Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 II
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 II

Best digital camera

The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 II delivers best-in-class images for the enthusiast photographer, while still providing point-and-shoot capability for beginners. The solid camera body is well-crafted but a little slippery. The RX-100 II has easy Wi-Fi setup and a hot shoe for accessories such as external flashguns and an electronic viewfinder.
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Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX10
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX10

Best advanced digital camera

The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX10 is a bridge camera that defies categorization as it produces excellent still photos as well as amazing video. It's a super-zoom camera with a high-end lens and large image sensor that suits professionals and enthusiasts alike, and has many customization options to fit everyone's shooting style.
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Olympus OM-D E-M1
Olympus OM-D E-M1

Best mirrorless camera

The Olympus OM-D E-M1 targets the serious enthusiast or professional photographer who doesn't want to carry around a massive DSLR kit. The deep handgrip makes it comfortable to hold, and the balance is superb. The E-M1 produces the best image quality and shooting experience in the mirrorless camera market. Its intuitive layout makes it easy to use, and the controls are innovative and highly customizable.
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Canon PowerShot SX 280 HS
Canon PowerShot SX 280 HS

Best cheap digital camera

The Canon PowerShot SX 280 HS is an inexpensive camera with a powerful 20x zoom lens. It's pocket-sized, easy to use and produces images of very good quality, even in low-light conditions. The point-and-shoot function is popular, but it has a great range of manual controls as well.
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See a side-by-side comparison of key features, product specs, and prices.

There's a digital camera for photographers of all skill levels

Whether you're a novice photographer or a seasoned pro, there's a compact digital camera that's right for you. Luckily, you don't have to break your budget to capture impressive photos and videos, tests show. Good budget-priced cameras can be had for under $200, while full-featured digital cameras start at around $450.

There are three main types of cameras:

  • Digital cameras. These pocket-sized workhorses deliver better-quality photos than under-$200 point-and-shoot cheap digital cameras (which we cover in a separate category). They can handle challenging situations -- dim light, super close-up macros and fast action -- that stymie cheaper cameras. They'll also give you more control over settings, so you can get creative with your shots. Expect to pay $450 to $750, depending on whether you want advanced features like full manual video controls. (Note: Most of the cameras in this report have up to 12x zoom lenses, with some exceptions. Longer zooms are covered in our report on ultra-zoom digital cameras.)
  • Compact interchangeable-lens cameras. Also known as mirrorless cameras, these have swappable lenses like bulky digital SLR (single-lens reflex) cameras, but in a scaled-down package. Most are about the size of an index card, and less than 2 inches thick, so they're more discreet and portable than a DSLR. You can get a good one for about $800 with a versatile zoom lens included, but for DSLR-like blazing speed and stunning images, expect to pay $1,000 to $1,400.
  • Budget cameras. Cheap digital cameras are good for beginners -- or anyone who wants a pocket-friendly, user-friendly point-and-shoot that won't break the bank. These cameras are truly tiny -- a little bigger than a business card, less than an inch thick and, well, cheap. Every camera in this category costs less than $200. Although no cheap camera can compete with advanced cameras, you can get decent-quality photos if you pick the right one.

To find the best digital cameras, professional testers shoot photos and videos in all kinds of situations -- glaring sun, murky darkness, fast-action sports, intense close-ups -- and then inspect them closely for telltale flaws. They take note of how easy the cameras are to use, how durable and how full-featured. The editors examine reviews from several excellent photography websites, including DPReviews and Amateur Photographer magazine. Owner reviews are key, too; sometimes real-life use reveals flaws the pros don't find. We scour reviews to find out which cameras satisfy experts and owners best.

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