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1st Place: Canon PowerShot S95Canon launched the S90 last year as a response to Panasonic's multi-award-winning Lumix LX3, and managed to secure 3rd place in our 2009 awards for its efforts. This year Canon has improved on an already excellent design to bring us the new PowerShot S95 advanced compact. Using the same 1/1.7-inch 10-megapixel CCD sensor and DIGIC 4 processor as Canon's flagship PowerShot G12, combined with an extremely high quality f/2.0 3.8x zoom lens, the S95 has arguably the best image quality of any current pocket compact, while its versatile control interface offers the creative capabilities demanded by photography enthusiasts. Performance, features, handling and build quality are all up to Canon's usual high standard. It may be expensive at nearly £400, but the S95 is a worthy winner of our top award in this category.
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2nd place: Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX5Following a classic like the Lumix LX3 was never going to be easy, but Panasonic has taken the sensible approach and made only minor improvements to the winning formula. Additions include an optional electronic viewfinder, an improved control interface and a longer zoom range, up to 3.8x from 2.5x. Internally, it sports an improved 10MP sensor, a new image processor and an upgraded image stabilisation system. The improvement is small, but pays off in faster performance and greater versatility. It only loses out to the S95 on high-ISO image noise.
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3rd Place: Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX5If you're looking for one camera that can do everything, look no further than the Sony HX5. For well under £300 it offers a 10x optical zoom equivalent to 25-250mm, a high-speed 10.2-megapixel CMOS sensor and 1080i HD video recording with stereo audio, all controlled by a slick touch-screen interface with optional manual exposure control and a range of creative options. Build quality and handling are superb, and image quality is among the best in its class.
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