Canon PowerShot G15
Canon PowerShot G15

Best compact digital camera

A serious camera that fits into a jacket pocket, the Canon PowerShot G15 offers the total package, reviews say. It's built to last, with big-camera basics that are rare on pocket cameras, like an optical viewfinder and hot shoe. Snappy responses and a comfortable feel make the G15 a pleasure to use, and its 12-megapixel images impress even the pickiest critics.
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Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100

Compact camera with advanced features

Dubbed "the best pocket camera ever made" by The New York Times, the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 raises the bar in its class. Showstopping 20-megapixel photos and HD videos, full manual controls and a pants-pocketable body make it the runaway favorite of both experts and owners.
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Olympus OM-D E-M5
Olympus OM-D E-M5

Best compact camera with interchangeable lenses

The Olympus OM-D E-M5 lets you swap lenses and capture outstanding photos and videos, just like a big digital SLR (single-lens reflex) camera -- only without the bulk. Its mirrorless design pares the tough, weather-sealed magnesium body down to the size of an index card, just 1.7 inches thick. Retro styling masks modern conveniences like a tilting OLED touch screen, electronic viewfinder and 3D mode.
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Olympus Tough TG-1
Olympus Tough TG-1

Best waterproof digital camera

Waterproof, shockproof, crushproof, dustproof and freezeproof, the Olympus Tough TG-1 can go just about anywhere -- without sacrificing image quality. It's the toughest point-and-shoot camera you can buy, with the most vibrant photos and videos, the speediest shooting, the most features and the best ease of use. No rival camera comes close in tests.
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See a side-by-side comparison of key features, product specs, and prices.

Digital Cameras Runners Up:

Sony Alpha NEX-7 *Est. $1,200 with kit lens

8 picks including: Amazon.com, DPReview.com…

Fujifilm X-Pro1 *Est. $1,400 body only

3 picks including: Amazon.com, DPReview.com…

Canon PowerShot G1 X *Est. $750

2 picks including: Amazon.com, DPReview.com…

Fujifilm X-E1 *Est. $1,400 with kit lens

2 picks including: Amazon.com, DPReview.com…

Panasonic Lumix DMC-G5 *Est. $800 with kit lens

2 picks including: Amazon.com, TrustedReviews.com…

Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH3 *Est. $1,300 body only

2 picks including: ePhotoZine, DigitalCameraInfo.com…

Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX7 *Est. $465

2 picks including: Amazon.com, DPReview.com…

Samsung NX20 *Est. $900 with kit lens

2 picks including: Amazon.com, Imaging-Resource.com…

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Digital cameras for photographers of all skill levels

Whether you're a novice 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. Our Best Reviewed picks start at just $350.

There are three main types:

  • Digital cameras: These pocket-sized workhorses deliver better-quality photos than under-$250 point-and-shoot cheap digital cameras (which we cover in a separate report). 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: The cameras in this report have up to 12x zoom lenses. Longer zooms are covered in our report on ultra-zoom digital cameras.)
  • Compact interchangeable-lens 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.
  • Waterproof cameras: Rugged cameras promise to survive deep dives underwater, freezing weather, being dropped or crushed -- but some take abuse better than others. The toughest model we found costs $350 and shoots very nice photos and videos, too.

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, how full-featured. 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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