Sorry, but I still don't get it

Is "compact" (a) a matter of absolute size (when the lens is retracted), or is it instead (b) a measure of the ratio of the volume of the camera (again when the lens is retracted) to (i) the frame size or to (ii) the picture quality?

If the answer is (a), every subminiature (16mm, etc.) and almost every half-frame camera is more or less automatically "compact". If it's instead (b i), then for example my Inos II is "compact".

Also, do we make allowances for age here? I mean, what was considered compact in 1960 (let alone 1920) is very different from what's considered compact now.

What kind of pocket in what kind of jacket? -- Hoary 19:32, 18 July 2006 (EDT)

In France the words "appareil compact" have been used with a precise meaning: it is opposed to "reflex", and is basically what some people (English or American?) call "point-and-shoot". All the 35mm non-SLR cameras have been called "compact" since at least the beginning of the 1980s, even the big zoom models. (This is not logical, but "point-and-shoot" is not better: you can take almost any modern 35mm SLR, point and shoot without asking questions.) The same term ("compact") has been applied to all the APS cameras except the SLR models. Today it is still used for non-SLR digital cameras.
I don't know if "compact" has been used with the same meaning in English or in German.
--Rebollo fr 04:54, 20 July 2006 (EDT)
I'm pretty sure that it has been used in that way in English for marketing purposes. We could decide to use it in that way. But if "compact" in this sense has been applied even to (non-SLR) big zoom 35mm cameras, it really does seem a very silly taxonomy -- especially if the excludes (for example) the Vest Pocket Kodak, which strikes me as compact in both the absolute sense (volume when closed) and the relative sense (image area divided by volume when closed). -- Hoary 06:37, 20 July 2006 (EDT)