To pick out what I think the best cameras come in each of these categories, I spent a lot of time researching different websites gathering as much information as possible for the best camera in each type. My research includes looking at customer opinions on Amazon, Adorama and BH Photograph Video, reading professional evaluations from DPreview, Imaging-Reference and Steve’s Digicams, best backpacking tripod and reading several online web forums and discussion boards. Of course I’ll add my OWN personal opinion in the mixture, also. Oh, an instant note… if there’s one thing to remember when searching for new a surveillance camera, it’s that megapixels DO NOT MATTER. These big camera companies boast about getting the most megapixels, trying to utilize it as a selling point, if they really do not matter. Multiple resources on the net will say the same. Let’s start, shall we?

Best Compact Budget Point-and-Shoot

Canon SD1400IS

Staying beneath the $200 mark, and from the study I did so, this little gem can take one heck of a picture, along with HD video, too! That is right, this tiny guy has 720p (1280 x 720 pixels) HI-DEF video. Something that is rarely observed in a camera this low cost. From what I read while researching, this camera can take good quality photos for the price. The only real drawback on it I found 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 great price-to-feature value. Other features include a large 2.7-inch LCD monitor, optical image stabilization, a wide 28mm equivalent lens (I really like wide angle lenses), HDMI outcome, and Smart AUTO. I head plenty of good things about smart AUTO. From what Canon says, it’ll “intelligently select between 22 unique predefined settings.” Oh, also it comes in HOT PINK! Not necessarily that I care… After researching this class of camera all night, the general consensus is that Canon would make awesome compact budget point-and-shoots. You can be satisfied with some of their budget models, like the SD1400IS. I have yet to get an awful one.

Best Compact Enthusiast Point-and-Shoot

Canon S95

Okay, now in my own honest opinion, it is a no-brainer. The previous version, the Canon S90, was a massive reach. And the Canon S95 improves upon it. I mean seriously! For a camera under $400, it has 720p HD movie (with stereo sound!), a brilliant bright f/2.0 lens, RAW mode (my favorite), a broad 28mm equivalent zoom lens and HDMI output. Those are simply a few features. The very best part, and the part which makes the S95 the very best enthusiast point-and-shoot camera, is the control ring. This thing makes it a breeze to adjust focus, exposure, ISO, white harmony, and pretty much all the manual controls. It really has everything a camcorder enthusiast would desire in a point-and-shoot, and more! Let’s see… AUTO ISO, Color yRGB histograms, bracketing, a metallic body, and crap tons of gimmicks and useless modes. In addition, it has an HDR mode. I’d never use it, but I assume it works pretty good. It takes three consecutive photos and merges them together for you personally. You can then edit them later on your personal computer. I, however, think it is rather lame because all 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. Critically. To be honest I didn’t really do much research on other video cameras in its class, because once I knew Canon was producing the S95, it was going be considered a hit. Sure there are other good enthusiast cameras on the market, but none that are nearly as awesome as the Canon S95 for exactly the same price and size!

Canon G12? Big and bulky at a price of around $500.
Panasonic Lumix LX5? Still larger, and still more costly. Price? Around $450.
I believe I proved my point. Of course this is just my opinion. I’m sure others will disagree with me.

Best Entry-Level DSLR

Nikon D3100

The Nikon D3100 is definitely another obvious buy if you are looking to get an electronic SLR. At around, or under, $700, you obtain one heck of a camera (with lens!) that is jam-packed full of features for the price. It’s also Nikon’s primary DSLR to feature full 1080p HD video. Let me describe why I picked it as the best entry-level DSLR. To begin with, it comes with a very good kit lens, the 18-55mm AF-S VR, that is known to be a very good all-around kit lens. It’s sharpened, has VR (Vibration Decrease) can focus very close – nearly macro like – and has Nikon’s Silent Wave Motor which gives it fast, noiseless autofocus. Everything I read seemed to be positive, except for the casual “bad copy.” The images the D3100 pumps out are so near the professional Nikon D3 and D700 in good light, you could never tell the difference in a side-by-side comparison! High ISO on the D3100 is great, considering it’s not a full-frame camera. I would say it’s just as good Nikon D300s I own when it comes to high ISO. Put simply, don’t be scared to shoot at ISO 1600. In-fact, make it your buddy! The viewfinder in the D3100 is obvious and distraction free. Why by that is it doesn’t have as much clutter planning on in the viewfinder. This can make it better to compose shots. Also, it is a small, ultra-light in 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 (hardly any) items that the D3100 is lacking, though, in comparison to higher end cameras; It is possible to only use lenses that have a built in motor such as for example Nikon’s AF-S lenses (other lens makers have similar lenses) since the D3100 has no motor drive, there’s only 1 manual preset WB memory location, you do not get any depth-of-discipline preview, and there is absolutely no Kelvin White Balance setting. If you are searching for an entry-level Digital SLR, this is the time to buy. And I recommend the Nikon D3100. Therefore do thousands of others.

Best Semi-Pro DSLR

Nikon D7000

Nikon’s newest DSLR, the D7000, can be among the best in its class. Featuring a brand new and amazing User Definable Options (U1, U2) right on the method selector dial, these useful shortcuts permit you to set, retail outlet and change your cams setting without having to go deep in to the menu system! I’m envious. I’d like my D300S to possess this. Actually, I’m considering getting the D7000 for this feature alone. You can find other features I, among others (from what I saw countless times) love relating to this camera, too, such as:

Full 1080p High Definition video
Light in weight, but still ergonomically comfortable
Best-in-class high ISO photos
Quiet… Very quiet functioning…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 points with nine cross-type sensors
So as you can see, this camera is really a bargain for its price, that is around $1200 (body simply.) My analysis on the D7000 wasn’t as substantial as others in it’s class, simply because it just got released. And folks are having a hard time finding it; it’s always sold out! I have yet to read ANYTHING bad on the camcorder. All I 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 awesome metering due to the latest 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 if you ask me, since it’s equally as good, if not much better than the Nikon D300s which is $300-$400 more. Now if you excuse me, I must 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 Mark II or the D700 because the best professional full body DSLR. One or another. Not both. Well, after those time of research I did, I failed. My ultimate verdict is certainly that you can’t go wrong with either of the stunning full framework DSLRs. They both give breathtaking pictures, even at high ISOs. And they both have excellent construction that will last you years upon ages. But which are the differences