The best small cameras with manual controls

Compact cameras with manual exposure control -- Canon, Panasonic, Nikon, Olympus, Ricoh, Sony

For serious photography, the ideal equipment has always been a digital SLR with full manual controls and the ability to change lenses to suit the scene. However, that doesn't need to be the case any more.

There are many small cameras on the market that give you total control over the exposure settings and many also have very fast lenses. This means that you don't always have to carry a digital SLR — or even a chunky Micro Four Thirds — camera with you to take awesome pictures.

All the small cameras in this round-up feature manual exposure controls in the form of dials or control rings and most can even shoot in RAW mode, so you can edit them to your heart's content without sacrificing image quality. On the downside, not all the cameras have large zoom lenses. This means that in some cases you'll have to use good old foot zoom.

While being able to take control of the exposure in a small camera is great, the other fantastic thing about these compacts is that well… they are small. Most of the time they will easily fit into a pants pocket, allowing you to carry them to parties and to special events, and you can even take them on trips without them becoming a burden.

In this round-up we've included models from Panasonic, Canon, Nikon, Ricoh, Samsung and Olympus, to give you an idea of the type of camera you should consider if you want a small camera that lets you take total control of exposure settings. Now the Canon G12 may be a little bulky to fit in most pockets, but we've included it because we wear cargo shorts most of the time.

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Panasonic LUMIX DMC-LX5

Panasonic's LUMIX DMC-LX5 is a digital camera that's appealing to enthusiasts because of its manual control features and excellent image quality.

  • Review Date:
  • Reviewer:
  • Manufacturer:
  • 28th Jan., 2011
  • Campbell Simpson
  • Panasonic
  • Rating:
  • Price:
  • Pros:
  • Bright lens with reasonable zoom range, good ISO performance up to ISO 800, excellent build quality, excellent multi-aspect sensor design
  • Cons:
  • Frustrating lens cap design, mediocre LCD screen, convoluted menu structure
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