I take a lot of photos and videos for both personal and business use. Until recently, your options were:
1. a bulky DSLR (mine is the Nikon D60, which is about 5 years old) which generates very good quality images but is not easy to carry around. DSLRs start in the $500 range and go up to several thousand dollars.
2. a camera phone (i.e., iPhone or Galaxy) which is always available but creates average images in good light, below average images in low light, poor images using the built in flash. Camera phones are not very good for action shots (slow shutter speeds) and they do not offer much in the way of wide angle or long telephoto access.
3. a compact camera – these are portable and offer better quality than camera phones, but do not offer much in the way of low light or flash shots. Canon (which is exiting the compact camera business) and Nikon make several models ranging from $80 to $350.
More recently, camera makers have put less emphasis on the sub-$250 compact camera range because camera phones have improved to the point where sales are lagging. Instead, we are seeing a number of higher end compacts in the $400 to $800 range that offer much higher quality than compacts or camera phones. About two years ago, on a visit to Israel, my wife accidenitly dunked my Canon Powershot S95 (a higher end compact that I really liked) in the Dead Sea so I was in the market for a new high end compact camera. After researching the choices, I settled on the Sony RX-100, which is expensive (around $600) but offers a large sensor, while remaining portable (it fits in my pants pocket).
I have been very happy with the RX-100. Daylight images are superb and low light and flash are above average. It also takes HD video. The quality is such that the RX-100 is my “go to” camera for just about every application.
Since my purchase, Sony has upgraded the RX-100. The two latest versions are shown below.
This is the Sony RX-100 MII. This is the latest version of the RX-100. It features Wi-Fi connectivity, meaning that you can use it to upload photos to sharing sites like Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, etc. This Wi-Fi version costs about $100 more than the non-Wi-Fi version below.
This is the non-Wi-Fi version of the RX-100. It does not include the Wi-Fi connectivity feature, and sells for about $100 less than the Wi-Fi enabled version.
Here is the case I bought for my RX-100: