Best high-end compact camera

Nikon P7700 - £300/AU$540/US$450

Despite being relatively cheap, the Nikon boasts a feast of high-end features and specifications. It's the only high-end compact camera in this feature with a fully articulated LCD screen, which Canon dropped when updating the Canon G12 to the Canon G15. It also has a class-leading zoom range, equivalent to 28-200mm, with a reasonably brisk widest-aperture range of f/2-4. On top of that, it has a highly effective four-stop optical stabiliser, which is useful at the long end of the zoom range.

Image resolution is fairly typical, at 12.2MP. However, the maximum sensitivity of ISO 3200 in the standard range is very low. Like the Sony RX100, there's no optical viewfinder built in, nor the option of buying a viewfinder as an optional extra. The Olympus XZ-2 and Panasonic LX7 also lack viewfinders, but optional add-ons are available for these cameras.

There's a wealth of controls for the finer points of creative shooting, the top of the camera being packed with dials and buttons. The main shooting mode dial offers access to a range of scene modes and effects, along with three user-defined custom settings. There's also a healthy selection of customisable function buttons.

Autofocus speed is a bit sluggish, even under good lighting conditions. AF really struggles under low lighting, failing to lock onto targets that other cameras acquire with ease. Sharpness is reasonable throughout the generous zoom range and, even at high ISO settings, fine detail is retained quite well. Metering is usually accurate but white balance errs on the cool side. This often leads to slightly clinical-looking, sterile images that lack lifelike appeal. Picture quality lacks the vibrancy for which Nikon's DSLRs are renowned.

Outdoor images

Best high-end compact camera

Slight overexposure and a cool colour balance drains some of the life out of this shot, giving it a slightly washed-out look.

Resolution

Best high-end compact camera

Sharpness is merely average from the Nikon Coolpix P7700, and images often don't look quite as detailed at low ISO settings as from most competing cameras.

Noise

Best high-end compact camera
Noise at ISO 200

Best high-end compact camera
Noise at ISO 3200

Even at its maximum standard sensitivity setting of ISO 3200, the Nikon does well to keep noise levels down while preserving fine detail.

Colour error

Best high-end compact camera

Technically, the Nikon P7700 is one of the better performers in terms of colour accuracy, but you have to watch out for auto white balance inaccuracies.

Image test verdict

The Nikon P7700's lab scores aren't exactly bad in any area of image quality, but pictures simply don't look quite as appealing as those from most other cameras do.

Read our full Nikon P7700 review