In the realm of the non-SLR (meaning Single Lens Reflex; the much larger pricier camera’s with detachable lenses, basically) there are models ranging from the decidedly terrible to the totally professional grade, and of course the prices are attendant as such. We are going to go ahead and assume you are not looking for a camera to use on a multi-week long, seven country, three continent wildlife expedition extravaganza, and leave out the most expensive models (you don’t need them!). We are also going to take the liberty of assuming that you do, however, care to get a pretty decent piece of photograph taking machinery, and as such we’ll only show you so-called “point-and-shoot” cameras that we would be proud to have pointed our way. Only not right now, our hair is a mess.
5 Panasonic LumixDMC-FX78
The Panasonic LumixDMC-FX78 is one of the best cameras we checked out today, with impressive stats all around, from its large touch screen controls to its solid megapixel count to its excellent ISO settings and sensitivity to lighting conditions. We have not used one for a protracted period of time, but we hear the battery life is not great, so that’s a negative. The camera can be yours for around one hundred and fifty bucks, though, so it’s not a huge investment. There are many advanced features available to the user, but you can take or leave them as you choose (feel free to change the f-stops, mess with white balance, set up for multiple exposures, etc.), so it’s a good jumping off point for the budding enthusiast.
4 Fujifilm FinePix Z800EXR
The Fujifilm FinePix Z800EXR is not great. At all, really. But it’s not bad, either. And it can be yours, brand new, for about a tank and a half of gas at today’s prices. You can get this little digital camera for less than $125 new. And at that price tag, the fact that it sports 12 megapixels of resolution and 5x optical zoom seem great!OK, so the video quality isn’t the highest quality. But for the casual photographer, the price is just right.
3 The Sony Cyber-shot WX10
The Sony Cyber-shot WX10 is on here deservedly, and in the middle fittingly: it is a middle of the road camera. But thanks to its extreme compactness, we put it in at this rank. It weighs barely .35 pounds and is not even a full inch thick! It’s kind of like a pack of playing cards that can take pictures with 16.2 megapixels of clarity! And a 7x optical zoom which beats the Canon above, yet still can’t touch the Nikon.
2 Canon PowerShot
S100 – no surprise that Nikon and Canon round out the top two spots, huh? This camera will run you over $300, but it’s probably money well spent. Same resolution as the Nikon S9100 with 12.1 MP, less optical zoom. But the Canon offers a slightly better wide angle shot at 24mm when the lens is “wide open.” This camera is also great in low light and it weighs under a half pound, so it’s a good buy if you take lots of pictures indoors at social gatherings, concerts, etc.
1 Nikon Coolpix S9100
Now, we’re not sure exactly why Nikon has expanded its Coolpix line so much; it seems to us that it bleeds across a few strata of cameras, from the decidedly simple, “perfect for your teen” type to the kind that foreign correspondents could pack away in a pocket yet still use to capture front page quality images. Oh well, that’s our problem. Aside from that, the fact that you can find this camera new for under $200 while it boasts 12.1 megapixels and an excellent 18x optical zoom? That we have no problem with. Great video with great sound quality, compact, good display… the works!