We are now facing a much mature market that is excluding all the use-to-be very simple and small camera models rightly replaced with a lot efficiency by the “photo-multi-use-smartphone”. The technical fundamentals of the photo camera seem to reach a kind of plateau and now the advancements are more in the fine sophistication of the things.
Almost every modern digital compact (Interchangeable Lens System) camera models are including all the features to operate them from fully automated to a complete manual configuring set-up. Control dials and buttons as for the interface presentation may differ from one manufacturer to another but all basic functionalities are available plus many other additional special features that are offered by each specific system.
Stabilization optionality is now another almost obligatory basic feature asked by the potential users. More and more the newest models are incorporating the functionality inside the camera body providing the IBIS (In camera Body Image sensor Stabilization) variation. Many basic zoom or prime lenses are also giving an optical stabilization optionality, OIS (Optical Image Stabilization). Most of the newest camera model with IBIS will also work in conjunction with the OIS lenses. All these stabilization systems are trying to reduce the blurry effect generated by the photographer movements (shake).
Compactness of the camera lenses is the other aspect to consider. The big lenses with very large maximum aperture praised by some professional photographers and more by certain advanced amateurs are not small optical units and combined with a compact camera body, these optics have a strong tendency to unbalance to say the least the whole set. Some manufacturers are doing a better job in offering an array of practical compact lenses (prime or zoom) that have a more flexible maximum aperture like F1.7, F1.8, F2, F2.4, F2.8.
If you are the kind of photographers who likes to strongly postprocessing your pictures or if you expect to print big enlargements, you may choose to get a larger image sensor size to maximize your final picture output quality. But for most of us, the MFT and APS-C sensor formats can fulfill the bill very nicely. Going in larger image sensor formats will cancel most of the compactness benefits and flexibility.
Compactness is still a big criterion for many photographers when it comes to select an equipment that will be use on a regular base. The photo equipment market is acknowledging this fact by proposing different camera and lens models that respond to that specific preoccupation. The future of compact photography is as always interesting and encouraging.
*** Compactness is a very subjective notion. On the extreme side, it will represent the smallest size possible to produce an operational camera device. But there are some physiological limits to be able to properly use a camera model with confort and confidence. Those limits are very personal. In my book, a camera viewfinder or a camera back viewing screen should be large enough to be able to judge roughly the accuracy of your photo composition and the sharpness of your subject. Control dials and buttons should be reachable and ajustable easily with a minimum of involuntary activation. But at the same time, the camera body-lens combination should be small and light enough to be brought all-day long in your hand or around your neck without fatigue. So it is still a question of compromise between handling and compact design.