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Best Digital Cameras of 2014

Introduction

Here we present the best digital cameras of 2043. Each winning camera is chosen as the best-in-class in its respective category among models currently availableAs of November 2014. Some may not be available in all markets yet.. Several winning digital cameras managed to keep their positions from last but there has been a shake up in the premium camera market. Runner ups are chosen only when offering a very similar performance or distinct advantage.

Explosive growth among mirrorless cameras brought a number of models into new categories with matching prices. For this reason, we categorized these digital cameras into the same levels as DSLRs: entry, advanced and professional. As with DSLRs, image-quality is very similar across categories but features and controls are the greatest differentiators.

Emphasis for selection is on image quality above all else. All models below are chosen for outstanding image quality, feature set and performance relative to cameras in the same category. If you are not sure which category would suite you better, consult the Choosing Basics section of the buying guide.

Choices can transcend boundaries between digital camera types and so, like last year, the best performing camera for different photography subjects is awarded in its own section. Winners were chosen for outstanding performance regardless of camera type or price. Consult this list if one type of photography dominates your art.

Ultra-Compact

The ultra-compact is the most portable type of digital camera. It fits in most pant pockets and can be taken unobtrusively anywhere. While it compromises in image quality, ergonomics and features, it delivers more photo opportunities simply because it is rarely left behind.

Ultra-compact cameras are under more pressure than ever due to the advent of high-resolution cell-phones. Virtually no new models were introduced last year.

Best Ultra-Compact 2014

Fuji XQ1

12 Megapixels12 MegapixelsHigh ISO: ISO 6400 or more is available at full-resolution.High ISO: ISO 6400 or more is available at full-resolution.Stabilization: Compensates for tiny involuntary movements of the camera.Stabilization: Compensates for tiny involuntary movements of the camera.Level: Measures camera tilt and helps to keep the horizon level.Level: Measures camera tilt and helps to keep the horizon level.Continuous DriveContinuous DriveFull 1080p HD Video: 1920 x 1080 resolution or more.Full 1080p HD Video: 1920 x 1080 resolution or more.Manual Controls: Both fully-manual (M) and semi-automatic modes (T and V).Manual Controls: Both fully-manual (M) and semi-automatic modes (T and V).Custom White-Balance: Specifies exactly what should be white to the camera.Custom White-Balance: Specifies exactly what should be white to the camera.Action Photography: Shutter speeds of 1/1500 or more.Action Photography: Shutter speeds of 1/1500 or more.Night Photography: Reaches shutter-speeds longer than 4 seconds.Night Photography: Reaches shutter-speeds longer than 4 seconds.Spot MeteringSpot MeteringAccepts Secure Digital Extended Capacity (SDXC), SDHC and SD memory.Accepts Secure Digital Extended Capacity (SDXC), SDHC and SD memory.Neocamera detailed reviewNeocamera detailed review

This ultra-compact uses a larger-than-usual 12 MP sensor which delivers improved image quality over its modern peers. The Fuji XQ1
Fuji XQ1
features an ultra-wide-angle 4X optical zoom lens equivalent to 25-100mm with an bright F/1.8 aperture at the wide end. This lets it gather 2 to 4 times more light than other ultra-compacts and gives it an unrivaled lead in low-light performance.

This digital camera is also the most ergonomic ultra-compact. Its dual control-dials give it efficient access to its full manual-controls. Framing is via a sharp 3" LCD with 920K pixels and yet it manages to squeeze-in built-in WiFi too.


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What you will like
Bright ultra-wide-angle lens
Very low image-noise
Superior dynamic-range
Ultra-fast and accurate Phase-Detect AF
12 FPS Continuous drive
Excellent manual-controls
What you may not like
Lens dims quickly when zooming in
Strong edge softness
Still has a small sensor
No hand-grip at all
Very short battery life

Travel-Zoom

Small ultra-zoom digital cameras are plentiful. With sizes varying between ultra-compact and compact, these models pack at least 8X optical zoom. Just a few years ago, this was only possible with much larger models. Inevitably the size of the lens determines the compromise between focal-length and optical quality, although sensors are roughly the same now across most fixed-lens cameras from a given company.


Best Travel-Zoom 2014

Fuji Finepix F1000 EXR

16 Megapixels16 MegapixelsUltra-Zoom: At least 10X optical zoom.Ultra-Zoom: At least 10X optical zoom.Stabilization: Compensates for tiny involuntary movements of the camera.Stabilization: Compensates for tiny involuntary movements of the camera.Continuous DriveContinuous DriveFull 1080p HD Video: 1920 x 1080 resolution or more.Full 1080p HD Video: 1920 x 1080 resolution or more.Manual Controls: Both fully-manual (M) and semi-automatic modes (T and V).Manual Controls: Both fully-manual (M) and semi-automatic modes (T and V).Custom White-Balance: Specifies exactly what should be white to the camera.Custom White-Balance: Specifies exactly what should be white to the camera.Action Photography: Shutter speeds of 1/1500 or more.Action Photography: Shutter speeds of 1/1500 or more.Night Photography: Reaches shutter-speeds longer than 4 seconds.Night Photography: Reaches shutter-speeds longer than 4 seconds.Spot MeteringSpot MeteringAccepts Secure Digital Extended Capacity (SDXC), SDHC and SD memory.Accepts Secure Digital Extended Capacity (SDXC), SDHC and SD memory.

The impressive Fuji Finepix F1000 EXR
Fuji Finepix F1000 EXR
brings back Phase-Detect AF to the compact F-series where this technology started. This cameras features a unique 16 megapixels EXR CMOS II sensor that delivers a class-leading dynamic-range and comparatively low image-noise while also incorporating ultra-fast AF at the sensor-level.

Its 20X ultra-wide-angle optical zoom lens has built-in stabilization, reaching 500mm in a camera that closes down to a mere 1.5" thick. It sports advanced features with full manual-controls, 1080p HD video capture, ultra-fast 11 FPS continuous drive and WiFi.


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What you will like
Stellar dynamic-range
Low image noise
Impressive optical performance
Superb stabilization
Class-leading fast autofocus
What you may not like
Complex feature interactions
No physical aperture
Short battery-life
AF slower in video

 

Ultra-Zoom

Large cameras are very capable. In addition to a complete feature-set, these cameras can be equipped with outstanding optics and ergonomically-designed bodies. Compared to DSLR cameras, large cameras provide WYSIWYG live-preview with relatively fast auto focus and are not prone to sensor dust. Their only true limitation is having a fixed lens.


Best Ultra-Zoom 2014

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ1000

20 Megapixels20 MegapixelsUltra-Zoom: At least 10X optical zoom.Ultra-Zoom: At least 10X optical zoom.Electronic View FinderElectronic View FinderHigh ISO: ISO 6400 or more is available at full-resolution.High ISO: ISO 6400 or more is available at full-resolution.Stabilization: Compensates for tiny involuntary movements of the camera.Stabilization: Compensates for tiny involuntary movements of the camera.Level: Measures camera tilt and helps to keep the horizon level.Level: Measures camera tilt and helps to keep the horizon level.Continuous DriveContinuous DriveFull 1080p HD Video: 1920 x 1080 resolution or more.Full 1080p HD Video: 1920 x 1080 resolution or more.Manual Controls: Both fully-manual (M) and semi-automatic modes (T and V).Manual Controls: Both fully-manual (M) and semi-automatic modes (T and V).Custom White-Balance: Specifies exactly what should be white to the camera.Custom White-Balance: Specifies exactly what should be white to the camera.Action Photography: Shutter speeds of 1/1500 or more.Action Photography: Shutter speeds of 1/1500 or more.Night Photography: Reaches shutter-speeds longer than 4 seconds.Night Photography: Reaches shutter-speeds longer than 4 seconds.Hotshoe: Allows external flash units to be attached.Hotshoe: Allows external flash units to be attached.Spot MeteringSpot MeteringAccepts Secure Digital Extended Capacity (SDXC), SDHC and SD memory.Accepts Secure Digital Extended Capacity (SDXC), SDHC and SD memory.

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ1000
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ1000
is an advanced ultra-zoom which features a 20 megapixels 1" CMOS sensor, besting the previous ultra-zoom champion in terms of image-quality. It offers a stabilized ulra-wide 16X optical zoom with F/2.8-4 maximum aperture and a very sharp 0.39" EVF with 2.4 megapixels.

This ultra-zoom is very feature-rich with full manual-controls, including a fly-by-wire focus, digital level and 12 FPS high-speed drive. It is also the only ultra-zoom to record 4K Ultra-HD video at 3840x2160. It also records full 1080p at 60 FPS with stereo sound input. It includes both a built-in flash and standard hot-shoe as well as built-in WiFi.


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What you will like
Low image noise
Excellent dynamic-range
Very good image sharpness
Fly-by-wire zoom/focus lens ring
Solid build quality
What you may not like
Modal single-dial interface
EVF and LCD not Exposure-Priority
Below average battery-life
Bulky even for an ultra-zoom

Premium Compact

Premium compacts are digital cameras with an extensive feature set in a relatively compact body. They rarely fit in a pocket but neither do other cameras with the same feature set. Sensor-size has been getting bigger among premium compacts, delivering very good image quality.

Premium cameras have shown strong growth with new models from every manufacturer. This category easily is the most difficult to assess because each model offers such different compromises.

The similar price of premium compacts and mirrorless digital cameras is causing some dilemma. Mirrorless cameras are clearly more versatile yet that brings the hassle of changing lenses and sensor dust, which not everyone is willing to deal with. On the hand, premium compacts deliver an all-in-one camera with outstanding image quality.


Best Premium Compact 2014

Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX100

12 Megapixels12 MegapixelsElectronic View FinderElectronic View FinderHigh ISO: ISO 6400 or more is available at full-resolution.High ISO: ISO 6400 or more is available at full-resolution.Stabilization: Compensates for tiny involuntary movements of the camera.Stabilization: Compensates for tiny involuntary movements of the camera.Continuous DriveContinuous DriveFull 1080p HD Video: 1920 x 1080 resolution or more.Full 1080p HD Video: 1920 x 1080 resolution or more.Manual Controls: Both fully-manual (M) and semi-automatic modes (T and V).Manual Controls: Both fully-manual (M) and semi-automatic modes (T and V).Custom White-Balance: Specifies exactly what should be white to the camera.Custom White-Balance: Specifies exactly what should be white to the camera.Action Photography: Shutter speeds of 1/1500 or more.Action Photography: Shutter speeds of 1/1500 or more.Night Photography: Reaches shutter-speeds longer than 4 seconds.Night Photography: Reaches shutter-speeds longer than 4 seconds.Hotshoe: Allows external flash units to be attached.Hotshoe: Allows external flash units to be attached.Spot MeteringSpot MeteringAccepts Secure Digital Extended Capacity (SDXC), SDHC and SD memory.Accepts Secure Digital Extended Capacity (SDXC), SDHC and SD memory.

With the Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX100
Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX100
, Panasonic may have produced the perfect premium compact. The LX100 clearly stands outs from the competition by its image-quality and careful choice of features.

This premium compact captures 12 megapixels images at multiple aspect-ratio4:3, 3:2 & 16:9. without loss of resolution or viewing-angle, using a 16 MP Four-Thirds sensor slightly cropped to a 2.2X FLM. Its ultra-bright 24-75mm F/1.7-2.8 optical zoom lens therefore always allows for ultra-wide coverage.

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX100 offers extensive controls, including dual control-dials and plenty of buttons. It features a built-in large 2.8 MP EVF and 3" LCD with 920K pixels. The LCD is fixed for extra durability and avoid problems of many modern digital cameras, particularly those with an EVF, by not being touch-sensitive.

While not the most compact, in the interest of size, Panasonic skipped the built-in flash which will do more good since it has ruined more images than other camera features.

The LX100 is highly feature rich with, not only a full set of manual-controls, but also White-Balance Fine-Tuning, 7-Frame AEB, 11 FPS Continuous Drive and even 4K Ultra-HD video capture.


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What you will like
Excellent image-quality
Bright maximum aperture
Very good sharpness
Excellent multiple aspect-ratio sensor
Compact with 4K Ultra-HD
Excellent EVF sharpness
Superb build quality
What you may not like
Short zoom reach
EVF and LCD not Exposure-Priority
Expensive among premium cameras
Larger than competitors

Entry Mirrorless

Mirrorless digital cameras are designed to bring the versatility of interchangeable lenses to a small form-factor while delivering high image quality. The latest generation of mirrorless cameras succeeded rather well, even matching the image quality some modern DSLRs. They have also taken great strides in improving speed which initially lagged considerably behind.

Many entry-level models offer the same image-quality as high-end ones because they share the same sensor, only in a smaller body with fewer controls and less durable components.

All mirrorless cameras kept their leading position from last year.

Best Entry-Level Mirrorless 2014

Fuji X-M1

16 Megapixels16 MegapixelsHigh ISO: ISO 6400 or more is available at full-resolution.High ISO: ISO 6400 or more is available at full-resolution.Continuous DriveContinuous DriveFull 1080p HD Video: 1920 x 1080 resolution or more.Full 1080p HD Video: 1920 x 1080 resolution or more.Manual Controls: Both fully-manual (M) and semi-automatic modes (T and V).Manual Controls: Both fully-manual (M) and semi-automatic modes (T and V).Custom White-Balance: Specifies exactly what should be white to the camera.Custom White-Balance: Specifies exactly what should be white to the camera.Action Photography: Shutter speeds of 1/1500 or more.Action Photography: Shutter speeds of 1/1500 or more.Night Photography: Reaches shutter-speeds longer than 4 seconds.Night Photography: Reaches shutter-speeds longer than 4 seconds.Hotshoe: Allows external flash units to be attached.Hotshoe: Allows external flash units to be attached.Spot MeteringSpot MeteringDepth-Of-Field Preview: Improve perception of DOF before shooting.Depth-Of-Field Preview: Improve perception of DOF before shooting.Accepts Secure Digital Extended Capacity (SDXC), SDHC and SD memory.Accepts Secure Digital Extended Capacity (SDXC), SDHC and SD memory.Neocamera detailed reviewNeocamera detailed review

Fuji started at the top of mirrorless cameras with the Fuji X-Pro1
Fuji X-Pro1
and has been moving down by reusing sensors designed for their high-end models. The X-M1 uses the same stunning 16 megapixels X-Trans CMOS II sensor as the X100S above and all but one of their mirrorless offerings.

It delivers class-leading image-quality and speedy Phase-Detect autofocus in a compact body. Still, unlike most entry-level units, the X-M1 offers dual control-dials and a traditional mode-dial. Its compact body lacks room for a viewfinder which is typical for this level of camera.

The Fuji X-M1 manages to exceed the image quality of most cropped-sensor DSLRs and produces sharp images with very low noise and superb colors.


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What you will like
Extremely low image-noise
Excellent sharpness
Great color accuracy
Good number of controls
Solid build quality
What you may not like
Slow autofocus in low-light
Limited selection of lenses
No option for an EVF

Advanced Mirrorless

Fuji designed its X-series of mirrorless cameras for advanced shooters and launched the original X-Pro1 with a set of high-end prime lenses, each featuring a true aperture ring. The camera itself offered mechanical dials for most controls and a classic design with a unique hybrid viewfinder.

Best Advanced Mirrorless 2014

Fuji X-E2

16 Megapixels16 MegapixelsElectronic View FinderElectronic View FinderHigh ISO: ISO 6400 or more is available at full-resolution.High ISO: ISO 6400 or more is available at full-resolution.Level: Measures camera tilt and helps to keep the horizon level.Level: Measures camera tilt and helps to keep the horizon level.Continuous DriveContinuous DriveFull 1080p HD Video: 1920 x 1080 resolution or more.Full 1080p HD Video: 1920 x 1080 resolution or more.Manual Controls: Both fully-manual (M) and semi-automatic modes (T and V).Manual Controls: Both fully-manual (M) and semi-automatic modes (T and V).Custom White-Balance: Specifies exactly what should be white to the camera.Custom White-Balance: Specifies exactly what should be white to the camera.Action Photography: Shutter speeds of 1/1500 or more.Action Photography: Shutter speeds of 1/1500 or more.Night Photography: Reaches shutter-speeds longer than 4 seconds.Night Photography: Reaches shutter-speeds longer than 4 seconds.Hotshoe: Allows external flash units to be attached.Hotshoe: Allows external flash units to be attached.Spot MeteringSpot MeteringDepth-Of-Field Preview: Improve perception of DOF before shooting.Depth-Of-Field Preview: Improve perception of DOF before shooting.Accepts Secure Digital Extended Capacity (SDXC), SDHC and SD memory.Accepts Secure Digital Extended Capacity (SDXC), SDHC and SD memory.Neocamera detailed reviewNeocamera detailed review

The Fuji X-E2
Fuji X-E2
is the ultimate mirrorless from Fuji. It offers the latest generation 16 megapixels X-Trans CMOS II sensor paired with a fast EXR II processor.

As described above, this sensor delivers ultra-sharp images without an anti-alias filter and a fast Phase-Detect AF system, making it highly usable for moving subjects.

The Fuji X-E2 features an ultra-sharp EVF with an essential Eye-Start sensor that greatly helps with usability and precise framing. The view is sharp enough to focus manually with great precision.

The excellent design of the X-E2 favors the use of direct mechanical controls which makes it quite efficient. Its relatively compact body feels extremely sturdy.


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What you will like
Extremely low image noise
Excellent sharpness
Great color accuracy
Excellent EVF
Plenty of direct controls
Superb build quality
What you may not like
Slow autofocus in low-light
Some usability issues
Limited selection of lenses

Professional Mirrorless

Only recently did mirrorless cameras become suitable for high-end professional photography. While a master of photography can manage with almost any camera, professional work demands quality, speed and reliability. A working pro needs to constantly produce quality images in demanding conditions and often with a variety of subjects. There are many types of photography where retakes are impossible, so missed shots are lost forever.

The competition among professional mirrorless intensified in 2014, producing several models which exceed the Olympus E-M1 in terms of image-quality. In particular, the APS-C Fuji X-T1 and Sony Alpha A7 family of full-frame mirrorless camera now compete with DSLRs when it comes to output, yet their respective lens lineups are nowhere was complete as Micro Four-Thirds. For professional use though, systems are more important than the performance of a particular camera.

Best Professional Mirrorless 2014

Olympus OM-D E-M1

16 Megapixels16 MegapixelsElectronic View FinderElectronic View FinderHigh ISO: ISO 6400 or more is available at full-resolution.High ISO: ISO 6400 or more is available at full-resolution.Stabilization: Compensates for tiny involuntary movements of the camera.Stabilization: Compensates for tiny involuntary movements of the camera.Level: Measures camera tilt and helps to keep the horizon level.Level: Measures camera tilt and helps to keep the horizon level.Continuous DriveContinuous DriveFull 1080p HD Video: 1920 x 1080 resolution or more.Full 1080p HD Video: 1920 x 1080 resolution or more.Manual Controls: Both fully-manual (M) and semi-automatic modes (T and V).Manual Controls: Both fully-manual (M) and semi-automatic modes (T and V).Custom White-Balance: Specifies exactly what should be white to the camera.Custom White-Balance: Specifies exactly what should be white to the camera.Action Photography: Shutter speeds of 1/1500 or more.Action Photography: Shutter speeds of 1/1500 or more.Night Photography: Reaches shutter-speeds longer than 4 seconds.Night Photography: Reaches shutter-speeds longer than 4 seconds.Hotshoe: Allows external flash units to be attached.Hotshoe: Allows external flash units to be attached.Spot MeteringSpot MeteringDepth-Of-Field Preview: Improve perception of DOF before shooting.Depth-Of-Field Preview: Improve perception of DOF before shooting.Weatherproof - Seals protect from dust, humidity and light splashing.Weatherproof - Seals protect from dust, humidity and light splashing.Accepts Secure Digital Extended Capacity (SDXC), SDHC and SD memory.Accepts Secure Digital Extended Capacity (SDXC), SDHC and SD memory.Neocamera detailed reviewNeocamera detailed review

Olympus and Panasonic pioneered the mirrorless market with their Micro Four-Thirds format. With its lead, Micro Four-Thirds remains the most complete and extensive of all mirrorless formats with over 40 lenses from 5 different manufacturers.

While promising image-quality in a compact form, and delivering on that promise, the appearance of high-end models has been relatively slow. It took a few generations to improve autofocus speeds and the latest crop of mirrorless cameras feature ultra-fast Contrast-Detect and Phase-Detect AF systems which match that of many DSLRs.

This year, Olympus launched a truly professional mirrorless with the OM-D E-M1. Its 16 megapixels CMOS sensor delivers stunning image-quality. It offers 5-axis image-stabilization and a hybrid AF system. This weathersealed mirrorless camera is also freezeproof which makes it usable in adverse weather when paired with a weathersealed lens.

The Olympus OM-D E-M1
Olympus OM-D E-M1
is very speedy. It offers 10 FPS continuous shooting with a deep buffer for up to 95 images. Its superb 2.4 megapixels EVF has 100% coverage at 0.7X magnification while refreshing fast enough to follow action.

This combination of image-quality and performance, plus a mature system, allow the E-M1 to easily take its place as a professional digital camera.


Buy From Amazon.com
What you will like
Excellent image-quality
Superb image-stabilization
Good metering system
Reliable white-balance
Impressive EVF
Plenty of direct controls
Class-leading build quality
What you may not like
Slow AF with Four-Thirds lenses in low-light
Colors could be more accurate
Not Exposure-Priority
Overly complex
Relatively short battery-life

Entry DSLR

Entry-Level DSLR cameras use the same large sensor as advanced models to give equally impressive image quality while remaining much faster than the majority of digital cameras, including mirrorless models. These cameras are often choice models for high image quality at a low cost, particularly for shooting moving subjects.

Entry and advanced DSLRs solidly held onto their spots as only a handful of new models were introduced and the megapixels race has been degrading absolute image-quality.

Best Entry-Level DSLR 2014

Pentax K-50

16 Megapixels16 MegapixelsSingle Lens ReflexSingle Lens ReflexHigh ISO: ISO 6400 or more is available at full-resolution.High ISO: ISO 6400 or more is available at full-resolution.Stabilization: Compensates for tiny involuntary movements of the camera.Stabilization: Compensates for tiny involuntary movements of the camera.Automatic Level: Corrects for some degree of tilt to keep the horizon level.Automatic Level: Corrects for some degree of tilt to keep the horizon level.Continuous DriveContinuous DriveFull 1080p HD Video: 1920 x 1080 resolution or more.Full 1080p HD Video: 1920 x 1080 resolution or more.Manual Controls: Both fully-manual (M) and semi-automatic modes (T and V).Manual Controls: Both fully-manual (M) and semi-automatic modes (T and V).Custom White-Balance: Specifies exactly what should be white to the camera.Custom White-Balance: Specifies exactly what should be white to the camera.Action Photography: Shutter speeds of 1/1500 or more.Action Photography: Shutter speeds of 1/1500 or more.Night Photography: Reaches shutter-speeds longer than 4 seconds.Night Photography: Reaches shutter-speeds longer than 4 seconds.Hotshoe: Allows external flash units to be attached.Hotshoe: Allows external flash units to be attached.Spot MeteringSpot MeteringDepth-Of-Field Preview: Improve perception of DOF before shooting.Depth-Of-Field Preview: Improve perception of DOF before shooting.Weatherproof - Seals protect from dust, humidity and light splashing.Weatherproof - Seals protect from dust, humidity and light splashing.Runs on standard AA batteriesRuns on standard AA batteriesAccepts Secure Digital Extended Capacity (SDXC), SDHC and SD memory.Accepts Secure Digital Extended Capacity (SDXC), SDHC and SD memory.

The Pentax K-50
Pentax K-50
is a 16 megapixels APS-C DSLR which produces images of exceptional quality. While being the size and price of an entry-level model, the K-50 provides more professional features than its peers. This includes a 100% coverage viewfinder, a weather-sealed body which is freezeproof to -10C (14F), dual control-dials, built-in Shake Reduction and Automatic Horizon Correction.

Having the 100% coverage viewfinder and horizon correction improves photography by freeing the photographers from worries. The dual control-dials allow to operate the camera more efficiently while the weatherproof construction lets the K-50 be used in adverse weather With the use of a weather-sealed lens..

Its sensor produces images with low noise, class-leading dynamic-range and natural image colors. This is also one of the fastest models in its class with a top shutter-speed of 1/6000s and 6 FPS drive mode.


Buy From Amazon.com
What you will like
Excellent image noise
Exceptional dynamic range
Generally fast and responsive
Built-in Shake Reduction
Automatic Horizon Correction
100% Coverage viewfinder
Weather-sealed and freezeproof
Support for both AA and Lithium-Ion batteries
Excellent ergonomics and controls
What you may not like
Autofocus speed below average
Comparatively limited lens lineup
Short battery-life with supplied battery
AA Batteries require optional adapter

While no other entry-level DSLR has a comparable feature-set, the Pentax K-50 faces competition from the Pentax K-5 II
Pentax K-5 II
which has dropped in price recently. It offers the same feature-set with more controls in a more durable body and even a dual IR-receivers and stereo sound-input.

Advanced DSLR

Today's Advanced DSLRs show exceptional image quality, great speed of operation and a wealth of features. These cameras are designed for efficient operation and can be used for all types of photography without much bulk. Choice of lenses abounds with a growing number specifically designed for cropped-sensor, saving cost and weight compared to comparable full-frame models.

The Pentax K-5 IIs remains the best digital camera among Advanced DSLRs. While a higher-resolution Pentax K-3
Pentax K-3
was recently launched, it only matches the performance of the K-5 IIs at low ISO sensitivity, showing more noise and softness starting at ISO 800.


Best Advanced DSLR 2014

Pentax K-5 IIs

16 Megapixels16 MegapixelsSingle Lens ReflexSingle Lens ReflexHigh ISO: ISO 6400 or more is available at full-resolution.High ISO: ISO 6400 or more is available at full-resolution.Stabilization: Compensates for tiny involuntary movements of the camera.Stabilization: Compensates for tiny involuntary movements of the camera.Automatic Level: Corrects for some degree of tilt to keep the horizon level.Automatic Level: Corrects for some degree of tilt to keep the horizon level.Continuous DriveContinuous DriveFull 1080p HD Video: 1920 x 1080 resolution or more.Full 1080p HD Video: 1920 x 1080 resolution or more.Manual Controls: Both fully-manual (M) and semi-automatic modes (T and V).Manual Controls: Both fully-manual (M) and semi-automatic modes (T and V).Custom White-Balance: Specifies exactly what should be white to the camera.Custom White-Balance: Specifies exactly what should be white to the camera.Action Photography: Shutter speeds of 1/1500 or more.Action Photography: Shutter speeds of 1/1500 or more.Night Photography: Reaches shutter-speeds longer than 4 seconds.Night Photography: Reaches shutter-speeds longer than 4 seconds.Hotshoe: Allows external flash units to be attached.Hotshoe: Allows external flash units to be attached.Spot MeteringSpot MeteringDepth-Of-Field Preview: Improve perception of DOF before shooting.Depth-Of-Field Preview: Improve perception of DOF before shooting.Weatherproof - Seals protect from dust, humidity and light splashing.Weatherproof - Seals protect from dust, humidity and light splashing.Accepts Secure Digital Extended Capacity (SDXC), SDHC and SD memory.Accepts Secure Digital Extended Capacity (SDXC), SDHC and SD memory.Neocamera detailed reviewNeocamera detailed review

The 16 megapixels sensor of the Pentax K-5 IIs
Pentax K-5 IIs
takes image-quality to the next level for APS-C DSLRs by removing the usual anti-alias filter and maximizing sharpness.

The Pentax K-5 IIs brings unprecedented level of image quality to cropped-sensor DSLRs, challenging even larger full-frame cameras on many fronts. Plus, its keeps all the fantastic and unique features of the K-5 including built-in stabilization, automatic horizon correction, 100% coverage viewfinder and the best weatherproof protection among ILCs.

This DSLR has an extended ISO range that reaches 51200, plus the most sensitive autofocus system on the market, a dual-axis digital-level, 7 FPS drive and full 1080p HD video recording. The K-5 IIs has the most efficient controls of any current digital camera and excellent ergonomics.


Buy From Amazon.com
What you will like
Extremely low image-noise
Exceptional image sharpness
Class-leading dynamic-range
Built-in Shake Reduction
Automatic Horizon Correction
Ultra-sensitive autofocus system
Quite fast and responsive
Weather-sealed and freezeproof
Class-leading ergonomics and usability
What you may not like
Slow AF compared to high-end DSLRs
Higher potential for moire artifacts
Noticeable image review delay
Comparatively limited lens lineup

Pentax simultaneously release the K-5 II
Pentax K-5 II
which is identical except for its use of an anti-alias filter like most digital cameras which use a Bayer color-filter-array.

Professional DSLR

Professional full-frame DSLRs feature the best image quality and performance for demanding photographers. The trade-offs are always increased cost of both camera and lenses as well as added bulk. These cameras are extremely versatile and with the right lenses, suitable for all types of photography.

Nikon refreshed their top-of-the-line DSLRs, producing the D4S and D810 which neatly exceed the performance of their predecessors.


Best Professional DSLR 2014

Nikon D4S

16 Megapixels16 MegapixelsSingle Lens ReflexSingle Lens ReflexHigh ISO: ISO 6400 or more is available at full-resolution.High ISO: ISO 6400 or more is available at full-resolution.Level: Measures camera tilt and helps to keep the horizon level.Level: Measures camera tilt and helps to keep the horizon level.Continuous DriveContinuous DriveFull 1080p HD Video: 1920 x 1080 resolution or more.Full 1080p HD Video: 1920 x 1080 resolution or more.Manual Controls: Both fully-manual (M) and semi-automatic modes (T and V).Manual Controls: Both fully-manual (M) and semi-automatic modes (T and V).Custom White-Balance: Specifies exactly what should be white to the camera.Custom White-Balance: Specifies exactly what should be white to the camera.Action Photography: Shutter speeds of 1/1500 or more.Action Photography: Shutter speeds of 1/1500 or more.Night Photography: Reaches shutter-speeds longer than 4 seconds.Night Photography: Reaches shutter-speeds longer than 4 seconds.Hotshoe: Allows external flash units to be attached.Hotshoe: Allows external flash units to be attached.Spot MeteringSpot MeteringDepth-Of-Field Preview: Improve perception of DOF before shooting.Depth-Of-Field Preview: Improve perception of DOF before shooting.Weatherproof - Seals protect from dust, humidity and light splashing.Weatherproof - Seals protect from dust, humidity and light splashing.Accepts Compact Flash Type I memory.Accepts Compact Flash Type I memory.Accepts XQD memory.Accepts XQD memory.Neocamera detailed reviewNeocamera detailed review

The Nikon D4S
Nikon D4S
embodies DSLRs like no other and takes the essential qualities of professional digital cameras to the extreme:

  • Stellar low-light performance with a maximum ISO sensitivity of 409,600!
  • Blazing-fast autofocus that works in low-light.
  • Ultra-fast continuous drive up to 11 FPS.
  • Solid and durable weatherproof construction.
  • Choice of lenses among one of the industry's largest lineups.

This DSLR is literally and figurative a heavy-weight. Without a doubt, it delivers images of outstanding quality and top-notch performance. Its large body includes integrated vertical grip which puts a great number of controls at your finger-tips.

The Nikon D4S is extremely feature rich, including the requisite 100% coverage viewfinder and dual control-dials on both grips for this type of camera, plus full 1080p HD capture with uncompressed HDMI output, a built-in viewfinder shutter and an Ethernet port for remote control and image transfer. It is only lacking a built-in flash and freeze-proof construction.


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What you will like
Extremely low image noise
Superb dynamic-range
Class-leading 11 FPS continuous drive
Fast 51-point autofocus with 3D subject-tracking
Ultra-fast and responsive
Wealth of external controls
Uncompressed full 1080p HD video over HDMI
Extremely solid weather-proof construction
What you may not like
Poor automatic white-balance in low-light
Stiff 8-way joystick and indistinct ISO button
Second card-slots requires XQD memory
No built-in flash
Quite heavy and bulky

Runner Up

Nikon D810

36 Megapixels36 MegapixelsSingle Lens ReflexSingle Lens ReflexHigh ISO: ISO 6400 or more is available at full-resolution.High ISO: ISO 6400 or more is available at full-resolution.Level: Measures camera tilt and helps to keep the horizon level.Level: Measures camera tilt and helps to keep the horizon level.Continuous DriveContinuous DriveFull 1080p HD Video: 1920 x 1080 resolution or more.Full 1080p HD Video: 1920 x 1080 resolution or more.Manual Controls: Both fully-manual (M) and semi-automatic modes (T and V).Manual Controls: Both fully-manual (M) and semi-automatic modes (T and V).Custom White-Balance: Specifies exactly what should be white to the camera.Custom White-Balance: Specifies exactly what should be white to the camera.Action Photography: Shutter speeds of 1/1500 or more.Action Photography: Shutter speeds of 1/1500 or more.Night Photography: Reaches shutter-speeds longer than 4 seconds.Night Photography: Reaches shutter-speeds longer than 4 seconds.Hotshoe: Allows external flash units to be attached.Hotshoe: Allows external flash units to be attached.Spot MeteringSpot MeteringDepth-Of-Field Preview: Improve perception of DOF before shooting.Depth-Of-Field Preview: Improve perception of DOF before shooting.Weatherproof - Seals protect from dust, humidity and light splashing.Weatherproof - Seals protect from dust, humidity and light splashing.Accepts Secure Digital Extended Capacity (SDXC), SDHC and SD memory.Accepts Secure Digital Extended Capacity (SDXC), SDHC and SD memory.Accepts Compact Flash Type I memory.Accepts Compact Flash Type I memory.Neocamera detailed reviewNeocamera detailed review

The Nikon D810
Nikon D810
replaces both D800E and D800 twins. Like the D800E, the new D810 lacks an anti-alias filter to deliver maximal image-sharpness. Its expanded ISO 32-51200 range offers the lowest ISO among digital cameras to minimize image-noise and maximize dynamic-range.

The D810 provides the most refined control over image-rendering, with 6 image parameters having between 13 and 41 fine-grained steps. It also offers 2-axis WB Fine-Tuning with 25 steps along each axis. This applies to JPEG shooters and is intended to reduce the desire for RAW files which are gigantic.

While physically smaller than the D4S, the D810 is really a professional DSLR too. Its weather-sealed body includes a 100% coverage viewfinder with built-in shutter, dual control-dials and even a built-in flash.


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What you will like
Class-leading resolution
Excellent image sharpness
Spectacular dynamic-range
Fast 51-point autofocus with 3D tracking
Very fast and responsive
Solid build quality
Uncompressed full 1080p HD video over HDMI
What you may not like
Poor automatic white-balance in low-light
Slow 5 FPS maximum speed at 36 MP
Asymmetric card-slots use CF & SDXC
Inconsistent Live-View
Demands the highest quality lenses

Best Digital Cameras By Photography Subject

Each class of digital camera fits the needs of certain users. This is one reason buyers often look for a specific type of digital camera. Another reason is the preconceived notion that one type performs a certain way. In fact, that is mostly true but 2012 has blurred these boundaries like never before.

With this in mind, we award cross-category distinctions here for common photography subjects. Most winners from last year kept their top-spot but are now more affordable. Here they are in no particular order:


Best Landscape Photography Digital Camera - Nikon D810
Nikon D810

Nikon D810

The newly minted ultra-high resolution full-frame DSLR with its uniquely low ISO sensitivity becomes the best digital camera for landscape photography. It requires the ultimate in lens-quality to deliver its top performance which rewards the photographer with richly-detailed and exceptionally large prints.

Best Travel Photography Digital Camera - Pentax K-5 IIs
Pentax K-5 IIs

Travel photography images are taken under a variety of conditions with more constraints than most. The Pentax K-5 IIs is ideal for travel photography since it can produce outstanding images down to very low light thanks to its class-leading high-ISO performance and built-in stabilization that even works with the brightest lenses. It is also similar in size to an entry-level DSLR except with extremely efficient controls. Traveling photographers are more at the mercy of the weather than most and the K-5 family handles it better than any other interchangeable lens camera.

Best Street Photography Digital Camera - Fuji X-T1
Fuji X-T1

Street photography requires quick speed, light weight and discretion. A DSLR provides the former but struggles with the latter two. Mirrorless cameras provide the opposite. The Fuji X-T1 takes exception to this by delivering truly fast autofocus while remaining compact. Both eye-level and hip-level shooting are possible with the X-T1 thanks to an exceptional EVF and tiltable LCD. Its unique APS-C CMOS sensor delivers highly-detailed image-quality with class-leading sharpness.


Best Action Photography Digital Camera - Nikon D4S
Nikon D4S

Action photography, particularly indoor action photography, is the most demanding of a digital camera. To freeze action, a camera needs a fast shutter-speed which requires a high-ISO for proper exposure when light is not so bright. Just as importantly, it needs to have the subject in focus and fire quickly to capture action at its peak.


Best Social Digital Camera - Sony Cybershot DSC-RX100 III
Sony Cybershot DSC-RX100 III

With so many people using cellular-phones to immortalize social occasions, one could be forgiven to think that photography in typical social settings is demanding. A combination of low light and moving subjects normally calls for a DSLR but carrying one into a social setting is awkward at best. The Sony RX100 Mark III strikes the ultimate compromise under these circumstances by fitting a large sensor in a very compact camera. The Mark III version adds a built-in popup EVF for even more versatility compared to its predecessor.


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Neocamera Blog is a medium for expressing ideas related to digital cameras and photography. Read about digital cameras in the context of technology, media, art and the world. Latest posts links:

Updates

    2014.12.09

  • 2014.12.09

    Fujinon XF50-140mm F/2.8R LM OIS WR Review

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  • 2014.12.02

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    Nikon D750 Review

    Nikon D750 Review

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  • 2014.11.28

  • 2014.11.28

    Best Digital Cameras of 2014

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    Panasonic Lumix DMC-GM1 Review

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    Fuji X30 Review

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    Canon EOS Rebel T5 Review

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  • 2014.08.08

  • 2014.08.08

    Nikon D810 Review

    Nikon D810 Review

    Professional DSLR with anti-alias-filter-free 36 MP CMOS sensor. Ultra-low ISO 32 to 51200. 5 FPS and 1080p @ 60 FPS. Large 0.7X magnification 100% coverage OVF. All new processing-pipeline and Highlight-Weighed metering.