However, I also realize that opinions differ a bit, and my 5-star camera might not receive quite as good of a rating from other photographers. In addition, you might have a specific feature that you want from your camera that isn't found with the 5-star cameras.
So, with that in mind, here are the best 4-star cameras I've reviewed. Each of these cameras has one or two minor drawbacks that left it just shy of the 5-star rating, but these are still great cameras. In addition, they may have that one must-have feature that you need, meaning one of these cameras may be more appealing to you than any of the 5-star reviewed models.
The biggest drawback to the ELPH 100 for me was the tiny buttons that were tough to use on an otherwise great model. It also would've be nice if the ELPH 100 had a larger optical zoom lens than 4X, but it's tough to beat its sub-$200 price.
Colorful cameras have been a staple of Canon PowerShot cameras for quite a few years, and this recently announced camera follows that formula. The ELPH 100 is part of Canon's new "HS System," short for high sensitivity. Canon designed its HS cameras to work well in low light.
For a camera in its price range, the ELPH 100 includes some nice features, including a 3-inch LCD screen and full 1080p video capabilities. You'll find a 12.1MP CMOS image sensor with the ELPH 100, further improving low light performance.
Canon is offering the ELPH 100 in five body colors -- blue, gray, pink, orange, and silver.
Canon has attempted to provide some advanced features in its ELPH series of stylish point-and-shoot cameras with the HS (high sensitivity) designation, and the latest in this family, the Canon PowerShot ELPH 330 HS, follows along this line of thinking.
The ELPH 330 can shoot at up to 6.2 frames per second in burst mode at a full 12.2MP of resolution. It also should perform well in low light using the HS technology, and the ELPH 330 can shoot at an ISO setting up to 6400.
The ELPH 330, which is available in black, silver, or pink, also has a 10X optical zoom lens, full 1080p HD video recording, and a 3.0-inch LCD screen.
Fujifilm's third interchangeable lens mirrorless camera -- the X-M1 -- is the most impressive model yet, offering an image sensor that's similar in size to what you'd find in a DSLR camera.
The X-M1, which measures only 1.5 inches in thickness without a lens attached. includes a 3.0-inch articulated LCD, a start-up time of 0.5 seconds, full 1080p video recording, built-in Wi-Fi, and in-camera RAW processing.
The X-M1 can make use of an Fujifilm XF or XC interchangeable lenses. You can find the X-M1 in three body colors, black, silver, or brown.
The D3100 is a solid model that just missed out on a 5-star rating because it doesn't quite offer the advanced features you may find in other DSLRs, but it also doesn't carry some of the high prices you often see with a DSLR.
The D3100, which is a CES Innovations honoree and which made my list of the best cameras for 2010, includes on-screen help guides for giving photographers more opportunities for learning how to use their cameras.
The Olympus PEN E-PL3 digital interchangeable lens camera attempts to bring advanced photography options into a camera body more similar to a point and shoot model. Also called the PEN Lite, this model just missed a 5-star ranking in my review, mainly because it has a slightly larger price than the PEN Mini.
The PEN Lite includes a tiltable 3-inch LCD, which is handy for shooting odd-angle photos. It offers 12.3 megapixels of resolution with a CMOS image sensor, and it can shoot at up to five frames per second. The PEN Lite will be available in a variety of body colors, depending on where it's sold in the world, but white, red, silver, and black camera bodies are most common.
The latest "mini" camera from Olympus, the PEN E-PM2, should be another very nice DIL model to build upon the recent success of the Olympus Mini PEN E-PM1, which made my list of the best cameras in 2011 last year.
The E-PM2, which is now available in silver, black, white, or red camera bodies, features 16.1MP of resolution, interchangeable Micro Four Thirds lenses, a 3.0-inch touch screen LCD, and full HD video. The PEN Mini 2 features a much larger resolution and a touch screen LCD as its primary improvements over the PEN Mini 1. An external flash is included as part of the E-PM2 starter kit.
The latest tough camera from Olympus, the TG-830, provides a nice mix of photographic features and "tough" features.
The TG-830 has 16 megapixels of resolution, a 5X optical zoom lens, full 1080p HD video capabilities, and a 3.0-inch LCD. Olympus recently dropped the price on this camera. It's available in blue, red, silver, or black body colors.
8. Pentax Q DIL
Count Pentax among the manufacturers who have added digital interchangeable lens (DIL) cameras to their product line alongside DSLR cameras, and Pentax's first model, the Q, represents a great debut. A price that's a little above where I'd like to see it resulted in the Q just missing a 5-star rating in my review.
Because of the mirror-less design for the camera's interior, DIL cameras are smaller than DSLRs. However, they use a different lens system than DSLRs, meaning lenses cannot be shared between the two types of cameras.
The Pentax Q, which is currently available for sale in white or black, offers a 12.4MP CMOS image sensor, 1080p HD video, a 3.0-inch high-resolution LCD, a built-in flash, and five frames per second capabilities.
I've always like the DualView camera design from Samsung, starting with the first model a few years ago, as it simplifies self portraits while allowing quite a bit of fun photography options.
The latest DualView, the DV300F, adds WiFi capabilities to the camera that has LCD screens on the front (1.5 inches) and back (3.0 inches) of the model. That's even more impressive when you consider the DV300F measures only 0.72 inches in depth.
In addition, the DV300F has 16.1 megapixels of resolution, a 5X optical zoom lens, and 720p HD video. It's a low-priced camera, which makes it a really nice and fun option for beginners.
10. Samsung WB250F
Samsung has done a really nice job of late creating thin ultra zoom cameras that give you a variety of great features, including built-in Wi-Fi. The latest model, the WB250F, is another strong camera along this line.
The WB250F includes an 18X optical zoom lens, a 14MP CMOS image sensor, full 1080p HD video recording, Wi-Fi, and a 3.0-inch touch-screen LCD. You also can download a Remote Viewfinder app to allow your smartphone as a camera display.
Look for the WB250F to be available now in black, white, red, or gun metal gray.
If you like thin, small cameras, Sony's WX80 model is going to give you the size you want with some nice photography features.
The WX80 measures only 0.91 inches in thickness, but it offers an impressive 8X optical zoom lens. In addition, the WX80 has a 16.2 megapixel CMOS image sensor, a 2.7-inch LCD, built in Wi-Fi capabilities, and full HD video recording.
You'll find the WX80 in red, black, or white camera bodies.