To pick out what I believe the best cameras come in each of these categories, I spent a lot of time researching different websites gathering as much information as possible to find the best camera in each class. My research includes considering customer opinions on Amazon, Adorama and BH Photo Video, reading professional assessments from DPreview, Imaging-Source and Steve’s Digicams, and reading different online web forums and discussion boards. Of course I’ll add my very own personal opinion in the mixture, also. Oh, a quick note… if there’s one thing to remember when shopping for new a surveillance camera, it’s that megapixels USUALLY DO NOT MATTER. These big camera firms boast about having the most megapixels, trying to utilize it as a selling point, when they really don’t matter. Multiple resources online will say the same. Let’s start, shall we?

Best Compact Budget Point-and-Shoot

Canon SD1400IS

Staying under the $200 mark, and from the research I did so, this little gem may take one heck of a picture, alongside HD video, too! That’s right, this tiny guy has 720p (1280 x 720 pixels) High Definition video. A thing that is rarely seen in a camera this low-cost. From what I examine while researching, this camera can take good quality photos for the price. The only drawback on it I came across online is really a slightly more grainy photo due to the 14MP censor. Besides that, people think it’s great for the simplicity, pocket-able size and very good price-to-feature value. Other features include a large 2.7-inch LCD display, optical image stabilization, a broad 28mm equivalent lens (I love wide angle lenses), HDMI outcome, and Smart Automobile. I head a great deal of good things about smart Car. From what Canon says, it will “intelligently select between 22 different predefined settings.” Oh, and it comes in HOT PINK! Certainly not that I care… After researching this class of camera all night, the general consensus is that Canon can make awesome compact budget point-and-shoots. You will be satisfied with some of their budget models, like the SD1400IS. I have yet to find an awful one.

Best Compact Enthusiast Point-and-Shoot

Canon S95

Okay, now in my own honest opinion, this can be a no-brainer. The previous version, the Canon S90, was a massive reach. And the Canon S95 improves upon it. I mean come on! For a camera under $400, it has 720p HD movie (with stereo sound!), a super bright f/2.0 lens, RAW mode (my favorite), a broad 28mm equivalent zoom lens and HDMI output. Those are just a few features. The best part, and the part which makes the S95 the best enthusiast point-and-shoot camera, is the control ring. This thing helps it be a breeze to adjust focus, exposure, ISO, white harmony, and pretty much all the manual controls. It seriously has everything a camera enthusiast would want in a point-and-shoot, and more! Let’s see… AUTO ISO, Colour yRGB histograms, bracketing, a metallic body, and crap a great deal of gimmicks and useless modes. In addition, it comes with an HDR mode. I’d never use it, but I guess it works pretty good. It requires three consecutive pictures and merges them together for you personally. You can then edit them later on your computer. I, however, find it rather lame because all of the important benefits are locked out, such as for example exposure and white harmony. And HDR on a point-and-shoot? What has this world come to. Just buy this camera. Significantly. To be honest I didn’t really do much research on other video cameras in its school, because once I realized Canon was producing the S95, it was going be considered a hit. Sure there are other good enthusiast cameras out there, but none which are nearly as awesome as the Canon S95 for exactly the same price and size!

Canon G12? Major and bulky at a cost of around $500.
Panasonic Lumix LX5? Still bigger, and still more expensive. Price? Around $450.
I believe I proved my point. Of course this is just my estimation. I’m certain others will disagree with me.

Best Entry-Level DSLR

Nikon D3100

The Nikon D3100 can be another obvious buy if you are looking to get a Digital SLR. At near, or under, $700, you obtain one heck of a surveillance camera (with lens!) that’s jam-packed filled with features for the price. It’s also Nikon’s initial DSLR to feature full 1080p HD video. Let me describe why I picked it as the best entry-level DSLR. First off, it comes with a excellent kit lens, the 18-55mm AF-S VR, which is known to be a very good all-around kit lens. It’s sharp, has VR (Vibration Lowering) can focus very close – nearly macro like – and contains Nikon’s Silent Wave Motor gives it fast, noiseless autofocus. Everything I read has been positive, except for the casual “bad backup.” The images the D3100 pumps out are so near the specialized Nikon D3 and D700 in good light, you could never tell the difference in a side-by-side comparison! Superior ISO on the D3100 is excellent, considering it’s not a full-frame camera. I’d say it’s just as good Nikon D300s I own regarding high ISO. Basically, don’t be afraid to shoot at ISO 1600. In-fact, ensure it is your good friend! The viewfinder in the D3100 is very clear and distraction free. What I mean by that is it generally does not have as much clutter intending on in the viewfinder. This can make it better to compose shots. Also, it’s a small, ultra-light-weight DSLR weighing in at 505 g (1lb 1.8 oz.) It is a plus to some, a negative to others. For me personally, I could go in any event. Other features add a large rear 3-inch LCD, 11 Autofocus Points, Car Distortion Correction, and Nikon’s different EXPEED 2 image processing motor. There are few (very few) items that the D3100 is missing, though, in comparison to higher end cameras; You can only use lenses which have a built in motor such as Nikon’s AF-S lenses (other zoom lens makers have similar lenses) because the D3100 has no motor drive, there’s only one manual preset WB memory place, you don’t get any depth-of-discipline preview, and there is no Kelvin White Balance setting. If you’re searching for an entry-level Digital SLR, now is the time to buy. And I recommend the Nikon D3100. And so do thousands of others.

Best Semi-Pro DSLR

Nikon D7000

Nikon’s newest DSLR, the D7000, can be one of the best in its class. Having a completely new and amazing User Definable Options (U1, U2) directly on the setting selector dial, these very useful shortcuts permit you to set, retail store and change your video cameras setting without needing to go deep in to the menu system! I’m envious. I want my D300S to have this. Actually, I’m considering obtaining the D7000 for this feature alone. You can find other features I, and others (from what I saw different times) love relating to this camera, too, such as for example:

Full 1080p HI-DEF video
Light in weight, yet still ergonomically comfortable
Best-in-class high ISO photos
Quiet… Very quiet procedure…Shhh…
Ground-busting 2,016-Segment RGB Meter
Superior weather and dust sealing
Six frames per second continuous shooting around 100 shots
New EXPEED 2 image processing
39 autofocus items with nine cross-type sensors
So as you can observe, this camera is a bargain for its price, that is around $1200 (body simply.) My analysis on the D7000 wasn’t as considerable as others in it’s school, because of the fact it just got released. And people are having trouble finding it; it’s always sold-out! I have yet to read ANYTHING bad on the cameras. All I possibly could find is that it can only bracket three exposures rather than the 5-9 that various other cameras can do. Folks are raving concerning the fast autofocus, and amazing metering due to the new 2,016-Segment RGB Meter. The Nikon D7000 is already a smash hit at the time of this article. It’s all sold-out. Not surprising to me, since it’s equally as good, if not better than the Nikon D300s that is $300-$400 more. Now in the event that you excuse me, I have to go buy this camera.

Best Full Frame DSLR – TIE

Canon 5D Mark II and Nikon D700

After hours of study, I was determined to pick either the 5D Tag II or the D700 because the best professional full body DSLR. One or another. Not both. Well, after those time of research I did so, I failed. My final verdict is that you can’t fail with either of these stunning full frame DSLRs. They both present breathtaking photos, even at high ISOs. And they both have excellent construction that may last you years upon decades. But what are the differences