To pick out what I think the best cameras come in each one of these categories, I spent a lot of time researching different websites gathering as much information as possible for the best camera in each group. My research includes considering customer reviews on Amazon, Adorama and BH Photo Video, reading professional opinions from DPreview, Imaging-Reference and Steve’s what do nanny cams look like Digicams, and reading many online web forums and message 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 searching for new a surveillance camera, it’s that megapixels DO NOT MATTER. These big camera organizations boast about having the most megapixels, trying to use it as a selling point, if they really do not matter. Multiple resources on the web will say exactly 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 can take one heck of an image, alongside HD video, too! That’s right, this tiny guy has 720p (1280 x 720 pixels) HI-DEF video. A thing that is rarely observed in a camera this low-priced. From what I go through while researching, this camera can take top quality photos for the price. The only real drawback on it I found online is a slightly more grainy photo due to the 14MP censor. Besides that, people think it’s great for the ease of use, pocket-able size and great price-to-feature value. Other features add a large 2.7-inch LCD display, optical image stabilization, a wide 28mm equivalent lens (I love wide angle lenses), HDMI output, and Smart Vehicle. I head plenty of good things about smart Automobile. From what Canon says, it’ll “intelligently select between 22 various predefined settings.” Oh, and it comes in HOT PINK! Not necessarily that I care… After studying this class of camera all night, the general consensus is that Canon can make awesome compact budget point-and-shoots. You may be satisfied with some of their budget models, including the SD1400IS. I have yet to get an awful one.

Best Compact Enthusiast Point-and-Shoot

Canon S95

Okay, now in my honest opinion, this is a no-brainer. The prior version, the Canon S90, was a massive hit. And the Canon S95 improves upon it. I mean come on! For a camera under $400, it has 720p HD video tutorial (with stereo sound!), a super bright f/2.0 lens, Natural mode (the best), 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 makes it a breeze to regulate focus, exposure, ISO, white harmony, and pretty much all of the manual controls. It critically has everything a surveillance camera enthusiast would wish 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. It also has an HDR mode. I’d never use it, but I guess it works pretty good. It requires three consecutive shots and merges them together for you. You can then edit them later on your computer. I, however, find it rather lame because all the important attributes are locked out, such as exposure and white equilibrium. And HDR on a point-and-shoot? What has this world arrived at. Just buy this camera. Very seriously. In all honesty I didn’t really do much research on other video cameras in its category, because once I realized Canon was making 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 because the Canon S95 for exactly the same price and size!

Canon G12? Huge and bulky at a cost of around $500.
Panasonic Lumix LX5? Still greater, and still more expensive. Price? Around $450.
I think I proved my point. Needless to say this is just my estimation. I’m certain others will disagree with me.

Best Entry-Level DSLR

Nikon D3100

The Nikon D3100 is another obvious buy if you are looking to get an electronic SLR. At all around, or under, $700, you get one heck of a cameras (with lens!) that is jam-packed filled with features for the price. It is also Nikon’s initial DSLR to feature full 1080p HD video. I want to explain why I picked it as the best entry-level DSLR. To begin with, it comes with a excellent kit lens, the 18-55mm AF-S VR, which is known to be an excellent all-around kit lens. It’s sharpened, has VR (Vibration Decrease) can focus very close – almost macro like – and has Nikon’s Silent Wave Motor which gives it fast, peaceful autofocus. Everything I read was basically positive, except for the casual “bad backup.” The images the D3100 pumps out are so in close proximity the qualified Nikon D3 and D700 in good light, that you could never tell the difference in a side-by-side comparison! Large ISO on the D3100 is great, considering it isn’t a full-frame camera. I would say it’s just as good Nikon D300s I own regarding 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 distinct and distraction free. What I mean by that is it generally does not have as much clutter heading on in the viewfinder. This will make it simpler to compose shots. Also, it is a small, ultra-light in weight DSLR weighing in at 505 g (1lb 1.8 oz.) This is usually a plus to some, a negative to others. For me personally, I could go either way. Other features include a large rear 3-inch LCD, 11 Autofocus Points, Automobile Distortion Correction, and Nikon’s new EXPEED 2 image processing engine. There are few (hardly any) items that the D3100 is missing, though, compared to higher end cameras; You can only use lenses that have a built in motor such as Nikon’s AF-S lenses (other lens makers have similar lenses) because the D3100 has no motor drive, there’s only one manual preset WB memory posture, you don’t get any depth-of-field preview, and there is absolutely no Kelvin White Balance setting. If you are in the market for an entry-level Digital SLR, now 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 the most effective in its class. Featuring a completely new and amazing User Definable Settings (U1, U2) directly on the function selector dial, these handy shortcuts allow you to set, store and change your cams setting and never have to go deep into 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, among others (from what I saw several times) love relating to this camera, too, such as for example:

Full 1080p High Definition video
Light in weight, but still ergonomically comfortable
Best-in-class high ISO photos
Quiet… Very quiet operation…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 factors with nine cross-type sensors
So as you can see, this camera is a bargain for its price, that is around $1200 (body simply.) My exploration on the D7000 wasn’t as intensive as others in it’s school, simply because it just got released. And people are having trouble finding it; it’s always sold-out! I have yet to learn ANYTHING bad on the video camera. All I could find is that it could 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 different 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 in the event that you excuse me, I have to go buy this camera.

Best Full Frame DSLR – TIE

Canon 5D Tag II and Nikon D700

After hours of exploration, I was determined to choose either the 5D Mark II or the D700 because the best professional full body DSLR. One or another. Not both. Well, after those hrs of research I did so, I failed. My last verdict is certainly that you can’t fail with either of these stunning full body DSLRs. They both provide breathtaking pictures, even at high ISOs. And they both have excellent build quality that will last you years upon decades. But which are the differences