Digital Camera Holiday Gift Guide - $250 - $400 Cameras
2013 Holiday Gift Guide TOC
Canon PowerShot SX50 HS
Following up on 2011's popular PowerShot SX40 HS, Canon announced the PowerShot SX50 HS with improvements to the optical zoom, LCD quality and other shooting capabilities. Similar to the PowerShot SX40 HS, the Canon SX50 HS includes the 1/2.3-inch 12.1-megapixel High-Sensitivity CMOS image sensor and DIGIC 5 image processor. In addition, both cameras shoot video in 1080p at 24 frames per second and 720p at 30fps. The electronic viewfinder hasn't changed, the hot shoe is still included and the battery is identical. However, the optical zoom has significantly increased from 35x (24-840 mm f/2.7-5.8) to 50x (24-1200 mm f/3.4-6.5). The vari-angle LCD screen has increased in size slightly from 2.7 inches to 2.8 inches and the pixel density has doubled from 230k to 461k. The ISO range has expanded from 100-3200 in the SX40 to 80-6400 in the SX50. Another interesting inclusion for budding professional photographers is the addition of the RAW format when shooting. The PowerShot SX50 HS can be set to capture 12-bit RAW + JPEG image files for instant file back-ups as well as post-processing latitude and image modification. Pick this up if you need a huge zoom lens in a camera with plenty of controls that can be customized.
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Olympus TG-2 iHS
Continuing on the great success of Olympus's "tough" cameras, the Stylus TG-2 takes the new front of the line position in the TG series. The most powerful and toughest of the series, it features a 12-Megapixel Backside Illuminated CMOS imaging sensor, TruePic VI image processor, internal 4x optical zoom lens, dual image stabilization, GPS and a high res. 3.0-inch LCD screen. Not only is this camera great for the adventurous and frequent travelers, it is perfect for households with kids and pools as well. Available in two bold color combinations, with a Red or Black body, this camera was made to stand out. The TG-2's tough settings include its ability to descend to depths of up to 50ft. without having any additional housing, withstand falls from up to 7ft, handle pressure up to 220lbs, temperatures down to 14° F and is completely dustproof once it has been closed up and locked. One of the keys to these abilities are the rubber gaskets on both doors that open. Once they are closed, the gaskets keep everything air tight to protect the camera. To make sure the doors are closed before use, they both feature a latch and lock system so there are no worries of them accidentally opening. The GPS is an excellent feature for anyone that likes to travel, recording where you captured images as well as pointing out nearby landmarks with the digital compass. Pick this up if you are looking for the best consumer "tough" or "lifeproof" camera available. This is made to withstand almost anything you can through at it and still provide excellent image quality.
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Sony Cyber-Shot DSC-WX300
The Sony Cyber-Shot WX300 is an ultra-compact digicam featuring far more versatility and ease of use than you can imagine. Sporting a 20x optical "G" lens and an 18.2-Megapixel Backside Illuminated Exmor R CMOS imaging sensor, you can get far closer and record higher quality images than with any other camera this size. A slew of auto shooting modes, including Superior Auto and iSweep Panorama, allow anyone in the family to pick up this camera and use all of its functions and creative shooting modes. The powerful sensor and processor work together to combine images using burst shooting modes to remove noise and increase performance and quality. Not only is the camera powerful and convenient to carry, it is also available in three stylish colors: Red, Black and White. Pick this up if you are looking for a camera that is extremely versatile and very easy to use. This is perfect for anyone needing to be ready for any situation without carrying a camera bag.
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You might call the Nikon Coolpix P330 a performance compact camera. It packs a lot of dSLR-like features into a small package, and comes in a rugged body that could take a few knocks; yet it weighs a modest 7.1 ounces with SD card and battery installed. The 12-megapixel camera sports a 1/1.7-inch CMOS sensor, offers native ISO settings up to ISO 3200, and uses lens-shift vibration reduction in its 5X zoom lens. In addition to the typical features that can be reached easily by dedicated buttons and via the four-way control, the P330 has a thumb dial and a mode dial beside the shutter button, which offers a user-customizable position. In addition, there's a function button on the front of the camera. This function button can be customized to toggle a variety of settings. Also, the mode dial offers a position for full manual mode. Best of all, you get the ability to shoot RAW files and RAW + JPEG simultaneously, not just in single shot mode, but also in low- and high-speed burst modes without slowing the camera down. If the 10fps high-speed burst isn't fast enough for you, you can also shoot 1-megapixel files in either the 60fps or 120fps burst modes. These bursts are a lot of fun to whiz through using the rear dial, which flip past at a slow-motion pace. Pick this up if you are looking for a reasonably priced compact camera that takes high-quality photos and video, and offers loads of dSLR-like features, and can live with a modest 5X zoom lens.
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Olympus SH-50 iHS
Olympus's new Stylus SH-50 is a compact super-zoom camera, that boasts some appealing features in its pocket-sized frame. One of which is a new image stabilization system, which is a first for the Stylus lineup. This new system compensates for 3 different motions in still mode, 5 different in video, helping reduce blur in both modes. Combining this with the high quality 16-megapixel BSI CMOS imaging sensor, TruePic VI image processor, amazing 24x optical zoom lens and an easy-to-use 3.0-inch touch screen gives you a fantastic overall package of quality, versatility and style. On top of all all of these high quality features is Olympus's Enhanced Intelligent Auto shooting mode, which allows anyone to pick up the camera and capture great images. For the more creative photographers, the camera includes Scene and Magic shooting modes as well as full manual for total control. This camera is available in three stylish colors: Black, Silver and White. Olympus's new Image Stabilization system was developed from the system that can be found on the E-M5. This allows the camera to compensate for movement in 5 directions while recording video and 3 directions with still images; the first of its kind in a compact camera. This allows for blur-free images while shooting on the go throughout the entire 24x optical zoom range. Smooth video can even be captured on the move, whether walking or riding on something, the camera can make the compensations. Olympus's iHS system is the combination of its High Sensitivity Backside Illuminated CMOS image sensor and powerful TruePic VI image processor. The two combine to provide an increase in image quality by helping to reduce noise. The powerful processor also helps the camera with increased burst shooting and scene selections in iAuto mode. Beauty Fix and the other editing features are also enhanced and enabled by the processor. Pick this up if you are looking for a compact camera that can handle just about any situation you can throw at it, with both still images and full 1080p HD video.
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Pentax's new MX-1 is a classically designed, compact digicam that provides high image quality and good performance with a sense of style. Featuring a 1/1.7-inch, 12-Megapixel backlit CMOS image sensor and a 4x optical zoom lens with a maximum aperture of f/1.8-2.5, you will have no problems shooting indoors or in other low-light situations. A large 3.0-inch LCD screen, Full 1080p HD video capture and sensor shift image stabilization top off the technology of the camera, while its metal and brass accents will age and give a true classic look and feel over time. Performance from the MX-1 is good for a compact camera, capturing its first image after start up in just 2.2 seconds. The shutter lag is almost instantaneous when the camera is prefocused, and when allowing the AF system to work it took between 3/10 and 6/10 of a second, depending on the situation. Its shot to shot delay when using the flash was 1.56 seconds, but not much faster without it at 1.50 seconds. Continuous shooting gives us a decent 1.75fps that should never run out, but if you are looking for faster, you will want to check out the burst shooting modes. Low burst mode ups the capture rate to 3.13fps while the high burst mode hits 4.35fps. Both of these modes will stop after ten images so the camera is able to save them to the memory card. All of our tests were completed using a SanDisk Extreme Pro UHS-1, 8GB SDHC memory card, Program mode, ISO Auto, flash off and all other settings at the factory defaults. Shooting in RAW or RAW+ will disable burst shooting and slow down the continuous rate. Pick this up if you are looking for a compact camera with great image quality and performance. It is also a great looking camera that enthusiasts will love.
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