To pick out what I think the best cameras are in each of these categories, I spent a lot of time researching different websites gathering as much information as possible for the best camera in each group. My research includes considering customer reviews on Amazon, Adorama and BH Photograph Video, reading professional critiques from DPreview, Imaging-Reference and Steve’s Digicams, and reading several online web forums and discussion boards. Of course I’ll add my very own compact camera bag personal opinion in the combine, also. Oh, a quick note… if there’s a very important factor to remember when searching for new a camera, it’s that megapixels USUALLY DO NOT MATTER. These big camera organizations boast about getting the most megapixels, trying to use it as a selling point, if they really don’t matter. Multiple resources on the net will say exactly the same. Let’s start, shall we?

Best Compact Budget Point-and-Shoot

Canon SD1400IS

Staying beneath the $200 mark, and from the study I did, this little gem may take one heck of an image, alongside HD video, too! That’s right, this tiny guy has 720p (1280 x 720 pixels) HI-DEF video. A thing that is rarely observed in a camera this low-priced. From what I read while researching, this camera will take good quality photos for the price. The only real drawback on it I came across online is really a slightly more grainy photo as a result of 14MP censor. Besides that, people love it for the ease of use, pocket-able size and good price-to-feature value. Other features add a large 2.7-inch LCD display, optical image stabilization, a broad 28mm equivalent lens (I love wide angle lenses), HDMI end result, and Smart AUTO. I head lots of good things about smart Automobile. From what Canon says, it will “intelligently select between 22 unique predefined settings.” Oh, also it comes in HOT PINK! Not that I care… After researching this class of camera all night, the general consensus is that Canon helps make awesome compact budget point-and-shoots. You may be satisfied with some of their budget models, like the SD1400IS. I have yet to get an awful one.

Best Compact Enthusiast Point-and-Shoot

Canon S95

Okay, now in my honest opinion, it is a no-brainer. The prior version, the Canon S90, was an enormous reach. And the Canon S95 improves upon it. After all seriously! For a camera under $400, it has 720p HD video clip (with stereo sound!), a brilliant bright f/2.0 lens, Natural mode (my favorite), a broad 28mm equivalent lens and HDMI output. Those are simply a few features. The very best part, and the part that makes the S95 the very best enthusiast point-and-shoot camera, may be the control ring. This thing helps it be a breeze to regulate focus, exposure, ISO, white equilibrium, and pretty much all of the manual controls. It seriously has everything a camcorder enthusiast would need in a point-and-shoot, and much more! Let’s see… AUTO ISO, Coloring yRGB histograms, bracketing, a steel body, and crap a great deal of gimmicks and useless modes. In addition, it has an HDR mode. I’d never use it, but I assume it works pretty good. It takes three consecutive pictures and merges them together for you personally. You can then edit them later on your computer. I, however, think it is rather lame because all of the important characteristics are locked out, such as exposure and white equilibrium. And HDR on a point-and-shoot? What has this universe arrived at. Just buy this camera. Significantly. To be honest I didn’t really do much research on other cams in its category, because once I realized Canon was making the S95, it was going be a hit. Sure there are other good enthusiast cameras on the market, but none that are nearly as awesome as the Canon S95 for exactly the same price and size!

Canon G12? Big and bulky at a price of around $500.
Panasonic Lumix LX5? Still bigger, and still more costly. Price? Around $450.
I believe I proved my point. Needless to say this is just my estimation. I’m sure others will disagree with me.

Best Entry-Level DSLR

Nikon D3100

The Nikon D3100 is definitely another obvious buy if you’re looking to get a Digital SLR. At all over, or under, $700, you get one heck of a video camera (with lens!) that is jam-packed full of features for the price. It is also Nikon’s first of all DSLR to feature full 1080p HD video. I want to clarify why I picked it because the best entry-level DSLR. First off, it comes with a excellent kit lens, the 18-55mm AF-S VR, which is known to be a very good all-around kit lens. It’s sharp, has VR (Vibration Lowering) can focus very close – nearly macro like – and has Nikon’s Silent Wave Motor which gives it fast, calm autofocus. Everything I read was initially positive, except for the casual “bad backup.” The images the D3100 pumps out are so close the specialized Nikon D3 and D700 in good light, you could never tell the variation in a side-by-side comparison! Large ISO on the D3100 is great, considering it isn’t a full-frame camera. I would say it’s equally as good Nikon D300s I own with regards to high ISO. Quite simply, don’t be afraid to shoot at ISO 1600. In-fact, ensure it is your friend! The viewfinder in the D3100 is obvious and distraction free. Why by that is it generally does not have as much clutter going on in the viewfinder. This can make it simpler to compose shots. Also, it is a small, ultra-light and portable DSLR weighing in at 505 g (1lb 1.8 oz.) This is a plus to some, a poor to others. For me personally, I could go either way. Other features include a large rear 3-inch LCD, 11 Autofocus Points, Automobile Distortion Correction, and Nikon’s latest EXPEED 2 image processing motor. There are few (very few) things that the D3100 is lacking, though, in comparison to higher end cameras; It is possible to only use lenses that have a built in motor such as Nikon’s AF-S lenses (other zoom lens makers have similar lenses) since the D3100 has no motor drive, there’s only 1 manual preset WB memory location, you do not get any depth-of-field preview, and there is no Kelvin White Balance setting. If you’re searching for an entry-level Digital SLR, now is the time to buy. And I would recommend the Nikon D3100. Therefore do thousands of others.

Best Semi-Pro DSLR

Nikon D7000

Nikon’s newest DSLR, the D7000, is also one of the greatest in its class. Having a brand new and amazing User Definable Adjustments (U1, U2) directly on the function selector dial, these practical shortcuts let you set, shop and change your video cameras setting without having to go deep in to the menu system! I’m envious. I’d like my D300S to have this. Actually, I’m considering getting the D7000 because of this feature alone. You can find other features I, and others (from what I saw several times) love concerning this camera, too, such as:

Full 1080p HI-DEF video
Light in weight, but still ergonomically comfortable
Best-in-class high ISO photos
Quiet… Very quiet operation…Shhh…
Ground-breaking 2,016-Segment RGB Meter
Superior weather and dust sealing
Six fps continuous shooting around 100 shots
New EXPEED 2 image processing
39 autofocus points with nine cross-type sensors
So as you can view, this camera is a bargain for its price, that is around $1200 (body simply.) My exploration on the D7000 wasn’t as considerable as others in it’s course, because of the fact it just got released. And folks are having a hard time finding it; it’s always sold out! I have yet to read ANYTHING bad on the cameras. All I could find is that it could only bracket three exposures instead of the 5-9 that some other cameras can do. Folks are raving concerning the fast autofocus, and incredible metering due to the latest 2,016-Segment RGB Meter. The Nikon D7000 has already been a smash hit during this article. It’s all sold-out. Not surprising to me, since it’s equally as good, if not better than the Nikon D300s which is $300-$400 more. Now if you excuse me, I have to go buy this camera.

Best Full Frame DSLR – TIE

Canon 5D Mark II and Nikon D700

After hours of research, I was determined to pick either the 5D Tag II or the D700 as the best professional full frame DSLR. One or another. Not necessarily both. Well, after those time of research I did so, I failed. My ultimate verdict can be that you can’t fail with either of these stunning full frame DSLRs. They both present breathtaking pictures, even at high ISOs. Plus they both have excellent construction that may last you years upon ages. But which are the differences