Five Best Cameras of 2012

2012 is the year of the megapixel.  Even small, pocket-sized phones can deliver 12 megapixels-plus, meaning that it is possible to get professional-quality shots from a point-and-shoot camera.  With resolution numbers moving ever-higher, camera-shoppers need other ways to compare cameras.  Of course, certain types of picture-shooters have certain needs that different styles of camera can address.  The interchangeable lenses, accessories, and controls make digital SLR cameras the top choice for pro photographers and those who want to take quality pictures.  For others, the convenience of a pocket-sized point-and-shoot is the deciding factor when it comes to choosing a camera style.  Luckily, some of 2012’s best cameras can offer a high level of control in a small package.

In the market for a camera this year?  Here is where you should look.

Fujifilm Finepix X100

This 12.3 megapixel camera has a price tag that sits at more than $1,000.  However, it is one of the best compacts on the market, with a level of control that is usually only found in pro-level DSLRs.  Surprisingly, this camera has a retro style, not unlike early compact film cameras.  The lens hearkens back to the early days of 35mm film cameras as well.  What really makes the Finepix X100 stand out is its exposure controls and unique hybrid viewfinder.  A cheaper alternative (about $600), is the Fujifilm Finepix X10, which offers a similar classic style, but without so many bells and whistles.

Nikon Coolpix P310

This pocket-sized camera, with its 4.2x optical zoom, is a good choice for point and shoot enthusiasts who care about overall picture quality.  Getting crystal-clear pictures is easy thanks to this device’s 16 megapixels.  This camera works well in low light conditions because of its rear-lighted CMOS sensor.  Advanced shooters won’t find the level of control they’ll get with the Finepix X100, but the $315 price tag makes this Nikon a great value for people in search of a quality pocket-sized picture-taker.

Canon Rebel

The Rebel continues to be the best choice for those seeking an entry-level DSLR.  It can even perform well for advanced photographers (it is a top choice for pros seeking a quality back-up) thanks to its user-friendly controls and the fact that it works with Canon’s huge array of lenses.  Different shooting modes and a variety of automatic features can make it possible for novice DSLR users to get the best picture every time, even if they don’t know how to get the most out of their manual settings.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS20

This compact super-zoom camera is one of the best options for those seeking a quality camera for less than $300.  Coming in at about $250, it beats most of the similarly-priced competition hands-down.  It can shoot high quality video and automatically handle a variety of difficult lighting situations.  A touch-screen interface makes it a pleasure to navigate and control manual settings if needed.

Canon EOS 5D Mark II

This camera is for pros and and advanced shooters who want a feature-rich DSLR that can shoot HD video and provide the tools that can make shooting possible in any kind of condition.  At $2500, this isn’t a camera for budget-minded deal-seekers, but it is a great and long-awaited update of the 5D line that has long been the tool of choice for skilled photographers. 17 megapixels is more than enough for most shooting needs, but not the highest in the advanced DSLR market.  A muscular image processor gives the 5D the ability to create broadcast-quality HD video without even breaking a sweat.  In short, despite its relatively high price tag, this camera is packed with value for people who want to get the most features for their money.

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