Digital Camera Holiday Gift Guide - $400 - $600 Cameras
2012 Holiday Gift Guide TOC
In part 3 of our 2012 digital camera holiday gift guide, we looked at a series of $250 to $400 cameras that currently offer a step up in features from our first round of $150 to $250 cameras. In part 4, we will dive into the best cameras in the $400 to $600 price range. 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 many of the same performance standards and features of entry-level DSLR cameras. Bottom line, these aren't your standard point & shoot models.
So jump into the fourth part of our 2012 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).
Canon PowerShot G1 X
The Canon PowerShot G1X, Canon's new flagship compact digicam, has been built to impress all around. They have given it a newly designed 1.5-inch CMOS imaging sensor, DIGIC 5 image processor, and a 4x f/2.8 optical zoom lens. With a very similar design to its predecessor, the PowerShot G12, it has a familiar feel for anyone who has owned a G-series model before. The G1X's image quality is excellent; possibly the best you will find from a non-interchangeable lens compact camera in our opinion. The larger sensor and f/2.8 lens also make this an outstanding camera for capturing your HD home movies, both indoors and out. It is great at low-light situations which will keep most of the noise out of your indoor movies as long as there is decent lighting. Outside, you will see brilliant color and a sharp, smooth playing video. Pick up this outstanding camera if you want dSLR-like quality in a compact package.
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Fujifilm FinePix HS30EXR
Fuji has taken their popular HS20EXR and added some new upgrades to create the FinePix HS30EXR. While the cameras share very similar specifications -- a 1/2-inch 16-megapisel EXR CMOS image sensor, an impressive 30x FUJINON manual zoom lens, a 3.0-inch tilting LCD with 460k dots, full 1080p HD video recording, high-speed video -- the HS30 does offer some new features that you may or may not see as improvements. These include the addition of a Li-ion battery pack verses using four AA batteries, increased burst mode capabilities, a few new Advanced scene modes, a higher quality EVF and slightly different IS mode options in the menu for the camera's Dual IS options. Pick this up if you're looking for a dSLR-like camera with loads of versatility, without having to worry about changing lenses.
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Panasonic LUMIX DMC-LX7
A fast-working camera with many advanced features, the Panasonic Lumix LX7 has quite a large list of desirable options -- a 10.1-megapixel MOS Sensor (1/1.7 inch) and a 3.8x optical zoom with an F1.4 maximum aperture at its widest angle and F2.3 at full telephoto; Panasonic's Venus Engine; 11fps high speed burst shooting; full HD 1080p video recording; Intelligent Auto for beginners; Creative Control Mode with 16 filter options; and RAW shooting capabilities. The LX7 produces sharp images and includes quite a few dials and switches dedicated to giving photographers quick access to certain features. Available in black or white, pick this up if you want a fixed-lens camera that can provide some advanced features and more manual control settings than what most point-n-shoot cameras offer, as well as really good response speeds.
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Olympus STYLUS XZ-2
Olympus' flagship point-and-shoot, the STYLUS XZ-2 boats many of the same technologies from Olympus' Micro Four Thirds and DSLR cameras. Basically, this is the point-and-shoot camera for DSLR enthusiasts who want high resolution images while holding a convenient compact digicam. But what makes this little camera so fancy? Well, it has plenty of strong specs -- a 12-megapixel BCMOS image sensor, 4x optical zoom, TruePic VI Image Processor, an f1.8 to f2.5 maximum apertures, Full HD Video recording, Touch AF Shutter function, DUAL Image Stabilization, iAuto, 11 Art Filters, 5 Art Effects, and FlashAir capability -- but what's truly notable about the XZ-2 is what Olympus calls the "world's first hybrid control ring."
See the thing that looks like a focus ring around the 4x optical zoom lens? Well, whenever the Fn 2 lever next to said lens is in the "down" position, the hybrid control ring switches into analog mode -- it becomes a focus or zoom ring. Pop the Fn 2 lever into the "up" position, and the ring clicks into digital mode. No longer smooth-turnin', the ring clicks around, allowing users to change exposure-related settings. Pick up the XZ-2 if you want DSLR manual controls and image quality without the expense and size of of a DSLR.
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Fujifilm FinePix X10
Fuji's X10 features a newly developed 2/3-inch 12-megapixel EXR CMOS sensor which is able to automatically detect optimum shooting mode from 99 variations. Such shooting modes include High Sensitivity and Low Noise (for capturing night scenes), Wide Dynamic Range (increases dynamic range up to 1600%), and HR (High Resolution), which is "perfect for bright clear days." Fujfilm's proprietary EXR technology also means speed -- a 0.01 second shutter lag time, a 0.8 second Quick Start Mode, and up to 7 frames per second of continuous shooting at full resolution (up to 10 frames per second at a reduced resolution). The X10's FUJNON 4x manual zoom lens (28-112mm)has a wide angle maximum aperture of F2.0 and a maximum telephoto aperture of F2.8. To maximize image capture quality, the X10 shoots in the RAW format and features in-camera RAW processing (also, SilkyPix RAW conversion software is included in the box). The X10 also records movies in Full HD 1080p and has a fun mode called Motion Panorama 360° for creating in-camera 360 degree panorama pictures. Lastly, if you ever find your self leaning a few degrees to one side or the other, a built in electronic horizon leveling gauge may be a feature you'll be using frequently. This camera still offers great bang for your buck with the quality and features you are receiving. Pick this up if you want a rangefinder style camera that is packed with plenty of exposure options, good image quality, and robust performance.
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