There's also more shutter lag than we'd expect from such a high-end compact. All of this means the P5100 may not be the camera for you if you are planning on photographing sports or any active subjects.
Once subjects have been persuaded to keep still, image quality is impressive. Colours are strong. Portraits are given a warmth by the flash and the red-eye reduction system is excellent, although it does slow processing down even further. Automatic white balance does a good job, although it's worth using presets indoors. We liked the results of the D-Lighting feature, although noticed a slight increase in noise in darker tones.
Image noise is more of an issue than we'd like. Every compact suffers from noise above ISO 200 or 400, and the P5100's larger than average sensor is still afflicted because of its high 12-megapixel resolution. Still, noise reduction, sharpening and other fixes are unobtrusive and purple fringing is near non-existent.
The similarly-designed Canon PowerShot G9 goes a step further, offering raw mode, but the P5100 at least scores by offering neutral, natural images with processing applied intelligently and subtly at a very reasonable £260.
It's also worth remembering that most image issues can be tweaked by the P5100's wealth of manual controls. The P5100 is great for anyone looking for better images and more control over shooting than a compact camera would usually allow.Edited by Jason Jenkins
Additional editing by Jon Squire