Digital Camera Holiday Gift Guide - $600 - $2000 Cameras
2012 Holiday Gift Guide TOC
In part 4 of our 2012 digital camera holiday gift guide, we looked at a series of $400 to $600 cameras that currently offer a step up in features from our first round of $250 to $400 cameras. In part 5, we will dive into the best cameras in the $600 - $2000 price range. These cameras will introduce entry to mid-level dSLR cameras and high-end Micro Four Thirds, or EVIL, cameras. This lineup of digital cameras are targeted at those with a passion for photography, who want the flexibility of interchangeable lens systems and the performance and image quality upgrades over smaller, point-and-shoot cameras.
So jump into the fifth part of our 2012 Holiday gift guide, the $600 - $2000 digital camera range. Our following recommendations are based on quality, features and the best value available on the digital camera marketplace between $600 and $2000 dollars (MSRP).
Canon EOS Rebel T4i
The Canon EOS Digital Rebel T4i is the latest introductory dSLR in the EOS line. Canon has made sure that this is one of the highest quality entry level dSLR cameras on the market with an 18-Megapixel CMOS imaging sensor, DIGIC 5 processor, Vari-Angle 3.0-inch touch screen LCD, Full HD 1080p video recording, and one of the first dSLRs to offer continuous AF video recording. These are just a few of the amazing features found within this class-leading camera. The camera produces an excellent overall image, with great exposure and outstanding colors. Performance is also excellent, surpassing that of the previous Digital Rebel models. Pick this up if you're looking to make the jump to a dSLR or upgrade an existing entry-level dSLR camera. With a slightly higher price than most other entry level units, you will receive better performance and image quality, truly getting what you pay for.
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TThe Sony NEX-6 features an APS-C-sized 16.1 megapixel CMOS image sensor coupled with the BIONZ image processor. For glass, the camera will work with any E-mount lenses, but will be available with a 16-50mm kit lens capable of utilizing Sony's Fast Hybrid AF (Auto Focus) system, a 99 phase detection AF points arrayed on the image sensor. There's also a 3.0-inch Xtra Fine LCD display, a 2.6 million dot, full frame, Electronic "Tru-Finder", full 1080p HD video recording, professional DSLR-inspired P/A/S/M shooting modes, and Sweep Panorama Mode. The NEX-6's biggest selling point maybe its WiFi capabilities, which are not found in most entry-level DSLRS with the same size image sensor. Sony's PlayMemories Camera Apps allow users to customize their cameras, transfer photos to iOS and Android devices, or even directly load pictures to Facebook. Pick up the NEX-6 if you want a versatile dSLR-quality camera with next generation conveniences.
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The latest mid-level dSLR in the Nikon line-up, the D7000 is a well equipped 16-megapixel unit that is loaded with Nikon's latest and greatest technologies. Nested tightly between their popular D90 and D300/D300s models, the D7000 does offer various options to set it apart from its brethren.
These include a newly developed 16-megapixel DX-format CMOS image sensor, EXPEED 2 image sensor, an upgraded 39-point AF system, a more robust metering sensor (2,016-pixel), and full 1080p HD video recording to name a few. Not to mention the D7000 boasts a rugged magnesium-alloy chassis with a weather and dust resistant exterior. Pick this up if you are looking for an extremely versatile digital SLR that offers class leading shooting performance and High ISO abilities. This camera will make a great choice for professionals and photo enthusiasts alike.
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Panasonic Lumix DMC-G5
Panasonic continues to grow their popular G-series of Micro Four Thirds cameras. The Panasonic Lumix DMC-G5 offers a lot of high-end features in a small, lightweight, well-designed package. The biggest draws are its impressive low-light performance, high still image quality, and its customizability. Loaded with 2012 upgrades, the G5 features a newly developed 16.05-megapixel Live MOS image sensor, a redesigned Venus Engine, and full 1080p HD video. Quite compact, measuring 4.72 x 3.28 x 2.79 inches, it still offers a high-quality LVF (Live ViewFinder, aka EVF) with 1.4 million pixels, and a rotating 3.0-inch LCD that includes a touch screen interface. The design of the body, control layout, and enlarged hand grip give the G5 a dSLR-like feel, while its internal components boast to give you image and video quality that meets or exceeds some entry-level dSLRs. Pick up the G5 if you want a lot of customizable SLR-like features in a compact mirrorless camera, and want an articulating, high-resolution touch screen LCD, with an EVF for backup.
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Olympus OM-D EM-5
This sophisticated EVIL (Electronic Viewfinder Interchangeable Lens) camera is loaded with various features that we've come to love about Olympus' Digital PEN cameras. It utilizes the same Micro Four Thirds mount and sensor combination, and uses the same lenses. However, Olympus has brought back accents of their popular OM film system from the 1970s (which held a 40 year legacy), and incorporated them with 2012 technologies. The E-M5 boasts weatherproof sealing, which can resist a light rain or splashes of water, along with increased dust resistance. Olympus has also incorporated a new 3.0 tilting touch screen OLED display, a newly designed 16-megapixel Live MOS image sensor, which boasts superb image quality and low light performance, thanks in part to the camera's TruePic VI image processing engine. The AF system has been brought over from the E-P3, which uses their newer FAST (Frequency Acceleration Sensor Technology) Autofocus system. Olympus still claims that this 35-point system offers the World's fastest AF speed among interchangeable-lens digital cameras currently on the market Available in black/black or silver/black, pick up the EM-5 if you want dSLR performance in a classic, retro body.
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Pentax K-r dSLR
We were overall very pleased with the K-r and its results. The camera is able to produce pleasing photographs in a variety of conditions, including low-light thanks to good performance when using its higher sensitivity settings. Shooting performance is quite robust, and the K-r is loaded with cool and useful exposure options that many will find handy.The K-r boasts several improvements over their entry-level dSLR offerings, including a high-sensitivity 12.4-megapixel CMOS image sensor, broad ISO sensitivity range of ISO 100-25,600, faster burst rates up to 6fps, increased shutter speed range up to 1/6000 of a second, and a versatile dual-power system (use Li-ion pack or AAs) to name a few. The K-r also sports built-in Shake Reduction and Dust removal systems, a nice 3.0-inch LCD screen with 921K dots of resolution, records cinema like 720p HD video at 25fps, offers an improved in-camera HDR function, and a new 11-point phase-matching "SAFOX IX" autofocus system. Pick up the K-r if you're looking for a capable entry-level dSLR loaded with easy to use features, along with plenty of custom and manual controls to boot (not to mention one that matches your own creative style with many camera/lens color combinations).
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