In part 3 of our 2010 digital camera holiday gift guide, we looked at a series of $250 to $400 cameras that currently offer a step up in unique features from our second round of 150 to $250 cameras. In part 4, we will dive into the best cameras in the $400 to $600 price range. These cameras vault into the "prosumer" category; ideally for those previously using a point and shoot, yet looking for something with the quality of the DSLR. This lineup of digital cameras feature RAW image capture, lenses with a wider range and self-cleaning sensors. There are also fewer color choices in this category, as color variety is more popular in the point & shoot market.
So take a look at the third part of our 2010 Holiday gift guide, the $400 to $600 digital camera range. Our following recommendations are based on quality, features and the best value available on the digital camera marketplace between $400 to $600 dollars (MSRP).
Top Pick: Canon PowerShot G12
The legend continues, as Canon creates yet another powerful G-series prosumer model. The G12 builds off of the success of past models, specifically the G11, with a plethora of exposure control options as well as some very appealing specifications. These include a large, 10-megapixel 1/1.7"-inch "high sensitivity" CCD image sensor, which offers improved high ISO performance and image quality when compared to typical 1/2.3-inch sensors of the same resolution. The G12 also boasts Canon's HS (High Sensitivity) System, which combines the robust nature of it's CCD image sensor with their proven Digic 4 image processor, helping the camera excel in difficult shooting conditions; such as low light . Other key features on the G12 include a versatile 5x optical zoom lens, their newer Hybrid optical image stabilization system, a broad shutter speed range of 15 - 1/4000 sec., fast TTL 9-point AF system with Tracking AF, RAW and JPEG image capture (RAW+JPEG is available), ISO sensitivity from 80 to 3200 in 1/3EV steps, Face Detection AE/AF/FE/WB, Motion Detection technology, a SD/SDHC/SDXC memory slot, and a powerful NB-7L 1050 mAh Li-ion battery pack. Pick this up if you are in the market for a powerful "bridge" camera that will allow room to "grow" into your photography skills, or you're a photog who wants a compact, yet powerful camera to keep with you when lugging the dSLR is not convenient.
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Samsung has created quite the competitor to Canon and Panasonic's "compact prosumer" type models, such as the PowerShot S95 and Lumix DMC-LX5. The Samsung TL500 (aka the EX1 in Europe) is a compact yet powerful digital camera that is packed with high-end features and plenty of exposure control. Some of its key features include a super fast f/1.8, 3x optical zoom lens (24 - 72mm equivalent), large 1/1.7" image sensor, 10-megapixels of resolution, a rotating 3.0-inch AMOLED display, durable metal body, creative controls, Li-ion power source, and loads of useful exposure modes. Pick this up if you are looking for a powerful camera that boasts superior low-light capabilities, robust shooting performance, and excellent image quality, along with a plethora of useful exposure mode options.
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Canon PowerShot SX30 IS
Leading the way in the world of compact mega-zoom cameras is the new Canon PowerShot SX30 IS, featuring a 35x wide optical zoom lens, the largest available at the time of its release. This 14-Megapixel powerhouse also features a DIGIC 4 processor, 2.7-inch vari-angle LCD, Optical Image Stabilization, Smart Auto and all of the other great features that you have come to expect on a Canon. Movie mode now allows you to shoot with the optical image stabilization and the option of using the entire optical zoom while the camera is recording. It has also been given a rechargeable Li-Ion battery and quick charger to keep you shooting as long as possible. Pick this up if you are looking for a camera that is capable of shooting in any situation, whether up close or way off in the distance. It's also great if you are in the market for an easy-to-use camera with room to grow in your photography skills.
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Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX5
Nearly two years after Panasonic rolled out the LX3, the LUMIX DMC-LX5 is entering their lineup of digital cameras this fall. This powerful compact model has a classy "retro" look and feel, and offers loads of exposure options for advanced to novice users. The LX5 has an increased optical zoom range from 2.5x on the LX3 to 3.8x. While sensor size and resolution remains identical to the previous model, the maximum ISO has increased to 12800 and this new model utilizes Panasonic's POWER O.I.S system. The LX5 also boasts a 3.0-inch LCD screen, Face Recognition / Detection, 720 high definition video capture and and the new Venus Engine FHD image processor. The LUMIX DMC-LX5 comes in either black or white colors and it's slightly larger than the LX3 in width and depth.
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