the 5 best Digital Cameras

The problem with buying a digital camera is not only that there are hundreds of models for sale at any given point in time, but you also need to figure out which type of camera is right for you. The good news is that we review lots of cameras and these 5 are among the best we’ve tested lately.

Do you want a small camera that requires minimal effort, but takes great pictures? A pocket point-and-shoot is probably your best bet. Need to get close to the action without carrying a huge camera with a big lens? A compact superzoom model is likely for you. Or do you want a lightning-fast shooter that lets you swap out lenses and play with settings? Then you want a D-SLR or a compact interchangeable-lens camera. Plan on shooting on the beach or the slopes? You need a ruggedized waterproof model. We picked winners from recent cameras we’ve tested in the aforementioned categories to make up our top 10. When there are multiple winners in a category, we pick models at various price points. For D-SLRs, we’ve chosen an entry-level, a midrange, and a high-end, full-frame camera. And this time around, we have four point-and-shoot models at various budget levels.

Fujifilm X100S

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When Fujifilm announced its FinePix X100 retro-styled compact at Photokina 2010, it instantly captured the imagination of serious photographers. With its fixed 23mm F2 lens and SLR-sized APS-C sensor, it offered outstanding image quality, while its ‘traditional’ dial-based handling and innovative optical/electronic ‘hybrid’ viewfinder gave a shooting experience reminiscent of rangefinder cameras. On launch its firmware was riddled with frustrating bugs and quirks, but a series of updates transformed it into a serious photographic tool. Certain flaws remained, apparently too deeply embedded into the hardware to be fixable, but despite this, it counts as something of a cult classic. The X100S sees Fujifilm revisiting the concept, but while the external design is essentially unchanged, it’s a very different camera inside. It uses a 16.3MP X-Trans CMOS sensor similar to that seen in the interchangeable lens X-Pro1 and X-E1 models, but now with on-chip phase detection promising much-improved autofocus speed. This is supported by a new processor, the ‘EXR Processor II’, which includes a new ‘Lens Modulation Optimizer’ function. According to Fujifilm this ‘overcomes’ lens aberrations such as diffraction and peripheral aberrations, and should give improved image quality at the largest and smallest apertures. The electronic viewfinder has been upgraded to a higher-resolution 2.35M dot display (from 1.44M dot); however this isn’t the OLED unit used in the X-E1, but an LCD instead. Two additional manual focus aids are available when using the EVF or LCD – a focus ‘peaking’ display that outlines in-focus elements, and an all-new ‘Digital Split Image focusing’ display that uses phase detection data from the sensor, and is designed to offer a similar experience to manual focus film cameras. In addition, the movement sensor on the manual focus ring has been upgraded to detect movement with greater precision – which Fujifilm says will make it more responsive.

 

Olympus TG-2 iHS

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This is the second in a series of short underwater/rugged camera reviews on DPReview. We’re testing the cameras concurrently, and once all six cameras have been reviewed, we’ll publish a roundup of the class, comparing them directly. Olympus, along with Pentax, is one of the pioneers of the underwater/rugged camera. Its first camera, the Stylus 720 SW, was introduced back in 2006, and the rest is history. Many, many generations of rugged cameras later, the Tough TG-1 iHS arrived, and it brought something new to the genre: a fast, F2.0-4.9 25-100mm (equivalent) zoom lens. This was a significant improvement over the slow lenses normally found on tough cameras. Two other notable features were support for conversion lenses, and limited manual exposure control. The Tough TG-2 iHS, which arrived in early 2013, builds on the TG-1’s already impressive feature set and is even more waterproof and rugged, with a better-than-average depth rating of 15 meters (50 feet). The other hallmark features, listed below, remain the same.

 

Sony Cyber-shot RX100 II

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The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 is an enthusiast compact camera based around a 20MP 1″ CMOS sensor. It features a Zeiss-branded 28-100mm equivalent F1.8-4.9 stabilized lens featuring Zeiss T coatings to minimize internal reflection. The rest of its specification is pretty impressive too – a 1.2 million dot 3.0″ LCD (VGA resolution but using Sony’s WhiteMagic technology to offer greater brightness or improved battery life), and 1080p60 video capture or 1080i with the ability to shoot a 17MP stills without interrupting movie recording. The camera can even boast a respectable 330 shots from a charge, according to CIPA tests. Despite the availability of comparatively small, large-sensor mirrorless cameras (at increasingly low prices), the enthusiasts’ compact boom has continued. Most of the big names in the industry now offer models to appeal to people comfortable with a a DSLR but wanting something easier to carry around. The RX100, Sony’s first venture into this market since 2004 (with the DSC-V3) is something rather more serious.

 

Canon PowerShot ELPH 330 HS

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Photography today is as much about image quality as it is about sharing, whether through prints or online communities. With this in mind, the PowerShot ELPH 330 HS digital camera builds upon the success of the PowerShot line with built-in advanced wireless capabilities to easily share high-quality images captured with an impressive 10x optical zoom lens and 12.1-megapixel High-Sensitivity CMOS image sensor. After an initial one-time set-up, the camera can connect to both IOS® or Android™ smartphones and tablets for quick and easy sharing. Users launch Canon’s free Camera Window application, available on both the IOS® and Android™ operating systems, to wirelessly transfer photos and videos from the camera to their device. Frequently used devices and accounts are conveniently stored in the camera’s wireless history menu for quick one-touch access. With these enhanced wireless capabilities, users now have the ability to comment on their uploaded photos directly from the camera – so being part of conversations taking place on social networking sites is easy and convenient. In addition, individuals can control the destination of Facebook uploads – choosing to share content with everyone, or post photos only to selected Facebook groups. Users can also instantly upload images wirelessly from the camera to Canon IMAGE GATEWAY, and automatically upload them to a computer remotely. Photos can also be printed wirelessly using Wireless PictBridge on select Canon wireless inkjet printers, including the new PIXMA MG6320 Photo All-In-One printer, so special moments can be preserved and cherished. A fantastic multipurpose lens: the PowerShot ELPH 330 HS digital camera provides a 10x optical zoom lens taking images from 24mm wide, up to 240mm at the telephoto end, able to capture that group shot, or zoom in for a dynamic close-up. Great even in low light, the camera’s 12.1-megapixel High-Sensitivity CMOS image sensor and DIGIC 5 image processor combine and deliver on Canon’s HS SYSTEM helping ensure detail is captured even in dark or shadowed areas at a maximum ISO speed of up to 6400. For capturing memorable moments on video, at the touch of a dedicated movie-record button, the PowerShot ELPH 330 HS digital camera shoots beautiful 1080p Full HD video and includes a built-in stereo microphone for great sound. Helping document vacations with your own personal highlight reel, the camera’s new Hybrid AUTO mode utilizes a combination of Smart AUTO and Intelligent IS to create a beautiful and steady HD video clip (up to approximately 4 seconds) in Movie Digest mode every time you shoot a still image. Helping ensure you don’t miss those magic moments, the camera features both High Speed AF for fast focusing speed and High-Speed Burst for continuous capture at up to 6.2 frames per second while maintaining superb image quality. The combination of features, including wireless connectivity, Canon’s Intelligent IS system and ECO Mode, help make the PowerShot ELPH 330 HS digital camera a great imaging companion for vacations, all-day sporting events, or family parties.

Canon EOS 6D

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The EOS 6D is built around a new Canon CMOS sensor, which offers a pixel count of 20.2MP. In concert with the DIGIC 5+ processor it offers a standard ISO range of 100-25600, expandable down to 50 and up to 102,400. The AF system has 11 points, but only the central one is cross-type (sensitive to both vertical and horizontal detail). However, the 6D’s trump card is the ability to focus in extremely low light levels; right down to a claimed -3 EV – a full stop dimmer than the 5D Mark III. This figure might not mean much to you, but for reference, -3 EV is roughly equivalent to the light cast by a full moon. Notable additions include integrated GPS and Wi-Fi – with the latter offering the ability to control the camera remotely via your smartphone. The 6D also benefits from some features we saw in the EOS 5D Mark III, like Canon’s silent shutter mode, which offers quieter, more discreet shooting. It also inherits in-camera HDR and Multiple Exposure modes, but disappointingly implements these as JPEG only options, unlike on the 5D Mark III which also records Raw files. The 6D omits some of the more interesting goodies Canon introduced on the EOS 650D, too. There’s no on-chip phase-detection to aid autofocus in live view or movie mode, nor does Canon’s superb touchscreen interface make an appearance. As usual for a full frame DSLR – the Sony SLT-A99 being the sole exception – the rear screen itself is fixed, rather than articulated as it is on the EOS 60D. Canon says this is for maximum durability and to keep the camera’s size down.