Musing on a High Quality Pocket Camera

Attempting to get a good camera into your pocket, is the holy grail for a lot of photographers, a second camera that is easy to have with you, when carrying the rig just won’t work. Clearly, the best camera with you is the right camera has some real flaws when it comes to actually printing your prize photograph, especially if that camera turns out to be a smartphone. Certainly, a smartphone is all you need for the internet and those prints you pass around or put into your albums. In fact, in today’s world, there are few arguments for using a point and shoot as their sensors are almost the same size as an iPhone unless of course, you don’t have a smartphone.
No matter how you rationalised it, if you are going beyond an 8×10 print then you are looking at an APSC sensor or larger. Yes, I know there are a lot of people that would argue with this, claiming 4/3 or small can be printed larger than this but there is a real quality issue that is being ignored. So for me, perhaps not you, I look at cameras that have an APSC sensor or larger for my pocketable camera that gets me the quality I need.

So what is out there you ask?

There are a lot of choices of course but if you sift through the reviews carefully and examine the technical specifications. Making sure you are spending your hard earned money on the most current technology, not something that has been marketed for the last four years. Then the field narrows considerably. Clearly, the final selection is my opinion so if you have another camera you swear by please don’t take it the wrong way. However, I would say that the top mirrorless cameras at this point in time are made by Fujifilm, Sony and Leica. Keep in mind neither Canon nor Nikon have innovated in this area, so their large cameras are not listed. I have also excluded the Ricoh GR II, because of reviews suggesting soft sides and excessive noise reduction application to files. One other obvious omission is the Sony A6300, a beautiful camera. However, the A6300 uses a full frame mount making the lenses larger than those of the Fuji, and therefore not very pocketable.
Comparison courtesy of

Fujifilm X-70

The X-70 is perhaps the smallest of all the APSC camera and comes with a 2.8f 28mm equivalent fixed lens. It does in fact easily slip into a jacket pocket and at 16 megapixels will provide you with a fairly good print. One of the compromises, however, used to shrink this camera is the lack of a viewfinder. Fuji does make an X-T2 and X-T10 but when a 35mm equivalent lens is added they are much larger than most of these cameras. I have chosen the 35mm lens as it is a standard lens for street photography and therefore a good way to cross compare camera size. Even if you add the 28mm equivalent to these two cameras neither of them are pocketable.
Comparison courtesy of

Image courtesy of Tech Toy Review

Image courtesy of Amateur Photographer

Sony RX1 series

The next smallest is a stunning camera the Sony RX1 series, whose most current iteration is the RXIR II which sports a 35mm 2f lens and creates a 43-megapixel file, on a full-size sensor. There is no doubt that this camera’s image quality is excellent if not close to a medium format camera. A stunning achievement in such a small package. However, its lens, although rated very well does make the camera larger than the X-70. So not really so easy to put in a jacket pocket on a regular basis. It does have a viewfinder however but it is a pop-up viewfinder, a strange choice and somewhat awkward to use and requires a removable rubber cup. It seems to me it could simply have been built in.

Leica Q

The Leica Q is a cautious camera at 24 megapixels, it is fitted with a 28mm 1.7f lens, and is a very solid and heavy camera on a full-size sensor. At 24 megapixels the pixel pitch is much better than the Sony or the Fujifilm camera, and should, as a result, render richer picture quality. The lens is also larger than the RX1R II so in terms of pocketability this camera is lens wise and body wish just too big. However, it is a beautiful camera and has some wonderful features.
Image courtesy of Mirrorlessons

Sony A7 series

The A7 series or Alpha series is like the RX1 is also 43 megapixels but unlike the RX1 series is an interchangeable lens camera. Like the RX1 it is a bold and stunning camera whose picture quality rivals that of medium format cameras. Again this camera is simply too big to fit into a coat pocket.


For me, the only real pocketable camera is the Fujifilm’s X70. The other smaller cameras, which all have full-size sensors demand larger lenses, I would say unless there is an optical revolution full-size sensor cameras can never be pocketed because of the size of the lenses needed to make full use of the sensor. Furthermore, there is only one APSC camera on the market that you can slip into the pocket at this point in time, with the exception of the Ricoh and that is the X70.
Now the one disappointment with this camera is it came out at the same time as the X-Pro 2 which now sports the new 24-megapixel sensor, yet the X70 had the 16-megapixel sensor. Clearly, if the X70 had have been outfitted with this sensor it would be flying off the selfs. If Fujifilm married the 24-megapixel camera to this sensor it would be in the pocket of every serious photographer.

If You’re OK with a Smaller Sensor

There are some wonderful pocket cameras that will give you very high quality if you are either an internet photographer or print on or below the 8 by 10 size. The one I would recommend for the pocket is the Lumix LX100K. It has a fixed lens but it is a 24-70mm equivalent at 1.7-2.8f, which is a very impressively bright lens. However, its 4/3 sensor is 2/3 the size of the Fujifilm APSC sensor, but it does have a pop-up viewfinder.
Image courtesy of Lens Work Daily
Comparison courtesy of