Compact cameras are developed to be slim, small and portable, and are convenient to take quick snapshots. These cameras are often called point-and-shoot cameras. The slimmest cameras are less than 20 millimeters thin, these are named ultra-slim or ultra-compact cameras.
Most of the models have integrated with a retractable lens allowing a compact camera to have a long enough focal length to have a bigger image sensor, and a mechanical lens cover to protect the sensitive lens from keys or coins when the camera is not in use and/or carried in a pocket. The compacts usually come with a lug and a wrist strap, helping to reach the camera from your pocket, and thicker models may have two of these for attaching a neck strap.
These compact cameras are mostly designed to be simple to use for anyone, usually giving out features and image quality for compactness primarily with cheaper models. In recent years, there have been advancements and most of the compact cameras carry top of the line technologies, features and optics, all packed into a slim case. Most of the cameras have a built-in or a pop-out flash, sufficient enough for near objects. Most today’s compacts have 720p video recording feature, the expensive ones having FullHD recording capability. They often come with a macro features too, and zoom lenses can vary wide ranges. Often there is an optical image stabilizer but sometimes the stabilizer is limited to only as software based.
For a lower price-tag and smaller size, these cameras usually come with image sensors with a diagonal of 6mm, translating into a crop factor around 7. This means they are slightly weaker in low-light conditions, but have a greater depth of field, better focusing abilities, and naturally, smaller components to reduce the camera’s size.
Some of the higher-end cameras have a GPS sensor, compass, barometer, altimeter and even Wi-Fi for easier file handling. Many can handle rough handling and are waterproof also.
From the year 2011 we have seen some compact cameras that can shoot 3D photographs, some do it with software, some have special hardware to support it, namely two objects which results in a more realistic 3D view. These 3D pictures can be viewed on a 3D TV screen or any other screen that supports 3D.