To pick out what I believe the best cameras come in each of these categories, I spent countless hours researching different websites gathering just as much information as possible to find the best camera in each group. My research includes looking at customer reviews on Amazon, Adorama and BH Photo Video, reading professional critiques from DPreview, Imaging-Reference and Steve’s Digicams, and reading countless online web forums and discussion boards. Of course I’ll add my OWN personal opinion in the mixture, also. Oh, a quick note… if there’s a very important factor to remember when searching for new a camcorder, it’s that megapixels DO NOT MATTER. These big camera businesses boast about having the most megapixels, trying to utilize it as a selling point, when they really don’t matter. Multiple resources on the internet will say exactly the same. Let’s start, shall we?

Best Compact Budget Point-and-Shoot

Canon SD1400IS

Staying under the $200 mark, and from the research I did so, this little gem can take one heck of an image, along with HD video, too! That is right, this tiny guy has 720p (1280 x 720 pixels) HI-DEF video. Something that is rarely seen in a camera this affordable. From what I learn while researching, this camera takes top quality photos for the price. The only drawback on it I came across online is really a slightly more grainy photo because of the 14MP censor. Other than that, people love it for the ease of use, pocket-able size and great price-to-feature value. Other features include a large 2.7-inch LCD display screen, optical image stabilization, a broad 28mm equivalent lens (I love wide angle lenses), HDMI end result, and Smart Automobile. I head a lot of good things about smart Automobile. From what Canon says, it’ll “intelligently select between 22 several predefined settings.” Oh, also it comes in HOT PINK! Not necessarily that I care… After exploring this class of camera for hours, the overall consensus is that Canon makes awesome compact budget point-and-shoots. You will be satisfied with some of their budget models, including the SD1400IS. I have yet to find an awful one.

Best Compact Enthusiast Point-and-Shoot

Canon S95

Okay, now in my honest opinion, this can be a no-brainer. The previous version, the Canon S90, was a massive strike. And the Canon S95 improves upon it. I mean seriously! For a camera under $400, it has 720p HD video tutorial (with stereo sound!), a super bright f/2.0 lens, RAW mode (my favorite), a wide 28mm equivalent zoom lens and HDMI output. Those are just a few features. The best part, and the part which makes the S95 the best enthusiast point-and-shoot camera, may be the control ring. This thing helps it be a breeze to regulate focus, exposure, ISO, white stability, and pretty much all of the manual controls. It critically has everything a cameras enthusiast would need in a point-and-shoot, and more! Let’s see… AUTO ISO, Colour yRGB histograms, bracketing, a metal body, and crap a great deal of gimmicks and useless modes. In addition, it comes with an HDR mode. I’d never utilize it, but I assume it works pretty good. It takes three consecutive photos and merges them together for you personally. After that you can edit them later on your computer. I, however, think it is rather lame because all of the important benefits are locked out, such as exposure and white balance. And HDR on a point-and-shoot? What has this earth arrived at. Just buy this camera. Really. To be honest I didn’t really do much research on other cams in its course, because once I knew Canon was generating the S95, it had been going be considered a hit. Sure you can find other good enthusiast cameras on the market, but none that are nearly as awesome as the Canon S95 for the same price and size!

Canon G12? Huge and bulky at a cost of around $500.
Panasonic Lumix LX5? Still larger, and still more costly. Price? Around $450.
I think I proved my point. Of course this is just my estimation. I’m certain others will disagree with me.

Best Entry-Level DSLR

Nikon D3100

The Nikon D3100 will be another obvious buy if you are looking to get an electronic SLR. At close to, or under, $700, you obtain one heck of a surveillance camera (with lens!) that’s jam-packed full of features for the price. It is also Nikon’s very first DSLR to feature full 1080p HD video. I want to make clear why I picked it because the best entry-level DSLR. To begin with, it comes with a excellent kit lens, the 18-55mm AF-S VR, which is known to be an excellent all-around kit lens. It’s sharp, has VR (Vibration Lowering) can focus very close – nearly macro like – and contains Nikon’s Silent Wave Motor gives it fast, quiet autofocus. Everything I read was basically positive, except for the casual “bad backup.” The images the D3100 pumps out are so close the qualified Nikon D3 and D700 in good light, you could never tell the distinction in a side-by-side comparison! Great ISO on the D3100 is great, considering it isn’t a full-frame camera. I’d say it’s equally as good Nikon D300s I own with regards to high ISO. In other words, don’t be scared to shoot at ISO 1600. In-fact, ensure it is your buddy! The viewfinder in the D3100 is distinct and distraction free. Why by that is it generally does not have as much clutter intending on in the viewfinder. This can make it simpler to compose shots. Also, it is a small, ultra-lightweight DSLR weighing in at 505 g (1lb 1.8 oz.) This is usually a plus to some, a negative to others. For me personally, I could go either way. Other features include a large rear 3-inch LCD, 11 Autofocus Points, Vehicle Distortion Correction, and Nikon’s innovative EXPEED 2 image processing engine. There are few (hardly any) items that the D3100 is lacking, though, compared to higher end cameras; You can 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 does not have any motor drive, there’s only one manual preset WB memory situation, you do not get any depth-of-discipline 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, can be one of the best in its class. Having a brand new and amazing User Definable Settings (U1, U2) right on the mode selector dial, these handy shortcuts allow you to set, shop and change your video cameras setting and never have to go deep in to the menu system! I’m envious. I want my D300S to possess this. Actually, I’m considering getting the D7000 for this feature alone. There are other features I, among others (from what I saw different times) love about this camera, too, such as:

Full 1080p HI-DEF video
Light in weight, yet 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 details with nine cross-type sensors
So as you can see, this camera is really a bargain for its price, which is around $1200 (body only.) My analysis on the D7000 wasn’t as comprehensive as others in it’s class, simply because it just got released. And folks are having trouble finding it; it’s always sold-out! I have yet to learn ANYTHING bad on the surveillance camera. All I could find is that it can only bracket three exposures instead of the 5-9 that various other cameras can do. Folks are raving about the fast autofocus, and amazing metering due to the fresh 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 just as good, if not better than the Nikon D300s which is $300-$400 more. Now in the event that you excuse me, I must go buy this camera.

Best Full Frame DSLR – TIE

Canon 5D Mark II and Nikon D700

After hours of exploration, I was determined to pick either the 5D Tag II or the D700 as the best professional full frame DSLR. One or another. Certainly not both. Well, after those time of research I did so, I failed. My last verdict will be that you can’t fail with either of these stunning full frame DSLRs. They both provide breathtaking photos, even at high ISOs. And they both have excellent build quality that will last you years upon decades. But what are the differences