Which camera should I buy? If you're asking yourself this question, you can use the digital camera reviews, new camera products, best camera lists, and the camera information in this list. Use this digital camera gift guide to find the perfect camera-related gift for the holidays or any other time. This digital camera buying guide will give you the information you need, solving the question: Which camera should I buy?
The "hot" cameras lately are in the DIL (digital interchangeable lens) camera category. DIL cameras are similar to DSLRs, in that they offer interchangeable lenses, but DIL cameras are smaller than DSLRs because they use a mirror-less design. You'll find the best DILs in the $500, $750, and $1,000 price ranges.
- Best DIL camera. Olympus expanded its PEN family of DIL cameras again this year, and there's plenty of great options, including PEN Mini PM1, the PEN Lite PL3, the Mini PM2, and the Lite PL5. This collection of PEN cameras is the best set of DIL models on the market.
- First runner-up. The Pentax Q DIL camera (pictured here) carries a little higher price tag than some other DILs, but its photography features are great, and it has an interesting look. Pentax also has just began offering the Q10 and the K-01, two more great-looking DIL options.
- Second runner-up. You can use quite a few lenses with the Panasonic GX1, which offers a fast autofocus of less than a tenth of a second.
- Third runner-up. The Nikon J2 DIL system has received plenty of buzz just before the holiday season, and it looks like Nikon's second generation DIL camera is a strong contender.
Even with the surge in DILs, DSLR cameras remain very popular, as shown in this DSLR camera buying guide. DSLR cameras provide amazing performance and interchangeable lenses, such as DSLR lenses from Canon. The best DSLRs can be found in the $750, $1,000, and $2,000 price ranges.
A fixed lens camera, also called a large zoom camera, offers a large optical zoom lens, making it a good choice for nature and wildlife photography. You'll want to purchase a tripod to avoid camera shake with these cameras, which appear in the $300, $400, and $500 price ranges.
Although I thought ultra-zoom cameras from a few years ago had several problems that made it tough for me to recommend them, the advancements in overall camera quality and power with the newer ultra-zoom cameras are very impressive, and these cameras now are well worth considering.
If you have room in your budget for an advanced point and shoot camera, you'll be pleased. Advanced cameras typically include large zoom lenses, HD video, and great response times. The best advanced cameras appear in the $250, $300, $400, and $500 price ranges.
Budget-priced cameras don't have to feel like inexpensive, cheap digital cameras. Shop around, and you'll find some desirable features, such as are available in the models I've listed here. The best budget cameras appear in the $100, $150, $200, and $250 price ranges.
Children's cameras should be easy to use, fun to use, inexpensive, and safe. However, keep in mind that, for the most part, they don't take great photos. Children's cameras typically don't carry enough resolution to allow for large prints. If your child is more serious about photography, consider a budget point and shoot model, such as the "best" camera on this list, the DV300F.
- Best children's camera. I've always appreciated the design elements in the DualView line of Samsung cameras, and the latest one is the inexpensive and impressive DV300F, which includes LCD screens on both the front and back, making it easy to shoot self-portraits, which older children will love.
- First runner-up. The V-Tech Kidizoom camera has some drawbacks in photographic features, but it's fun to use for really young children. A similar camera is the U-Turn from Digital Blue. The segmented camera body can be twisted to allow for easy self-portraits, but it might be tough to find this camera for sale because it's older.
- Second runner-up. The Kodak PlaySport is a dual camera, meaning it shoots both video and still images. It's also a rugged camera, designed for outdoor use, making it a great option for children who want a versatile model.
- Third runner-up. Kids will love the big 15X zoom in the inexpensive GE X550 camera. It's a slightly larger camera, but it should still fit well in an older child's hands.
Tough cameras can handle a variety of shooting conditions, from fluctuating temperatures to harsh environmental conditions to shallow water.
- Best tough camera. If your definition of a "wow" camera involves a model that offers almost everything -- style, image quality, overall performance, built-in GPS, "tough" features, and low price -- then the Fujifilm FinePix XP150 (pictured here) fits the bill. (To save a little money, consider the slightly older Fujifilm FinePix XP10). It looks great and works surprisingly well for an inexpensive camera.
- First runner-up. I honestly like the "tough" features of the very rugged Pentax Optio WG-2 better, but its slightly higher price just places it behind the XP150. (The WG-2 GPS model includes a built-in GPS.)
- Second runner-up. Panasonic's Lumix TS4 is a promising tough camera, with a very nice feature set and colorful body options.
- Third runner-up. Canon has begun offering a tough camera, the PowerShot D20. It's a sharp-looking model that can work in up to 33 feet of water depth.
I'll never understand why so many camera manufacturers stick to the basic black and silver with their cameras. These colorful cameras are a lot more fun.
- Best colorful camera. Olympus expanded its PEN family of DIL cameras with the release of its colorful Mini models. Olympus is offering the Mini E-PM1 (pictured here) in brown, black, pink, purple, white, or silver camera bodies, while the Mini E-PM2 can be found in red, white, silver, or black.
- First runner-up. Canon's ELPH 100 HS set of cameras are going to give you some interesting colors in a point and shoot model -- blue, gray, pink, orange, and silver. The ELPH 100 HS shoots great photos, too.
- Second runner-up. The Pentax RS1500 includes changeable "skins," including "superhero" skins, such as the Green Lantern skin, which can give the RS1500 a new look every day.
- Third runner-up. DSLR cameras rarely offer cool body colors, but the award-winning Pentax K-x is offered in chocolate, beige, olive green, light green, pink, purple, blue, orange, red, black, and white.
Most point and shoot cameras are pretty easy to use, but there are a few that take "ease of use" to a new level.
- Best easy to use camera. The Samsung MV800 (pictured here) provides a flip, touch-screen LCD along with the ability to shoot high-quality photos. In my experiences, touch-screen LCDs nearly always make cameras easier to use, especially for beginners.
- First runner-up. Canon's PowerShot A2200 features a "easy" shooting feature that lives up to its name.
- Second runner-up. Nikon's Coolpix S6300 has some great features aimed at combining strong photographic features with easy-to-understand settings, making the S6300 a great option.
- Third runner-up. Sony has paired waterproof options with a touch-screen camera in the Cyber-shot TX20, giving those seeking a "tough" camera an easy-to-use option, too.
If you would like a camera-related gift, but you don't want to buy an actual camera, or you don't have a large budget, you can consider camera accessories.
- Camera bags. Finding the right mix of size, weight, and cushioning in a camera bag can be difficult. The Gura Gear Chobe 19-24L is one of the better options you're going to find (pictured here).
- Digital photo frames. Kodak's Pulse digital photo frame is an award-winning option, in both 7-inch and 10-inch versions.
- Underwater accessories. Many companies make underwater camera accessories that are great for enhancing the versatility of your camera.
- Memory cards. Every photographer can use an extra memory card, and Eye-Fi memory cards can transmit data wirelessly.
- Batteries. Extra batteries can be a very practical gift. If your camera takes rechargeable proprietary batteries, you'll have to make sure the battery you pick is compatiblew ith your camera. If your camera can take AA size batteries, consider batteries made specifically for cameras, such as Energizer Ultimate Lithium.
Before you buy a digital camera, it's important to do your homework. By taking a little time to prepare before you buy, you'll greatly increase your chances of success.
- Camera shopping checklist. Talk to friends, learn the digital camera jargon, and figure out how you want to use the camera, and you'll be prepared when you enter the store.
- Set your budget. Figure out how much you can spend and look for the best camera in your price range. Then you won't be tempted to spend more than you should, no matter how cool the more expensive camera looks.
- Read camera reviews. Once you've narrowed your list to a few different cameras, read some reviews to learn which is the best model for you, such as my review of the Olympus PEN Lite PL3 DIL (pictured here).
You've spent hours studying your digital camera purchase and listening to mind-numbing sales pitch after sales pitch. Even after selecting a model, though, you have one more sales pitch coming before your credit card goes through the machine. Should you buy an extended warranty for your camera? Learn about your warranty options here.
- Manufacturer's warranties. Every new camera has a standard warranty to cover basic problems. For example, the manufacturer's warranty on the Nikon Coolpix S1100pj projector camera (pictured here) is one year, which is a common warranty length.
- Extended warranties. These go beyond the standard manufacturer's warranty, offering longer and additional coverage.
- Additional warranties. Other types of warranties may apply to your camera, too.