Best compact camera 2013: 34 reviewed

9th Aug 2013 | 10:06

Best compact camera 2013: 34 reviewed

Get the best compact digital camera for your needs

Best advanced compact cameras

There are hundreds of digital compact cameras on the market, with advanced, superzoom and rugged camera options all being available, which makes finding the right one quite tricky.

The right choice, of course, depends on what you want from your compact digital camera. Maybe you're looking for a high-end compact camera to take the place of your SLR, or perhaps you want something more basic to get a few snaps on holiday.

Whichever type you are looking for, we've pulled together a selection of what we believe are the best compact cameras on the market now.

Best compact cameras: Advanced

Fuji X100S

Price: £1,000/US$1,300 (around AU$1,680)

Specs: 16.3MP APS-C format CMOS II sensor, EXR Processor II, Full HD video

Best compact camera

Fuji's replacement to its popular FinePix X100 compact camera draws on user feedback to make improvements. The Fuji FinePix X100S uses the same APS-C format sensor, but with a 16.3 megapixel resolution and a new EXR Processor II and 6 x 6 RGGB filter array pattern.

We liked the retro design and control arrangement of the Fuji X100. Its image quality is also good, but it is surpassed by that of the Fuji X-Pro1, which is capable of producing pictures that aren't far off those from some full-frame cameras.

Read our Fuji X100S review

Fuji X20

Price: £480/US$600 (around AU$760)

Specs: 12MP X-Trans CMOS II sensor, 6 x 6 RGGB filter array pattern, 7.1-28.4mm f/2-2.8 lens

Best compact camera

The Fuji X10 was our favourite high-end compact camera of 2012, and combining it with the same sensor design as one of our favourite compact system cameras - the Fuji X-Pro1 - bodes very well.

Fuji says it's made 50 improvements on the X10 for the X20, including a new 2/3-inch X-Trans CMOS II sensor with 12 million effective pixels and a 6 x 6 RGGB filter array pattern, which combines with an EXR Processor II. The Fuji X20 also boasts a hybrid AF system and a Digital Trans Panel in the viewfinder.

Read our Fuji X20 review

Canon Powershot G1 X

Price: £500/US$700/AU$650

Specs: Large 14.3MP CMOS sensor, 4x optical zoom, 1080p HD video, swivel LCD screen

Best compact cameras

Although the zoom range is limited when compared to other Canon G-series cameras, the trump card of the Canon G1 X is its unusually large sensor. A larger sensor has more surface area to receive light, improving image quality at high sensitivities and boosting dynamic range. Interestingly, Canon has opted to stick with the 4:3 aspect ratio, rather than 3:2 as most APS-C sensors are, even though the sensor in the G1 X is roughly the same height as APS-C format.

In order to make the most of what the sensor can offer, Canon has equipped the G1 X with the latest Digic 5 processor, which promises better control over noise at high ISO sensitivities, faster operation and smoother 1080p video recording.

The 4x zoom lens provides an angle of view equivalent to a 28-122mm lens on a 35mm camera, and the usual array of direct controls found on G-series cameras should make manual operation a pleasure.

Read our Canon G1 X review

Canon PowerShot G15

Price: £440/US$500/AU$520

Specs: 12.1MP CMOS sensor, 5x zoom lens, f/1.8 aperture

Best compact camera

At first glance, the Canon G15 looks pretty similar to the Canon G12, but there are a few significant differences. The most notable of these is the stacked or overlapping mode dial and exposure compensation dials on the top, and a new f/1.8 lens with 5x zoom.

Canon has manufactured a high quality compact camera in the shape of the Canon G15. It is capable of producing great images with bags of detail, good punchy colours and pleasing shallow depth of field effects.

Read our Canon G15 review

Nikon Coolpix A

Price: £1,000/US$1,100/AU$1,300

Specs: 16.2Mp APS-C format CMOS sensor, 28mm (equivalent) f/2.8 lens, 3-inch 921,000-dot LCD

Nikon Coolpix A best compact camera

Nikon has given the Coolpix A the same 16.2-million-pixel sensor as the Nikon D7000, but it has left off the anti-aliasing (low-pass) filter to allow it to record sharper details in-camera.

Aimed at serious photographers, the Coolpix A has advanced exposure modes such as aperture priority, shutter priority and manual as well as fully automatic and scene options.

Our tests reveal that the Coolpix A can capture lots of sharp detail, on a par with an SLR, but the file write times are a little longer than we'd like and vignetting is apparent in images shot with apertures down to f/8 and in some cases f/16.

Read our Nikon Coolpix A review

Nikon Coolpix P7700

Price: £390/US$400/AU$525

Specs: 12.2MP, 1/1.7-inch CMOS sensor, 7.1x zoom, 1080p video, 3-inch 921,000-dot variangle LCD

Nikon P7700

The Coolpix P7700 replaces the Nikon P7100 and sits at the top of Nikon's compact camera line-up. It's aimed at experienced photographers who want a smaller alternative to an SLR.

There's a liberal covering of control dials and buttons on the P7700's body giving quick access to features such as the shooting mode, sensitivity, white balance and exposure compensation to name just a few.

The lens offers an equivalent focal length range of 28-200mm in 35mm terms, and has a maximum aperture range of f/2.0-4.0.

Although the P7700 is capable of producing excellent images with lots of detail and nice colours, it is a little hampered by slow image processing making it unsuitable for shooting action.

Read our Nikon P7700 review

Olympus XZ-2

Price: £420/US$550/AU$550

Specs: 12MP 1/1.7-inch CMOS sensor, i.Zuiko Digital lens, TruPic VI processor, Full HD video

Best compact camera

The Olympus XZ-2 follows the popular high-end XZ-1, touting a 3-inch tilting touchscreen with 920,000 dots, 1080p Full HD movie capture and full manual and semi-manual exposure controls. It also boasts raw image capture and can share photos straight from the camera to social networks.

Its super-fast i.Zuiko Digital lens has to be this camera's standout feature, offering ultra-wide apertures and an impressive focal length range of 28-112mm, which sails past many of its hottest contenders, and produces sharpness straight out of the camera, which many of its peers fail to match.

Read our Olympus XZ-2 review

Panasonic LX7

Price: £330/AU$600/US$450

Specs: 10.1MP sensor, 3.8x zoom, 24mm wide angle, full manual control

Best compact camera 2013

The Panasonic LX7 only has the same 10.1MP resolution of the preceding Panasonic LX5. However, the new model boasts a redesigned, high-sensitivity CMOS image sensor that claims better dynamic range and increased low-light performance.

Around the front there's direct control for aperture, thanks to a retro-style aperture ring on the lens. On-lens adjustments are also available for focusing modes and image aspect ratios. Up on top, there's a fully-featured shooting mode dial that includes 'intelligent' auto, access to scene modes, manual PASM controls and two custom shooting settings.

The f/1.4-2.3 zoom lens gives an effective 24mm wide-angle focal length. The downside is that it's only a 3.8x zoom and is lacking at the telephoto end, equivalent to just 90mm.

Read our Panasonic LX7 review

Ricoh GR Digital IV

Price: £435/US$550 (around AU$665)

Specs: 10MP CCD sensor, 28mm (equiv) f/1.9 lens, 1,230,000 dot 3-inch LCD screen

Best compact camera

A pocketable camera with a high quality lens, equivalent to a 28mm lens on a 35mm camera, and a fast f/1.9 maximum aperture. The GR Digital IV follows in Ricoh's tradition of producing high quality compact cameras that are ideal for street photography.

Despite the compact dimensions, manual controls are easily accessible and a 3-inch LCD screen with an extremely high resolution of 1,230,000 dots has been squeezed onto the rear. Images can be shot in raw formats too.

Strangely Ricoh hasn't followed the trend of including HD video capability, the GRD IV will record video, but only at VGA resolution.

Read our Ricoh GR Digital IV review

Ricoh GR

Price: £600/US$800/$AU800

Specs: 16.2MP APS-C format CMOS sensor, 28mm (equivalent) lens, 3-inch 1.2 million-dot LCD screen

Ricoh GR best compact camera

With the GR Ricoh has done what everyone thought it should've done when it revealed the Ricoh GRX compact system camera and unveiled a small compact camera with an APS-C format sensor.

Like the Nikon Coolpix A, the GR has a sensor without an anti-aliasing filter. This should enable it to record sharper details in camera.

Although the Ricoh GR's focusing speed seems pretty good we have reservations about the write times of raw files, but we hope to be reassured when we get a full production sample in for testing.

Read our hands on Ricoh GR review

Samsung EX2F

Price: £260/$395/AU$450

Specs: 12.4MP, 1/1.7-inch CMOS sensor, 3.3x optical zoom, 1080p video, 3-inch, 614,000 dot variangle screen

Samsung EX2F

The Samsung EX2F improves on the Samsung EX1 by adding Wi-Fi capability for easy image sharing, boosting the pixel count from 10MP to 12MP and increasing the maximum aperture of the 24-80mm (equivalent) lens from f/1.8 to f/1.4.

Two dials on the top of the camera make selecting the shooting mode and changing key settings such as the drive mode very quick and easy. The function (Fn) provides a quick route to most other important features.

Our tests found that the Samsung EX2F is a very capable compact camera that delivers high-quality images with plenty of detail at the lower sensitivity settings, and natural colour. It's Wi-Fi connectivity is also well integrated so its easy to set up and use. You can share images on Facebook in next to no time.

Read our Samsung EX2F review

Sony RX1

Price: £2,600/US$2,800/AU$3,000

Specs: 24.3MP Xmor CMOS full-frame sensor, 35mm f/2.0 Carl Zeiss T* coated lens, Full HD video

Best compact camera

On the Sony RX1, the manufacturer has stashed a 35mm format full-frame sensor and a fixed length, 35mm f/2.0 Carl Zeiss T* coated lens inside a compact body. It also features a new Bionz processor, which enables Full HD video recording and sensitivity capabilities from ISO 50 to ISO 102,400.

The Sony DSC-RX1 produces superb images, with a fantastic amount of detail, colour and dynamic range. It really is the best image quality you'll get in something of this size. Of course, you'll have to be prepared to pay a lot for this ultimate combination of quality and portability, not just in terms of asking price, but also in terms of inflexibility.

Read our Sony RX1 review

Sony RX100

Price: £480/US$650/AU$680

Specs: 20.2MP Exmoor CMOS sensor, 3.6x zoom, 1080p video, Bionz processor, f/1.8-4.9 lens

Best Compact camera

Best compact camera 2013

Though it's a relative small compact camera, the Sony RX100 has a larger than average sensor. In fact its 20.2MP 1-inch CMOS device is the same physical size as the one in the Nikon 1 V1 and Nikon 1 J1, which are compact system cameras.

We love the build quality of the RX100 and it provides all the controls that demanding enthusiasts expect, plus the ability to record raw files. We especially like the control ring around the 28-100mm (equivalent) f/1.8-4.9 lens that can be used to adjust a selection of features including aperture.

Our tests reveal that the RX100 performs well across the sensitivity range (ISO 125-6400) and it produces, bright punchy images that aren't excessively vibrant.

Read our Sony RX100 review

Best superzoom and bridge cameras

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What is a bridge camera? What is a bridge camera?

Sometimes you don't want to lug around a DSLR and an assortment of lenses - you want one camera and one lens that does it all.

This means a feature set that cherry picks the best that a typical DSLR has to offer, including manual control and preferably the ability to shoot in raw format as well as JPEG, along with a lens that offers a very broad focal range, so it won't matter that it can't be swapped.

Enter the superzoom camera, also known as an ultra zoom or bridge camera - so called because it bridges the gap between a point and shoot compact and an all bells and whistles DSLR, in terms of handling and feature set, at least.

Superzoom build

For this reason, superzooms tend to closely resemble DSLRs in terms of look, build and - to an extent - handling, but feature smaller image sensors and, partly because of this, afford physically smaller lenses.

While not a replacement for a DSLR then, the advantage here is that the cameras can offer a very broad focal range; one that, if you were to try and achieve similar with a DSLR, would make for a prohibitively expensive and awkwardly unwieldy combo.

The larger physical size of a bridge camera or superzoom when compared with a snapshot camera may deter some, but there's a lot more creative versatility here in terms of framing choices. A case in point: many models also offer tilt and swivel LCD screens as well as optical or electronic viewfinders. Again, with a bridge camera there is more choice and more options for the photo enthusiast.

So if you are after one jack-of-all-trades digital camera - either instead of a DSLR, or perhaps as a less expensive back up - and you value convenience and flexibility as much as image quality and pixel count, then a bridge or superzoom camera could be your ideal companion. So here we're shining the spotlight on the best of some recent releases.

Panasonic TZ40/ZS30

Price: £240/US$370/AU$360

Specs: 18.1MP 1/2.3-inch High Sensitivity MOS sensor, 20x zoom with 24-480mm (equivalent) focal length, 1080p video

Best compact camera 2013

Best compact camera 2013

Panasonic started the whole travel camera concept and its TZ/ZS series cameras have pretty much led the way. The Panasonic TZ40, known as the Panasonic ZS30 in the US, is the most advanced model in the company's travel compact camera lineup to date. It has an 18.1MP sensor and a 20x zoom range, which like the Sony HX50 starts at the equivalent of 24mm, but doesn't extend terribly far, reaching 480mm.

Like the Panasonic TZ30/ZS20 that it replaces, the TZ40 has a touchscreen, but its resolution has been boosted to 920,000 dots. The screen is also multi-touch sensitive, so you can use gestures, such as pinch to zoom to magnify images and swipe to browse through shots in playback mode.

Aimed at experienced photographers as well as novices, there are manual, semi-automatic and automatic shooting modes, but it's not possible to record raw files. In addition to built-in Wi-Fi connectivity, the TZ40/SZ30 has an NFC chip to enable you to connect easily to NFC-equipped smartphones and tablets. Our tests reveal that the TZ40 is an excellent performer with impressive focusing speeds and high image quality. Noise is visible throughout the sensitivity range if you look for it when images are viewed at 100%, however.

The TZ40 was launched at the same time as the Panasonic TZ35/ZS25, which is a pared down version with the same optical zoom, but no touchscreen or GPS technology, and with a lower resolution (16.1 million pixel) sensor.

Read our Panasonic TZ40 review | Compare the best prices

Canon PowerShot SX280 HS

Price: £245/US$330/AU$295

Specs: 12.1MP 1/2.3 inch back-illuminated CMOS sensor, 20x zoom with 25-500mm (equivalent) focal length, 1080p video

Best compact camera 2013

The Canon SX280 replaces the Canon SX260. There are actually two versions of the same camera, since the Canon SX270 has the specifications only lacking the inbuilt Wi-Fi and GPS of the slightly more expensive SX280. Interestingly, the Canon SX280 is the first Canon camera to feature a Digic 6 processor, and this enables video recording at up to 60fps.

Although there's no raw file recording, the Canon SX280 HS offers aperture priority, shutter priority and manual exposure modes along with a collection of automatic options. Image quality from the SX280 is very good, on a par with that from the Panasonic TZ40.

Read our Canon PowerShot SX280 HS review

Nikon Coolpix S9500

Price: £220/US$280/AU$350

Specs: 18.1MP 1/2.3-inch back-illuminated CMOS sensor, 22x zoom with 25-550mm (equivalent) focal length, 1080p video

Best compact camera 2013

Replacing the Nikon Coolpix S9300 at the top of the company's Style range of digital compact cameras, the Nikon S9500 has a 22x zoom lens, GPS technology, Wi-Fi connectivity and a maximum sensitivity setting of ISO 3200. There's also lens-shift vibration reduction to ensure sharp results and a steady image on the 3-inch OLED screen, along with a maximum continuous shooting speed of 7.5fps for five images.

Operation is primarily automatic, since there is no way to set shutter speed and aperture, but white balance, sensitivity and exposure compensation can be adjusted. Our tests reveal that the Nikon Coolpix S9500 produces sharp, vibrant images that are well exposed and have a decent amount of detail.

Read our Nikon Coolpix S9500 review

Samsung Galaxy Camera

Price: £330/US$450/AU$500

Specs: 16MP 1/2.3-inch CMOS sensor, 21x optical zoom, Full HD video, Wi-Fi and 3G

Best compact cameras

Best compact camera 2013

It's not really a surprise that Samsung, a company that makes both Android smartphones and dedicated cameras, should decide to merge the best aspects of these two devices to create the Samsung Galaxy Camera.

The combination of a compact camera-sized sensor and a 21x optical zoom lens in a relatively thin body with a huge (by camera standards) touchscreen is very enticing. And an Android operating system and Wi-Fi tools stand out from the crowd. The good news is that this isn't all window dressing - the Samsung Galaxy Camera delivers the goods.

Read our Samsung Galaxy Camera review

Samsung WB850F

Price: £230/$250/AU$300

Specs: 16.2MP, 21x zoom, GPS and Wi-Fi enabled

Best compact camera

One of Samsung's Smart Camera range, the WB850F is aimed at travellers who want a versatile camera and as such it has a Schneider-Kreuznach Varioplan lens with a 21x zoom giving an equivalent focal length range of 23-483mm.

In addition to being Wi-Fi enabled so images can be shared via Facebook, Picasa and Photobucket or by emailing emailed direct from the camera, the WB850F also has GPS technology built-in. There's also a 3-inch 614,000-dot AMOLED screen which provides a nice clear view of the image being composed in all but very bright light.

Generally the WB850F produces nice, vibrant images with plenty of punch, but it can struggle to reproduce the full tonal range of some reds, making them too intense and uniform.

Read the Samsung WB850F review

Sony Cyber-Shot HX50

Price: £290/US$450/AU$440

Specs: 20.4MP 1/2.3-inch Exmoor R CMOS sensor, 30x zoom with 24-720mm (equivalent) focal length, 1080p video

Best compact camera 2013

The major draw for the Sony HX50V is its 30x optical zoom range, which runs from the equivalent of 24mm to 720mm on a full-frame or 35mm film camera. This phenomenal range is ideal for all sorts of photography, including shooting distant wildlife. It should negate the need to crop your images post-capture.

A mode dial on the top of the camera enables you to choose between advanced exposure modes such as shutter priority, aperture priority and manual as well as more novice-friendly automatic and scene modes. While many images look great straight from the camera, pixel-peepers will notice a texture present throughout the sensitivity range and details look softer than from some other models.

Read our Sony Cyber-Shot HX50 review

Best travel compacts

Nikon Coolpix S6400

Price: £160/US$150/AU$230

Specs: 16MP CMOS sensor, 12x optical zoom , Full HD video

Best compact camera

The Nikon Coolpix S6400 appears to have just about everything you want from a digital compact camera of its class. With a 12x optical zoom, 3-inch 460,000-dot touchscreen, 16 megapixel backlit CMOS sensor, Full HD video recording, a host of direct controls, 20 scene modes, small, lightweight body and a modest price tag, what more could you ask for?

The Nikon S6400 does a number of things pretty well and offers a lot of flexibility, from its wide range of creative filters to its responsive touchscreen, accurate AF system on down to the all-important thing: great image quality.

Read our Nikon Coolpix S6400 review

Canon PowerShot SX260 HS

Price: £200/US$300/AU$300

Specs: 12MP CMOS sensor, 20x image stabilised optical zoom, 1080p video, GPS

Best compact cameras

Best compact camera 2013

Sporting a 20x zoom lens offering an angle of view equivalent to a 25-500mm lens on a 35mm camera, the Canon PowerShot SX260 HS should be very well equipped for those who wish to travel light. A 12MP rear-illuminated CMOS sensor, coupled with the latest DIGIC 5 image processor, enables this camera to take great quality images, even in low light. The image stabiliser system will also help with taming camera shake when shooting at low shutter speeds.

Full HD video can be recorded and output via the built-in HDMI interface and global positioning information can be recorded for sharing on image and video sharing websites. Advanced photographers will also appreciate the inclusion of manual exposure options, whereas a wide range of automatic shooting options are also included for those who are less technically inclined.

The Canon Powershot SX260 HS sweeps our Best mid-range compact camera trophy.

Read the Canon SX260 HS review

Sony Cyber-shot HX20V

Price: £250/US$380 (around AU$380)

Specs: 18MP CMOS Sensor, 20x optical zoom, 1080p video at 50fps, GPS

Best compact cameras

An 18MP Exmor R sensor promises excellent quality low light images, despite the relatively high resolution. A 20x optical zoom lens providing an angle of view equivalent to a 35-500mm lens on a 35mm camera should cover most photographic situations when travelling.

High quality Full HD 50p videos can be recorded, and a GPS function is included for tagging images with your position. Plenty of artistic picture effects and easy creative options are also included to get your creativity flowing.

Read our Sony HX20V review

Olympus SH-25MR

Price: £140/US$250/AU$260

Specs: 16MP CMOS sensor, 12.5x zoom, take still images while recording HD video, dual Image Stabilisation

Best compact cameras

Although a 12.5x zoom range may seem quite modest when compared to other travel compacts on offer, the 24mm wide angle will certainly be handy for shots in cramped conditions, or large buildings you may encounter on your travels.

Just like many other travel-orientated compact cameras, GPS tracking is included and a rear-illuminated 16MP CMOS sensor should provide decent quality in low light conditions.

Unique to this camera is the ability to take still images at the same time as recording video clips, enabling you to capture high quality stills to complement your high definition video.

Read the Olympus SH-25MR announcement

Panasonic Lumix TZ30/ZS20

Price: £240/US$270/AU$330

Specs: 14.1MP CMOS sensor, 20x optical zoom, 1080p HD video, touchscreen interface, 3D still images

Best compact camera

The Panasonic Lumix TZ30 (or Panasonic Lumix ZS20 in the US) replaces the TZ20 (ZS10) as Panasonic's flagship TZ camera and pushes the zoom range from 16x to 20x, with a focal length equivalence of 24-480mm.

In other respects the TZ30 is very like the TZ20 having the same touchscreen LCD display, GPS technology and a raft of automated shooting modes as well as more advanced options for experienced photographers.

However, HD video can be shot in 1080p at 50 frames per second rather than the TZ20's 1080 interlaced. And, although the sensor is still a 14MP 1/2.33-inch device, it has been redesigned to produce cleaner images across the sensitivity range. There's a lot packed into this relatively small camera.

Read our Panasonic TZ30 review

Fujifilm FinePix F770 EXR

Price: £180/US$200/AU$260

Specs: 16MP EXR CMOS sensor, 20x optical zoom, ISO 12,800, 1080p video, 8fps high speed continuous shooting

Best compact cameras

If you've ever struggled to capture the perfect shot of Minky The Whale jumping through a hoop at Sea World, then the Fuji F770 EXR has the solution. It is capable of taking full resolution shots at a blistering pace of eight frames per second, and if you wish to share where the image was taken via popular image sharing services, GPS information can be recorded too.

The rear-illuminated 16MP EXR CMOS sensor has a few tracks up its sleeve too. It can be optimised to take high resolution 16MP images, or images with improved dynamic range at reduced resolution.

By combining neighbouring pixels, sensitivities of up to ISO12,800 are also possible, making this camera ideal for shooting with in adverse conditions.

Read the Fujifilm FinePix F770 EXR review

Best waterproof and rugged cameras

Rugged or waterproof compact cameras allow you to take photographs in places that you wouldn't dare use a normal camera. They are a great choice for beach holidays and ideal for families with children that might want to have a go at taking a photograph. Here are some of the best around.

Canon PowerShot D20

Price: £260/US$290/AU$300

Specs: 12.1MP 1/2.3-inch CMOS sensor, 5x optical zoom, 1080p HD video, 3-inch screen

Best compact camera

Canon's rough-and-ready PowerShot provides a good range of beginner-friendly photography features, as well as advanced camera technologies. Along with intuitive point-and-shoot modes, there's a selection of underwater shooting options to make aquatic photo capturing a stress-free experience. Some handling issues – both underwater and on dry land - take a bit of the shine off this camera's overall performance. But what this compact lacks in speed, it makes up for in image quality.

The build quality and ability of this camera to produce consistently well-exposed, detailed images can't be faulted, and additional features such as built-in GPS and Full HD video mode broaden the Canon D20's appeal. It's got a lot to offer, but if you're after an everyday rugged all-rounder, some similarly priced rivals may offer a more comprehensive package.

Read our Canon PowerShot D20 review

Panasonic FT4/TS4

Price: £225/US$280/AU$325

Specs: 12.1MP 1/2.3-inch CCD sensor, 4.6x optical zoom, 1080p HD video, 2.7-inch screen

Best compact camera

One of the higher-priced rugged compact cameras, the Panasonic FT4 is a feature-packed compact with a superb level of protective attributes. Waterproof to a depth of 12m, the Panasonic Lumix FT4 enables you to explore greater depths than with many if its competitors, plus it's shockproof if dropped from a height of up to 2m, and freeze-proof down to -10C (14F).

Built-in GPS, plus a compass, altimeter and barometer all add to the Panasonic Lumix FT4's appeal for adventure-bound photographers, while Full HD movie recording and a respectable all-round image performance makes this a decent choice for active families in search of a reliable camera, with the ability to take more punishment than your average compact.

Read our Panasonic FT4 review

Sony Cyber-Shot TX20

Price: £220/US$200/AU$180

Specs: 16.2MP 1/2.3-inch Exmor R CMOS sensor, 8x optical zoom, 1080p HD video, 3-inch screen

Best compact camera

This svelte little camera is worlds apart from many of its rivals in terms of looks. The Sony TX20's petite profile - being just 17.9mm thick – coupled with its sleek lines makes this camera perfectly pocketable. The sliding front cover is designed to offer some added protection for the lens when the camera's powered down, and has the added bonus of ensuring that the front panel remains perfectly flat when not in use.

The touchscreen interface may not be for everyone, and it limits this rugged camera's usefulness when trying to operate it with gloved hands, but its general responsiveness impresses, and the on-screen controls make the Sony Cyber-Shot TX20 simple to operate. It may not be as rugged as some of its beefier rivals, but the Sony TX20 is a solid choice for photographers who want extra peace of mind - and style - when out and about.

Read our Sony TX20 review

Fujifilm FinePix XP170

Price: £160/US$180/AU$215

Specs: 14MP 1/2.3-inch CMOS sensor, 5x optical zoom, 1080p HD video, 2.7-inch screen

Best compact camera

In spite of its lower price point, the Fujifilm Finepix XP170 is brimming with impressive features, including a very good Full HD movie mode, built-in GPS and Wi-Fi. Distinctive, chunky styling ensures a firm grip on the camera, and added extras such as an LED light aid low-light shooting.

It's not perfect in every aspect, but the Fuji XP170 impresses with its ability to reproduce lifelike, faithfully coloured images - including seamless auto-stitched panoramas – and with its extensive battery life, despite some of the potentially power-sapping features it has to offer.

Olympus TG-1

Price: £300/US$400/AU$390

Specs: 12MP 1/2.3-inch BSI-CMOS sensor, 4x optical zoom, 1080p HD video, 3-inch screen

Best compact camera

This budget-busting rugged compact camera may stretch your resources, but with the technology and features the Olympus TG-1 has to offer, it more than earns its price tag. In addition to some seriously impressive rough specifications, the Olympus TG-1 boasts a fast f/2.0 lens, built-in GPS and little added extras such as a removable lens surround that enables you to attach optional accessories.

No-nonsense styling and an innovative Tap Control feature combine with artistic options such as Olympus's popular Magic Art filters to produce a camera that's as tough and practical as it is creative. A top-notch macro mode, great handling and decent image quality under a range of conditions sweeten the deal.

Read our Olympus TG-1 review

Nikon Coolpix AW100

Price: £195/US$220/AU$300

Specs: 16MP 1/2.3-inch RGB CMOS sensor, 5x optical zoom, 1080p HD video, 3-inch screen

Best compact camera

Nikon's first 'All-Weather' compact camera boasts a decent range of automated features that make it simple to pick up and start shooting with right away. Although its launch price of £329.99 in the UK and $379.95 in the US puts it towards the top end of this sector of the market, you can currently pick up the Nikon Coolpix AW100 online for around £100/US$80 less, thanks to its having been around for a little while.

Nonetheless, Full HD movies, built-in GPS and a digital compass, plus useful 'Action Control', are all features that ensure the Nikon AW100 can hold its own among its contemporaries. Overall, it's an attractive prospect that strikes a good balance between rugged features and everyday performance.

Read our Nikon Coolpix AW100 review

Best all-rounder cameras

Nikon Coolpix S3300

Price: £85/US$90/AU$110

Specs: 16MP CCD sensor, 6x optical zoom, 720p HD video, 2.7-inch screen

Best compact cameras

This slim, metal bodied camera has a 6x optical zoom lens squeezed into a body only 19.5mm thick, which makes it ideally pocketable. The 16MP CCD sensor should provide ample resolution for producing large prints, and the Vibration Reduction system will help to tame camera shake.

Plenty of automatic features are provided to aid creativity without oodles of technical know-how. A set of 18 scene modes cover camera settings for common picture taking scenarios, and the Smart Portrait System provides a plethora of automatic detection technologies to enable foolproof people pictures.

Canon IXUS 230 HS/Canon ELPH 310 HS

Price: £180/US$375 (around AU$275)

Specs 12.1MP CMOS sensor, 8x image stabilised zoom, 720p HD video

Best compact cameras

Best compact camera 2013

This slim, stylish, metal bodied camera sports an Image Stabilised 8x zoom lens and delivers excellent quality images, even at high ISO sensitivities thanks to the implementation of Canon's HS system. The same 12.1MP CMOS sensor and DIGIC 4 processor found in other Canon HS cameras work together to produce cleaner, sharper images, fast response times and good dynamic range.

Being an IXUS, it is designed with point and shoot photographers in mind and is very simple to get to grips with. 720P HD videos can be recorded via the direct recording buttong on the rear and a selection of art filters expand creative opportunities.

The Canon IXUS 230 HS wins our Best entry-level compact camera award.

Read our Canon IXUS 230 HS review

Samsung PL120

Price: £100/US$190 (around AU$150)

Specs 14.2MP sensor, 5x optical zoom, 26mm wide angle, dual image display

Best compact cameras

This budget marvel has an extra 1.5-inch LCD screen on the front, to aid taking self portraits. This is a great feature for those travelling on their own, or as a couple who might be a little scared to trust a stranger with their gadgets when trying to take a picture with themselves in it. It can also show animations to keep little ones' attention when you switch on the Children mode

A comprehensive range of image effects, a video mode and an in-camera editing function all add to what is a very fun camera to use, for a very reasonable price.

Read our Samsung PL120 review

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