5 best high-end compact cameras 2015: top SLR stand-in compacts

Real photographic power for your pocket

Best advanced compact camera
• See the Techradar Camera Channel home page for all the latest camera reviews.

High-end compact cameras are perfect for photo enthusiasts who like to travel light but don't want to give up any of the photographic control of a DSLR or compact system camera.

If you are not so concerned about being able to change lenses, these cameras offer full manual control, good quality lenses and a host of other useful extras in a camera you can fit in your pocket. Of course, high-end compacts are also facing competition from compact system cameras and smaller SLRs, but they are still holding their own, especially the newer, bigger sensor cameras now appearing.

Not everyone wants the faff of changing lenses, with the associated risk of sensor dust, and higher-specced power compacts are usually lighter and more wieldy than their SLR brethren. Read on for some essential buying advice...

Fuji X100S

Fujifilm X100T

Sensor size: APS-C, CMOS II | Pixel count: 16.3Mp | Lens: 35mm equivalent f/2 | Screen: 3-inch, 1,040,000 dots | Viewfinder: Hybrid optical/EVF | Continuous shooting: 6fps | Video: 1080p

The replacement to the well-received FinePix X100 and X100S has Fuji's unique 'X-Trans' APS-C format sensor with a 16.3 megapixel resolution and a novel 6 x 6 RGGB filter array pattern. This allows Fuji to remove the usual anti-aliasing filter in front of the sensor which, the company claims, enables sharper, more detailed images straight out of the camera.

The retro look and controls of the X100T are very attractive, giving this camera instant character, and you can adjust the shutter speed and lens aperture manually using physical dials on the camera body. There are some other neat extras too, such as the ability to shoot 14bit raw files, and a hybrid AF system that employs either contrast or phase detection, depending on the AF point selected and the brightness of the scene.

Image quality is impressive, thanks to the large sensor and fast, 23mm f/2 lens, and Fuji has added a 'Classic Chrome' film simulation mode to mirror the look of old-fashioned colour films.

Read: Fuji X100T review

Panasonic LX100

Panasonic LX100

Sensor size: Micro four thirds, Live MOS | Pixel count: 12.5Mp | Lens: 24-75mm equivalent, f/1.7-2.8 | Screen: 3-inch TFT, 921,000 dots | Viewfinder: EVF | Continuous shooting: 11fps | Video: 4K

A micro four thirds sensor makes up the heart of the LX100, but though it has 16 million native pixels you'll never get more than 12.5 million of them, thanks to Panasonic's Multi Aspect Ratio system. It sounds a limitation, but doing it this way means that you'll always get 12.5 million pixels whatever aspect ratio you choose to shoot in. The Venus Engine processor enables an ISO range of 200 to 25600, with ISO 100 available as an expansion setting, and offers state of the art 4K video shooting at 30fps.

The lens is fast, with a maximum aperture of f/1.7-f/2.8 along a range of 24-75mm equivalent. The aperture diaphragm has nine blades, so expect attractive bokeh. Elsewhere on the camera there's an EVF, and built in Wi-Fi and NFC connections, but no touchscreen.

The camera's controls are very traditional, with a shutter speed dial and an aperture ring. This may put off anyone used to using a smartphone to take pictures, but set both to A and you're in full auto mode, with semi-auto and manual just a click away for experimenting with.

Read: Panasonic LX100 review

Canon G1x Mark II

Canon PowerShot G1X Mark II

Sensor size: 1.5-inch, CMOS | Pixel count: 12.8Mp | Lens: 24-120mm equivalent, f2.0-3.9 |
Screen: 3-inch touch-screen, 1,040,000 dots | Viewfinder: optional EVF | Continuous shooting: 5.2fps | Video: 1080p

Canon's G series of power compacts have a proud heritage, so the G1X Mark II has a lot to live up to. This is very much marketed as an SLR backup or alternative, so it keeps the 1.5-inch, 12.8Mp sensor of its predecessor. This is backed up by the sophisticated Digic 6 image processor, which has a good reputation for keeping noise down at higher ISOs, as well as bringing other benefits, such as impressively fast operation speed.