Hi-Tech Studio: Compacts For Pros

As a pro photographer, you use gear that provides the results you need, that satisfies your clients. But you can’t always carry that gear with you everywhere you go. Sure, an iPhone is nice and gives you a lot of flexibility, and it’s always with you, but having something a little larger that’s much more capable and can still be with you all the time gives you the ability to capture what you see anytime with pro image quality. Here are some cameras that meet this need—the convenience of a compact with the image quality of a big sensor, ideal for "personal work/what I see" on a website, video snippets and shooting with social media/self-promotion in mind, along with very good image quality and shooting features.

Canon PowerShot G1 X Mark II

Considerably faster than its predecessor, the 12.8-megapixel PowerShot G1 X Mark II can shoot bursts at up to 5.2 fps (compared to 1.9 fps). It also features a faster lens, with a maximum aperture of ƒ/2 (versus ƒ/2.8), that also covers a wider 35mm-equivalent range, from 24-120mm, up from the 28-112mm range of the G1 X. The Mark II adds WiFi, as well, allowing remote control of the camera with your iOS or Android smartphone. While there’s no built-in viewfinder, the optional EVF-DC1 can be attached to the accessory shoe, and the 3-inch touch-screen LCD can tilt for easier viewing. RAW and JPEG image formats are available, as is full HD video. Dual Control Rings on the lens are customizable to perform a variety of functions, such as aperture adjustment and manual focus. List Price: $799.
Sensor Size: 1.5 inches (18.7×12.5mm)
Dimensions (HxWxD): 2.6×4.8×3.2 inches
Weight: 14.1 ounces (without battery and memory card)

Fujifilm FinePix X100T

The third-generation X100T retains the X100S’s 16.3-megapixel X-Trans CMOS II sensor with on-sensor phase-detection AF and no AA filter, but features a faster processor. The fixed lens has a 35mm-equivalent focal length of 23mm (vs. 35mm for the X100S), with a fast maximum aperture of ƒ/2. It also improves on the hybrid electronic/optical eye-level viewfinder and adds built-in WiFi, a built-in ND filter for video, an electronic shutter with speeds to 1/32,000, an intervalometer and more. The X100T can focus down to 3.9 inches in Macro mode and does 1080 full HD video at 60/50/30/25/24 fps with stereo sound. It also has a larger LCD monitor (3.0 inches vs. 2.8). There are convenient control dials for shutter speed, exposure compensation and aperture, and a number of customizable buttons. List Price: $1,299.
Sensor Size: APS-C (23.6×15.6mm)
Dimensions (HxWxD): 2.9×5.0x2.1 inches
Weight: 14.1 ounces (without battery and memory card)


Leica X (Typ 113)


Leica X (Typ 113)

Longtime rangefinder camera legend Leica offers some neat compacts, the most recent being the X (Typ 113). It features a 16.2-megapixel APS-C CMOS sensor and a built-in 23mm ƒ/1.7 Leica Summilux lens (equivalent to the classic 35mm lens on a 35mm camera). There’s a 3-inch, 920K-dot LCD monitor, and you can add an optional EVF or optical finder to the camera’s accessory shoe should you prefer eye-level operation. Operation is straightforward and simple, with dials for shutter speed and exposure compensation, an aperture ring on the lens and manual focusing via the lens’ focusing ring (there’s also 11-point contrast-detect AF). The X can do 1080 full HD video at 30p and shoot still images at 5 fps. List Price: $2,295.
Sensor Size: APS-C
Dimensions (HxWxD): 2.9×5.2×3.1 inches
Weight: 17.1 ounces (with battery)


Nikon Coolpix A


Nikon Coolpix A

Nikon’s pro compact is the Coolpix A, which features a 16.2-megapixel DX (APS-C) CMOS sensor with no AA filter to maximize sharpness (the camera corrects moiré pretty well in JPEGs, but you’ll have to compensate yourself if you shoot RAW, which the Coolpix A can do in 14-bit, by the way). There’s no EVF, but the optional optical finder is being bundled with the camera as of this writing. Otherwise, the 3-inch, 921K-dot LCD monitor provides composing/viewing. The interface is similar to that of Nikon’s DSLRs, a plus for Nikon-using pros. The Coolpix A can shoot at 4 fps, and do 1080 and 720 video at 30p and 24p. Contrast AF works down to 3.9 inches in Macro mode. List Price: $599.
Sensor Size: APS-C (23.6×15.7mm)
Dimensions (HxWxD): 2.6×4.4×1.6 inches
Weight: 10.6 ounces (without battery and memory card)


Ricoh GR


Panasonic LUMIX DMC-LX100

Featuring a 16-megapixel Four Thirds image sensor with the same Venus Engine used in the flagship GH4 mirrorless camera, the LX100 incorporates a 24-75mm (35mm-camera equivalent) ƒ/1.7-2.8 zoom lens, a 2764K-dot eye-level EVF and a 3-inch, 921K-dot external LCD monitor, plus easy dial control of shutter speed and aperture. The LX100 can shoot at 11 fps with focus fixed and 6.5 fps with continuous AF. It can also do 4K video at 30 fps and 24 fps in MP4, and 1080 full HD at 60p in AVCHD. Built-in WiFi with NFC makes it easy to download photos and video, and operate the camera remotely via smartphone or tablet. Focus peaking aids manual focusing, and stop-motion animation is available. List Price: $899.
Sensor Size: Four Thirds (17.3×13.0mm)
Dimensions (HxWxD): 2.6×4.5×2.2 inches
Weight: 12.4 ounces (without battery and memory card)

Ricoh GR

Featuring a 16.2-megapixel APS-C CMOS sensor with no AA filter and a GR Engine V with chromatic moiré compensation, the GR can deliver crisp, high-quality images through its 28mm (35mm-camera equivalent) ƒ/2.8 lens. There’s a 3-inch, 1230K-dot LCD monitor, and you can add an optional external optical finder to the accessory shoe, if desired. Multiple-exposure capability and a built-in intervalometer add versatility. Contrast-detection AF works at 4 fps for continuous bursts and down to 3.9 inches in Macro mode. There are DSLR-like designated AF and aperture preview buttons, plus 4 fps continuous shooting. The GR can do 1080 full HD video at 30p and 720 HD at 60 fps, as well as 640×480 at 30 fps. There’s no built-in WiFi, but the camera is compatible with Eye-Fi memory cards. List Price: $699.
Sensor Size: APS-C
Dimensions (HxWxD): 2.4×4.6×1.4 inches
Weight: 7.6 ounces (without battery and memory card)


Sigma dp2 Quattro


Sigma dp2 Quattro

With an all-new Foveon X3 image sensor and a strikingly different design, Sigma’s 29-megapixel dp2 Quattro is the first in what will be a new line of compacts from Sigma. The ƒ/2.8 lens, designed specifically for use with the new sensor, has a 35mm-equivalent focal length of 45mm, slightly wider than what’s typically considered "normal" perspective, and can focus on objects as close as approximately 11 inches. There’s no video capability, but both RAW and JPEG capture is available in multiple aspect ratios. The contrast-detection AF offers several modes, including Face Detection AF, or full manual exposure and foc
us are possible. Sigma has improved the dp2 Quattro’s high-ISO performance compared to its DP Merrill predecessors. Sigma has also introduced the similar dp1 Quattro, with the same sensor and form factor, but with a 28mm (equivalent) ƒ/2.8 wide-angle lens. List Price: $999.
Sensor Size: APS-C (23.5×15.7mm)
Dimensions (HxWxD): 2.6×4.8×3.2 inches
Weight: 14.1 ounces (without battery and memory card)


Sony RX1R


Sony RX1R

For the ultimate in compact camera image quality, consider the only full-frame compacts: Sony’s RX1R and its near-identical RX1 sibling. The only difference is that the RX1R has no optical low-pass filter, which, while potentially increasing the possibility of moiré and color artifacts, provides significantly sharper images overall. Otherwise, it offers the same 24.3-megapixel sensor, fast 35mm ƒ/2 Carl Zeiss Sonnar T* lens, the ability to capture full HD (1920×1080) video at 60p and 24p, plus RAW and JPEG stills at speeds of up to 5 fps. While there’s no built-in eye-level viewfinder, both optical and EVF accessory viewfinders are available that mount in the camera’s Multi Interface Shoe. The RX1R includes features found in other Sony cameras like Sweep Panorama and Multi Frame noise reduction. List Price: $2,799.
Sensor Size: Full frame (35.8×23.9mm)
Dimensions (HxWxD): 2.6×4.5×2.8 inches
Weight: 17 ounces (with battery and memory card)


Sony RX100 III


Sony RX100 III

The third-generation, 20.2-megapixel, 1-inch-sensor RX100 III improves upon the previous models with a built-in, retractable EVF, and is built around a new 35mm-equivalent 24-70mm ƒ/1.8 Carl Zeiss lens (the RX100 II featured a 28-100mm-equivalent lens). Continuous shooting is possible at speeds of up to 10 fps for up to 13 shots per burst in RAW mode or 12 shots in JPEG. Full HD video (1920×1080) is available in several frame rates, with stereo sound via a built-in mic that’s adjustable to 16 levels. The 3-inch LCD can be tilted up approximately 180º and down approximately 45º for easier shooting from odd angles. The RX100 III also offers many of Sony’s innovative imaging technologies and can be controlled via a smartphone app over WiFi. List Price: $799.
Sensor Size: 1 inch (13.2×8.8mm)
Dimensions (HxWxD): 2.4×4.0x1.6 inches
Weight: 10.2 ounces (with battery and memory card)

Blackmagic Design Pocket Cinema Camera

Though this is a video-only device (no stills), a camera this small and yet capable of capturing 1080 HD CinemaDNG RAW or Apple ProRes 422 (HQ) files merits inclusion in a roundup of pro-quality compact cameras. With a wider dynamic range (13 stops) than typical video devices, you’ll capture better shadow and highlight details. The Pocket Cinema Camera is compatible with Micro Four Thirds System lenses or Super 16 lenses with an adapter. It also offers all the ports you’ll need for video out, audio in and even remote operation. If you’re considering a dedicated video camera, or upgrading your still camera for one with better video, this is one very interesting option. List Price: $995.

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