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Cameras

Best Digital Camera

Digital compact cameras are some of the most popular picture-taking devices today. These devices range from simple "point-and-shoot" models to more advanced offerings that offer dSLR-style creative control. We’ve included the top picks from the most popular segments, factoring in criteria such as performance, versatility, ease of use, and value.

If you're looking for a digital SLR, check out our list of the best dSLR cameras. Be sure to also take a peek at our digital camera buyer's guide for an in-depth guide to picking the camera suited for your needs.

Canon PowerShot SX60 HS Digital Camera

The Canon PowerShot SX60 HS is all-around an excellent camera, offering a competitive zoom range and solid photo and video quality for its class. This ultra zoom camera is up four megapixels from its predecessor (the SX50 HS), bringing it to a 16-megapixel BSI CMOS sensor paired with the newer DIGIC 6 image processor and a 65x zoom lens.

Video capabilities have also been improved over the previous model, offering 1080/60p recording with the option of adding an external stereo mic jack for better sound quality. Despite these changes, the PowerShot SX60 HS looks almost identical to its predecessor, but offers an overall good improvement of the design.

Multiple features have been incorporated to make it easier to make use of the zoom lens, and Canon also chose to move controls around to improve usability. The camera can capture in JPEG, Raw, or both, and offers the ability to shoot in automatic or manual modes. Performance is overall quite fast, although like most cameras in this class, the SX60 HS can be slow to focus when zoomed in all the way. The camera includes and articulating display, electronic viewfinder, and hot shoe.

This camera also offers built-in WiFi with NFC, and offers the ability to sync with a smartphone to geotag which somewhat makes up for the lack of built-in GPS. Although pixel peepers are not likely to be impressed with the photo quality (nor will anyone expecting a bridge camera to perform like a DSLR), images are very good for this class. The Canon PowerShot SX60 HS offers lots of features suited for all experience levels, while its wide and long lens make it an excellent ultra zoom camera overall.

Sony HX400V/B 20.4 MP Digital Camera

Sony’s latest flagship ultra zoom camera presents more of an update than a complete overall, including most of the same basic parts as its predecessor the HX300. This includes the same 50x zoom lens, 20-megapixel BSI CMOS sensor, and three-inch tilting LCD screen. New for this model are added WiFi with NFC, built-in GPS, and a multi-interface shoe allowing for the additional of an external flash.

The Cyber-shot DSC-HX400V/B uses Sony’s Bionz X image processor, which allows for the inclusion of features such as an improved Clear Image Zoom (this digitally doubles the zoom range), as well as automatic conversion of photos to 4K resolution. Sony has also unified its camera interfaces, allowing for someone who is more familiar with Sony’s entry-level cameras to use more advanced ones without as much of a steep learning curve. Although the HX400V/B does not support Raw capture, it does offer the ability to record full HD video.

The camera design overall is quite ergonomic and simple to use. While the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX400V/B may only be a minor upgrade to the previous model, the addition of more connectivity and small improvements to performance have allowed this model to keep up with the competition and offer a compelling package overall.

Fujifilm FinePix S1 16 MP Digital Camera

The FujiFilm FinePix S1 offers a 50x zoom lens in a weather-resistant package, which is a rarity amongst the competition. The ultra zoom camera uses a 16-megapixel CMOS sensor and offers fast and versatile performance, with quick autofocus, and lots of shooting options. Despite not being particularly small or light, the camera itself feels extremely well-built and high-quality, with a large grip and a rubberized feel to the body to improve grip even in wet and cold conditions. A hot shoe allows for adding flash, and the camera supports Raw capture.

WiFi is included and the corresponding camera app can be used to geotag photos. Images are about what can be expected from a small-sensor camera; some people are disappointed by the image quality produced by bridge cameras, as they expect the DSLR-like appearance to translate into DSLR-like performance. Video performance is much the same as image quality, offering very good results in daylight, but showing some issues in low light conditions. However, if you’re not expecting fine details or the ability to enlarge and crop photos, the FujiFilm FinePix S1 offers good overall performance and image quality.

Olympus Stylus SP-100 IHS 16 MP Digital Camera

The Olympus Stylus SP-100 offers 16-megapixel BSI CMOS sensor with a 50x zoom lens, as well as Olympus’ updated TruePic VII image processor. Although Olympus seemed to have removed itself from the bridge camera market for a while, the Stylus SP-100 shows they’re coming back strong.

This ultra zoom camera uses a unique dot sight tracking system, which makes it easier to track and shoot subjects at full zoom and the primary reason why anyone would consider this camera over its main competitors. This is because the Stylus SP-100 lacks several features that most similar models have, such as built-in WiFi, a tilting LCD screen, and Raw capture; it is also lacking a hotshoe or mic input. However, performance is reasonably fast, and the camera is overall comfortable to use.

Image and video results are best in daylight or inside with good lighting, and those not expecting DSLR-like performance should be satisfied. The Olympus Stylus SP-100 would be a good choice for casual wildlife or outdoor sports photography, as long as you’re lot looking to heavily enlarge and crop your photos.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX200 Compact Digital Camera

The Lumix DMC-FZ200 uses a 12-megapixel CMOS sensor with a 24x zoom Leica lens, offering a maximum aperture of f2.8 across the entire range. This means a faster speed for all of your shoots, as well as great shots in a wide range of situations including low light. It picks up colors accurately and shots are very sharp.

The FZ200 comes packed with plenty of usability features as well. The camera includes and effective image stabilization system, which is crucial for an ultra-zoom camera like this. An Intelligent Auto mode feature takes over your camera for you and gives you a simple point-and-shoot experience. A “Nite Shot” mode works on improving an image’s sharpness without increasing noise and a standard HDR mode improves contrast in areas with varying levels of exposure. If you’re taking high action shots, several excellent burst modes are available.

A movie mode is included which allows the recording of 1080p60 videos with stereo sound. Video quality is excellent and the camera is well built and fits well in the hand. Buttons are well placed and their functions are clear. Most importantly though is that the camera is fast, taking little time to turn on, take shots, or zoom. In addition to a 3-inch LCD screen which can be flipped and rotated, the FZ200 features an electronic viewfinder. Overall, the Panasonic DMC-FZ200 is a versatile camera that offers an ultra zoom lens without sacrificing anything else.

Canon PowerShot ELPH 350 HS (Black)

Replacing the Canon PowerShot ELPH 340 HS, the 350 HS delivers a strong continuation of the same thing that Canon has been doing for some time now. The ELPH lineup is popular for its stylish design, decent zoom, and good feature set in a compact and affordable package.

The ultra compact Canon PowerShot ELPH 350 HS uses a high-sensitivity 20-megapixel BSI CMOS sensor, while its 12x zoom lens offers good range for its size, as well as optical image stabilization. Full 1080p HD video capture is included, as well as burst shooting of up to 10.5 frames-per-second. Despite utilizing the same small 1/2.3 chip as its predecessor, the 350 HS produces good image and video quality, with overall impressive performance and features for its size.

A new feature is the Auto Zoom feature, which allows the camera to identify the subject, focus, and frame it in order to get the idea shot. WiFi with NFC is included. While there are no manual controls, this camera is an excellent example of how to do a basic camera properly.

Canon PowerShot S120 Digital Camera

The Canon PowerShot S120 does not differ too much in terms of overall design from the previous model, the S110, retaining liked control features, the touch screen, and the solid feel. Other than the pop-up flash now being deployed by a sliding switch instead of an electronic motor, one of the biggest differences is Canon's new DIGIC 6 image processor, which allows continuous burst shooting at 12 fps and faster operation. Otherwise, the S120 offers a 12-megapixel CMOS sensor, 5x zoom lens and 1080/60p movie capture with optical zoom. It is also the first S series camera (and the thinnest camera on the market) with an f/1.8 lens, enhancing low light operation. The addition of improved WiFi connectivity to make the setup process simpler allows or easy image sharing and backup.

When compared to its sibling, the Canon G16, the choice primarily comes down to preference. The S120 offers a more compact size and fewer manual controls, but costs significantly less. Overall, slight improvements have made the Canon PowerShot S120 a better camera than its predecessor, though perhaps not made enough of a difference to require updating.

Canon PowerShot A4000IS 16.0 MP Digital Camera

Canon is known for their top-notch compact cameras; the A4000 IS is their top-of-the-line A-Series camera. The A4000 IS features a 16-megapixel CCD sensor, 720/30p video capture, a 28mm wide-angle lens, and 8x zoom with optical image stabilization. The zoom is a stand-out feature, being more than the 5x zoom offered in the rest of Canon's A-Series cameras. This is all housed in a metal (as opposed to plastic) body, and the easy-to-use Canon menus are visible on the fairly standard 3-inch LCD screen.

As an entry-level camera, the A4000 IS does default to automatic mode and offers only very basic manual controls, but it is very easy to use, even more so for those already familiar with Canon's menus. The A4000 IS captures sharp photos of good quality considering the price. Though some image detail is lost in an effort to keep noise low at high ISOs and zoom is limited to digital-only during video recording, this is a great "day tripper" camera for those looking for a cheap, functional camera that can go everywhere and is easy to use. While performance is on the slow side, it's far from bad. Overall, the Canon A4000 IS is a solid choice for those looking for a simple and affordable camera.

Sony Cyber-Shot DSC-W830

This point-and-shoot camera occupies a sweet spot in the middle of Sony’s compact camera lineup, offering simplicity and functionality for an affordable price. The Sony Cyber-Shot DSC-W830 offers the ability to take good pictures right out of the box, making it well-suited for beginner photographers and those seeking a decent and easily replaceable backup camera.

With a 20-megapixel CCD sensor and 8x zoom lens, this camera delivers good picture quality for its class; sharpness is lost in low light, as with most lower-level cameras, but colors are natural and performance is decently quick is good lighting. The Cyber-Shot DSC-W830 does not offer 1080p video recording, but its 720p video is of solid quality. This camera also lacks built-in WiFi, but this ultra compact and basic camera can easily be slipped into your pocket to be taken almost anywhere.

Sony Cyber-Shot DSC-W800

The Sony Cyber-Shot DSC-W800 is a budget-friendly compact camera that is aimed primarily at novice photographers. Its simplified menu system hides all but the most essential info, making the camera easier to use for those not accustomed to camera interfaces. However, the Cyber-Shot DSC-W800 still retains some manual controls, including limited control over exposure, white balance, and ISO sensitivity.

Multiple modes help to capture shots in a variety of conditions, with these automatic modes generally being quite reliable to produce solid results. The camera offers decent performance overall, though image quality suffers in low light conditions. It comes with a 20-megapixel CCD sensor and 5x zoom lens.

Despite lacking image stabilization and 1080p video, the Cyber-Shot DSC-W800 is a solid choice for those who just want something simple and cheap that can easily fit into a pocket. Compact and lightweight, this camera may not produce images that are substantially better than those of a current standard smartphone, but it does offer better control and the opportunity for beginner photographer to begin learning while on a budget.

Sony Alpha a6000 Interchangeable Lens Camera

This mirrorless interchangeable lens camera offers very fast continuous shooting the money, and several design improvements on its predecessor (the Sony NEX-6). The Sony Alpha a6000 uses a 24-megapixel APS-C sensor and Sony’s latest Bionz X image processor, resulting in a camera that delivers excellent photo quality in a variety of conditions. However, it’s not the best amongst its competitors when it comes to low light performance; it is worth mentioning that the majority of these issues are primarily seem when shooting in JPEG, as Raw images are more workable. Video quality is also very good, with the built-in microphone offering solid audio quality, an important detail when the Alpha a6000 does not offer a mic jack, headphone jack, or any audio level control.

Perhaps the most stand out performance feature of this camera is its continuous shooting capabilities; this camera can shoot continuously at 11 frames per second with both autofocus and auto exposure, and continue at this pace for a considerable time. This is outstanding in this price range. The camera is comfortable to use, with controls placed well and a large grip. A pop-up flash and hot shoe are included, as is an electronic viewfinder, articulating LCD screen, as well as WiFi/ NFC capabilities also included.

Overall, the Sony Alpha a6000 is a lightweight and relatively compact camera that is capable of producing excellent images under a variety of conditions, making it a good choice for more advanced photographers who want fast continuous shooting without needing a DSLR.

Panasonic DMC-GF7KK Mirrorless Digital Camera (DSLM) with 12-32 mm Kit Lens

This entry level interchangeable lens camera from Panasonic offers an excellent option for photographers looking primarily to upgrade from a smartphone or point-and-shoot camera. An update to the previous DMC-GF6, the DMC-GF7 incorporates much of the new features and technology that are seen in the Panasonic DMC-GM5. This includes better burst shooting performance at five fps, updated video capabilities, and the addition of Panasonic’s Light Speed autofocus system.

The DMC-GF7 offers a 16 megapixel sensor with Panasonic’s Venus Engine Processor, and demonstrates fast performance, especially on start up. The camera uses a touchscreen LCD that tits, allowing for easier “selfie” taking, a “face shutter” which takes the photo when you wave your hand in front of your face, and “buddy shutter” which detects when two faces are in proximity to each other. The camera offers plenty of modes and filters to choose from, as well as including WiFi/NFC connectivity.

The entire design of the camera has been improved, making it lighter and more compact than its predecessor although it’s forgone the grip in the process. And while it lacks a hot shoe, the DMC-GF7 does include a built-in, pop-up flash. Performance is good even in low light, and HD video recording is included. Overall, the Panasonic DMC-GF7 is an excellent compact camera that serves the needs of entry level photographers well.

Canon PowerShot G1X Mark II Digital Camera

The Canon PowerShot G1 X Mark II replaces the excellent G1 X, fixing many of its faults. However, the competing models in this class have also gotten considerably better, making the choice of which camera to get a more difficult one. Compared to the previous model, the G1 X Mark II is quite different; the redesigned body, sensor, and wider-aperture lens are all new. It still retains the combination of ease of use and simple controls with advanced manual controls that made its predecessor a popular choice with enthusiasts, though.

The G1 X Mark II has a 1.5-inch, 12.9-megapixel CMOS sensor with a new autofocus system; this image sensor is larger than those found in Micro Four Thirds cameras, but still smaller than the APS-C chip typically found in DSLRs. The camera is too bulky to fit in pockets, but the grip isn’t quite large enough to make up for this bulk. However, the camera is well-designed, it offers a good control layout, the LCD tilts, and an electronic viewfinder is an option.

When it comes to performance, the G1 X Mark II is a bit slow for the amount you pay, but produces very good photos and decent video. The camera can be a bit slow, especially in low light, but overall performance and results are solid. Unfortunately, the camera does have a tendency to chew through batteries quickly. Overall, the Canon PowerShot G1 X Mark II is a good camera that has a few flaws that keep it from standing out more when compared to the competition. However, it would lend itself well to beginners who want their camera to be able to grow with them as their skills and experience progress.

Panasonic LUMIX LX100 12.8 MP Point and Shoot Camera

With the only exception of a slow startup, the Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX100 performs very well for its class. This is an excellent camera all-around, with class-leading performance, plenty of features, and very good photo/video quality. This camera uses a 16-megapixel Micro Four Thirds sensor, with its good lens and relatively large sensor resulting in the aforementioned very good photo quality in both JPEG and Raw. However, the LX-100 is not as suited for inexperienced shooters, as despite having a full auto mode beginners might face a steep learning curve.

The LX100 is quiet compact, but not enough to fit easily into pockets. It has a rubber grip that makes the camera comfortable to use even with one hand and the controls are aid out well (although the buttons are a bit flat). This camera offers 4K video capture, but it somewhat let down by a lack of support for an external mic but a hot shoe is conveniently included. Panasonic has also included a unique 4K photo mode, allowing you to extract 4K still images. WiFi with NFC is included. Overall, the Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX100 is an excellent camera, focusing and shooting quickly in all light conditions. While fairly expensive, it’s an excellent option to accompany a DSLR or as an alternative to an interchangeable lens camera.

Canon PowerShot S120 Digital Camera

The Canon PowerShot S120 does not differ too much in terms of overall design from the previous model, the S110, retaining liked control features, the touch screen, and the solid feel. Other than the pop-up flash now being deployed by a sliding switch instead of an electronic motor, one of the biggest differences is Canon's new DIGIC 6 image processor, which allows continuous burst shooting at 12 fps and faster operation. Otherwise, the S120 offers a 12-megapixel CMOS sensor, 5x zoom lens and 1080/60p movie capture with optical zoom. It is also the first S series camera (and the thinnest camera on the market) with an f/1.8 lens, enhancing low light operation. The addition of improved WiFi connectivity to make the setup process simpler allows or easy image sharing and backup.

When compared to its sibling, the Canon G16, the choice primarily comes down to preference. The S120 offers a more compact size and fewer manual controls, but costs significantly less. Overall, slight improvements have made the Canon PowerShot S120 a better camera than its predecessor, though perhaps not made enough of a difference to require updating.

Fujifilm X100T 16 MP Digital Camera (Silver)

The FujiFilm X100T is the successor to the X100S, and a continuation of the fine tuning of this excellent line of cameras. FujiFilm has retained the retro styling, as well as the same fixed lens and sensor as the X100S. However, beyond these shared traits, much is changed with the X100T.

This camera sports a redesigned hybrid viewfinder; a combination of optical and electronic that is unique to the X100T. Compared to its predecessor, this camera has a larger screen, facial recognition technology, built-in WiFi, multiple new settings, as well as a completely silent electronic shutter.

The X100T is well-balanced and capable of taking excellent photos in almost any light. Auto settings do very well for allowing you to quickly capture moments with this being a camera that is good at getting the shot on the first try. Ergonomics are also very good, with controls falling where you’d expect them to be. Overall, the FujiFilm X100T is an excellent camera that is well-suited for almost anyone thanks to its ability to produce excellent images across a wide variety of conditions.

Panasonic LUMIX LX100 12.8 MP Point and Shoot Camera

With the only exception of a slow startup, the Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX100 performs very well for its class. This is an excellent camera all-around, with class-leading performance, plenty of features, and very good photo/video quality. This camera uses a 16-megapixel Micro Four Thirds sensor, with its good lens and relatively large sensor resulting in the aforementioned very good photo quality in both JPEG and Raw. However, the LX-100 is not as suited for inexperienced shooters, as despite having a full auto mode beginners might face a steep learning curve.

The LX100 is quiet compact, but not enough to fit easily into pockets. It has a rubber grip that makes the camera comfortable to use even with one hand and the controls are aid out well (although the buttons are a bit flat). This camera offers 4K video capture, but it somewhat let down by a lack of support for an external mic but a hot shoe is conveniently included. Panasonic has also included a unique 4K photo mode, allowing you to extract 4K still images. WiFi with NFC is included. Overall, the Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX100 is an excellent camera, focusing and shooting quickly in all light conditions. While fairly expensive, it’s an excellent option to accompany a DSLR or as an alternative to an interchangeable lens camera.

Canon PowerShot G7 X Digital Camera

The Canon PowerShot G7 X offers excellent photo quality for its class, using the same one-inch, 20.2-megapixel CMOS sensor we’ve also seen in the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 III. The similarities end there, however, with the G7 X using a different lens and Canon’s Digic 6 Image Processor. Despite a fast lens, overall performance of this camera isn’t amazing although a sluggish autofocus has been a constant with the G series cameras; fortunately, when it comes to continuous shooting, the G7 X is actually quite quick for its class.

Another somewhat disappointing aspect of the G7 X is its connectivity (although it does include WiFi with NFC), with Canon having chosen to make it somewhat difficult to upload things directly from the camera. Despite these relative shortcomings, the PowerShot G7 X offers excellent photo quality and very good video quality, even in low light conditions.

The camera includes several automatic features that are used together with the flip-up touchscreen LCD, with making selfie-taking easier in mind. While the G7 X doesn’t include a hot shoe, its streamlined design make it easy to hold and use; the camera seems to have been designed more for the buyer willing to pay for a more advanced compact camera minus the manual controls most experienced photographers prefer. The Canon PowerShot G7 X is small, portable, and delivers better photo and video quality than many competitors. If you’re looking for a camera that’s easy to use but still more advanced than a less expensive compact camera, this is a good option.

Canon PowerShot G16 12.1 MP CMOS Digital Camera

The Canon PowerShot G16 is Canon's flagship compact, and the update to the previous model, the PowerShot G15. The G15 was a fantastic camera for enthusiasts, providing a portable camera with strong performance in most conditions.

While the G15 and the G16 share the same 12-megapixel 1/1.7 inch CMOS sensor and 28-140mm equivalent f/1.8-2.8 zoom lens, the new model benefits from several updates to make it a better camera overall. Major differences include the addition of WiFi, 1080/60p video capture, continuous shooting, and faster performance.

While the G15 was already a decently quick camera for its class, Canon's new Digic 6 Image Processor adds a bump in speed when it comes to shutter lag and autofocus. Photo quality is very good for a small sensor camera, especially in bright light. Perhaps the largest weak point of the G16 is the lack of manual control for shooting video; your choices are limited to exposure composition, optical zoom, and the option for a wind-cut filter. However, image stabilization is very good, and the resulting videos are of decent quality.

While the PowerShot G16 may not necessarily stand out amongst its competition, it remains a good option for enthusiasts seeking a more compact camera focusing on manual controls.

Sony DSC-RX100 Compact Digital Camera

The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 III offers excellent performance in low light and all-around, with its one-inch 20.9-megapixel sensor being very large for such a compact camera. Over the previous model this camera has the newer Bionz X image processor, more features, and more options for shooting video.

The RX100 III offers excellent video capabilities, but the lack of a hot shoe means that you can’t attach a microphone; this makes the camera best suited for more casual videos as opposed to professional ones (alternatively, the RX100 II is still available and does include a hot shoe). However, Sony has included multiple features for capturing video, such as a mode that compensates for movement during shooting while walking.

The RX100 II has an electronic viewfinder, a flip-up LCD screen, and WiFi with NFC. Battery life suffers quite a bit when using the electronic viewfinder, however, so be sure to bring a spare with you if you’ll be out for longer periods of time. Although this camera can fit into a pocket, the body can feel somewhat slippery and difficult to hold onto due to the lack of a proper grip.

The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 III offers excellent high ISO and all-around performance, customizable controls, and multiple features that make it a versatile option and well worth consideration despite being somewhat pricey.

Canon PowerShot A4000IS 16.0 MP Digital Camera

Canon is known for their top-notch compact cameras; the A4000 IS is their top-of-the-line A-Series camera. The A4000 IS features a 16-megapixel CCD sensor, 720/30p video capture, a 28mm wide-angle lens, and 8x zoom with optical image stabilization. The zoom is a stand-out feature, being more than the 5x zoom offered in the rest of Canon's A-Series cameras. This is all housed in a metal (as opposed to plastic) body, and the easy-to-use Canon menus are visible on the fairly standard 3-inch LCD screen.

As an entry-level camera, the A4000 IS does default to automatic mode and offers only very basic manual controls, but it is very easy to use, even more so for those already familiar with Canon's menus. The A4000 IS captures sharp photos of good quality considering the price. Though some image detail is lost in an effort to keep noise low at high ISOs and zoom is limited to digital-only during video recording, this is a great "day tripper" camera for those looking for a cheap, functional camera that can go everywhere and is easy to use. While performance is on the slow side, it's far from bad. Overall, the Canon A4000 IS is a solid choice for those looking for a simple and affordable camera.

Sony Cyber-Shot DSC-W830

This point-and-shoot camera occupies a sweet spot in the middle of Sony’s compact camera lineup, offering simplicity and functionality for an affordable price. The Sony Cyber-Shot DSC-W830 offers the ability to take good pictures right out of the box, making it well-suited for beginner photographers and those seeking a decent and easily replaceable backup camera.

With a 20-megapixel CCD sensor and 8x zoom lens, this camera delivers good picture quality for its class; sharpness is lost in low light, as with most lower-level cameras, but colors are natural and performance is decently quick is good lighting. The Cyber-Shot DSC-W830 does not offer 1080p video recording, but its 720p video is of solid quality. This camera also lacks built-in WiFi, but this ultra compact and basic camera can easily be slipped into your pocket to be taken almost anywhere.

Canon PowerShot A1400 16.0 MP Digital Camera

The Canon PowerShot A1400 replaces last year's A1300 and sports almost identical specs, save a few modest updates. Extremely affordable, this basic little camera offers an optical viewfinder, 2.7-inch LCD screen, and simple controls. With 16-megapixels, Canon's DIGIC 4 image processor, and 5x optical zoom lens (28mm wide angle), this camera has solid performance for a beginner.

The image quality and video quality won't satisfy a more experienced photographer, but everything on the A1400 aims to be simple, easy, and solid for the very low price. The camera even has a dedicated help button to make it easier for beginners to quickly have their questions answered. The Canon PowerShot A1400 is best for someone who just wants to take basic snapshots using Auto mode. Aimed primarily at photographers who are just starting out or who want a borderline-disposable camera due to its low price, the A1400 is a solid choice for a very basic and affordable beginner camera.

Sony W800 20 MP Digital Camera

The Sony Cyber-Shot DSC-W800 is a budget-friendly compact camera that is aimed primarily at novice photographers. Its simplified menu system hides all but the most essential info, making the camera easier to use for those not accustomed to camera interfaces. However, the Cyber-Shot DSC-W800 still retains some manual controls, including limited control over exposure, white balance, and ISO sensitivity.

Multiple modes help to capture shots in a variety of conditions, with these automatic modes generally being quite reliable to produce solid results. The camera offers decent performance overall, though image quality suffers in low light conditions.

It comes with a 20-megapixel CCD sensor and 5x zoom lens. Despite lacking image stabilization and 1080p video video, the Cyber-Shot DSC-W800 is a solid choice for those who just want something simple and cheap that can easily fit into a pocket. Compact and lightweight, this camera may not produce images that are substantially better than those of a current standard smartphone, but it does offer better control and the opportunity for beginner photographer to begin learning while on a budget.

Canon PowerShot ELPH 350 HS (Black)

Replacing the Canon PowerShot ELPH 340 HS, the 350 HS delivers a strong continuation of the same thing that Canon has been doing for some time now. The ELPH lineup is popular for its stylish design, decent zoom, and good feature set in a compact and affordable package.

The ultra compact Canon PowerShot ELPH 350 HS uses a high-sensitivity 20-megapixel BSI CMOS sensor, while its 12x zoom lens offers good range for its size, as well as optical image stabilization. Full 1080p HD video capture is included, as well as burst shooting of up to 10.5 frames-per-second. Despite utilizing the same small 1/2.3 chip as its predecessor, the 350 HS produces good image and video quality, with overall impressive performance and features for its size.

A new feature is the Auto Zoom feature, which allows the camera to identify the subject, focus, and frame it in order to get the idea shot. WiFi with NFC is included. While there are no manual controls, this camera is an excellent example of how to do a basic camera properly.

Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GH4KBODY 16.05MP Digital Single Lens Mirrorless Camera with 4K Cinematic Video

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH4 offers a tremendous amount of appeal to enthusiasts, offering numerous upgrades to the previous DMC-GH3. While the body remains much the same, improvements include the ability to take 4K video, a new autofocus system, and improved continuous shooting performance. The 16-megapixel image sensor was developed specifically for this camera, while the Venus Engine image processing offers a wider dynamic range and less rolling shutter. Fast autofocus and overall faster responses and read-out times than the DMC-GH3 are paired with an impressive ISO range, making the DMC-GH4 overall an impressive upgrade to the series.

While the photo-taking abilities of this camera are excellent, the DMC-GH4 stands out for its video capabilities in particular, offering one of the most full-featured interchangeable lens cameras available for video. As one of the earlier compact system cameras to incorporate 4K video, this versatile camera is an excellent option for someone looking for a portable camera with a full feature set, outstanding image quality, and excellent video quality. While many cameras ignore audio input, the DMC-GH4 also  includes stereo microphones capable of Dolby-quality stereo sound, an external mic input, and  good audio controls are also included.

Design-wise, the DMC-GH4 is nearly identical to its predecessor with only small adjustments to make controls easier to use. This means a weather-proof body and a large grip that makes the camera easy to hold. The OLED touchscreen offers 100 percent field of view, and can be flipped and twisted. WiFi and NFC are included for quickly and conveniently pairing the camera with compatible devices.

Overall, if you’re looking for a Micro Four Thirds camera primarily for its image capabilities, the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH4 might not be the best choice; this is not because performance isn’t excellent, but rather because you’ll pay a premium for video performance that you may not use. However, if video is your focus, this compact system camera is currently one of the best options available.

Canon PowerShot G7 X Digital Camera

The Canon PowerShot G7 X offers excellent photo quality for its class, using the same one-inch, 20.2-megapixel CMOS sensor we’ve also seen in the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 III. The similarities end there, however, with the G7 X using a different lens and Canon’s Digic 6 Image Processor. Despite a fast lens, overall performance of this camera isn’t amazing although a sluggish autofocus has been a constant with the G series cameras; fortunately, when it comes to continuous shooting, the G7 X is actually quite quick for its class.

Another somewhat disappointing aspect of the G7 X is its connectivity (although it does include WiFi with NFC), with Canon having chosen to make it somewhat difficult to upload things directly from the camera. Despite these relative shortcomings, the PowerShot G7 X offers excellent photo quality and very good video quality, even in low light conditions.

The camera includes several automatic features that are used together with the flip-up touchscreen LCD, with making selfie-taking easier in mind. While the G7 X doesn’t include a hot shoe, its streamlined design make it easy to hold and use; the camera seems to have been designed more for the buyer willing to pay for a more advanced compact camera minus the manual controls most experienced photographers prefer. The Canon PowerShot G7 X is small, portable, and delivers better photo and video quality than many competitors. If you’re looking for a camera that’s easy to use but still more advanced than a less expensive compact camera, this is a good option.

Panasonic DMC-GF7KK Mirrorless Digital Camera (DSLM) with 12-32 mm Kit Lens

This entry level interchangeable lens camera from Panasonic offers an excellent option for photographers looking primarily to upgrade from a smartphone or point-and-shoot camera. An update to the previous DMC-GF6, the DMC-GF7 incorporates much of the new features and technology that are seen in the Panasonic DMC-GM5. This includes better burst shooting performance at five fps, updated video capabilities, and the addition of Panasonic’s Light Speed autofocus system.

The DMC-GF7 offers a 16 megapixel sensor with Panasonic’s Venus Engine Processor, and demonstrates fast performance, especially on start up. The camera uses a touchscreen LCD that tits, allowing for easier “selfie” taking, a “face shutter” which takes the photo when you wave your hand in front of your face, and “buddy shutter” which detects when two faces are in proximity to each other. The camera offers plenty of modes and filters to choose from, as well as including WiFi/NFC connectivity.

The entire design of the camera has been improved, making it lighter and more compact than its predecessor although it’s forgone the grip in the process. And while it lacks a hot shoe, the DMC-GF7 does include a built-in, pop-up flash. Performance is good even in low light, and HD video recording is included. Overall, the Panasonic DMC-GF7 is an excellent compact camera that serves the needs of entry level photographers well.

Panasonic LUMIX LX100 12.8 MP Point and Shoot Camera

With the only exception of a slow startup, the Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX100 performs very well for its class. This is an excellent camera all-around, with class-leading performance, plenty of features, and very good photo/video quality. This camera uses a 16-megapixel Micro Four Thirds sensor, with its good lens and relatively large sensor resulting in the aforementioned very good photo quality in both JPEG and Raw. However, the LX-100 is not as suited for inexperienced shooters, as despite having a full auto mode beginners might face a steep learning curve.

The LX100 is quiet compact, but not enough to fit easily into pockets. It has a rubber grip that makes the camera comfortable to use even with one hand and the controls are aid out well (although the buttons are a bit flat). This camera offers 4K video capture, but it somewhat let down by a lack of support for an external mic but a hot shoe is conveniently included. Panasonic has also included a unique 4K photo mode, allowing you to extract 4K still images. WiFi with NFC is included. Overall, the Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX100 is an excellent camera, focusing and shooting quickly in all light conditions. While fairly expensive, it’s an excellent option to accompany a DSLR or as an alternative to an interchangeable lens camera.

Sony Cyber-Shot DSC-HX300/B 20 MP Digital Camera

The Cyber-Shot DSC-HX300/B's predecessor, the HX200V, already proved itself to be an extremely competent camera, especially for shooting video. This new model retains that strong video performance with AVCHD 1080/60p HD video and more or less the same shooting options as they were on the previous model.

Overall, the HX300/B is another safe upgrade by Sony, not differing hugely from before other than a new lens and other minor improvements. This new lens offers improved autofocus and enhanced optical image stabilization, as well as 50x optical zoom. A 20-megapixel sensor is a slight bump over the previous model, so if you're not after DSLR-like photo quality, the images and video produced by this camera are excellent. Low light performance is quite good, aided also by Sony's Handheld Twilight mode.

With this selection, there is no real continuous shooting, no accessory hot shoe, no raw image capture and no WiFi or GPS; however, the HX300/B is a pretty fast camera and should be a contender if you’re looking for an advanced point and shoot camera that also excels at video. While its features are a bit lacking when compared against the competition, its picture quality and standout 50x zoom make it very much worth considering for any level of photographer.

Panasonic DMC-ZS50K LUMIX 30X Travel Zoom Camera with Eye Viewfinder

The Panasonic DMC-ZS50 offers a long zoom lens and excellent performance in low light conditions. This camera has been designed specifically to be a travel zoom camera, for those who want the compact size of a point-and-shoot but with more performance than the typical point-and-shoot camera can offer. HD video is very good, as are image quality results in general.

In what seems to have been a trend signaling the end of the megapixel wars, Panasonic has dropped the resolution from 18 to 12 megapixels, which allows each larger pixel to receive more light; this results in better low-light performance results. A 30x zoom lens is impressive given the compact size of the camera, and performance is fast overall.

The DMC-ZS50 offers 10 fps burst shooting, as well as a new time-lapse mode and one-touch geotagging when using NFC (in-camera GPS is not included). A proximity sensor next to the EVF (electronic viewfinder) has also been added, which allows the camera to switch automatically from the LCD when you bring it up to your eye. Otherwise, most of the rest of the camera is very similar to its predecessor the ZS40, including raw capture capabilities and much of the layout of the controls. The Panasonic DMC-ZS50 might seem somewhat pricey at first glance, but an examination of everything it offers reveals a camera that is well worth the money.

Olympus SH-2 16 MP Digital Camera

The Olympus SH-2 is not that far-removed from its predecessor, the SH-1. This camera uses the same 1/2.3-inch 16-megapixel BSI CMOS sensor and 24x zoom lens, but Olympus has placed additional focus on improving low-light performance this time around. Although a zoom lens is not typically ideal for low-light shooting, Olympus has included their five-axis image stabilization for both photos and videos; they have also gathered all of the camera’s low-light shooting modes for both images and videos and put them into a single “Nightscape” mode. This results in a camera that performs well in low-light conditions, especially for a camera with a long zoom.

The SH-2 allows for both JPEG and Raw capture; HD video capture is good as well, with solid stabilization and quick focusing. Burst shooting up to 10.4 fps is included, but is JPEG-only. The touchscreen LCD is simple to use, and the camera’s interface is overall user-friendly. WiFi is included, as is the case with the majority of the newer cameras available today. The camera is quick to start and shoot, especially for a long zoom camera, continuing the trend of snappy performance overall. Although the Olympus SH-2 might not have the longest zoom available, it is one of the few that places such a priority on maintaining performance in low-light conditions.

Canon PowerShot SX700 HS Digital Camera

This travel zoom camera offers excellent performance all-around, with plenty of features and shooting modes to play with. The Canon PowerShot SX700 HS is small enough to put in a loose pocket, as well as for taking shots one-handed; when using the zoom lens, however, you’ll likely find yourself needing to use both hands. The PowerShot SX700 HS uses a 16-megapixel BSI CMOS sensor (up four megapixels from the SX280) and a 30x zoom lens.

This camera has relatively fast performance and includes lots of features, as well as a lot of shooting modes, options, and filters to choose from. Photo and video quality is very good in the daytime, but suffers somewhat in low light. The built-in flash has to be manually released before you can use it; while this was done in an effort to save space, it can result in missed shots if you don’t have it released on time.

The SX700 HS is simple to use, with buttons that are easy to use - if somewhat crowded to make room for the high-resolution LCD screen. Battery life is better than that of its predecessor, but you’ll want to bring along an extra battery if you’re planning on all-day shooting. Overall, the Canon PowerShot SX700 HS offers a lot of features and performance, making it (despite some shortcomings) one of the top travel zoom cameras currently available.

Canon PowerShot SX280 HS 12.1 MP CMOS Digital Camera

The PowerShot SX280 HS is Canon's new top-of-the-line compact ultrazoom camera. Though it retains the same 20x zoom lens and excellent image stabilization of its predecessor, there have been some fairly major updates. The biggest change can be found internally, as the SX280 HS now sports Canon's latest DIGIC 6 image processor. Canon's claims of improved operational speed can be felt in how responsive the SX280 is, including autofocus that is now more than 50% faster than it was on the SX260. The SX280 HS also receives an upgrade to 1080/60p video capture, as well as the addition of WiFi connectivity. Though using of any of those features shortens battery life considerably, the SX280 is an impressive camera all around.

Samsung Galaxy Camera 2

Although Samsung is not a newcomer to manufacturing cameras, it has only begun to be truly taken seriously recently. The Samsung Galaxy Camera 2 is part of a new generation of cameras that strives to fully integrate the functionality and connectivity of smartphones, offering powerful processing, multiple apps, and even using Android 4.3; this allows for doing everything from streaming music and movies to reading and answering email right from your camera.

While this type of device won’t be right for everybody, it is a testament to how technology is evolving and becoming even more prominent in our daily lives. The Galaxy Camera 2 is still a camera, however, using a 16-megapixel BSI sensor with a 21x zoom lens. A large and attractive 4.8-inch HD touchscreen dominates the back of the camera, which features no buttons. The camera has plenty of shooting options, including several to make taking “selfies” easier. A headphone jack can also be used with a microphone, allowing for better audio while recording videos.

Manual and semi-manual modes are included, and overall performance is quite good. However, picture quality might not be what one would expect from a camera of this price; this is only really worth the money if you’re wanting to buy much more than just a camera. For the money, there are several bridge cameras and even some entry-level DSLRs that offer better overall performance and picture quality. If you are looking for a feature-rich camera with performance that improves upon what is offered by a smartphone, with WiFi and NFC-enabled camera may be a worthwhile option for you.

Fujifilm X100T 16 MP Digital Camera (Silver)

The FujiFilm X100T is the successor to the X100S, and a continuation of the fine tuning of this excellent line of cameras. FujiFilm has retained the retro styling, as well as the same fixed lens and sensor as the X100S. However, beyond these shared traits, much is changed with the X100T.

This camera sports a redesigned hybrid viewfinder; a combination of optical and electronic that is unique to the X100T. Compared to its predecessor, this camera has a larger screen, facial recognition technology, built-in WiFi, multiple new settings, as well as a completely silent electronic shutter.

The X100T is well-balanced and capable of taking excellent photos in almost any light. Auto settings do very well for allowing you to quickly capture moments with this being a camera that is good at getting the shot on the first try. Ergonomics are also very good, with controls falling where you’d expect them to be. Overall, the FujiFilm X100T is an excellent camera that is well-suited for almost anyone thanks to its ability to produce excellent images across a wide variety of conditions.

Canon PowerShot G1X Mark II Digital Camera

The Canon PowerShot G1 X Mark II replaces the excellent G1 X, fixing many of its faults. However, the competing models in this class have also gotten considerably better, making the choice of which camera to get a more difficult one. Compared to the previous model, the G1 X Mark II is quite different; the redesigned body, sensor, and wider-aperture lens are all new. It still retains the combination of ease of use and simple controls with advanced manual controls that made its predecessor a popular choice with enthusiasts, though.

The G1 X Mark II has a 1.5-inch, 12.9-megapixel CMOS sensor with a new autofocus system; this image sensor is larger than those found in Micro Four Thirds cameras, but still smaller than the APS-C chip typically found in DSLRs. The camera is too bulky to fit in pockets, but the grip isn’t quite large enough to make up for this bulk. However, the camera is well-designed, it offers a good control layout, the LCD tilts, and an electronic viewfinder is an option.

When it comes to performance, the G1 X Mark II is a bit slow for the amount you pay, but produces very good photos and decent video. The camera can be a bit slow, especially in low light, but overall performance and results are solid. Unfortunately, the camera does have a tendency to chew through batteries quickly. Overall, the Canon PowerShot G1 X Mark II is a good camera that has a few flaws that keep it from standing out more when compared to the competition. However, it would lend itself well to beginners who want their camera to be able to grow with them as their skills and experience progress.

Panasonic LUMIX LX100 12.8 MP Point and Shoot Camera

With the only exception of a slow startup, the Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX100 performs very well for its class. This is an excellent camera all-around, with class-leading performance, plenty of features, and very good photo/video quality. This camera uses a 16-megapixel Micro Four Thirds sensor, with its good lens and relatively large sensor resulting in the aforementioned very good photo quality in both JPEG and Raw. However, the LX-100 is not as suited for inexperienced shooters, as despite having a full auto mode beginners might face a steep learning curve.

The LX100 is quiet compact, but not enough to fit easily into pockets. It has a rubber grip that makes the camera comfortable to use even with one hand and the controls are aid out well (although the buttons are a bit flat). This camera offers 4K video capture, but it somewhat let down by a lack of support for an external mic but a hot shoe is conveniently included. Panasonic has also included a unique 4K photo mode, allowing you to extract 4K still images. WiFi with NFC is included. Overall, the Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX100 is an excellent camera, focusing and shooting quickly in all light conditions. While fairly expensive, it’s an excellent option to accompany a DSLR or as an alternative to an interchangeable lens camera.

Sony Alpha a6000 Interchangeable Lens Camera

This mirrorless interchangeable lens camera offers very fast continuous shooting the money, and several design improvements on its predecessor (the Sony NEX-6). The Sony Alpha a6000 uses a 24-megapixel APS-C sensor and Sony’s latest Bionz X image processor, resulting in a camera that delivers excellent photo quality in a variety of conditions. However, it’s not the best amongst its competitors when it comes to low light performance; it is worth mentioning that the majority of these issues are primarily seem when shooting in JPEG, as Raw images are more workable. Video quality is also very good, with the built-in microphone offering solid audio quality, an important detail when the Alpha a6000 does not offer a mic jack, headphone jack, or any audio level control.

Perhaps the most stand out performance feature of this camera is its continuous shooting capabilities; this camera can shoot continuously at 11 frames per second with both autofocus and auto exposure, and continue at this pace for a considerable time. This is outstanding in this price range. The camera is comfortable to use, with controls placed well and a large grip. A pop-up flash and hot shoe are included, as is an electronic viewfinder, articulating LCD screen, as well as WiFi/ NFC capabilities also included.

Overall, the Sony Alpha a6000 is a lightweight and relatively compact camera that is capable of producing excellent images under a variety of conditions, making it a good choice for more advanced photographers who want fast continuous shooting without needing a DSLR.

Sony DSC-RX100M III Cyber-shot Digital Still Camera

The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 III offers several improvements over its predecessor. This camera has excellent performance in low light and all-around, with its one-inch 20.9-megapixel sensor being very large for such a compact camera. Over the previous model this camera has the newer Bionz X image processor, more features, and more options for shooting video. The RX100 III offers excellent video capabilities, but the lack of a hot shoe means that you can’t attach a microphone; this makes the camera best suited for more casual videos as opposed to professional ones (alternatively, the RX100 II is still available and does include a hot shoe). Sony has, however, included multiple features for capturing video, such as a mode that compensates for movement during shooting while walking.

The RX100 II has an electronic viewfinder, a flip-up LCD screen, and WiFi with NFC. Battery life suffers quite a bit when using the electronic viewfinder, however, so be sure to bring a spare with you if you’ll be out for longer periods of time. Although this camera can fit into a pocket, the body can feel somewhat slippery and difficult to hold onto due to the lack of a proper grip. The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 III offers excellent high ISO and all-around performance, customizable controls, and multiple features that make it a versatile option and well worth consideration despite being somewhat pricey.

Olympus TG-4 Waterproof Digital Camera

Olympus TG-4 Waterproof Digital Camera

While the rugged exterior of the Olympus TG-4 is mostly unchanged from that of its predecessor, the TG-3, several key differences are contained underneath. The TG-3 was arguably the best rugged and waterproof camera available, and Olympus has sought to continue this with the TG-4. With the addition of RAW capture, the TG-4 is the only tough camera currently available that can please enthusiasts looking to extract the most out of their images. Although the 16-megapixel sensor and fast 4x zoom lens are retained from the previous model, image quality is very good.

The camera is waterproof down to 50 feet, shockproof from seven feet, crushproof up to 220 pounds, and freeze proof down to 14 degrees Fahrenheit. WiFi and GPS are built-in, as well as an E-compass feature that allows for measuring barometric pressure and altitude. Several modes have been included to greatly enhance the experience of using the TG-4, including an excellent Microscope mode, as well as a Live Composite mode that allows for capturing nighttime scenes such as star trails and city lights.

The TG-4 is also one of the first compact waterproof cameras to include the ability to pick the autofocus target selection, rather than depending on the camera to do so. Overall, the Olympus TG-4 is mostly the same as its excellent predecessor. However, the few new features and tweaks make this camera a worthy update to the line, resulting in a camera that can take a lot of punishment while delivering good image quality.

Canon PowerShot D30 Waterproof Digital Camera, Blue

Designed as an update to the previous PowerShot D20, the Canon PowerShot D30 introduces a more rugged design, but otherwise only slight upgrades over its predecessor. This creates the issue of the PowerShot D30 being ultimately an aging camera, lacking some of the technological upgrades that are seen with competing models. However, if you’re looking to do deep underwater diving, this remains the best choice due to the PowerShot D30’s class-leading ability to dive down to 82 feet underwater. The camera is also freeze proof to 14 degrees Fahrenheit, dustproof, and capable of withstanding drops from up to 6.5 feet.

The PowerShot D30 uses the same 12-megapixel sensor, lens, and Digic 4 image processor as its predecessor, and offered a narrow aperture relative to the competition. However, image quality is fine for casual photography, and the controls are easy to press and use. The camera does record HD video, but only records mono audio. While GPS is built-in, the included WiFi is capability is lacking. Overall, the Canon PowerShot does lack the wide lens, faster performance, and WiFi capabilities of much of the modern competition, but is your best choice if you’re diving deep down underwater.

Pentax WG-4 GPS Digital Camera

The Pentax WG-4 GPS is, for the most part, offers a slight refresh of the previous WG-3. Its predecessor was a solid waterproof camera, and the WG-4 doesn’t change the underlying formula much at all. We are focusing on the GPS version of the WG-4, but the camera can also be had in a non-GPS version; like the name suggests, the WG-4 GPS includes built-in GPS, and also adds a small secondary LCD screen at the front of the camera.

The camera uses the same 16-megapixel sensor and 4x zoom lens as before. Waterproof to 45 feet, freeze proof to 14 degrees Fahrenheit, crush proof up to 220 pound-feet of force, and shockproof for drops from up to 6.6 feet, the WG-4 GPS is rugged and capable of keeping up with a variety of situations. The body feels tough, with large controls that are easy to use even when underwater or wearing gloves.

Although the WG-4 lacks WiFi, it includes features such as a digital compass, clock, altimeter (used to track depth underwater and altitude when climbing), and a unique digital microscope setting which easily allows for taking macro photographs. However, some drawbacks include the camera offering rather slow performance and battery life is relatively poor. Image quality is adequate but not outstanding, while video is recorded at 1080p30. Overall, the Pentax WG-4 GPS is a durable, adventure-ready camera with some unique features, but tends to be a bit expensive when put up against the competition.

Panasonic DMC-TS6Z LUMIX WiFi Enabled Tough Adventure Camera

The Panasonic DMC-TS6 present itself as overall a good vacation camera, with its rugged and waterproof body, snappy performance, and good battery life. This camera has a 16-megapixel image sensor and puts out good quality images for a waterproof camera although don’t expect them to be the quality of a dedicated point and shoot model. The DMC-TS6 can be dropped from a height of 6.6 feet, brought to depths of down to 43 feet underwater, and be used in temperatures down to 14 degrees Fahrenheit.

Although the controls are a bit small and tricky to manage in less-than-ideal conditions, the camera is overall easy to use. Extra features include built-in WiFi, GPS, and some nice extras such as a compass, altimeter, and barometer. The camera is also capable of time lapse shooting, and includes a torch light feature useful for darkened or nighttime conditions. Although the DMC-TS6 lacks face detection and focus lock, overall it’s great for individuals looking to bring a camera on vacation they don’t have to worry about damaging.

Sony DSC-TX30/B 18 MP Digital Camera

Most waterproof/rugged cameras make it very obvious by their design what they are made to do. Some people like the chunky designs, but for those who perhaps want something a little more discreet, Sony's T-series cameras are a great choice. The Cyber-shot DSC-TX30 is very slim and stylish, not really giving away that it can withstand getting wet and being thrown around a bit. It is waterproof down to 33 feet, freezeproof to 14 degrees Fahrenheit, shockproof, and dustproof. It has an 18.2-megapixel image sensor and a 5x zoom lens with optical image stabilization.

The cameras autofocus works quickly in all lighting, and the photo quality produced by this camera is quite good for its class. It also includes a built-in front LED light for macro shooting, similar to the Pentax WG-3. Video is captured in 1080/60i with stereo sound, and is also of comparatively good quality. The Dual Record feature of the TX30 allows the user to shoot video and take still pictures at the same time, which is pretty handy. However, there are some issues that keep the Cyber-shot DSC-TX30 from ranking higher on this list.

First of all, there is no GPS, which is offered on every other rugged camera in this price range. Second, while the 3.3-inch touchscreen display looks fantastic and works great in normal conditions, it gets scratched easily and doesn’t work underwater - rendering the camera more or less useless. Overall, the TX30 is a stylish and competent little camera, but it's clearly not as focused on the rugged aspect as its competitors are. Less suited to being a dedicated underwater camera, the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-TX30 is a great choice if you a unit that can stand brief contact with water and won't break if it falls out of your pocket.

Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II (Silver) (Body Only)

The Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II shares quite a bit with its predecessor, such as a compact, weather-proof body. However, along with a redesigned grip and easier-to-use controls and buttons, the OM-D E-M5 Mark II now shares more in common with the OM-D E-M1 than before. This includes the same updated EVF, shutter, and built-in WiFi capability. While keeping the winning formula of a small and versatile camera such as its excellent predecessor, the Olympus has redesigned the OM-D E-M5 Mark II to continue pushing forward in the name of progress.

The OM-D E-M5 Mark II offers faster stabilization, a new High Res mode that allows for 40MP JPEG images (although this requires a tripod and a non-moving object), as well as improved full HD video capture capabilities. A 10 fps continuous shooting mode is included, although it offers a limited amount of shots. Olympus has chosen to remove the built-in flash and replace it with an external flash that mounts in the hot shoe; the flash accessory is extremely flexible, allowing for directing the flash to bounce off a wall instead of having it directly on your subject. There’s also an articulating LCD touchscreen which makes it easier to shoot images and video.

Although the OM-D E-M5 Mark II may not seem like a huge change on the surface, closer inspection reveals Olympus went through all aspects of its predecessor’s design and performance to provide subtle improvements across the board. The OM-D E-M5 Mark II may not be as much of a game-changer as the original OM-D E-M5, but it offers outstanding performance and image quality overall while being simple and pleasant to use.

Panasonic DMC-G5 16MP SLR Camera

The DMC-GM5 is one of the most compact interchangeable lens cameras Panasonic offers, replacing the GM1. Panasonic has removed the built-in flash, opting instead to include an external flash that fits into the newly-added hot shoe. Also added is a small electronic viewfinder (EVF), as well as a Snap Movie feature, which allows for easy recording of short videos meant for quick uploading to social media. The Panasonic DMC-GM5 offers better image quality overall than many other compact cameras (and most certainly better than smartphones), while being compact enough to take just about anywhere.

The camera offers good controls, and a good layout that makes them easy to use, especially when considering the small size of the camera. Enough control is offers to allow the camera to be useful as more than a consumer-oriented model, allowing it to serve both beginners and more advanced shooters alike. Many photo editing options are built-in, WiFi is built-in, and performance overall is some of the best for such a small point and shoot camera.

While the DMC-GM5’s autofocus is the fastest, colors are accurate and noise levels are low. Video quality is excellent even in low light, although Panasonic has chosen not to include 4K capture with this model. Although somewhat pricey, for those seeking a competent camera that is compact enough to be taken almost anywhere, the Panasonic DMC-GM5 is an excellent choice.

Panasonic DMC-GF7KK Mirrorless Digital Camera (DSLM) with 12-32 mm Kit Lens

This entry level interchangeable lens camera from Panasonic offers an excellent option for photographers looking primarily to upgrade from a smartphone or point-and-shoot camera. An update to the previous DMC-GF6, the DMC-GF7 incorporates much of the new features and technology that are seen in the Panasonic DMC-GM5. This includes better burst shooting performance at five fps, updated video capabilities, and the addition of Panasonic’s Light Speed autofocus system.

The DMC-GF7 offers a 16 megapixel sensor with Panasonic’s Venus Engine Processor, and demonstrates fast performance, especially on start up. The camera uses a touchscreen LCD that tits, allowing for easier “selfie” taking, a “face shutter” which takes the photo when you wave your hand in front of your face, and “buddy shutter” which detects when two faces are in proximity to each other. The camera offers plenty of modes and filters to choose from, as well as including WiFi/NFC connectivity.

The entire design of the camera has been improved, making it lighter and more compact than its predecessor although it’s forgone the grip in the process. And while it lacks a hot shoe, the DMC-GF7 does include a built-in, pop-up flash. Performance is good even in low light, and HD video recording is included. Overall, the Panasonic DMC-GF7 is an excellent compact camera that serves the needs of entry level photographers well.

Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GH4KBODY 16.05MP Digital Single Lens Mirrorless Camera with 4K Cinematic Video

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH4 offers a tremendous amount of appeal to enthusiasts, offering numerous upgrades to the previous DMC-GH3. While the body remains much the same, improvements include the ability to take 4K video, a new autofocus system, and improved continuous shooting performance. The 16-megapixel image sensor was developed specifically for this camera, while the Venus Engine image processing offers a wider dynamic range and less rolling shutter. Fast autofocus and overall faster responses and read-out times than the DMC-GH3 are paired with an impressive ISO range, making the DMC-GH4 overall an impressive upgrade to the series.

While the photo-taking abilities of this camera are excellent, the DMC-GH4 stands out for its video capabilities in particular, offering one of the most full-featured interchangeable lens cameras available for video. As one of the earlier compact system cameras to incorporate 4K video, this versatile camera is an excellent option for someone looking for a portable camera with a full feature set, outstanding image quality, and excellent video quality. While many cameras ignore audio input, the DMC-GH4 also  includes stereo microphones capable of Dolby-quality stereo sound, an external mic input, and  good audio controls are also included.

Design-wise, the DMC-GH4 is nearly identical to its predecessor with only small adjustments to make controls easier to use. This means a weather-proof body and a large grip that makes the camera easy to hold. The OLED touchscreen offers 100 percent field of view, and can be flipped and twisted. WiFi and NFC are included for quickly and conveniently pairing the camera with compatible devices.

Overall, if you’re looking for a Micro Four Thirds camera primarily for its image capabilities, the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH4 might not be the best choice; this is not because performance isn’t excellent, but rather because you’ll pay a premium for video performance that you may not use. However, if video is your focus, this compact system camera is currently one of the best options available.

Olympus E-PL7 16MP Mirrorless Digital Camera

The Olympus PEN E-PL7 looks similar to its predecessor, but has many changes underneath. Beneath the retro styling is an entirely modern camera offering a compelling package for casual shooters seeking a Micro Four Thirds camera. While this camera has a satisfying heft when in-hand, the grip is a bit small and the controls could use some improvement (although they’re reasonably easy to use).

The E-PL7 uses the same sensor and image processor as the higher end OM-D E-M10, resulting in very good image quality. The camera uses a 16-megapixel sensor, with updates having been made to the autofocus system and imaging engine, resulting in reasonably quick autofocus. However, this camera isn’t particularly suited to capturing moving subjects on a regular basis. Video capture is another relative weakness of this camera, although it is perfectly adequate if you are not looking for professional-quality video.

The LCD flips down and tilts, and several new features have been included such as some very nice filter effects while the included WiFi capability uses a QR code to initiate connections, making the process quick and easy. While the lack of a viewfinder does suggest that the Olympus PEN E-PL7 is intended primarily for more casual shooters, it’s a good choice for seeking their first interchangeable lens camera, or an alternative to traditional advanced compact cameras. With some of the technology shared with the OM-D models, this camera is a more affordable and smaller alternative, while maintaining a stylish design and good performance overall.

Sony Cyber-Shot DSC-HX300/B 20 MP Digital Camera

The Cyber-Shot DSC-HX300/B's predecessor, the HX200V, already proved itself to be an extremely competent camera, especially for shooting video. This new model retains that strong video performance with AVCHD 1080/60p HD video and more or less the same shooting options as they were on the previous model.

Overall, the HX300/B is another safe upgrade by Sony, not differing hugely from before other than a new lens and other minor improvements. This new lens offers improved autofocus and enhanced optical image stabilization, as well as 50x optical zoom. A 20-megapixel sensor is a slight bump over the previous model, so if you're not after DSLR-like photo quality, the images and video produced by this camera are excellent. Low light performance is quite good, aided also by Sony's Handheld Twilight mode.

With this selection, there is no real continuous shooting, no accessory hot shoe, no raw image capture and no WiFi or GPS; however, the HX300/B is a pretty fast camera and should be a contender if you’re looking for an advanced point and shoot camera that also excels at video. While its features are a bit lacking when compared against the competition, its picture quality and standout 50x zoom make it very much worth considering for any level of photographer.

Panasonic DMC-ZS50K LUMIX 30X Travel Zoom Camera with Eye Viewfinder

The Panasonic DMC-ZS50 offers a long zoom lens and excellent performance in low light conditions. This camera has been designed specifically to be a travel zoom camera, for those who want the compact size of a point-and-shoot but with more performance than the typical point-and-shoot camera can offer. HD video is very good, as are image quality results in general.

In what seems to have been a trend signaling the end of the megapixel wars, Panasonic has dropped the resolution from 18 to 12 megapixels, which allows each larger pixel to receive more light; this results in better low-light performance results. A 30x zoom lens is impressive given the compact size of the camera, and performance is fast overall.

The DMC-ZS50 offers 10 fps burst shooting, as well as a new time-lapse mode and one-touch geotagging when using NFC (in-camera GPS is not included). A proximity sensor next to the EVF (electronic viewfinder) has also been added, which allows the camera to switch automatically from the LCD when you bring it up to your eye. Otherwise, most of the rest of the camera is very similar to its predecessor the ZS40, including raw capture capabilities and much of the layout of the controls. The Panasonic DMC-ZS50 might seem somewhat pricey at first glance, but an examination of everything it offers reveals a camera that is well worth the money.

Canon PowerShot ELPH 350 HS (Black)

Replacing the Canon PowerShot ELPH 340 HS, the 350 HS delivers a strong continuation of the same thing that Canon has been doing for some time now. The ELPH lineup is popular for its stylish design, decent zoom, and good feature set in a compact and affordable package.

The ultra compact Canon PowerShot ELPH 350 HS uses a high-sensitivity 20-megapixel BSI CMOS sensor, while its 12x zoom lens offers good range for its size, as well as optical image stabilization. Full 1080p HD video capture is included, as well as burst shooting of up to 10.5 frames-per-second. Despite utilizing the same small 1/2.3 chip as its predecessor, the 350 HS produces good image and video quality, with overall impressive performance and features for its size.

A new feature is the Auto Zoom feature, which allows the camera to identify the subject, focus, and frame it in order to get the idea shot. WiFi with NFC is included. While there are no manual controls, this camera is an excellent example of how to do a basic camera properly.

Canon PowerShot S120 Digital Camera

The Canon PowerShot S120 does not differ too much in terms of overall design from the previous model, the S110, retaining liked control features, the touch screen, and the solid feel. Other than the pop-up flash now being deployed by a sliding switch instead of an electronic motor, one of the biggest differences is Canon's new DIGIC 6 image processor, which allows continuous burst shooting at 12 fps and faster operation. Otherwise, the S120 offers a 12-megapixel CMOS sensor, 5x zoom lens and 1080/60p movie capture with optical zoom. It is also the first S series camera (and the thinnest camera on the market) with an f/1.8 lens, enhancing low light operation. The addition of improved WiFi connectivity to make the setup process simpler allows or easy image sharing and backup.

When compared to its sibling, the Canon G16, the choice primarily comes down to preference. The S120 offers a more compact size and fewer manual controls, but costs significantly less. Overall, slight improvements have made the Canon PowerShot S120 a better camera than its predecessor, though perhaps not made enough of a difference to require updating.

Samsung Galaxy Camera 2

Although Samsung is not a newcomer to manufacturing cameras, it has only begun to be truly taken seriously recently. The Samsung Galaxy Camera 2 is part of a new generation of cameras that strives to fully integrate the functionality and connectivity of smartphones, offering powerful processing, multiple apps, and even using Android 4.3; this allows for doing everything from streaming music and movies to reading and answering email right from your camera.

While this type of device won’t be right for everybody, it is a testament to how technology is evolving and becoming even more prominent in our daily lives. The Galaxy Camera 2 is still a camera, however, using a 16-megapixel BSI sensor with a 21x zoom lens. A large and attractive 4.8-inch HD touchscreen dominates the back of the camera, which features no buttons. The camera has plenty of shooting options, including several to make taking “selfies” easier. A headphone jack can also be used with a microphone, allowing for better audio while recording videos.

Manual and semi-manual modes are included, and overall performance is quite good. However, picture quality might not be what one would expect from a camera of this price; this is only really worth the money if you’re wanting to buy much more than just a camera. For the money, there are several bridge cameras and even some entry-level DSLRs that offer better overall performance and picture quality. If you are looking for a feature-rich camera with performance that improves upon what is offered by a smartphone, with WiFi and NFC-enabled camera may be a worthwhile option for you.

Buyer's Guide

 

Digital Camera Buyer's Guide

Digital cameras can be one of the more complex electronic products on your shopping list. There are a multitude of models to choose from as well as varying types ranging from your basic point-and-shoot cameras to technically D-SLRs intended for professional use. Figuring out the type you want can quickly become a complex decision making process, especially if you’re unsure as to what is going to best meet your needs. Fortunately, this buyer’s guide outlines the main types of digital cameras to consider when shopping, and we've provided a simple breakdown below to help you decide which type of camera is best matched to your experience level and budget.

Camera Types

Point-and-shoot
Also referred to as compact cameras, the point-and-shoot style digital camera is extremely popular amongst users who want a simple method of taking photographs without having to fuss over a heavy, complicated device.

Point-and-shoot cameras offer easy, user-friendly operation which requires the user to point the camera at the subject and press the shutter release button to shoot the picture. Within the point-and-shoot category, there are different classifications:

Entry-level - Featuring less complex feature lists and intuitive, straightforward operation, entry-level point-and-shoot cameras are aimed at casual users who have little to no knowledge of photography and simply want an easy-to-use device to take care of providing the best shot possible.

Enthusiast - Some photographers want better image quality and more control over their tools without having to lug around a heavy dSLR. Manufacturers offer enthusiast models to cater specifically to this crowd. Enthusiast compacts usually feature brighter lenses, larger image sensors, and elevated performance which makes them better suited for those who know what they're doing with a camera.

Ultra Zoom - A digital SLR is undoubtedly the champion of long-range photography, but it's not always practical to bring heavy and expensive zoom lenses when traveling to unfamiliar areas. An ultra zoom digital camera offers the longer zoom ranges that specialty dSLR lenses can, but feature fixed lenses and a smaller image processor in exchange for a much lower price and smaller footprint. If you think of these as standard point-and-shoot cameras with extended zoom capabilities, you're not too far off.

Travel Zoom - Though they may be pocketable like standard compact cameras, travel zoom cameras pack long-range zoom lenses that allow photography from a considerable distance. These cameras are the best option if you need to travel but would rather not carry a bulky dSLR or even an ultra-zoom.

Rugged - Unique to the point-and-shoot category is the rugged digital camera which is specifically designed to withstand impacts from drops, and can even go underwater to a certain depth. Rugged digital cameras are the best choice if you need to take pictures in an environment where a normal camera would sustain damage and stop working. Whether you're at the beach often or like exploring rough terrain, these cameras shrug off being battered while still providing decent picture quality.

Digital SLR
The Single Lens Reflex camera has long been a favorite amongst serious photographers due to the inherent advantages baked into the design.

Entry-level/Beginner - Because manufacturers like to target photographers who want to move up from point-and-shoot models, entry-level dSLRs offer more basic feature sets and focus on ease of use. These dSLR cameras have various automatic modes and tutorials built in, which is an attempt to make the upgrade less intimidating.

Virtually all beginner dSLRs feature polycarbonate body construction and smaller APS-C image sensors. Image quality is noticeably higher than even enthusiast point-and-shoot models, and even the most affordable entry-level dSLRs can accept a broad range of lenses. Keep in mind, however, that manufacturers like to strip features and performance in order to obtain an edge in pricing.

Enthusiast/Advanced - For photographers possessing more technical skills, the enthusiast or advanced dSLR is the best platform. Although many dSLRs in this category were previously equipped with smaller APS-C sensors, manufacturers have started to offer models equipped with full-frame sensors as well. All offer fine-tune manual controls and better image quality than entry-level dSLRs.

You'll also find features like dual memory card slots and remote flash capability. Some models have polycarbonate bodies, but more common amongst advanced dSLRs are weather-sealed alloy frames which feel decidedly more serious. Unlike professional dSLRs, however, cameras in this class are still relatively easy to use and don't carry shocking price tags.

Semi-Pro/Professional - For people who make a living through high-end photography, a professional dSLR is the only option. These cameras are instantly recognizable by their larger body sizes which house full-frame image sensors and more prominent controls. The biggest difference between semi-pro cameras and professional cameras is the body size as not everyone is interested in carrying around a 3-pound dSLR with a bulky vertical grip.

Professional-caliber dSLR cameras place extra emphasis on image quality, and feature controls designed specifically to make fast shooting as streamlined as possible. Professional dSLRs are prohibitively expensive for casual consumers, making them an unrealistic option for all but the most dedicated photographers.

Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Camera
What was once an odd challenge to the traditional dSLR format has evolved into a diverse market filled with options to cater to every niche. Mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras (often referred to as simply “mirrorless cameras”) retain the ability to accept a wide variety of different lenses, but eliminate the bulk and mass associated with dSLRs.

Micro Four-Thirds
Developed by Olympus and Panasonic, the Micro Four-Thirds system refers to the size of the image sensor used in these cameras. Micro Four-Thirds cameras range in size, but all are significantly more compact than their direct rivals while still offering a full range of interchangeable lenses. On a separate note, Olympus continues to offer traditional dSLRs equipped with Micro Four-Thirds sensors.

Nikon 1
Rather than attempt to compete with dSLRs (and cannibalize sales of its own products), Nikon developed the unique Nikon 1 system pairing a newly-designed lens mount with a smaller Nikon CX lens. This series now encompasses a range of bodies and lenses, from the compact S/J models to the more enthusiast-oriented V models.

Performance

Nobody likes a sluggish camera, especially if the unresponsiveness of the system causes the user to miss an important shot.

Power on Time
How quickly does the camera go from fully powered off to ready to take pictures? While this may seem largely irrelevant at first, there are instances where you want your camera to instantly be available to start shooting. A good camera should be able to do this in well under a second.

Shot-to-Shot Times
For fast-moving subjects, shot-to-shot times are extremely important. A faster camera will be able to capture more of the action, while a slower system can quickly become frustrating due to its inability to keep up. Digital SLRs (and an increasing number of compacts) offer 'burst' shooting or 'continuous drive', which can range from 2 frames per second to more than 10. Most cameras are limited by the size of their buffer, though - don't expect to be able to shoot at this accelerated speed indefinitely.

Autofocus
Autofocus is one of those things that a camera is either good at or isn't. Obviously, you want to pick a camera that performs this operation quickly and effectively. Generally, point-and-shoot cameras are noticeably slower than dSLRs when it comes to autofocus speed.

One thing to note is when you’re considering lenses for dSLRs, remember not all lens/camera combos support autofocus. Lower-end Nikon dSLR bodies do not have autofocus motors, and no Canon dSLR body is equipped with one. This is not a problem with lenses which feature built-in autofocus motors, but using a lens without the motor will require manual focusing.

Image quality

Megapixels
The maximum resolution of a camera's image sensor is stated in a megapixel count. 1 megapixel refers to one million pixels, and a higher megapixel count increases the size of the image. However, more megapixels will not automatically provide superior image quality. If the image sensor is not sized appropriately, bumping up the megapixel count will introduce noise and hamper low-light performance.

Size of Image Sensor
One of the most important aspects of a digital camera is the size of the image sensor used. This is why an 8-megapixel camera on a smartphone will never produce images that look as good as a point-and-shoot camera which offers the same 8-megapixel resolution.

A general rule is that larger image sensors provide better picture quality, but other factors such as sensor quality, placement, lens/optics, and image processing will affect the overall outcome. Larger image sensors perform better in low-light environments, and minimize noise in all conditions.

Point-and-shoot/compact cameras generally use small image sensors (with a few notable exceptions), which is mandated by the smaller physical size of the camera itself. Digital SLR cameras use larger image sensors, with entry-level models using APS-C sensors while semi-pro/professional models feature full-frame sensors.

Mirrorless camera image sensors tend to fall somewhere in between the two. They're sually not as large as standard dSLR image sensors, but significantly larger than what most point-and-shoot cameras house behind their lens.

Noise Reduction
The term “noise” describes the grainy appearance that digital photographs sometimes exhibit. All cameras attempt to compensate for this by introducing noise reduction, which is the image processor's attempt to correct for the visible effect that 'noise' has on the photo. While noise detracts from overall image quality, heavy-handed noise reduction can also impact image quality by reducing detail.

Features

Although all digital cameras perform the basic task of taking pictures of a desired subject, some come with more features than others. This goes for point-and-shoot models as well as dSLRs.

Video Modes
Virtually every digital camera sold today offers some sort of video capture mode. More desirable among these are the cameras that offer HD video capture, though be sure to find out the various resolutions and frame rates specified by the manufacturer. 720p is common, as is 1080i. Be careful not to confuse the latter with 1080p, which represents much higher quality video.

Effects
Some digital cameras offer the user the ability to add 'effects' to the image, including various 'filter' or lens distortion simulations. This is more of a novelty than a real feature, though creative photographers will appreciate the fact that built-in effects can reduce the amount of effort to produce unique-looking pictures.

GPS
Usually found on the consumer end of the market, built-in GPS functionality allows the camera to add geotag information to the picture. This little tag records the precise GPS-verified location of where the picture was taken, which is handy for sharing vacations or special moments with friends and family.

Touchscreen
Every digital camera offers a rear-mounted screen which is used to display information or act as a viewfinder of sorts. Some higher-end and beginner-friendly cameras feature touchscreen controls, moving the interface to the screen as opposed to relying on dedicated buttons. Though advanced photographers may not like touchscreen interfaces, certain cameras offer selectable focus points by tapping the corresponding location on the touchscreen.

Hot Shoe
Don't expect to find a hot shoe installed on entry-level point-and-shoot cameras. This is a feature reserved for cameras with more advanced feature sets and capabilities, and allows the user to connect various accessories such as external flash units, microphones, and add-on viewfinders. If you're serious about expanding your photography skills, definitely look into a camera equipped with a hot shoe.

Live View Mode (dSLR only)
Although all point-and-shoot cameras can display the image that the sensor sees directly on the screen, this is a trickier proposition for dSLRs. Due to the way these cameras are designed, switching on live view limits a dSLR's autofocus abilities and often introduce sluggish performance. Live view is also the only way to see what is being captured when using a dSLR in movie mode, as the mirror must be flipped out of the way to expose the image sensor (thus blocking off the optical viewfinder).

Price/Value

Digital cameras cover a wide range of prices, with the most affordable models available for as little as $80. High-end professional cameras can easily exceed the price of a new car, and that's before counting extra accessories or lenses. The most affordable digital cameras are basic point-and-shoot models, while digital SLR cameras are substantially more expensive.

There is overlap between the point-and-shoot market and the dSLR market as manufacturers offer high-end or “advanced” compact models that are priced similarly to stripped-down, “low end” dSLRs designed primarily to appeal to amateur photographers. Mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras also split the difference between point-and-shoot compacts and dSLRs, but offer their own unique attributes as well as disadvantages.

For digital cameras, value takes on a whole new meaning. While it is entirely possible to spend less than $100 on a new digital camera, this would be an absolute waste of money if you plan on shooting sports or other fast-moving subjects. Likewise, purchasing a $2,000 full-frame dSLR is just about pointless if you don't plan on learning the fine details of digital photography. In order to find true value for money, it’s important to assess exactly how the camera will be used before making a purchasing decision.

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