A high-end compact is perfect for quality-conscious enthusiasts who want a 'proper' camera small enough to fit in a coat pocket.
Where bridge cameras deliver the most bang for your buck, a high-end compact camera offers a different route towards better pictures. Here, you're not paying for a huge zoom range, but for a larger sensor, a better lens, DSLR-style controls and features and (sometimes) DSLR picture quality.
High-end compact cameras are designed for enthusiasts and experts who want a camera small enough to carry round when a regular DSLR would just be too intrusive or impractical.
The zoom range is nothing special – it's about the same as you'd get in a regular point-and-shoot model, with some opting for a fixed focal length - but combined with a bigger sensor, better lens and more advanced controls, you can expect image quality to be on a completely different level from your smartphone or point-and-shoot compact.
At one time, most high-end compacts had 1/1.7-inch sensors just a little larger than those in point-and-shoot cameras, but now there are models with larger 1-inch sensors (see the Canon G7 X II, Panasonic Lumix LX10 / LX15 and Sony RX100 V) and even Micro Four Thirds (Panasonic Lumix LX100) and APS-C sensors (Fujifilm's X100F) - the same size as those in some compact system cameras and DSLRs.
Pros: DSLR features and DSLR-approaching quality in a pocket-sized camera.
Cons: Even the cheapest aren't cheap, and the most expensive really are expensive; you can't change lenses.
Our pick... Fujifilm X100F
It may be one of the more expensive options and it's not a compact for everyone, but if you're after a high-quality camera, you're not going to be disappointed with the X100F. Everything about it oozes class. It has a fixed 35mm equivalent f/2.0 prime lens that's paired with a DSLR-sized 24.3MP APS-C sensor that delivers cracking results. There's also the tactile external controls and clever hybrid viewfinder - you have the option of electronic and optical views make it a joy to shoot with. You'll need some photo knowledge to get the best from it, but the X100F is an exquisite camera.
Read our in-depth Fujifilm X100F review