This roundup has been updated - Click here for the latest version.

Stepping up in the compact spectrum are cameras that tend to be aimed at photographers who want full photographic control. Good low-light performance, the ability to shoot Raw, and accessible manual controls make these compacts a viable portable alternative to more bulky DSLRs. 

While these models are small, they pack enough features that should satisfy serious photo enthusiasts. The image quality here won't compete with a good mirrorless camera and a good lens, but most are built around bright lenses that make it easy to get the most out of their smaller sensors. Many of these models also offer long, flexible zooms, making them an excellent choice as a more portable second camera, or as a single do-it-all option. Here are eight models we think you should look at first.

In the following pages, you'll find what we liked and didn't like about each camera, links to our test scenes for image quality comparisons, and real-world galleries to give you a sense of how each performs outside the lab.