Make sure no one’s disappointed on Christmas morning with our expert Which? guide to the very best digital cameras to buy this Christmas. Or if you’re looking for other gift ideas, read the Which? technology Christmas gift guide for all the best cameras, laptops, gaming gadgets, and much more.
We’ve rounded up the best digital cameras and digital SLRs from our 2010 tests to find the models that are guaranteed to please.
Whether you’re looking for a cheap, basic point-and-shoot digital camera, a digital SLR or something inbetween, we’ve found models to match every taste and budget.
If you’re still stuck on how to go about picking the right model, read our straightforward Which? advice on choosing and buying the best digital camera.
Here are our top recommendations for digital cameras this Christmas:
Cheap digital cameras for Christmas
You don’t have to spend a fortune to pick up a quality camera as a present.
1) Canon PowerShot A3000 IS – from £60
It’s not often you’ll find a camera this reliable for under £100, but Canon has pulled it off in style with the Canon PowerShot A3000 IS.
No, there’s no HD video mode, just standard definition. And the LCD screen isn’t one of the largest around.
But when your camera delivers sharp, colourful shots time and again, those things shouldn’t matter.
The Canon PowerShot A3000 IS does what it says on the tin, and it doesn’t break the bank in the process.
2) Casio Exilim EX-H5 – from £129
Breaking the £100 mark, there are some great models to be found, including this little gem from Casio.
The H5 has a tremendous advantage with its 24mm wide angle lens.
This is fantastic when you’re taking landscape shots or group photos, and you’ll be amazed how much you can fit into the frame without standing miles back.
With an HD video mode and 12Mp photos, the Casio Exilim EX-H5 is well worth considering this Christmas.
Mid-level compact cameras for Christmas
Push your budget just a little and there are some great compact models to choose between.
3) Nikon Coolpix S8000 – from £159
It’s been around for most of the year, but going into Christmas the S8000 remains the flagship model in Nikon’s compact Coolpix range.
And why not when the price is this reasonable? For your money you’ll be picking up a camera which squeezes a 10x zoom lens into its 3cm thick body.
The 14Mp resolution is as high as you’ll currently find on a compact camera.
Throw in an HD video mode as well and the Nikon Coolpix S8000 feels all the more like a Christmas bargain.
4) Canon Ixus 300 HS – from £219
This sleek little beauty from Canon wowed our testers with its picture quality.
With a classy matt metal finish and a large three-inch LCD screen, the Ixus 300 HS is a gorgeous camera on the outside.
On the inside, its 10Mp image sensor takes care of the photos, and the camera can also take HD video.
The 3.8x zoom isn’t huge, but if you’re looking for quality rather than distance then the Canon Ixus 300 HS definitely warrants some attention.
The best bridge cameras for Christmas
Hands-on manual control but without the bulk and cost of a digital SLR.
5) Samsung EX1 – from £299
One of the big surprises in cameras for 2010 was Samsung breaking into the tightly-knit compact bridge camera niche with its debut model, the EX1.
Thankfully, the EX1 holds its own against established brands, and the bright, pin-sharp AMOLED screen is a joy to use when viewing your shots.
A bright f1.8 lens helps the EX1 to take great photos in dim conditions.
With a brushed-metal finish and every manual control you could hope for, the Samsung EX1 is a class act inside and out.
6) Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX5 – from £325
If you’re after a camera that offers superior photos and manual control, but still tucks away into a jacket pocket, you can’t go far wrong with the LX5.
Panasonic has ticked all the right specification boxes to squeeze great results out of the LX5.
The 10Mp resolution may seem low, but the abundance of manual controls and the superb f2.0 lens make this a camera that won’t disappoint.
You can even attach an electronic viewfinder via the hot-shoe. All in all, the Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX5 is a star performer.
7) Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ100 – from £315
Panasonic crops up again with this terrific superzoom bridge camera.
The Lumix FZ100 offers a huge 24x zoom lens, beginning from a great wide angle of 25mm.
There’s an electronic viewfinder on the rear of the camera, a hot-shoe on top, and loads of manual control options as well as an intelligent auto mode.
The Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ100 also offers Full HD 1080p video recording. For a cheaper alternative, there’s the lower-spec Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ45 model to consider.
Digital SLRs and system cameras for Christmas
If you want to treat a loved one this year, a DSLR or system camera will make for a very merry Christmas.
8) Sony NEX-3 – from £330 with kit lens
It’s tiny. But you can still change lenses, and somehow Sony has squeezed a DSLR-sized sensor into the jaw-droppingly compact NEX-3.
When it comes to picture quality, this model is still a heavyweight, and it can also record HD videos.
With a small pancake lens attached you can even fit this model into a jacket pocket.
Well done, Sony – one of the most unexpected designs of the year, the Sony NEX-3 is a super-slim triumph.
9) Panasonic Lumix DMC-G10 – from £340 with kit lens
Its pricier cousin the Lumix G2 may be getting more advertising, but the cheaper G10 is well worth a look in.
The LCD screen doesn’t rotate outwards, and the electronic viewfinder has a lower resolution than the G2’s, and you can’t attach an external microphone.
But in terms of all-important picture quality, the G10 performs superbly.
It’s smaller and lighter than a DSLR, and lighter on your wallet as well – we’d recommend checking out the Panasonic Lumix DMC-G10 in an instant.
10) Nikon D3100 – from £445 with kit lens
Designed to be as user-friendly as possible for first-time DSLR owners, the D3100 should make for a very happy Christmas morning.
Featuring a handy guide mode to walk you through the camera’s functions on-screen, this is a model that will reward novices and experienced users looking to take advantage of the 14Mp sensor and swift shooting.
The Nikon D3100 is also the cheapest DSLR to date to offer Full HD 1080p video.
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