Digital Trends Best of 2011 Awards: Digital Cameras

Digital-Trends-Best-of-2011-Awards-Digital-CamerasIn 2011, digital camera manufacturers have found themselves an entirely new competitor: the smartphone. While camera phones aren’t exactly new on the market, they have gotten incredibly powerful recently. And this means big-brand camera companies have been busy focusing on portability to compete when it comes to size factor, as well as boosting specs to blow these new challengers out of the water.

As a result, we’ve seen a number of mobile-social features woven into entry-level digital cameras, like auto-share, in-camera editing, and GPS. And while those tools might appeal to novice shooters, manufacturers have also kept busy outfitting smaller cameras with larger sensors and new processor systems.

Micro-four-thirds cameras really took off this year, and now every major name (with the exception of Canon) has either released or is rumored to release such a device. We’d be remiss not to mention some of the stylish designs we’ve seen this year as well, with a slew of retro-meets-minimalist looks coming to market.

Over the year, there have been a few stand outs, and here are our favorites among them.

Fujifilm-Finepix-X10Fujifilm Finepix X10, $600

We almost feel like we’re shaming the Finepix X100 by favoring the X10. While it might not boast all the specs of the original (like the infamous hybrid viewfinder), it did provide for an all-around better shooting experience. The vintage and stylish body is compact enough to fit nicely in your hands, and the X10’s sensor and processor technology churn out high-quality images with natural hues. Experienced shooters can also push ISO sensitivity up high without getting too much noise.

Convenience factors like the pop-up flash, smaller body, and manual zoom really seal the deal, while its design and unique power trigger (woven into the lens barrel) really distinguish it from the crowd.

Read our full Fujifilm Finepix X10 Review.

Olympus-E-P3Olympus E-P3, $900

It would be unacceptable not to mention a micro-four-thirds camera, seeing as they’ve been a huge trend — one that’s been building over the last few years and finally exploded on the consumer market in 2011. Olympus was early to the MFT genre with its PEN series, which only got better this year with a whole slew of releases, including the E-P3.

The most sophisticated of the PEN lineup, the E-P3 has nearly universally been called the MFT device of the year, and we can’t find a reason to argue otherwise. Not only does the camera include full manual options, a faster than fast AF system, and a 12.3-megapixel sensor, but the customization options are nearly endless, and it has features like a touchscreen and 3D to boot.

Read our full Olympus E-P3 Review.

Canon-EOS-Rebel-T3iCanon EOS Rebel T3i, $900

Canon has solidified itself as a top choice when it comes to DSRLs, and make no mistake: The Rebel T3i only reinforces this distinction. This camera is a great introduction to the world of DSLRs, offering users a way to step off of auto and into full manual shooting. And that’s not to say that it’s a simple device: there’s plenty of room to grow and push the camera into further and new territory. It’s got the innards to prove it with an 18-megapixel sensor and an impressive burst mode of 3.7fps. And you get all this for what can be considered a steal when it comes to DSLRs of this cut and caliber.

Read our full Canon EOS Rebel T3i Review.

Nikon-D7000Nikon D7000, $1,200

For DSLR users ready to step beyond the beginner stage, Nikon’s D7000 was one of the hottest choices this year, and it’s easy to see why. The 16.2-megapixel APS-C sensor captures razor-sharp images of anything you can throw at it, capturing noise-free shots all the way up to ISO 6400, and at a speedy 6 frames per second. The high resolution on the 3-inch rear LCD also makes it easier to frame up and review shots. At 1.5 without a battery, it’s nowhere near portable, and the video quality still didn’t blow us away, but for serious photographers who want to take still photography to the next level, the D7000 delivers.

Read our full Nikon D7000 Review.

Canon-PowerShot-S100Canon PowerShot S100, $430

It takes a big sensor to capture the best photos, as you can probably tell from the somewhat chunky list of cameras above. But when picky photographers need something smaller, Canon’s PowerShot S100 does the job in a package that’s a lot easier to pocket. The continuation to the company’s vaunted S95 adds a faster processor, bigger sensor and even perks like GPS, without stripping out features like the unique manual control ring that makes it easy to fine tune manual settings on the fly. The $430 price tag will leave some buyers scurrying back to the cheaper S95, or over to a real DSLR, but the S100’s blend of size and quality makes it a practical favorite.

Read our full Canon PowerShot S100 Review.

Photography

The Black Eye Pro Cinema Wide G4 is a knockout lens for any smartphone

Where cheaper wide-angle accessory lenses add distortion, and costlier models don't always justify their higher prices, the Black Eye Pro Cinema Wide G4 offers a valuable balance of modest price and high quality optics.
Digital Trends Live

Digital Trends Live: Samsung Galaxy Fold woes, zombie pigs, and more

Today's topics: Samsung Galaxy Fold, Facebook A.I. voice assistants, YouTube comes to Fire TV, facial recognition on airline flights, the SpaceX DART program, Yale's zombie pigs, and much more!
Digital Trends Live

Digital Trends Live: All-digital Xbox One S, hyper-flavorful basil, and more

On Wednesday's episode of Digital Trends Live, we discussed trending headlines like an all-digital Xbox One S. We also welcomed Loni Hull of Structure Cycleworks to the show. Jenny McGrath also stopped by to talk about MIT's hyper-favorable…
Product Review

Equal parts tool and toy, the Lensbaby Edge 35 bucks photographic tradition

The Lensbaby Edge 35, part of the Composer Pro optic swap system, creates tilt-shift-like blur without the tilt-shift price. Made for photographers who want find tradition boring, it opens up new ways to work with blur.
Deals

The best budget-friendly GoPro alternatives that won’t leave you broke

Cold weather is here, and a good action camera is the perfect way to record all your adventures. You don't need to shell out the big bucks for a GoPro: Check out these great GoPro alternatives, including some 4K cameras, that won’t leave…
Photography

Etch-A-Snap camera puts a modern spin on one of your favorite childhood toys

Can't draw on an Etch A Sketch? Snap a photo with the Etch-A-Snap and the camera will draw out the scene for you. The weirdly cool camera designed by Martin Fitzpatrick replaces the usual LCD screen with an old-school Etch A Sketch.
Photography

Family feud: Huawei P30 Pro vs. P20 Pro vs. Mate 20 Pro camera shootout

The Huawei P30 Pro's camera has an amazing zoom mode and low light capabilities. But take these away, and how does it compare when facing its sibling phones, the P20 Pro and Mate 20 Pro, taking regular photos?
Photography

Nikon Z 7 vs. Sony A7R III: High-res mirrorless cameras compared

The Nikon Z 7 and Sony A7R III both have over 40 megapixels, but which one comes out on top? With similar image quality, the answer comes down to speed, autofocus, battery life, and design.
Deals

The Canon EOS Rebel T6 DSLR camera gets a steep price cut at Walmart

Modern smartphones can snap pretty impressive pics, but if you want pro-quality photos, you need a dedicated digital camera. The Canon EOS Rebel T6 is one of the best entry-level DSLR cameras on the market, and it’s on sale right now for…
Photography

Panasonic Lumix S1R vs. Nikon Z 7: When megapixels matter, which do you choose?

The 47-megapixels Lumix S1R and 46-megapixel Nikon Z 7 are the two highest-resolution, full-frame mirrorless cameras on the market. The S1R features a high-resolution mode that can take 187MP images, but the Nikon is lighter and cheaper.
Photography

Sweet 16: Wacom’s Cintiq 16 pen display makes retouching photos a breeze

Wacom’s Cintiq pen displays are usually reserved for the pros (or wealthy enthusiasts), but the new Cintiq 16 brings screen and stylus editing to an approachable price. Does it cut too much to get there?
Mobile

China bans selfies at gigantic Aperture Spherical Telescope

You can't take a selfie with the world's largest single-dish radio telescope anymore, as the Chinese government has banned everything from smartphones to digital cameras in the surrounding 5-kilometer area.
Photography

Light on price but rich on features, these are the best cameras for students

Need pro-level features on a budget? The best cameras for students mix advanced features with a more palatable price point. From $2K entry level full frame cameras to $600 budget picks, here are five of the best cameras for students.
Photography

After controversial video, China bans ‘Leica’ on social media

A video that referenced Tiananmen Square got the name of the camera company Leica banned from the social media platform Weibo. Leica says the video wasn't an officially sanctioned promotion.