Best high-end compact camera: 6 compared

The best back-ups or alternatives to your DSLR

The Sony RX100 raises the bar when it comes to lab test results for compact cameras. Colour rendition is enormously accurate, while image noise is very well contained, even at very high ISO settings.

The Canon G15 and Fujifilm X20 are solid performers and come closest to matching the Sony's all-round image quality. The Nikon P7700, Olympus XZ-2 and Panasonic LX7 are less impressive in certain areas, as you can see from the benchmark results.

Best high end compact camera

Best high end compact camera

Best high end compact camera

Super-slim yet power-packed and rich in features, the Sony RX100 makes the most of its oversized, 20.2MP image sensor to deliver sublime image quality, and is one jump ahead of the other compact cameras here.

It gives you almost everything you could want from a compact camera, although we're surprised by the lack of a hotshoe. The zoom range is the least powerful of all the cameras here but at least the Zeiss lens has sterling optical quality.

The Canon G15 is a notable improvement in Canon's venerable line of G-series cameras, combining a powerful set of features with a useful 5x zoom range. It gives very pleasing image quality in even the most demanding shooting conditions.

In contrast, the Fujifilm X20 in use seems a relatively minor improvement over the older Fuji X10 camera, despite its revamped image sensor and processor. High-sensitivity performance is disappointing. Surprisingly, the same applies to the Panasonic LX7, even though its image sensor resolution is a very conservative 10.1MP.

The Olympus XZ-2 has rather lacklustre image quality compared with most other cameras in the group, and this is borne out by both our lab tests and real-world shooting. It's a real shame, because handling is particularly good.

The Nikon P7700 is very good in some areas and has an impressive 7.1x zoom range but, ultimately, it's let down by slightly insipid image quality and poor autofocus performance. This is particularly evident in dull lighting conditions.