Smartphone or Digital Camera?

By: jwilder

Thinking about moving beyond your smartphone to a digital camera?

Everyday Carry Digital Compact Camera
Everyday carry. Sony a6000. Still too big. iPhone 12 mini.

Here's an idea: Get an everyday carry digital camera.

And get a cheap phone. Mind blown!

Let's look at some reasons to get an everyday carry digital camera.

Is a Smartphone Camera Good Enough?

Yes, except for one thing, the design goals of a smartphone are different than the design goals of a dedicated camera.

Smartphones are designed to do as many things as possible

Smartphones are designed to be push-button easy to use (fewer options. no training).

Because the smartphone is a general purpose computing/communication device, it will never fully replace a dedicated camera. Yes, never. I don't care how good the sensor is.

Why Choose a Digital Compact Camera?

The number one goal of a camera is to take photographs. It is camera-first design.

  • Camera-first design - its single purpose in life is to facilitate the process of making a photo.
  • A larger image sensor (so far) - more light, better photo.
  • A display that pivots flat - for low shots.
  • Electronic viewfinder, because sometimes you just can't see the dang screen.
  • Manual controls - because the camera doesn't always know what I want.
  • Everyday carry potential - A compact camera is grab and go. More opportunities, more shots.

My Everyday Carry Camera Requirements

I have a few specific requirements for my everyday carry camera. For example, it has to have an articulating monitor to make low shots much easier.

  • Fixed lens - No multiple lenses for daily carry.
  • Optical Zoom - I do want different focal lengths for more diverse shots.
  • A display that pivots flat (for low shots).
  • Electronic viewfinder.

So, what are the choices for compact digital cameras with these features?

OMG! You would think this is an easy question. It's not.

We the people face a big confusing wall when it comes to understanding what is available today.

Apparently, camera companies gave up on retail stores and even their own websites.

Here is My List so Far

In order from smallest to largest.

  • Sony RX100 V (Winner so far)
  • Canon PowerShot G5 X II
  • Fujifilm X100V

Sony RX100V

Sony RX100V

The Sony RX100V is the smallest and lightest camera in this list.

The Sony RX100 line has a lot of fans. It has been around for many years and it is up to version VII. This camera is a favorite for travel photography.

Sony RX100 V
1.0-type sensor
Lens Fixed zoom, 24-70mm (35mm equiv)
Pop up viewfinder!
Weight: 299g with Battery and Memory.
List Price $999
Release Date: 2016

Sony RX100 Series Comparison (I, II, III, IV, V, VA, VI and VII)

Canon PowerShot G5 X II

canon powershot g5ii front

Canon PowerShot G5 X II
Sensor: 1-inch type Stacked CMOS (20.1Mp).
Lens f/1.8 – f/2.8 24-120mm (35mm equivalent)
Screen 3-inch 1,040,000-dot tilting touchscreen
Viewfinder 0.39-inch type 2,360,000-dot OLED
Weight: 340g with battery
Dimensions 110.9 x 60.9 x 46mm
List price: $900
Release US: August 2019

*The PowerShot G7 does not have a viewfinder.

Fujifilm X100V

Fujifilm X100V front

The X100V is the fifth-generation model of the X100 Series.

Fujifilm X100V
Sensor: APS-C (26.1m pixels)
Lens: 23mm (35mm) f2.0 max Fixed.
Lcd Monitor 3.0 inch, Articulating
Weight: 478g with battery and SD memory card.
List price: $1400
Released: February 2020

*No zoom but has a WIDE / TELE / OFF option.

Also Interesting

There are several interesting cameras that don't meet my criteria.

Sony a7c ($1800 +/1)
New for 2020, Sony a7c. It is a full frame sensor camera in a Sony APS-C sized camera body. According to Sony, the world’s smallest and lightest full-frame camera. But in no way is it pocketable.

Sony ZV1 ($700 +/-)
New for 2020, Sony ZV1. Positioned as a camera for vloggers.
24-70mm1 F1.8-2.8 ZEISS® Vario-Sonnar T* lens

Ricoh GR III
This camera has the perfect form factor for a daily carry. And, it has an APS-C image sensor!


The only perfect camera is the one I would design myself. And that's not happening. With every camera there's a compromise.

Useful Camera Links for Research

Useful camera/product links for your own research.

Sony Compact Cameras

Canon Compact Cameras

Fujifilm Compact Cameras

James Wilder

James Wilder is the owner, writer, photographer, designer, and developer for MOTOR Texas.


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