With this year is coming to close its curtain, what is the best compact camera so far? I scratch my head to find out how many cameras of this type there are. If I need to set a boundary to my search, what should I do?

By using Techradar‘s camera categories, we can subdivide the compact cameras to all-rounders, travel compacts, superzoom and bridge cameras, waterproof and rugged cameras.  How nice it is?

The compact camera is a market targeted to a wide population. They are the bread and butter of very single camera manufacturer and wallet-friendly. In terms of specifications, most of these cameras are not at the top-end. But they are beating their bigger siblings in size and even functionality in many areas. They are easy to use and almost flawless in taking decent images.

What impresses us these days is that even smartphones can take many remarkably decent images. So why a compact camera? I have been taking images by my smartphone and cannot find anything as easy as that.

One thing is certain: the image sensor does matter and the lens does either. At the moment, the smartphone is competing fiercely the image quality of the compact camera.  I reckon before long, smartphone will take the place of the compact cameras, leaving the compact system cameras for serious photographers.

Today much attention are given to many compact system cameras such as Panasonic G and Olympus Micro Four Third ranges, Sony NEX range, Nikon 1 series, Samsung NX series, Pentax Q series, Fujifilm X series and the latest Canon M series . This is a year which gets your hand full of products, but not many surprises. This is the type that is getting more popular for those who do not want to go for a DSLR body or system. Image if your camera has a flexibility of changing lens, excellent image quality in a smaller size, your limbs won’t be too sore taking photographs for a whole day. That is why the compact system cameras are winning our hearts.

As a follower of travelling light with limited gear, I reckon what camera I should purchase as a second body to my Leica M9. Should I completely ditch the DSLR and go for a small camera body?  At the moment, I can find nothing near-on perfect. So I keep saying to myself:  wait, wait and wait.

For the time being, these are the contenders for my list of the best compact cameras:

Canon Powershot G1X (January)
Fujifilm X-Pro1 (January)
Olympus OM-D E-M5 (February)
Sigma DP1 & DP2 Merrill (February)
Leica X2 (May)
Sony RX100 (June)
Panasonic DMC-LX7 (July)
Canon EOS-M (July)
Nikon 1 J2 (August)
Fujifilm X-E1 (September)
Panasonic GH3 (September)
Pentax Q10 (September)
Olympus PEN E-PL5 (September)
Nikon 1 V2 (October)

I prefer a compact camera with a viewfinder. If I take this into serious consideration, there is no other alternative than choosing between two Fuijfilm Xs and Olympus OM-D E-M5. Don’t forget the camera manufacturers renew their product so soon and so fast that you start to ask why. I am sad to say that this is a pain that everyone has to face.

If you love taking photographs, bring along your camera every day and justify it by using it in every occasion.

Featured image: Darlington Terrace. Elmarit-M 28 mm, ISO320, f3.4, 1/250 sec
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