A comparatively low weight and compact size are two of the biggest advantages of compact cameras. Compact cameras are available in a wide range of capabilities and prices from manufacturers such as Canon, Nikon, Panasonic, and Sony. Unlike DSLR and system cameras, compact cameras are equipped with a fixed lens. This camera class also includes the ever-popular mini camera (also known as a bridge or compact system camera), which is popular for taking pictures on holiday and are similar to SLR cameras in both appearance and size.
Compact cameras typically have a smaller range of functions available (e.g. fully automatic function or different scene modes) in comparison to other types of cameras and are outfitted with rather simple components. Compact cameras that are at the higher end of the price range are capable of producing images with over 10 megapixels (comparable to a low-end DSLR camera) and a high light-sensitivity of up to 6,400 ISO (which is supported by its own image processor). These cameras are also capable of producing good photos in poor lighting conditions and without the use of a flash. An image stabiliser helps combat blurriness in the photos and is integrated in most models currently being manufactured. Many models also come equipped with an electronic viewfinder, or live viewfinder (LVF). The photo about to be taken is depicted on an LCD display, which is very often also capable of supporting recording HD movies.
Overall, compact cameras just can’t really keep up with the high quality optical systems and numerous features offered in DSLR or system cameras. On the other hand, however, they are also substantially more expensive, bigger, and heavier. Thus, a compact camera is still a favourable choice for the beginning photographer since the limited manual setting possibilities and the slightly lower picture quality are sufficient enough to meet their needs. Their ease of use doesn’t require any prior knowledge of photography and is perfect for taking pictures on holidays, at parties, or of family outings.
Compact cameras with their fixed focal lengths restrict the different possible image compositions significantly. Therefore, when purchasing your camera you should consider your own personal preferences, decide if you would rather wide-angle or telephoto capabilities, and of course the optical zoom. Besides the optical zoom, compact cameras also come equipped with a digital zoom. When using this, however, only the central portion of the image is enlarged and some image details will be lost. Thus, photos taken using a digital zoom have a slightly poorer image quality.