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Our Recommended Digital Cameras

This page is no longer being updated as of January 1, 2013. You can see what cameras are recommended at my new home at Digital Photography Review by clicking here.

Since you found this page you're probably trying to find the right digital camera. To help you with your shopping, I've put a list of my favorite cameras on this page. Keep in mind these are only cameras I've reviewed, so it's not a complete list. This is as close as you're going to get to a specific recommendation from me, so enjoy!

Those of you who follow this page may notice that cameras "fall off the list". This isn't because they suddenly became bad cameras. Rather, it's usually because the camera is no longer available in stores. To see a list of those cameras, check out our Hall of Fame. For more help in choosing a camera, please visit our forums. Please do not e-mail me asking for a recommendation!

Best Cameras: Under $200

Canon PowerShot ELPH 100 HS
Specs | Review | Compare Prices | Buy from Amazon.com

The PowerShot ELPH 100 HS continues Canon's tradition of offering very good entry-level cameras. This latest ELPH retains the compact and stylish design of its predecessor, and adds a new "high sensitivity system", which gives it slightly better high ISO performance than other compact cameras. Other features include a 4X (28 - 140 mm) zoom lens, optical image stabilization, a 3-inch LCD display, and plenty of point-and-shoot features. The ELPH 100 HS also records Full HD video, though don't expect it to replace your camcorder. Other issues include slightly noisy images at low ISOs, a weak flash, and a few design annoyances.

Note: This camera has been replaced by the PowerShot ELPH 110 HS.

   
  While we'd love to have more cameras listed in this price range, we are limited to reviewing products that our readers are most interested in, which are a bit more expensive. You can get a general idea about what brands to are worth looking at by seeing which of their more expensive models we recommend.
 
Best Cameras: $200 - $400

Canon PowerShot S100
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The PowerShot S100 improves upon its predecessor in several ways. Its switch to a CMOS sensor allows for fast continuous shooting and Full HD movie recording. The lens has been bumped from 28 - 105 to 24 - 120 mm. And it now has a built-in GPS! That's on top of all the things that made the S95 great, which include its fast lens, manual controls, customizable buttons and lens ring, beautiful 3-inch LCD, and professional-looking, compact body. Photo quality is very good, with a full stop noise advantage over your typical compact. Downsides include highlight clipping and redeye, choppy videos, below average battery life, and a slow maximum aperture at the telephoto end of the lens.

Note: This camera has been replaced by the PowerShot S110.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ47
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The Lumix DMC-FZ47 is a midrange super zoom camera. It features a nice 24X, 25 - 600 mm Leica lens, which covers virtually every shooting situation imaginable. Other features include optical image stabilization (of course), full manual controls plus the best auto mode in the business, lots of scene modes and special effects, and Full HD video recording with stereo sound. Downsides are few, and include somewhat noisy images, color cast issues in artificial light, the lack of RAW support, and a few bundle annoyances.

Note: This camera has been replaced by the Lumix DMC-FZ60.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS15
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The DMC-ZS15 is the little brother to the DMC-ZS20. While the ZS20 has more impressive specs, the ZS15 takes better photos, and costs a lot less. The ZS15 offers a 16X zoom lens, sharp 3-inch LCD, well-implemented Intelligent Auto mode, nice selection of manual controls, and 1080/60i video recording. Downsides include occasional highlight clipping, redeye, mono sound recording (for movies), and slow internal battery charging.

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX20V
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The Cyber-shot DSC-HX20V is a compact travel zoom, complete with a 20X optical zoom lens, GPS receiver (with compass), high resolution LCD, 1080/60p video recording, and lots of useful bells and whistles. And did I mention the 18 Megapixel CMOS sensor? That huge sensor requires lots of noise reduction, so there is detail smudging -- even at ISO 100. That said, most folks are downsizing the photos for small prints or web viewing, and you won't notice that. Other issues include limited aperture selection, redeye, and slow internal battery charging.

Best Cameras: $400 - $600

Canon PowerShot G12
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The PowerShot G12 is a relatively minor upgrade to the popular PowerShot G11 from 2009. New features include an improved image stabilization system, a front control dial, 720p video recording (albeit at 24 fps), faster continuous shooting, and a new HDR mode. What hasn't changed? The G12's 5X, 28 - 140 mm lens, rotating 2.8" LCD, full manual controls, and impressive photo quality. Downsides include the lack of optical zoom in movie mode, a somewhat cluttered control layout, the ability to see the lens through the optical viewfinder at wide-angle, and the fact that the manual is now in PDF format.

Note: This camera has been replaced by the PowerShot G15.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ200
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The DMC-FZ200 is an impressive upgrade to the FZ150 from last year. The biggest change is with regard with the lens, which now has a maximum aperture of F2.8 across its entire 25 - 600 mm focal range. That's a boon to action and low light photographers, for sure. Other features on this 12 Megapixel camera include a great Auto mode, plenty of manual controls (including RAW support), a 3-inch rotating LCD and super-sharp EVF, and support for an external flash, conversion lenses, and a stereo microphone. The FZ200 can also record videos at 1080/60p with stereo sound, use of the optical zoom, and manual controls. Downsides include highlight clipping and a bit of noise in photos, redeye the lack of an eye sensor for the EVF, and the lack of a full, printed manual.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX7
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One of the most anticipated cameras of the year, the DMC-LX7 is the replacement for the low light favorite DMC-LX5. Panasonic has upped the ante here, putting a super-fast F1.4-2.3, 24 - 90 mm lens on the LX7. Add in a larger-than-average 10 Megapixel sensor, tons of manual controls and customizable buttons, the best-in-class Intelligent Auto mode, a boatload of optional accessories, 1080/60p video recording, and much more. There's very little to complain about, other than sluggish buffer clearing times, redeye, and the fact that the manual is only available in digital format.

Best Cameras: $600 - $800

Canon EOS Rebel T4i
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While it looks similar to its predecessor, the EOS Rebel T4i has some seen fairly big changes since the T3i. It has a new 9-point AF system for shooting with the viewfinder, as well as a Hybrid AF system that combines phase and contrast detection for better focusing performance while using live view (including movies). Another new feature is a touchscreen LCD (with 1.04 million pixels), with one of the best touch interfaces I've seen yet. The Rebel T4i also sports a new HDR feature, and can shoot at 5 frames/second in burst mode. Naturally, it has all of the manual controls and expandability that you'd expect from a camera in this class. I did have a few beefs with the T4i, which included slightly soft photos, strong redeye, purple fringing (which can be reduced using a feature on the camera), a small amount of buffer memory, and below average battery life.

Nikon D3200
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The D3200 may be Nikon's entry-level digital SLR that packs a whopping 24 Megapixel CMOS sensor. Despite being plastic, the D3200 is well put-together, and has a pretty sharp 9210k pixel LCD display (as well as an optical viewfinder). This is one of the easiest-to-use D-SLRs out there, with a Guide Mode that literally walks you through the steps to take photos in different scenarios. There's also a Full HD video mode, though only monaural sound is recorded. While photo quality is good, images are often overexposed. The camera lacks a bracketing feature, and there's no histogram available in live view mode. And speaking of live view, autofocus is very slow when you use it, so it's for still-life photography only.

Olympus E-PL3
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The E-PL3 is essentially a more compact version of the higher-end E-P3 that's listed further down this page. It shares the same 12.3 Megapixel Live MOS sensor, Micro Four Thirds lens mount, super-fast AF system, Full HD movie mode, and expandability of its more expensive sibling. Other features include a tilting 3-inch LCD display, sensor-shift image stabilization, plenty of manual and automatic controls, fun Art Filters, and fast continuous shooting. Downsides include some visible noise at the base ISO, the lack of a built-in flash (a small external one is included), so-so low light focusing, and a few design annoyances.

Note: This camera has been replaced by the E-PL5.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-G3
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The Lumix DMC-G3 is a compact, SLR-styled interchangeable lens camera that replaces the DMC-G2. New features include an even smaller body, a new 16 Megapixel sensor, faster autofocus performance, enhanced touchscreen functionality and Full HD video recording. The G3 retains the rotating 3-inch touchscreen of its predecessor, and offers a fancy Intelligent Auto mode and full manual controls. The G3's photo quality was good, though slightly soft and underexposed at default settings. Noise levels are low until you reach the highest sensitivities. The G3's flash is on the weak side, battery life is below average, and I don't care for how Panasonic axed the EVF eye sensor and external mic input.

Note: This camera has been replaced by the Lumix DMC-G5.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX1
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The Lumix DMC-GX1 is the true successor to the DMC-GF1. It features a cool rangefinder design and sports a 16 Megapixel Live MOS sensor. In addition to Panasonic excellent Intelligent Auto mode, the GX1 also has tons of manual controls, super-fast AF performance, 4.2 fps continuous shooting, an electronic level, and 1080/60i video recording. Downsides include highlight clipping, color casts in artificial light, a quick-filling buffer, and a lack of manual controls in movie mode. The flash is also on the weak end of the spectrum.

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100
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Looking for a compact camera with photo quality that rivals that of a D-SLR or interchangeable lens camera? Look no further than the Sony RX100. This compact metal camera has a 1" CMOS sensor -- the same size as in Nikon's 1 System ILCs -- and takes fantastic photos. It offers a nice F1.8-4.9, 28 - 100 mm lens with a customizable ring around it, a gorgeous 3-inch LCD display, plenty of auto and manual controls, and 1080/60p video recording. Downsides include its price, redeye and highlight clipping, and several design annoyances.

Best Cameras: $800 - $1000

Nikon D5100
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The Nikon D5100 is an impressive "premium" entry-level camera. It features a 16.2 Megapixel CMOS sensor, a 3-inch LCD that flips to the side and rotates (a big improvement from the flip-down display on the D5000), plenty of manual controls, several fun special effects, and Full HD movie recording. Performance is very good, except in live view mode, where you to deal with sluggish contrast detect autofocus. The D5100's photo quality is very good, even at ISOs. The only real issues were softness (due to the kit lens, most likely) and brownish color casts in artificial light. Some other things I didn't care for were the slow and noisy focusing in movie mode, a few poorly located controls, and the fact that only recent Nikon lenses will support autofocus.

Olympus E-P3
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The Olympus E-P3 is a rangefinder-style interchangeable lens camera that uses the Micro Four Thirds standard. Its 12.3 Megapixel Live MOS sensor produces very good photo quality, and the built-in image stabilizer reduces the risk of blurry photos. Other features include a beautiful 3-inch touchscreen OLED display, super fast autofocus, tons of manual controls, customizable buttons, and Full HD video recording. Oh, and unlike its predecessors, the E-P3 has a built-in flash! Beginners need not be intimidated, either, as the camera has an easy-to-use Auto mode. Downsides include some mild detail loss at low ISOs, difficulty viewing the OLED screen outdoors, and low light focusing that's just okay.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH2
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The Lumix DMC-GH2 is Panasonic's top-of-the-line Micro Four Thirds camera. It may look and operate a lot like the DMC-G2, but Panasonic has thrown in a 16 Megapixel Live MOS sensor, faster autofocus performance and continuous shooting, a wider ISO range, and 1080/60i video recording with full-time AF and manual controls. Photo quality was good, though the GH2 suffers from the same underexposure, highlight clipping, and redeye problems as its siblings. Those with a sharp eye may notice some artifacting at the Full HD video setting, as well. Even so, if you want a true hybrid interchangeable lens camera, the GH2 is one of the best.

Note: This camera has been replaced by the Lumix DMC-GH3.

Samsung NX210
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The NX210 is a rangefinder-style camera with a 20 Megapixel CMOS sensor, gorgeous 3-inch AMOLED display, and the best implementation of Wi-Fi that I've used. The camera uses Samsung's NX-mount lenses, and takes very nice looking photos and videos. It offers a host of manual controls, and a ton of point-and-shoot features. Camera performance is good in most respects, save for burst mode. The NX210 lacks a built-in flash, so you'll need to carry around the small external one that Samsung includes. The other downsides are its rather hefty price tag, and the fact that the display can be difficult to see outdoors.

Sony Alpha SLT-A55
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It may look like a regular digital SLR, but the Sony Alpha SLT-A55 is anything but. Thanks to its unique translucent mirror design, the A55 is capable of continuous shooting at 10 frames/second (while focusing between each photo!), recording Full HD video with continuous AF, and offering fast autofocus in live view. Other niceties include very good 16 Megapixel photos, sensor-shift image stabilization, a beautiful 3-inch rotating LCD and large electronic viewfinder (no optical viewfinder here!), and lots of cool point-and-shoot features (don't worry, it has manual controls too). That said, the camera does tend to overexpose, the widescreen LCD isn't suited for still photos (which are taken at 3:2), the EVF has a strong rainbow effect, and movie recording time drops dramatically if you have image stabilization turned on.

Note: This camera has been replaced by the SLT-A57.

Best Cameras: Over $1000

Canon EOS-5D Mark II
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The 5D Mark II isn't just a full-frame digital SLR -- it's also capable of recording Full HD video, as well. Since its full frame, you can use any Canon EF-mount lens that you want, with no focal length conversion ratio to deal with. The camera isn't made for beginners -- you won't find any scene modes here. What you will find are full manual controls for every possible camera function. The 5D's movie feature lets your record 1080p video with full manual control (via a recent firmware update). As you'd expect from a camera in this price range, both photo and video quality are stellar.

Note: This camera has been replaced by the EOS-5D Mark III.

Canon EOS-7D
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The EOS-7D is sort of a hybrid between the EOS-50D and the EOS-5D Mark II. You get the size and APS-C sensor of the 50D, with the high end features and Full HD movie mode of the 5D. It has great build quality, super-fast performance, a large, unique optical viewfinder, and a very customizable interface. Photo quality is excellent for the most part, though the camera does tend to overexpose a bit, and it clips highlights more than I'd like. Despite a very short list of flaws, the EOS-7D is a top-notch digital SLR that should not be passed up.

Canon EOS-60D
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In most respects, the EOS-60D is an impressive upgrade from the 50D that came before it. It offers an 18 Megapixel CMOS sensor that produces very good photo quality, though you'll want to use a decent quality lens for best results. The camera also features a high resolution 3-inch LCD display that can flip to the side and rotate, plus a good-sized optical viewfinder. There are plenty of manual controls to be found (including three RAW sizes), 5 fps continuous shooting, an electronic level, wireless flash control, and Full HD movie recording. Downsides include a plastic body (versus metal on the 50D), some highlight clipping and redeye, mediocre kit lenses, and sluggish contrast detect autofocus in live view mode (though other options are available).

Nikon D7000
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Not to be confused with the D700 above, the Nikon D7000 is a full-featured digital SLR with an APS-C-size (DX format) sensor. The D7000 is loaded with features, which include a solid, partially-sealed body, a beautiful 3-inch LCD and large optical viewfinder, tons of manual controls, superb performance, an electronic level, and Full HD video recording. Photo quality is very good, though the camera tends to overexpose. Despite that, and a few minor flaws, the D7000 is an impressive camera in the midrange D-SLR space.

Sony Alpha NEX-7
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The NEX-7 is a premium interchangeable lens camera that doesn't skimp on features. It has a whopping 24 Megapixel APS-C sensor, an articulating, high-res 3-inch LCD, and a beautiful OLED electronic viewfinder -- all in a relatively compact package. Being a "NEX", the camera uses Sony's relatively new E-mount lenses, though it supports classic A-mount lenses as well via an optional adapter. The camera is loaded with features, including sweep panorama, HDR, anti motion blur, and full manual controls. It performs well in all respects, has a nice burst mode, and better than average battery life. Photo quality is very good, even at high ISOs where you wouldn't expect it. The camera is also capable of recording Full HD video at either 60i or 60p, with stereo sound and continuous AF. It's not the cheapest camera, but it's arguably one of the best ILC's out there.