Color depth refers to the number of unique colors that a sensor can faithfully capture. Cameras with better color depth will demonstrate smoother transitions from one color to the next, and avoid "banding" in areas with subtle shading. (Blue skies are an example of where you might see color banding.)
More color depth is generally better, but you'll struggle to notice a difference between two cameras with less than 1 bit of difference. Color depth above 22 bits is considered excellent.
Want to learn more? Head over to our full glossary entry on color depth
Color depth test data courtesy of DxO Mark.RX1 test data on DxO Mark E-PM2 test data on DxO Mark
Maximum effective ISO is an estimate of the highest sensitivity at which a camera can capture excellent quality photos.
Cameras with higher effective ISO will be better choices for indoor photography, night shooting, and indoor sports photography, especially if you intend to make large prints.
You can learn more at our glossary entry.
Maximum effective ISO test data courtesy of DxO Mark.RX1 test data on DxO Mark E-PM2 test data on DxO Mark
Cameras with more dynamic range allow you to take photos with dramatic differences in highlight and shadow areas while retaining detail in both.
Think of a brilliant sunset on a rocky beach: Bright sunset in the background, with dark rocks in the foreground. High dynamic range means more of the extremes will be faithfully reproduced.
Dynamic range test data courtesy of DxO Mark.RX1 test data on DxO Mark E-PM2 test data on DxO Mark
Cameras with longer battery life can take more photos before exhausting their batteries.
Special note: The measurement standard for battery life stipulates that if a camera has an internal flash, it must be used for 50% of photos taken. For this reason, comparisons of one camera with an internal flash to another without will not be comparable
Full-frame, 24-megapixel sensor in a compact body; Carl Zeiss Sonnar 35mm f/2 T* lens; Blazing fast autofocus; Impressive image quality that rivals (and sometimes surpasses) full-frame DSLRs; Customizable function buttons make it a breeze to use.
Fixed-length lens limits shooting flexibility; Some exposure bias, color shift, moire and video AF issues; Viewfinders (optical or electronic) only available as optional accessories; Extremely expensive for a compact camera.
Super compact and lightweight; Excellent image and print quality that rivals much more expensive CSCs and DSLRs; Solid low-light (high ISO) performance; Touchscreen LCD responsive and useful once you get used to it; Speedy and accurate AF on still subjects; Tons of advanced shooting features and customizing options.
Maddening menu system; No physical Mode dial; Motion AF not quite up to par; Mediocre HD video quality; No built-in flash (but a small external flash is included).