Compact cameras are brilliant - and they continue to get better year on year. It's a wide-ranging category, as ever, with 2013 being no different. With releases and updates flooding the market every couple of months, there is a compact out there for every situation. It might be a pocketable point and shoot with a small zoom, it might be a bulkier offering with a larger sensor for premium image quality, or a superzoom that covers wide-angle through to telephoto all in the one camera.
Choosing the top five in such a vast category is no easy task, but after much contemplation and consideration we have whittled down the dozens of possible contenders to just five nominees, listed below in a little more detail.
Canon PowerShot S120
Canon announced the PowerShot S120 in September at a price of £449. There is no denying that it is a truly pocketable device and one that brings with it great build quality and yet champions top image quality thanks to the 1/1.7-inch sensor size.
The battery life and the Wi-Fi interface could be improved, but it gives you cracking images - and that's what matters the most. It's a truly great high-end compact camera, an all-rounder that's small in the hand, but big on features, and why it's made this year's shortlist.
The Fujifilm X20 was announced in January and costs £499. It's a retro-styled compact that pushes image quality up a notch to class-leading levels. It isn't the smallest compact available, though, but we love its design and think it's just as standout as its images.
READ: Fujifilm X20
We're also big fans of its optical viewfinder (OVF) with digital overlay and even if its limited field of view and inconsistent presentation of focus areas are a small frustration, we can’t think of a better OVF in a compact camera at this price point. It's impressive and part of the reason the X20 is very close to high-end compact camera perfection.
Olympus Stylus 1
Olympus introduced the Stylus 1 in October, and when it hits the shelves later this year it is predicted to be priced at around £550. It isn’t perhaps as pocketable as some of the other compact cameras available but this device certainly doesn't scrimp when it comes to features.
The standout feature is the 10x optical zoom lens that maintains an f/2.8 maximum aperture throughout. But it's not as chunky as many superzoom competitors. Add to that a really impressive electronic viewfinder, top build quality and it's clear this is one camera that stands out from the crowd. Well deserving of its place in this list.
Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ40
Panasonic announced the Lumix DMC-TZ40 in March this year, with a price tag of £329 making it a very fair all-rounder. The camera features a super-fast autofocus and responsive touchscreen, and the NFC and Wi-Fi are useful additions. But most standout is that 20x optical zoom in a small, pocketable body.
It packs in a huge amount of on-board tech into that pocketable size, including an excellent image stabilisation system, Wi-Fi, NFC, GPS and a host of imaging effects and other features. We tried the TZ40 out in a number of situations and thought the picture sharpness was great. Considering everything that this camera brings with it, we think it's worth every penny.
Sony Cyber-shot RX100 II
Sony announced the Cyber-Shot RX100 II in June bringing with it a price tag of £649. It's certainly not cheap, but it's most definitely an impressive compact camera with just about all the bells and whistles high-end shooters could hope for.
A solid build quality, great WRGB LCD screen and a customisable lens ring that glides with a silky smooth motion top off the 1-inch sensor size in the features list. And it really does deliver excellent image quality. It is all kinds of wonderful and, without a doubt, one of the best compact cameras available if you can afford to fork out the cash for it.
Voting for your favourite
Voting in the 10th annual Pocket-lint Awards is now open. You can let us know which one of these great devices should win the Best Digital Compact Camera 2013 award and give us your verdict about all the other tech across the 12 select categories. To vote, all you have to do is visit pocket-lint.com/awards.
Winners will be announced at the exclusive event in London on 28 November in association with O2 and Hotwire. For now, keep an eye on the Pocket-lint Gadget Awards 2013 hub for all the latest on how the voting works, who the elite judges are and the complete 10th Pocket-lint Gadget Awards shortlist.