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Our Favorite Digital Cameras: Hall of Fame

After a while, a camera eventually falls off of the "Our Favorite Cameras" list in our Buyers Guide. That's not because it's suddenly a bad product. Rather, it's because the camera isn't available in stores, or it just isn't competitive with newer models.

But not everyone is buying a new cameras, so if you're looking for a good used camera, here are past favorites of mine:

For more help in choosing a camera, please visit our forums. Please do not e-mail me asking for a recommendation!

Canon Digital Rebel XSi
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The EOS Rebel XSi is a very capable digital SLR that bridges the gap between entry-level and midrange. It features a 12.2 Megapixel CMOS sensor, live view on a 3-inch LCD display, full manual controls, and great performance. Straight out of the box, images are quite soft, though with a few tweaks, you'll get excellent results. The XSi's high ISO performance is top-notch. Downsides include a relatively high price, redeye, slow contrast detect autofocus, and a body that may be too small for some folks.

Canon Digital Rebel XTi
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The Rebel XTi is a top-notch entry-level D-SLR. You get a 10 Megapixel CMOS sensor, great performance, a 2.5" LCD display, support for Canon EF and EF-S lenses, and all the expandability you'd expect from a digital SLR. You definitely want to try this camera before you buy it, though, as its small size can be off-putting.

Canon EOS-40D
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The EOS-40D is a significant upgrade to the 30D before it. It features a 10 Megapixel CMOS sensor, live view on a 3-inch LCD display, full manual controls, dust reduction, and the kind of performance and photo quality that you'd expect from a D-SLR. Build quality is top-notch, and the doors and covers on the camera are now weather-sealed. The 40D supports both EF and EF-S mount lenses, with a 1.6X focal length conversion ratio.

Canon EOS-50D
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The EOS-50D is a fairly minor update to the very popular EOS-40D. Highlights include a 15.1 Megapixel CMOS sensor, support for EF and EF-S lenses, a super high resolution 3-inch LCD display, full manual controls, three different RAW sites, and very good performance. The 50D's noise performance is top-notch, as are its continuous shooting abilities. Downsides include the 50D's occasional highlight clipping, and overall soft look to its images.

Canon EOS Rebel T1i
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The EOS Rebel T1i is the latest entry level digital SLR from Canon. It may be fairly inexpensive, but it packs quite a feature set into its compact (perhaps too compact) body. Those features include a 15 Megapixel CMOS sensor, high resolution 3-inch LCD (with live view), full manual controls, full HD movie recording, and an impressive software bundle. Photo quality is generally very good, though images are a bit soft straight out of the camera, and highlight clipping can be an issue at times. Redeye is also an issue, which is uncommon on digital SLRs. Battery life is below average, and some may not be fans of the hard to hold, plasticky body, either.

Canon EOS Rebel T2i
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While the EOS Rebel T2i isn't the cheapest entry-level D-SLR on the market, it's certainly one of the best. Packing a whopping 18 Megapixel CMOS sensor, this camera is capable of taking very good quality photos (especially at high sensitivities), and recording 1080p videos. Another highlight is its spectacular 3-inch LCD display, which packs over a million pixels. The camera has several auto modes, and a good set of manual controls. As I mentioned, photo quality is very good, though you'll need a good lens to get the most out of the camera. Downsides include so-so outdoor LCD visibility, an average continuous shooting mode, and redeye.

Canon EOS Rebel T3i
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The Rebel T3i isn't a huge upgrade over the T2i that came before it, but it brings a highly desirable feature to Canon's entry-level line-up: a flip-out, rotating LCD display. This is also one of the nicest screens you'll find on a D-SLR, with 1.04 million pixels. Other nice things on the T3i include very good photo quality (especially with lenses other than what comes in the box), generally fast performance, plenty of manual controls (plus some handy auto modes), and Full HD video recording. Negatives include somewhat soft images (mainly due to the kit lenses), redeye, slow contrast detect AF in live view mode, and below average battery life.

Canon PowerShot A540
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The PowerShot A540 is a compact camera that has a 6 Megapixel CCD and a 4X zoom lens. It packs features usually found on much more expensive cameras including full manual controls and support for conversion lenses. The camera has nice movie and continuous shooting modes as well.

Canon PowerShot A570 IS
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The PowerShot A570 offers more bang for the buck than virtually any entry-level camera on the market. It features a 7 Megapixel CCD, 4X optical zoom lens, optical image stabilization, 2.5" LCD display, full manual controls, conversion lens support, and more. The biggest downside is the relatively low LCD resolution. Otherwise, it's a great choice.

If you want a little more zoom, then consider the PowerShot A720 IS, which offers a 6X lens.

Canon PowerShot A590 IS
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The PowerShot A590 is an entry-level camera that doesn't skimp on features. It has an 8 Megapixel CCD, 4X optical zoom lens, full manual controls (don't worry, there are lots of scene modes too), a VGA movie mode, and support for numerous accessories. Downsides include a slow charging flash, somewhat choppy frame rate in movie mode, and low LCD resolution.

Canon PowerShot A630
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The PowerShot A630 is a midsize camera that offers nearly every feature imaginable, all for a bargain price. You get an 8 Megapixel CCD, 4X optical zoom lens, rotating 2.5" LCD, full manual controls, support for conversion lenses, and much more. The higher resolution A640 adds a 10MP CCD and support for RemoteCapture.

Canon PowerShot A710 IS
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The PowerShot A710 is what I call the poor man's PowerShot G7. It has a 7.1 Megapixel CCD, 6X optical zoom lens, image stabilization, a 2.5" LCD (that doesn't rotate, unfortunately), full manual controls, and a VGA movie mode. Optional accessories include an underwater case and various conversion lenses.

Canon PowerShot G11
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The PowerShot G11 is Canon's flagship fixed-lens camera. It offers very good photo quality (with better than average low light performance), a full suite of manual controls, a rotating, high resolution LCD display, snappy performance, and very good battery life. The G11 is also quite expandable, with support for a teleconverter lens, external flash, and remote shutter release cable. Downsides include cluttered controls, disappointing continuous shooting and movie modes, and the departure of handy features that were on previous models.

Canon PowerShot S3 IS
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While not a huge upgrade over the S2, the PowerShot S3 is still one of my favorite ultra zoom cameras. It features a 6 Megapixel CCD, 12X optical zoom lens, optical image stabilization, a rotating 2-inch LCD, and a superb movie mode. The S3 has full manual controls and a great continuous shooting mode as well.

Canon PowerShot S5 IS
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While its image quality isn't as good as its predecessor, the PowerShot S5 remains one of my favorite ultra zoom cameras. It offers almost every conceivable feature, including a 12X zoom lens with image stabilization, full manual controls, a hot shoe, and a rotating LCD display. Like taking movies? The S5 can record VGA quality video with stereo sound -- and you can use the zoom while recording.

Canon PowerShot S95
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The PowerShot S95 is what I'd call a premium ultra-compact camera. It has a high sensitivity 10 Megapixel CCD, a fast F2.0-4.9, 28 - 105 mm lens, a "hybrid" image stabilization system, a beautiful 3-inch LCD, full manual controls, tons of customizable stuff, and a 720p movie mode. The bad news? The camera has a redeye problem, videos are a bit choppy due to the 24 fps frame rate, battery life is below average, and the manual is in PDF format.

Canon PowerShot SD800 IS Digital ELPH
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The SD800 may not be the top-end model in the Digital ELPH lineup, but it certainly is the most interesting. You get a stylish, ultra-compact camera with a wide-angle 28 - 105 mm lens, optical image stabilization, a sharp 2.5" LCD, great performance, and a VGA movie mode (with more recording time than on previous models). Like the other ELPHs, this is a point-and-shoot camera, with very limited manual control.

Canon PowerShot SD850 IS Digital ELPH
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The SD850 is one of the best ultra-compact cameras on the market. It features an 8 Megapixel CCD, a 4X zoom lens, optical image stabilization, and a very nice 2.5" LCD display. Like all Digital ELPHs, the SD850 is point-and-shoot, with very limited manual controls. The camera has a high quality VGA movie mode, plus a redeye removal tool that actually works.

If you'll be taking a lot of interior shots, then you may want the wide-angle PowerShot SD870 IS instead. It has a larger 3-inch LCD as well, though the image quality isn't as good as on the SD850.

Canon PowerShot SD1100 IS Digital ELPH
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The long-awaited follow-up to the SD1100 remains a solid choice for an entry-level, ultra-compact camera. The biggest new feature on the SD1100 is optical image stabilization, which helps to reduce blurry photos. The camera has lost some of its retro styling, but it now comes in several popular colors. In terms of features, it has a 3X zoom lens, 2.5" LCD display, point-and-shoot operation, and a VGA movie mode. As with many ultra-compacts, the SD1100 has some corner blurriness and purple fringing issues. Low light photos are on the noisy side, as well.

Canon PowerShot SD1300 IS Digital ELPH
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The PowerShot SD1300, like its predecessors, is a top choice in the entry-level category. It has a sleek, metal body, a good (but not over-the-top) feature set, above average performance, and very good photo quality. It features a 4X, 28 - 112 mm lens with optical image stabilization, a 2.7" LCD display with good outdoor and low light visibility, auto scene selection, and a VGA movie mode. Downsides include corner blurring and highlight clipping and a few flimsy plastic parts.

Canon PowerShot SX10 IS
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When a 12X zoom lens just isn't enough, there's the PowerShot SX10 IS. It packs a whopping 20X, 28 - 560 mm lens, which covers virtually any shooting situation that may come up. Other features include a 10 Megapixel CCD, image stabilization, a rotating LCD, full manual controls, and a nice VGA movie mode. Battery life is excellent when the camera is equipped with NiMH rechargeables, as well. Images do suffer from noise reduction artifacting as the ISO climbs, especially in low light. The SX10 also could do better in the low light focusing department, and the lack of an HD movie mode and RAW image format is disappointing.

Fuji FinePix F30
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The FinePix F30 is quite possibly the best compact camera on the market. The F30's SuperCCD sensor has lower noise than traditional CCDs, which makes this camera great at low light shooting. Other features include a 3X optical zoom lens, 2.5" LCD display, manual controls, and a VGA movie mode. Battery life is excellent. There is an update to the F30 known as the F31fd, which adds face detection.

Fuji FinePix F200EXR
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The FinePix F200EXR is a compact camera that performs better in low light than any of its peers. It offers a 5X zoom lens (with a useful 28 - 140 mm range), image stabilization, a 3-inch LCD, some manual controls, and generally snappy performance. While photos are on the soft side, they'll have less noise at high ISO settings than other compact cameras. The camera removes redeye automatically, so you don't have to deal with it later. Downsides include the need to lower the resolution for best high ISO performance, the lack of IS in movie mode, and sub-par battery life.

Fuji FinePix S9000
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The FinePix S9000 looks so much like a digital SLR that you may find yourself trying to remove the lens (don't try -- it doesn't work). While the S9000 doesn't have SLR image quality, it's still a very competent ultra zoom camera, with an impressive focal range of 28 - 300 mm, a 9 Megapixel sensor with above average high ISO performance, tilting 1.8" LCD display, full manual controls, and much more.
Note: This camera has been replaced by the FinePix S9100.

Nikon D40
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The D40 is Nikon's entry-level digital SLR. It's compact, without being too small like the Canon Digital Rebel XTi. The build quality is also better than that camera. The D40 features a 6 Megapixel CCD, full manual controls, robust performance, and an elaborate in-camera help system that makes it the easiest to use SLR on the market. The main downside is that only AF-S lenses will support autofocus, so that 50 mm prime you have sitting around will be manual focus only.

Nikon D90
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The D90 is an excellent camera that bridges the gap between entry-level and midrange D-SLRs. It features a 12.1 Megapixel CMOS sensor with top-notch high ISO performance, a beautiful 3-inch LCD with live view, plenty of manual controls, and a high definition (720p) movie mode. Other niceties include HDMI output, support for an optional GPS receiver, and best-in-class battery life. The only real downsides are slow autofocus in live view mode and a poor bundled RAW editor.

Nikon D300
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The D300 is a phenomenal digital SLR, and perhaps the best one in its class. It features a 12 Megapixel CMOS sensor, live view on a stunning 3-inch LCD display, a dust reduction system, impressive performance and build quality, and much more. Being a D-SLR, the D300 can be expanded to your heart's content, with a wireless transmitter and battery grip being the notable accessories. The only real weak spots are soft, occasionally overexposed images, a few missing live view features, and its hefty price.

Nikon D700
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The D700 is Nikon's "budget" full frame camera. Featuring a 12 Megapixel FX-format CMOS sensor, the D700 produces photos of stunning quality. With most Nikon lenses, you have no focal length conversion to worry about. With DX-format lenses, there's a 1.5X conversion ratio, and the camera shoots at a lower resolution, as well. As you'd expect, the D700 is packed with manual controls, and it's a pretty complex camera, too. Other nice features on it include an ultra-sharp 3-inch LCD, a built-in flash, HDMI output, and a handy virtual horizon feature.

Nikon D3100
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You might think that Nikon's entry-level digital SLR is devoid of modern features, but quite the opposite -- it's fully loaded. You get a 14 Megapixel CMOS sensor with great high ISO performance, responsive performance (in most cases), a large (but not terribly sharp) LCD, manual controls plus the most user-friendly interface you'll find, and Full HD movie capability. It is missing a few things, such as bracketing and support for autofocus on older Nikkor lenses. Other negatives include very slow autofocus in live view mode, soft photos, a so-so movie mode, and a relatively lousy bundle. Despite its flaws, the D3100 offers a lot of bang for the buck.

Nikon D5000
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The D5000 is the baby brother to the stellar Nikon D90. The two cameras share the same 12 Megapixel CMOS sensor, and both have first-rate high ISO performance. The D5000 supports all Nikkor lenses, though only AF-S and AF-I lenses will support autofocus. Other features include a rotating (but low res) 2.7" LCD display, full manual controls, and a plethora of easy to use point-and-shoot features. The camera supports live view, but the autofocus performance in that mode is poor. While the D5000 can record movies at 720p, the quality isn't wonderful.

Olympus E-30
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The Olympus E-30 is a solid and very capable midrange D-SLR. It features a 12 Megapixel Live MOS sensor, image stabilization, a rotating 2.7" LCD display, and snappy performance. Other nice features include live view, a pitch/level meter, nine different aspect ratios, and the ability to take multiple exposures. The E-30 also has built-in support for wireless flash control, and excellent battery life.

Olympus E-420
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The E-420 is the world's smallest digital SLR, especially when paired with Olympus' 25mm pancake lens. Its small size means that it's not for everyone, so try before you buy. The camera has a 10 Megapixel sensor, dust reduction system, live view on a 2.7" LCD, full manual controls, and great build quality. Negatives include mediocre contrast detect AF and low light focusing, heavy noise reduction at high ISOs, and the lack of an AC adapter and battery grip.

Olympus EVOLT E-500
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After a slow start with the E-300, Olympus has finally figured out how to produce a high quality entry-level D-SLR. The E-500 costs less than most D-SLRs but it doesn't skimp on features. It has an 8 Megapixel CCD, dust reduction system, full manual controls, dual memory card slots, and a hot shoe. It uses the FourThirds system which offers lenses for every occasion. Available with one lens, two lenses, or just the body only.

Olympus EVOLT E-510
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The E-510 is a solid digital SLR capable of producing excellent quality photos -- after you adjust some settings. It's well built, with a solid grip. With built-in image stabilization, every lens you attach to the camera will be stabilized. The E-510 is also somewhat unique in that it has "live view" on its LCD display -- just like your compact camera, though not as good. There's also a dust reduction system, which eliminates this common (and frustrating) issue. Other features are fairly standard on a D-SLR: manual controls, expandability, and super-fast performance.

Olympus E-520
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The E-520 is an inexpensive but full-featured digital SLR. It features a 10 Megapixel CCD, sensor-shift image stabilization, a 2.7" LCD with live view, and plenty of manual controls. There are also some nice features for beginners, including numerous scene modes and a handy Perfect Shot Preview option. Downsides include soft photos, banding at the highest sensitivities, slow focusing in live view mode, and a small optical viewfinder. The camera doesn't support an AC adapter or battery grip, either. Despite that, it's a great value for the money.

Olympus E-620
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The E-620 takes nearly all of the features from the more expensive Olympus E-30, and puts them into a compact body. Those features include a 12.3 Megapixel Live MOS sensor, image stabilization (for all lenses), a rotating 2.7" LCD display, live view (with lots of bells and whistles), art filters, and support for a battery grip. The E-620 has plenty of manual controls, including four types of bracketing, RAW support, and the ability to fine-tune things like white balance, metering, and focus. The E-620 is also the only D-SLR to feature backlit buttons. Downsides include the tendency to underexpose and clip highlights, a bit more noisy than the best D-SLRs in this class, sluggish contrast detect AF in live view mode, and a small optical viewfinder.

Olympus E-PL1
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The E-PL1 is Olympus' consumer-level Micro Four Thirds camera. In many ways, it's better than its more expensive siblings. It features a 12 Megapixel Live MOS sensor, live view on a 2.7" LCD display, lots of point-and-shoot features (plus manual controls), and HD movie recording. And did I mention the built-in flash -- something that the E-P1 and E-P2 don't have. Downsides include the camera's tendency to clip highlights, slow autofocus speeds, a weak flash, and a few movie mode annoyances. Despite that, it's a worthy interchangeable lens camera.

Olympus E-PL2
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The E-PL2 is a fairly minor upgrade to the E-PL1, a camera that I also recommended. New features on the E-PL2 include a larger, high resolution LCD, wider ISO and shutter speed ranges, more Art Filters and scene modes, and support for a Bluetooth transmitter. The camera retains the same compact design, Micro Four Thirds lens mount, very good photo quality, and user-friendly interface of its predecessor. Downsides include highlight clipping, some detail smudging, redeye, poor light focusing, and a movie mode which could be better.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ8
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The Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ8 is one of the best ultra zoom cameras on the market. It certainly doesn't skimp on features: you get a 12X Leica lens with optical image stabilization, full manual controls, widescreen movie recording, snappy performance, and conversion lens support. Not bad for under $300, eh?

Need more zoom? Then check out the similar DMC-FZ18, which packs a whopping 18X zoom lens.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ18
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While it's not perfect, the FZ18 is still the best mega zoom camera that I've tested. Featuring an 18X, 28 - 504 mm lens, the FZ18 is ready for any shooting situation. As you'd expect from Panasonic, the lens has optical image stabilization built in. The FZ18 is a snappy performer, and has tons of manual controls. Photo quality is good in most situations, though too much noise reduction is applied to photos. The camera's electronic viewfinder could be sharper, you can't swap memory cards while its on a tripod, and there's no support for the USB 2.0 High Speed standard.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ30
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The DMC-FZ30 is darn close to the perfect ultra zoom camera. Its biggest flaw is its noisy images, but otherwise it's great. It has a 12X optical zoom lens, image stabilization system, manual zoom and focus rings, full manual controls, a hot shoe, support for conversion lenses, and much more.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ35
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The DMC-FZ35 is the long-awaited replacement to Panasonic's popular FZ28 super zoom camera. The FZ35 is what I call a "hybrid" product, capable of taking high quality stills as well as HD videos. It has the usual Panasonic suite of point-and-shoot features, including image stabilization, Intelligent Auto mode, responsive performance, and very good battery life. The FZ35 also has a nice set of manual controls, and it supports the RAW image format. The camera also supports HD movie recording, though the AVCHD Lite codec isn't easy to work with (though M-JPEG is available too). You can use the zoom lens and image stabilization while recording a video, and sound is recorded in stereo. The FZ35 isn't perfect, though: images are a bit noisy, the LCD and EVF are neither large nor sharp, and the AF-assist lamp is easy to block -- to name a few things.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ50
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Though it has its share of flaws, the Lumix DMC-FZ50 is still one of the top ultra zoom cameras on the market. Offering a SLR style body (it's a big camera) with a 12X Leica lens, manual zoom and focus rings, a rotating LCD display, full manual controls, a hot shoe, and much much more. Its big flaw is the overaggressive noise reduction system, which really smudges details at higher ISO settings. Still, the FZ50 is worth a look.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ150
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The DMC-FZ150 shares a lot in common with its little brother, the FZ47. That includes a 24X zoom lens with image stabilization, a 3-inch LCD display and electronic viewfinder, a great auto mode as well as manual controls, and Full HD video recording. What makes the FZ150 more impressive than the FZ47 is the fact that its LCD flips to the side and rotate, its movies are recorded at 1080/60p, and it offers both a hot shoe and external mic input. It also offers support for the RAW image format, and can shoot continuously at 12 frames/second. Downsides are similar to those of the FZ47: highlight clipping and color casts (in artificial lighting) in your photos, a so-so EVF, and the fact that the full manual is on a CD-ROM.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-G1
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The Panasonic Lumix DMC-G1 is a compact interchangeable lens camera. Since it lacks a mirror, it's not a digital SLR. Still, it offers all the benefits of a D-SLR (great image quality, fast performance, expandability) with a live view experience that's second-to-none. Downsides include a rather high price, limited lens selection, sluggish burst mode, and a few ergonomic annoyances.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-G2
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The Lumix DMC-G2 is a fairly compact interchangeable lens camera that uses the Micro Four Thirds lens mount. It shares much in common with its predecessor, with the big changes being the addition of a touchscreen LCD (which retains the ability to flip to the side and rotate) and a 720p movie mode. The G2 has an easy-to-use Intelligent Auto mode (which does just about everything for you) plus full manual controls. Camera performance is first rate, and photo quality is good, but not quite as nice as D-SLRs that use larger sensors. Redeye and highlight clipping were also issues, and the continuous shooting mode was unremarkable.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF1
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The Lumix DMC-GF1 is a lot like the DMC-G1, but in a much more compact body. Top features include an Intelligent Auto mode, full manual controls, a large, ultra-sharp LCD, and an HD Movie mode. Like the G1, the live view experience is second-to-none, with super-fast autofocus, face detection, and good visibility. Photo quality is very good as well, with the main complaints being occasional highlight clipping and redeye. A few other negatives include the GF1's fairly weak built-in flash, video codec that is difficult to work with, and a few ergonomic annoyances.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF2
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While not as enthusiast-friendly as its predecessor, the GF2 is still a very good compact interchangeable lens camera. It features a 12 Megapixel MOS sensor with generally good photo quality, snappy performance, a high res touchscreen LCD, both auto and manual controls, and full HD movie recording. What's not so hot? The camera tends to underexpose and clip highlights, and redeye can be a problem. The 14 mm kit lens is not great. And both battery life and continuous shooting leave a little to be desired.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX5
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The Lumix DMC-LX5 is the follow-up to one of the most popular low light cameras on the market (the LX3). It features a high sensitivity 10 Megapixel CCD, a fast F2.0-3.3, 24 - 90 mm lens, optical image stabilization, a beautiful 3-inch LCD display, full manual controls (plus a do-everything Intelligent Auto mode), 720p video recording, and tons of optional extras. What needs improvement? The LX5's JPEG quality could be better (when compared to RAW), there's some mild corner blurring, highlight clipping, and purple fringing, the burst mode is nothing to write home about, its controls are a bit cluttered, and the full manual is in PDF format.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ1
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If you want an ultra zoom camera, but don't want to lug around something like the PowerShot S3 or DMC-FZ30 then check out the Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ1. It features a 10X optical zoom lens and image stabilizer in a midsize body that can go just about anywhere. It's a point-and-shoot camera, though, with no manual exposure controls. Other features include a 2.5" LCD display, widescreen movie mode, and really snappy performance.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ3
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The DMC-TZ3 may look like an ordinary compact camera, but it packs a whollop. It has a 10X, 28 - 280 mm zoom lens, optical image stabilization, and an enormous 3-inch LCD. It doesn't have any manual controls, but there are plenty of scene modes to choose from. Photo quality is decent, though noise reduction is heavy at higher ISOs. Overall though, it's a fun to use camera that lets you take any kind of photo, whether wide-angle or super telephoto.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ5
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The Lumix DMC-TZ5 is the replacement for the popular DMC-TZ3. It takes the things that made that camera great, and improves on them. What hasn't changed: the 10X, 28 - 280 mm lens, optical image stabilizer, and plenty of point-and-shoot features. New to the TZ5 is a super-high resolution 3-inch LCD, a 720p movie mode, and numerous "intelligent" features. Panasonic even cut back on the noise reduction, though images are now on the noisy side.

On the negative side, the camera's lens is "slow" at the wide end of things, low light focusing isn't great, and there are minimal manual controls.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS3
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The Lumix DMC-ZS3 is the follow-up to the excellent DMC-TZ5. Panasonic has taken that camera and improved upon it in many ways. The lens is now even wider, covering a range of 25 - 300 mm (12X). The HD movie mode now uses the AVCHD Lite codec which, while great for viewing on a HDTV, is a bit of a pain to edit (though M-JPEG is still available). Other features on this point-and-shoot camera include a large, high resolution (and easy to see) 3-inch LCD, automatic redeye removal, HDMI output, and good battery life. The main downsides are a lack of a manual controls and occasional noise (even at low ISOs).

Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS7
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The Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS7 (known in some countries as the TZ10) builds on what made the ZS3/TZ7 so great, and makes it even better -- for the most part. You get a better image stabilization system, manual controls, faster autofocus, improved sharpening, and a built-in GPS with a database of half million landmarks. That's on top of the 25 - 300 mm Leica lens, 3-inch ultra-sharp LCD, handy Intelligent Auto mode, and HD movie mode that it inherited from the ZS3. The bad news is that the increase in resolution has lowered the image quality, especially once the ISO starts to climb. It's definitely not great for low light shooting, but for travel and everyday photos, it's still a good choice.

Pentax K10D
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The K10D is a camera offering features typically found on cameras twice its price. You get a 10 Megapixel CCD, image stabilization, a 2.5" LCD display, full manual controls, and a dust reduction system. The body is built like a tank, and weather sealed. The camera's downside is the straight-out-of-the box JPEG quality is poor -- but workarounds (mentioned in the review) can make things look a lot nicer.

Pentax K100D
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The K100D's biggest claim to fame is its value for the money. For $600 you get a 6 Megapixel digital SLR with image stabilization that works on every Pentax lens ever made. Despite its low price, the K100D doesn't feel cheap at all. It features a large 2.5" LCD and a bright optical viewfinder. Being a D-SLR, the camera has full manual controls and snappy performance, though the buffer memory fills up too quickly.

Pentax K-7
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The Pentax K-7 is a midrange D-SLR offering build quality and features that you'd expect to find on a camera costing hundreds more. It's built like a tank, with a metal body, and full weather sealing. Image quality is very good, it provides image stabilization for nearly every Pentax lens, the LCD is large and very sharp, performance is snappy, and battery life is strong. Some of its unique features include TAv and Sv exposure modes, composition adjustment, numerous types of bracketing, and an electronic level. The K-7 can also record HD movie clips (though this feature could use some work). Downsides include the tendency to underexpose, sluggish autofocus performance in live view, and an ancient-looking menu system.

Pentax K-r
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The Pentax K-r offers more bang for the buck than any other entry-level digital SLR on the market. It offers very good photo quality, above average performance, tons of features (including lots of custom functions), special effects galore, 720p movie recording, and support for both lithium-ion and AA batteries (though you'll need a $35 accessory for the latter). Downsides include frequent underexposure and highlight clipping, the lack of continuous AF or manual controls in movie mode, and occasional redeye.

Pentax K-x
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The Pentax K-x is an inexpensive digital SLR that doesn't skimp on features (well, except for one). It's compact, well-designed, and easy to use. Photo quality is very good -- especially at high ISOs -- though the camera does tend to clip highlights at times. The K-x also features sensor-shift image stabilization, tons of manual controls and custom functions, a great burst mode, and a 720p movie mode. And did I mention that it uses AA batteries? Downsides include the lack of focus point illumination in the viewfinder, so-so LCD quality, and a dated user interface.

Pentax Optio H90
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The Optio H90 is a uniquely styled camera with a 5X, 28 - 140 mm zoom, 2.7" LCD display, 720p movie mode, and a boatload of point-and-shoot features (it even has a few manual controls). Some of these features include auto scene selection, face/smile/blink detection, numerous special effects, and shadow/highlight improvement. Downsides include the lack of optical image stabilization, flimsy plastic parts, a poorly located I/O port, and so-so night shot and redeye test performance.

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-N2
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While not a significant upgrade over its predecessor, the DSC-N2 remains a top choice in the ultra-compact field. It offers a 10.1 Megapixel CCD with surprisingly good image quality, a 3X zoom lens, limited manual controls, and an enormous 3-inch LCD display. The camera doubles as a portable image viewer, with a 500 shot photo album built right in.

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-T30
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This ultra-compact camera sports a 3X optical zoom, optical image stabilizer, huge 3-inch LCD, plenty of built-in memory, and a VGA movie mode. Battery life is also top-notch. This isn't a camera for those who like manual controls though: there are none.

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W50
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The DSC-W50 is a compact and stylish 6 Megapixel camera. The W50 features a 3X optical zoom lens, 2.5" LCD display, VGA movie mode, and great battery life. Other features include USB 2.0 High Speed support and availability of numerous accessories (including lenses and an underwater case).

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W55
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While not much of an upgrade over its predecessor, the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W55 remains a good choice in the compact camera field. It offers a 3X optical zoom lens, a 2.5" LCD display, point-and-shoot operation, and great photo quality. It comes in a compact, stylish metal body, available in four colors.

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W150
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The Cyber-shot DSC-W150 offers a 5X zoom lens in a relatively compact body. Other features include optical image stabilization, a 2.7" LCD display, smile detection that really works, an optical viewfinder, and best-in-class battery life. It does have its share of flaws, though, including a clunky interface, smudging of fine details due to noise reduction, redeye (which can be corrected on the camera), and a 10 minute movie clip limit. Still, the W150 offers great bang for the buck, so it's worth checking out.