The holiday season is here and if you're off somewhere exotic, then this is the perfect time to make sure that you've got a camera that's up to the task. Compacts are ideal for taking away with you as they weigh less in your luggage than a hefty SLR and they're also lighter to carry around all day, not to mention being a hell of a lot cheaper.
We've already taken at look at the best waterproof cameras around and this time it's the turn of touchscreen models. As more and more of us are using touchscreen mobile phones and tablets we've come to expect this sort of function on more of our gadgets. Touchscreen controls are well suited to cameras because it means that you don't have to use the dials and buttons everytime you want to change modes, you can simply tap the screen and away you go.
We've pulled together a round-up of the best touchscreen compact cameras around. Read on for our pick of the bunch.
This elegant Nikon S80 has been designed so that you can simply point and shoot without having to worry too much about any pesky settings. It's got a high resolution, 3.5-inch OLED touchscreen, which offers both lovely colour reproduction as well as low power consumption, and Nikon has almost completely done away with hard buttons (the only one that you'll find is the shutter release), so you're almost completely reliant on the touchscreen. Multi-touch support means that you can use the screen to set the focus, take a snap or pinch to zoom, while an impressive 819K-dot resolution means that everything on the screen will be nice and sharp. The camera also features a 14MP sensor, 720p HD video capture and Nikon's excellent image stabilisation system.
A few niggles - below-par results on higher sensitivity settings and the sliding cover having the tendency to capture grains of dirt - will put some off, but it's a great looking camera that offers decent results at a reasonable price of £179.88.
Sporting a svelte 17.9mm chassis, this slinky snapper from Sony is extremely compact and ideal for slipping into a pocket or bag. It features a 3-inch LCD touchscreen with a stonking 921K-dot resolution along with a 16.2MP sensor and the ability to take full HD AVCHD video. What's more, it's also got Sony's Sweep Panorama mode on board. This nifty feature automatically stitches together shots into a panoramic snap. If that wasn't enough, the TX10 is also capable of capturing 3D still images.
Canon IXUS 310 HS
The 12.1MP IXUS 310 HS (£225) sports a 3.2-inch 16:9 touchscreen with a 461K-dot resolution that takes up almost the entire back panel of the camera leaving no room for an optical viewfinder, or much else besides (apart from a small playback button). The screen offers a 461k-dot resolution while the camera also sports a rather more modest 4.4x optical zoom. The IXUS 310 also offers full HD video recording along with a slow motion capture mode and an array of digital filters for an arty effect.
It's a little bulkier than some of the other cameras listed here but image quality is very impressive, even as you move your way up through the ISO 100-3200 range.
An upgrade from the previous year's DMC-FS33, the DMC-FS37 boasts 16 megapixels, compared to the 14 offered by its predecessor and also sports a larger 3-inch LCD screen with a 230k-dot resolution. This snapper incorporates what Panasonic calls its "intelligent LCD", which includes on-screen controls for zooming and taking a picture, while there are still physical controls for these elsewhere on the camera.
With a broad focal range that allows for everything from close-up portraits to wide angle vistas, this is a great camera for taking on your hols and it comes with a reasonable price tag of £147.99.
The camera body of the T6500 has been curved around the lens at 7 degrees for a more comfortable fit in the hand, says Samsung, but what else does it have apart from distinctive styling? Well, it also features a 16MP sensor, along with with a 5x zoom and of course there's the 3-inch LCD touchscreen. The display has a relatively low screen resolution of just 230K dots so you may find it's not quite as sharp as some of the other models here.
It also has 720p HD video capture along with a comprehensive range of digital photo filters that let you add effects such as vignettes and film grain to your snaps and there's also a tilt-shift mode for minature effects. Not bad for £155.19.
Fujifilm FinePix Z900EXR
This brightly coloured gadget form Fujifilm is a great option for those that want a simple camera that will allow them to point and shoot as it takes care of all the settings automatically. The flat-fronted camera is very neat and compact and has a 16MP sensor along with a massive 3.5-inch LCD touchscreen (with a respectable 460K-dot resolution), which we found to be very easy to use when we reviewed the Z900, largely thanks to the multi touch support.
The inclusion of full HD 1080p video capture along with a panoramic mode also help to make the £154.43 price tag sound like excellent value for money.
Kodak EasyShare Touch M577
This palm-sized compact has a 14MP sensor along with a 3-inch LCD touchscreen with a reasonable 460K-dot resolution, and it also includes the option of recording in 720p HD. It also includes a comprehensive range of creative filters that you wouldn't necessarily expect to find on a compact in this price range (it's currently selling for £107.99).
The EasyShare moniker means that this snapper makes it as easy as possible to share your images. Simply pressing the share button will let you send your snap directly to Kodak Gallery, Facebook, Twitter or Flickr, among others and will also enable to you send it by email. At just over £100, this is great little camera, particularly if you're into your online photo sharing.
Casio EXILIM EX-TR100 (TRYX)
The unconventional designed of the TRYX includes a frame that be swiveled and rotated like a sort of square tripod in order to set up awkward cameras angles, such as self portraits. The 12MP camera can also shoot 1080i HD movies and also offers a panoramic mode altough sadly the zoom is limited to digital-only. The 3-inch screen has a reasonably standard 460k-dot resolution, which puts it neck and neck with many of its competitors.
The £199.95 price tag is rather steep, but if you want something a little different then the TRYX may just well be it, although the somewhat off-kilter design won't be for everyone.