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We Asked Pro Photographers To Reveal Their Favorite Compact Cameras

2 minute read

It’s the question professional photographers get the most from their family and friends: “What camera should I buy?”

Not everyone wants to lug around a large DSLR with one, two or three lenses. But among the hundreds of options available in the compact range — from point-and-shoot cameras to mirrorless, bridges and advanced compact cameras (yes, that’s really a category) — it’s not always easy to find the right fit for your needs.

TIME LightBox asked seven professional photographers — conflict shooters, portrait masters, documentary experts and artists — to reveal their compact camera of choice. Their answers might surprise you. While new models like Fujifilm’s X100T made the cut, oldies are also revered by some of the world’s best portrait photographers and photojournalists.

Shannon Martin
Shannon Martin photographed with the Yashica T4 Super cameraLandon Nordeman

For Landon Nordeman, who’s known for his stunning fashion photographs, the holy grail – a Yashica T4 Super with a cult following – is now only available second-hand on eBay. Yet, looking at the results he gets, it’s not surprising to see why he’d swear by it for his most precious photographs: those of his family.

In recent years, the iPhone and other smartphones with their ever-improving camera systems have supplanted the need for stand-alone compact cameras. But, as these photographers tell TIME, nostalgia and flexibility are strong factors for their continued existence – at least for now.

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Yashica T4 Super
Yashica T4 Super (around $300), selected by Landon Nordeman, photographer "My point 'n shoot is old school. It's a film camera. A Yashica T4. I use it to photograph my family mostly. It's autofocus. Fixed lens 35mm. And I love it because just the feel of it in my hand reminds me of my early days in photography shooting and processing film when I had to wait to see the negatives to see what you got. It's not made anymore but you can find them on eBay."Kenneth Bachor for TIME
Fujifilm X100T ($1100), selected by Donald Weber, photographer "I used to have a Fuji X100T but I rarely used it for some reason. So, I gave it to my young nephew who hasn’t seen a camera other than an iPhone. I was worried, I thought it would be too complicated – it is essentially a pro camera – but he’s whip smart and figured it out in a matter of hours. Now, he carries it with him wherever he goes and is actually making some pretty fine pictures."Fujifilm
Leica Minilux ($500), selected by Peter Hapak, TIME portrait photographer "The Leica Minilux, 35mm camera. It's a classic pocket-size film camera that let me shoot fast and invisible."Leica
Sony A7 ($1400), selected by Phil Toledano, artist and photographer "The iPhone of course, and the Sony A7, which I love! The iPhone, because I find myself more and more drawn to video, and the Sony, because I'm too lazy to carry around a giant camera when a small one does the job just as well."Sony
Canon Powershot G10 ($200), selected by Gillian Laub, photographer and filmmaker "The camera I loved and used as my point-and-shoot for so long was the Canon Powershot G10. There are a few in the Powershot series, but this was my favorite. I carried it everywhere, that is, until I got my first iPhone. Now unfortunately I only use my iPhone 6s. I miss using my Canon Powershot and will now take it out and start using it because this question made me regretful!"Canon
Leica Q ($4,250), selected by Magnum photojournalism Peter van Agtmael "My main walkabout camera is a Leica Q. It has a very fast and accurate autofocus, generates a beautiful file, has a great screen (though I wish it folded out!) and solid battery life. Most importantly, it just feels right. I don't want to be thinking much about my camera when I'm shooting and Leica has created a pretty seamless experience."Leica
iPhone ($649), selected by Christopher Morris, photojournalist "The quality and the intimate portability that the iPhone provides is almost unmatched, especially for something that is always with you. Photographers should accept a new way of thinking: I realized my camera had a phone in it, not a phone with a camera."Apple

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