2009 Digital Camera Holiday Gift Guide - Part 3

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In part 2 of our 2009 digital camera holiday gift guide, we looked at a series of $150 to $250 cameras that currently offer a step up in features from our first round of sub $150 cameras. In part 3, we will dive into the best cameras in the $250 to $400 price range.  These cameras will feature new aspects such as touch screens, dual LCD screens, all weather performance and higher quality lenses.  This lineup of digital cameras are targeted at the upper end of the point & shoot crowd, ideally for those seeking cameras for outdoor use or cameras that offer more unique features than standard p&s models.  

So jump into the third part of our 2009 Holiday gift guide, the $250 to $400 digital camera range.  Our following recommendations are based on quality, features and the best value available on the digital camera marketplace between $250 to $400 dollars (MSRP).


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Top Pick: Samsung DualView TL225 

This exciting, clever camera from Samsung not only has a superb touch screen LCD on the rear, but also a smaller LCD screen located on the front of the camera.  The screen on the front is designed to help with self portraits, and other times when the photographer is not behind the camera, but still wants to see the framing of the picture.  A 12.2 megapixel sensor and a 4.6x optical zoom come standard.  The touch screen interface on the main LCD is easy and fun to use, and beautiful for viewing even indirectly or in sunlight. There is even a feedback feature on the screen; it vibrates a bit when touched.  The lens goes to a fairly wide 27mm, great for group shots.  

Click on a color below to see the best price on the Samsung TL225

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Nikon Coolpix S70 

The S70 from Nikon not only has 12.1 megapixels and a 5x optical zoom, but also offers Nikon's touch screen technology for ease of use and innovative shooting methods.  Its ultra-slim form factor might be more difficult for those with larger hands to hold, however.  The back of the camera consists only of a large touch screen LCD, where all functions of the camera are controlled.  This large 3.5" screen takes the place of any buttons, and is great to use.  This interface is not only cutting edge, but also intuitive and entertaining.  For example, by simply tapping on the subject on the LCD screen, the camera will focus on it, and even shoot a picture right then if you so choose.  

Click on a color below to see the best price on the Nikon S70

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Canon PowerShot D10

The Canon PowerShot D10 can take just about any abuse you can dish out.  It is waterproof, shockproof, and freezeproof, along with having 12.1 megapixels and a 3x optical zoom with image stabilization.  It is a decent camera in its own right, but excels in harsh shooting conditions.  Feel free to bring the D10 up to 33 feet under water, or drop it from heights of up to 4 feet, with no harm done.  Even though the camera is so durable, its size is still relatively compact and its form factor still somewhat sleek.  Inside it has Canon's latest Digic 4 technology, for great image quality and ease of use, along with speedy response times.  Among rugged cameras that you could easily mistake for a regular model, the Canon D10 shines.  

Click on a color below to see the best price on the Canon D10

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Sony Cyber-shot DSC-H20

Sony's megazoom DSC-H20 contains a 10 megapixel sensor and sports a 10x optical zoom.  A new menu system from Sony makes the camera easier to use than ever before.  Unlike many current cameras, the Sony DSC-H20 allows the optical zoom of the camera to be used while shooting HD video, a great feature to have.  It is a larger camera than others, but this makes it ideal for those with large hands or who want more ergonomic controls.  Along with a bevy of highly proficient automatic modes, including Intelligent Auto mode that picks the best scene-mode for the picture, the camera also has a manual mode for extended control of shooting parameters.  Performance is faster than most in this class.  

Click on a color below to see the best price on the Sony DSC-H20

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Olympus Stylus Tough 8000 

A shockproof and waterproof camera from Olympus, the Stylus Tough 8000 certainly lives up to its name.  Waterproof to 33 feet and crush proof up to 220 pounds, this camera can take a beating and keep on shooting.  The camera also features a 3.6x optical zoom and a 12 megapixel sensor.  Optical image stabilization is also offered, as is a VGA movie mode.  It does lack somewhat in image quality compared to other models in its class, but offers excellent performance relative to other cameras.  A key feature of the Stylus Tough 8000 is its wide angle lens, which goes out to 28mm.  This is great for standard group shots, but also for wide-angle under water shots, making this camera's durability and feature set far more than mere novelty. 

 Click on a color below to see the best price on the Olympus 8000

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Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZR1 

Panasonic's Lumix DMC-ZR1 is a 12.1 megapixel, 8x optical zoom camera that offers fantastic image quality and performance in a small, light weight form factor.  There are limited manual controls, but the automatic features, including Intelligent Auto mode from Panasonic, are superb.  HD video is another feature found on this camera, although it is important to be aware there is no video cable included with the camera.  The revamped image stabilization system on the camera is also excellent, preventing blur at longer shutter speeds.  The 8x optical zoom is very quiet, ideal for zooming during HD video recording without hearing the noise of the lens' motor.  The DMC-ZR1 is a slim, pocket friendly camera that still offers a wide zoom range. 

 Click on a color below to see the best price on the 
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