With December 25 coming ever closer in your diary, it’s not too early to start thinking about what to place under the tree, and no gift is more handy around family get-together time as a brand new camera to capture all of the happy (read: drunken) moments together.
If Aunt Maud is in need of a camera upgrade, this is the guide for you. We’re taking a snapshot of the Top Ten digital cameras on the market that will produce a great picture.
We’ve covered a range of price-ranges to make sure you get the camera you want but still have some pennies left over to buy Uncle Bill’s pressie as well.
So get the siblings together and chip in for one of these stocking fillers.
Fujifilm FinePix Z90
Specs: 14 megapixels, 5x optical zoom
Key Feature: Upload pics straight to Facebook
Featuring a large touchscreen on the back, the Fujifilm FinePix Z90 will appeal to anyone not wanting to squint at tiny symbols to change picture settings. For the younger generation, this camera has the ability to upload pics directly to Facebook or YouTube.
The camera comes in six different colours so will quickly become a fashion accessory in your handbag. Tech-wise, the camera offers digital image stabilisation to prevent blurry action shots, and you can also touch-up pictures without having to download them to your computer first.
This is a great all-rounder camera that looks great and won’t break the bank.
Kodak EasyShare M575
Specs: 14 megapixels, 5x optical zoom
Key Feature: Easy to use, great pics
For a camera that won’t break the bank but will still take a good picture of it, the Kodak EasyShare M575 is a great option. It’s easy to use with its default “Smart Capture” mode which just means you can push the button and the camera will take care of everything else. In doing so, this camera provides quite impressive pictures considering its budget price tag.
Available in red, green and black (all metallic), the EasyShare M575 is perfectly themed for Christmas. There is also a video record function that will let you film High Def up to 720p, which isn’t top of the market but is definitely decent. Unfortunately you can’t zoom while filming your latest Spielberg moment with this camera.
The Kodak EasyShare M575 is a stocking stuffer that beats a pair of socks.
Nikon Coolpix L120
Specs: 14 megapixels, 21x optical zoom
Key Feature: Extreme zoom capability
For something that looks a bit more serious at a relatively affordable price, the Nikon Coolpix L120 provides easy-to-use functionality in a serious camera casing. With an impressive 21x optical zoom, the Coolpix L120 will ace that hard-to-get-to shot. The camera also features a Vibration Reduction lens which provides an additional 4x digital zoom.
Seventeen dedicated scene modes will keep those with a basic understanding of photography happy, or there is also an easy to use auto function for those who prefer to point and click.
For the budding photographer, the Coolpix L120’s super zoom ability is bound to impress.
Canon PowerShot A800
Specs: 10 megapixels, 3x optical zoom
Key Feature: Best cheap camera on the market
For a basic, no bells and whistles point and shoot, the Canon PowerShot A800 is hard to go past. It doesn’t have the best specs in the world with video resolution of 480p and limited zoom, but it does take surprisingly good photos and really represents value for money.
The PowerShot A800 is also good for travellers as it takes 2 AA batteries (remember them?) instead of having to be charged at a strange-looking international powerpoint. While it won’t max out your credit card, it doesn’t look cheap as it’s available in 4 metallic colours with a silver lens housing. There is no image stabiliser but there is face detect which goes a long way to helping you take great family portrait snaps.
At a bargain basement price the Canon PowerShot A800 punches well above its weight.
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FT3
Specs: 12 megapixels, waterproof to 12m, shockproof to 2m, freeze-proof to -10° C, dust-proof
Key Feature: Will go to Everest with you
This camera is for the extreme adventurer in your life. It looks like a rugged piece of work because it is. With its own GPS system, the Lumix DMC-FT3 will make sure you never get lost in the Alps. It also packs a compass, altimeter and a barometer which will also read underwater depth. While you pay a bit more for this camera, you will get your money’s worth in terms of extra features.
The Lumix DMC-FT3 comes with full 1920×1080 HD video recording so your scuba diving movies will turn out a treat. There is also the now standard face detection focus as well as AF tracking and spot focusing.
For a tough camera to take on a snorkel adventure, the Lumix DMC-FT3 is exactly what you need in your wetsuit pocket.
Pentax Optio RS1500
Specs: 14 megapixels, 4x optical zoom
Key Feature: Batman (or if you like, changeable skins)
The first thing you may notice about this camera is Superman. With a range of changeable skins, the Pentax Optio RS1500 can be personalised to express almost any personality. You can either choose from Pentax’s DC Comic range of skins, or pop on over to the Pentax site and upload images to create your own skin.
For a sub-£100 camera, the Optio RS1500 really does pack in the tech with video recording to 720p and advanced automatic features, such as automatic tracking and face detection. There are night, sport and portrait capture modes and also one for taking pictures of text documents, which might come in handy for the student in the family.
For someone’s first grown-up camera the Pentax Optio RS1500 is fun and will capture growing-up years in surprisingly good quality.
Specs: 16 megapixels, 5x optical zoom
Key Feature: A designer’s camera
This camera looks stylish with a wavy finish on top and large touchscreen on the back which lets you change settings by tapping of large icons. Its slim design also means that this snapper will fit snugly in your pocket or even the smallest of handbags.
The Samsung ST6500 comes with plenty of artistic filters and setting to keep any creative entertained. You can “vignette” or “object highlight” your pics with ease before loading your artistic endeavours to Facebook. The standard picture quality is good too considering the price, with a hybrid image stabilisation that uses both optical and digital anti-shake techniques.
For a design camera with artistic photo features, the Samsung ST6500 is hard to top.
Casio Exilim EX-H15
Specs: 14 megapixels, 10x optical zoom
Key Feature: Great zoom in a compact case
This compact camera packs a wicked 10x optical zoom. Combined with 720p HD video recording capability and an excellent battery life, the Casio Exilim EX-H15 makes it worth the extra few pounds for a performance digital camera.
The camera’s big screen isn’t touch-responsive but there aren’t many buttons to play with. You can access most of the camera’s features through an easy-to-use on-screen menu and five-way pad system. One thing this camera lacks is an HDMI output, and video recording is limited to 29 minutes, but for most people that’s more than enough to claim their two minutes of fame on YouTube.
It’s pretty in pastels to match any clutch purse but it does feel a bit chunky in your hand, while you use it to take quality pics up close and personal.
Fujifilm Finepix X100
Specs: 12 megapixels, 35mm fixed focal length
Key Feature: Manual control for the photo aficionado
For a super-stylish retro camera, the Fujifilm Finepix X100 will take you back to the days when photography was a real artform. This camera is unique with its extensive set of manual controls, uilt-in lens filters, a large DSLR-size sensor sans the bulky camera casing and a bright F2.0 aperture lens.
What you don’t get for your high-end £999 is optical zoom. The Finepix X100 does however provide a lens and sensor combo that is tailor made for each other with very fast power-on-to-first-shot time and no distortion that you can get with many other wide-angle, long-zoom lenses.
For its old-style charms this camera still shoots 720p HD video, and has been one of the most exciting cameras to have been released in 2011.
Specs: 10 megapixels, 3x optical zoom
Key Feature: Full manual mode in a compact package
While the zoom on this camera isn’t exactly telescopic, the Samsung EX1 packs a large sensor, f/1.8 lens and a maximum ISO 3200 which is not to be blinked at. That’s a lot of camera speak for this camera can take pretty much any photo you want.
The Samsung EX1 has a full manual mode, HDR capability, can capture files in RAW and comes with a good range of filters to get your artistic side excited. If all of that is somewhat meaningless for you, the camera also comes with a fully automatic mode so that it does all the hard work for you.
This camera takes great low-light photos, making it perfect for capturing those embarrassing moments at the pub.