All of this ensures that you have shake-free, sharp photos wherever you are.

(It’ll be enough even for dynamic documentary photography.)

Anyway…

If you’re a DSLR photographer, it’s likely you get tired of lugging your camera bag around and you long for portability.

Well, Canon G9X II is a great alternative and has everything you need in a pocketable camera.

Now, let’s get some questions answered.


Q: What uses is Canon G9X Mark II best for?

Here’s the deal with G9X II…

  • its wide functionality,
  • its advanced technical characteristics, and,
  • the ability to provide excellent image quality (even in the difficult shooting situations)

… Will allow you to take photos in any photography style of yours.

Think of this advanced point-and-shooter as a photographer’s notebook, which helps in the daily pursuit of awesome pictures.

Below is an example of on-the-go everyday life things captured:

A picture taken with Canon G9X II (A great 1-inch compact camera for everyday life shooting and travel).
10.2mm · ƒ/4.0 · 1/250s · ISO 250

Last but not least:

Canon G9X II is a great lightweight alternative when traveling.

Wi-Fi is a sweet bonus if you don’t travel with your laptop. Basically you can transfer your pics to your smartphone for editing and then post on social media (while on the trip).


Q: Is it good for YouTube?

It’s probably one of the best compacts for shooting YouTube videos.

Note:

While many people love the touch screen, unfortunately, there’s no flip up screen… which may be a deal breaker for vloggers.

Now, if you’re a vlogger or a selfie lover, there are alternatives for you. 

The closest camera to G9X II is Canon G7X II.

Keep in mind though:

You’ll have to spend more than $200 to have the flip-up screen option.


Q: How’s the battery life?

Generally speaking, budget enthusiast point-and-shoot cameras don’t have great battery life.

Whether you’ll get G9X II or G7X II (for vloggers), it’s best to have a spare battery handy…

… Especially if you’re out shooting all day long.


Excellent 1-inch Compact for Every Day Life


Choosing a great (advanced) point-and-shoot camera can be tough.

Yet, G9X II is one of those pocketable camera that will give you everything you need, even if you’re a DSLR enthusiast photographer.

All in all:

Canon Powershot G9X II is likely the best choice when it comes to size-price-quality ratio.

In term of light traveling camera, this is as good as you can get.

Now…

If you’re looking for the closest to G9X II camera with a flip-up screen, then go with Canon G7X II instead.



DSLR Alternatives: 4K Point-and-Shooters


Panasonic LX100

  • Type: Large sensor compact
  • Weight: 393 g
  • Sensor size: 4/3 (17.3 x 13 mm)
  • Resolution: 13 MP
  • LCD: Fixed
  • Touchscreen: No
  • Weather resistant: No
  • ISO: Auto, 200-25600 (expands to 100-25600)

Look:

Even though Panasonic Lumix LX100 was released in 2014, it’s still one of the top rated digital compact cameras.

It has a micro 4/3 sensor with a fast f/1.72.8, 2475mm zoom lens.

Now…

If we consider all things LX100 offers, such as:

  • price,
  • versatility,
  • customizability,
  • time-lapse feature,
  • quality of video and stills,
  • compactness and portability

… This might be one of the best photography deals you’ll come across.

Specifically:

Its fast f/1.7-2.8, 24-75mm, Leica DC zoom lens and a M43 sensor are a steal.

Why?

For comparison purposes, the price of Canon 24-70 mm f/2.8 lens ALONE is twice as much as the whole LX100 compact. 

Keep in mind:

It has a challenging menu system and it might take you some time to figure out how to set it up. While this camera is very customizable, it’s something that beginner photographers might have a hard time with. 

But if you’re familiar with manual controls, Lumix LX100 is a AWESOME.


Amazing 4K Travel Camera (Video Review)


A while ago, the German filmmaker Moritz Janisch shared his experience with LX100 and why it’s his favourite 4K travel camera.


Panasonic Lumix LX100: FAQ


Truth is:

If you’re looking for 1 travel camera that…

  • doesn’t involve interchangeable lenses,
  • works for most situations,
  • and is affordable enough,

…then LX100 is for you.

Below I will have frequently asked questions answered.


Q: How’s the image quality?

While you shouldn’t expect the same level of IQ as in high-end full frame cameras, Lumix LX100 still offers great quality.

(Even in low-light conditions).

You should keep in mind that it’s still a 4/3 sensor camera, so it can’t be pushed too much. I’d say you can go up to ISO 3200 without seeing much noise.

Either way, you’ll be satisfied.


Q: What photography style is this LX100 best for?

Honestly, there’s little that this camera can’t do.

Lumix LX100 will work well for:

  • street photography,
  • vacation/travel,
  • food pics,
  • landscapes,
  • and even weddings.

It gets better:

The macro abilities of this camera are AMAZING.

A landscape photo of Lake Louise made by Panasonic Lumix LX100 compact camera.
Lake Louise, AB, Canada · 10.9mm · ƒ/5.6 · 1/1300s · ISO 200

As you can see, its highly versatile lens has very little it can’t do… from landscapes to portraits.

Keep in mind:

While the lens is versatile it does have its minor drawbacks.

For example, you’d have awesome portrait shots but the it won’t give you that bokeh as an APS-C sensor with a f/1.4 can.

And if you’re taking landscape photos, the lens won’t be able to go as wide as a 15 mm lens.


Q: What about video shooting?

For regular readers of my site, it’s no surprise that I am not much of a video person.

But I can tell you this:

Both video and still photos of this camera are STUNNING.

You have the 4K mode on a 24-75mm f/1.7-2.8 lens AND you have a top-quality stabilization.

Bottom line:

The video capabilities of Lumix LX100 are so great that you don’t need a separate video camera (even if you’re a YouTuber).


Q: How common is the “dust on sensor” problem?

That’s a valid concern.

Especially if you’re on a tight budget and don’t want to spend it on a “risky” investment.

Now…

While many photographers don’t experience this issue, sometimes it’s there if you’re not careful.

I am sharing Dan’s comment on this:


A comment on the dust issue in Panasonic LX100 cameras.


Here’s the thing:

The camera is not sealed and what happens is that the retractable lens sucks the dust in right through the sensor.

So my suggestion is to try not to expose your camera in an environment, where there’s a lot of dust.

Overall, it isn’t much of an issue with the lens wide open, you’ll just realize the problem when stopping down. (For example, when shooting bright scenes at f/16.)

Solution:

If you ended up having dust on your sensor, Panasonic can clean your sensor for free (within warranty). Generally, they do it fast and offer a great pickup and dropoff service.


Q: How’s the battery life in LX100? 

You can record approximately 300 pictures or 150 minutes of video (may last up to 3 days).

If you use the flash and a viewfinder, it’ll have a significant impact on the battery. Using LCD screen doesn’t drain it as much.

Either way:

As with all cameras recommended here, have a spare battery handy.


Best Advanced Point-and-Shoot Camera in 2018


Let’s face it:

Panasonic Lumix LX100 is a great choice for a lot of people.

You have a camera that:

  • has a fixed zoom lens (so no need to worry about additional lenses),
  • suitable for most photography styles,
  • is great for travellers as it’s light and portable,
  • features a built-in time-lapse feature, and,
  • offers both video and stills of amazing quality.

Now:

The controls menu might be challenging for beginners but it sure will appeal to advanced/professional photographers.

Best of all?

Panasonic Lumix LX100 is the best bang for your buck.



Best Large Sensor Compact for Street Photography


Ricoh GR II

  • Type: Large sensor compact
  • Weight: 251 g
  • Sensor size: APS-C (23.7 x 15.7 mm)
  • Resolution: 16 MP
  • LCD: Fixed
  • Touchscreen: No
  • Weather resistant: No
  • ISO: Auto, 100-25600

Ricoh GR II with a fixed 28 mm lens is special.

Why?

Because unlike most cameras, this one was created for photographers BY photographers.

And so, all controls are in exact place where you expect them to be.

Here’s what you’ll love about this camera:

  • easy to use
  • excellent ergonomics
  • fast autofocus
  • extremely sharp images
  • light, pocket-sized
  • best price-quality ratio today

In other words, it has everything you need for street photos if you follow the “travel light” philosophy.

I will say more:

Ricoh GR II is pretty much a legendary camera among street photographers.

I mean, check out all the GLOWING reviews it has.

I think the only thing you’ll really miss is having a tilting screen (especially when shooting from unique angles).


5 Reasons to Buy Ricoh GR II (Video Review)


Check out the 5 main reasons you should buy Ricoh GR II compact camera for street photography.


Q: How’s the focus system?

While its auto-focus is not as fast as in its Sony competitors, it’s still pretty decent/accurate.

Alternatively, you can use the Snap Focus option.


Q: What is this camera best for?

Really Ricoh GR II can be used for:

  • macros,
  • travel/family photos,
  • shooting landscapes and nature,
  • street photography,
  • everyday life shots,

… and any other purpose as well.

Note:

GRII features a 28mm fixed lens.

So…

If you like to work with the wide angle view for street photography and landscapes then you should definitely consider this camera.


Q: What about video capabilities?

Glad you asked.

If you want video, do NOT buy this camera!

Yep, video is that useless in Ricoh GR II.

Instead:

For video, consider Lumix LX100 micro four-thirds sensor camera.

(Jump back to Panasonic camera section).


Q: How’s the battery life?

Honestly, battery life is average.

I strongly recommend you purchase a spare DB-65 battery.


Q: Ricoh GR II vs. Fujifilm X100F for street photography?

Both are top rated digital compact cameras with fixed lens, so it’s a valid question.

I will try to make it easy for you to choose.

So…

Go with Ricoh GR II:

  • if you need more compactness/pocketability,
  • if you’re looking for best value for price.

Consider Fujifilm X100F:

  • if you’re into night photography,
  • need higher ISO performance (better photos in low-light),
  • can spend a bit more.

The choice is yours.


Budget Compact for Street Photography 2018


Ricoh GR II is arguably the best pocket-sized camera for travel and street photography.

It sure is a great DSLR alternative.

Now, if you consider:

  • image quality,
  • size, and,
  • price,

… you’ll see how it’s probably the best value for money that you can get as a street photographer.

In any case, I am sure you’ll love it.



5 Top Rated Digital Compact Cameras for 2018


As you can see, there are a lot of advantages to large sensor digital compacts.

Such cameras…

  • are pocket-sized and therefore are great for travel,
  • offer amazing image quality,
  • perform well in low-light conditions,
  • have a stronger bokeh effect,

I mean… 

What else can you ask for!?

Now, I’d like to hear from YOU:

  • What’s your photography style?
  • Which camera you liked the most from this list? Why?

Share your thoughts in the comments!

Either way:

If you’re looking for a travel camera or a camera specifically for street photography, one the compacts listed above should work for you regardless of your needs and budget.

Now…

While there are definitely other choices out there, I thought these 5 choices represented the best large sensor compact cameras currently available.

And without doubt, these are great alternatives to bulky DSLRs.


5 Best Large Sensor Compact Cameras in 2018 (Great Alternatives to Bulky DSLRs)
5 (100%) 39 votes

Sharing is caring!

6 Comments

    Add a Comment

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *