This is such a cluttered market we have decided to concentrate on the more upmarket versions, so everything here will cost you at least £300 and some much more. These are the sort of cameras someone who is serious about their photography might use when they are not using their dslr.
As always Tech Radar is a place to go for informed opinion
Best compact cameras: Advanced
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
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.
Specs: 12MP X-Trans CMOS II sensor, 6 x 6 RGGB filter array pattern, 7.1-28.4mm f/2-2.8 lens
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.
Specs: Large 14.3MP CMOS sensor, 4x optical zoom, 1080p HD video, swivel LCD screen
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.
At first glance, the Canon G15 looks pretty similar to theCanon 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.
Nikon has given the Coolpix A the same 16.2-million-pixel sensor as theNikon 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.
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.
Yesterday I taught someone on a 121 course. The camera being used by this student was the new Fuji X100. This is a surprising camera, retro in styling, and very nice too, but so up to date in technology. By far the most interesting thing about this camera is the new viewfinder system it uses. A hybrid optical viewfinder, large and bright, and an in viewfinder heads up display of the exposure details and a whole host more. I think this is a major breakthrough in the serious compact/rangefinder type camera and I hope a technology that will be incorporated in many cameras in the future. A full and excellent review is available on the dpreview site which is a must for anyone looking to buy a camera, lens or printer here is a link to the review
The X100 is a very handsome camera that evokes, if not copies exactly the early Leicarange finder cameras. If you want something that looks and feels like a real camera from the past with the caché of looking like a Leica and have nearly £1000 to spend this is for you.