Feel free to consider this post our brief but consistent list of the best digital cameras reviews from 2015: what’s hot right now, what we’d most recommend to our readers to try out and why. You can also look at it as our community’s “best digital cameras awards” for 2015, and you can rest assured that these digital cameras recommendations will still be top-notch in 2016 and maybe 2017 as well, though we’ll also have separate overviews in the years to come.
What You Need to Know Before Choosing a Digital Camera
For domestic purposes (snapping shots of your travels or of your family and friends), a compact camera (also called a pocket camera) is more than enough to meet your needs, but even so, you need to think about the kind of pictures that you’ll mostly be using it for. If you will be taking pictures from a great distance and during nature hikes, then a camera with a large zooming capacity and maybe also a waterproof quality may be what you need. If you like taking lots of portraits of your family and friends and you’ll be shooting a lot of indoor pictures, then you need a camera with a high ISO so it can perform well even under low light conditions (and the luminosity from indoor settings is less than ideal).
For more advanced purposes, you need a DSLR, or a digital SLR camera. Also called a digital single-lens reflex camera, this type of technology combines the optics and mechanisms of a traditional camera (running on film, also known as single lens reflex) with the potency of a digital sensor and controls, for a maximum of comfort and convenience of use. If you’ve reached the level of expertise required for operating a DSLR comfortably, then we don’t need to explain to you why you need one and perhaps we should just get on with the list of top picks for 2015.
Some brands (like Vivitar and even Samsung with its Galaxy line) didn’t make into our top, but we’re confident to have brought before you a brief list of what we deemed to be simply the best cameras (even the Cnet and Steves reviews agree with most of our choices).
Our Top 15 Digital Camera Reviews of 2015
Without further ado, these are our favorite choices of this year’s offer. Some of the models have been around since 2009, or since the more recent 2012 and 2013 camera generations, but their performance and qualities make them still competitive on today’s market, even against the brand new models.
- Canon Powershot SX600 HS (pictured above) – This medium format model has also been deemed by the Cnet reviews as the best pocket camera (compact camera) on a budget. A notch down from the better but more expensive SX50 model which offers better image quality results in low light, this SX700 camera has the advantage of being smaller, easier to pocket and fast to snap photos with and to share them or upload them via wifi just as fast as you would with a smartphone but with better results. It has a 16mp (megapixels) image quality it’s also pretty light-weight. Another great thing about it is its super zoom capacity which allows good photos to be taken from a great distance. For a low budget point and shoot camera, this is really the best you could wish for. Also, this SX600 HS model has the advantage of being more on the cheap side, available online on various sites for only $180-$200 (without the extras).
- Canon Powershot N100 – Another great looking camera model from Canon’s Powershot series, the N100 is a compact camera of 12.2mp (mega pixels) and a 6400 maximum ISO (allowing for decent luminosity pictures even under less than ideal lighting conditions). It doesn’t have a super zoom function, but it contains a larger than usual sensor (7.6 X 5.7 mm) and a lens with a f1.8 aperture (the high ISO we were talking about above). The downside is that it isn’t as small as you would expect from a point-and-shoot compact camera and the design can come off as a little rugged, although this may be exactly what some customers are looking for. Some Canon fans dispute that the Powershot Elph 330 HS model is superior to this one, but we’d choose the N100 any day for a beginner level of photography. It is a bit more expensive than its SX600 HS counterpart, available online for prices starting with $349.99.
- Olympus Tough TG-3 – This is another compact camera with an image quality in the 16.0-megapixel level, with a 3 inch screen and a fairly high shooting speed. It’s affordable and comes in many colors, but it’s also one of the best rugged cameras from all the latest models, certainly living up to its name of ‘tough’. It can resist mild shocks from getting dropped better than other compact cameras and it is also waterproof up to a depth of 50 feet. It has an f/2 lens and accepts lens accessories and filters easily, even though the main lens remains fixed. This makes the camera ideal as a transition to a digital LSR, but its toughness and wifi connectivity (and its pretty color variations) also make it a good choice for kids. You can buy it for around $349.
- Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS50 – This model already marks the transition into SLR territory and its features are guaranteed to impress you, even though it remains pretty inexpensive. It’s not so compact as the previous models presented in this collective review, since it has a super-zoom capacity of 30x, but it weighs surprisingly little for its league, which is only 8.6 oz., to be more precise. It has an instant viewfinder (rangefinder) discovery system (EVF) and snaps high quality high ISO images at a fast pace. It also comes with Wifi and a high quality for its video recordings as well (1080p60). You can buy it online for $399 or more, depending on the accessories you’d like as extras.
- Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 III – This Sony model, although still a compact camera, is pretty much the top of the line in its league (perhaps only the Leica model presented below can compare, as far as luxury compacts go). It’s pricey, but it comes with an image quality of 20 MP (and few compact cameras are above 18mp), a high movie quality and a general speed of functioning and ease of use that will make you feel as if you’re at the photo camera races, seated in the VIP seat and heading for the finish line. It costs about $799. (For a cheaper version, check out the Cyber-shot TX30.)
- Fujifilm FinePix S4200 – The legendary Fuji quality of this older model made this bridge camera remain a favorite of experts and amateurs alike even today, in spite of its lack of novelty. It’s relatively cheap, comes in many colors, it has a 24x optical zoom and a top notch mirrorless lens. This bridge quality, along with the manual controls and settings and the almost flawless macro (for domestic purposes, at least) make it a highly flexible camera suitable to all situations. You can buy it starting from $160 on Amazon (used or new).
- Canon EOS Rebel T3i – This DSLR camera is already into professional territory and its performance is flexible and impressive enough to cater to the needs of any aspirant professional photographer. Some Canon fans dispute whether this model is superior to other variations (such as the EOS-M), but we still prefer this T3 above all other Canon DSLRs. We recommend buying it together with a set of 3 basic lens (18mm, 35mm and 55mm) to start with. You can buy the camera starting from $400-$500, depending on the accessories.
- Polaroid Z2300 Digital Instant Print Camera – A true Polaroid, this is an instant print camera, only in the digital form. A dream come true for those of you who’d prefer to have the print in their hands seconds after the shot was taken, this 10mp camera can deliver pretty high image quality and instant gratification. Upon a closer inspection, you’ll find some flaws in the image quality (like poor performance in low light and so on), but it’s still worth it. It costs just $179.
- Nikon D3200 – This camera model (or the D3100) are still pretty much the ideal DSLRs to get things done if you’re an enthusiast going on pro or a pro already. In spite of the low price, these cameras pack a lot of power: 24.2 MP image quality and 18-55mm lens, the specs and particular settings allow you to do pretty fine-tuned operations such as “softening the light” in a view and so on. It sensors process the color and brightness of a scene with amazing finesse, leading to wonderful results. The image quality you can obtain with the Nikon DSLRs is impressive, and these models are the embodiment of just that. Not quite as expensive as the fancier Nikon D750 and D5100 models, they still get the job done and they are compatible with pretty much any type of lens or filters and accessories on the market. You can buy them for $379-$400.
- Nikon Coolpix L820 – Along with the L810 model, this camera is one of the most appreciated compact Nikon models currently on the market. It runs on AA batteries, it’s pretty cheap but performs much better than you would expect for such a low price range. It has a 16mp image quality, a 30x zoom (which means you can take images with a high clarity from an incredibly large distance for a pocket camera of this level) and a high resolution 3 inch LCD screen to get a nice view of what you’re doing with it. The camera also performs very well indoors or in low light conditions, so there’s really not much more to ask for. You can buy it for $249.95.
- Nikon Coolpix P520 – This cool digital SLR camera comes with a 18mp image quality, a very high video definition for incredible movies (with stereo sound incorporated), a 42x zoom power (which means extremely long distances are covered with a clear view), a built-in GPS system (connected to Google Earth), a free Wireless Adaptor Utility, instant connectivity to your smartphone, tablet and computer and countless settings, features and potential improvements via the lens and filters you can swap on the camera’s body. A dream come true to any aspiring pro, the P520 is also capable of employing multiple exposure modes so you can change your vision of the same view as you see fit. That’s not all: the mobile LCD screen also enables you to move it and the sensor will follow, allowing you to catch unconventional angles in your photos. With a speed going up to 7 shots per second if you hold your finger on the shutter button, this camera will reveal to you images and angles that you would have never thought of otherwise. You can purchase this model for prices starting with $289.00.
- Nikon Coolpix S9500 – A super slim and classy looking compact camera, this Nikon model has a surprising range of capacities for a pocket camera: with a super telephoto zoom of 22x and a 18.1 Mega Pixels image quality, built-in GPS and wifi systems, it’s pretty clear that this isn’t your average point and shoot. It weighs only 7.2 ounces and retracts to a small and slim shape, but it captures sounds and videos with amazing HD quality. If you’re a beginner or a casual photography amateur, this will be all you’ll need to wield for years and years to come. You can buy this camera online for $299.00.
- Nikon 1 J1 Mirrorless digital camera – This mirrorless camera, technically considered a bridge model between a compact camera and a DSLR, comes with wonderful options for something so small and so inexpensive. It has a 10.1 megapixel image quality, a built-in flash for low lighting shooting conditions and super-fast and responsive auto-focus and shooting speed. Easy to use and with lots of ideally conceived automatic settings, this mirorrless camera allows you to film HD videos with just one touch on the LCD screen as well. If you want to move past the pre-defined settings and into a more professional photography territory, the camera allows you to experiment just like a DSLR would, by changing its lens and filters as you see fit. You can buy it online starting with $200.
- Pentax K3 – A medium to advanced DSLR camera, this Pentax model has been launched in 2013 but it’s still hugely popular today in the professional photographers’ community. It comes with an insane image quality of 23.35 mega pixels and a HD video quality to match the clarity of the stills you’ll be taking with it. The videos remain at a high definition level even with moving subjects, which is more than what other DLSRs can boast with. It also comes with a stereo microphone terminal and a headset terminal, so your movies can actually be cinema-worthy if you connect the camera to an external professional mic source. The camera is physically sturdy and weather-sealed. Also, if you’re just starting to work with a DSLR, this may be just the model to start with, considering how user-friendly it is and how well conceived are its automatic settings. You can buy it online starting with $680.
- Leica D-Lux 6 – A luxury compact camera from the legendary Leica brand, this model comes with lots of functions which other point and shoot cameras don’t even dream of: an advanced viewfinder system, an integrated ND (neutral density) filter, a burst shooting capacity of 12 shots per second (more than DSLRs can achieve most of the time!), panorama and manual aperture ring, image stabilization, face detection for better portraiture, 3D capacity, a spirit level, a Smart Snapshot mode and several scene modes and many other equally impressive features. Small and compact, it has a 3 inch screen very easy to see even in the sunlight, 10 megapixels and a 3x zoom, but the photos and videos you can shoot with it look as if they were produced by a professional team. The brand’s motto is to be inspired by the moment; well, with this camera by your side, you’ll find that nothing’s easier. You can buy it for around $745.00.
- Bushnell ImageView HD 118328 – As a bonus for reaching the bottom of our list of selections, here’s a really cool gadget that any travel photography enthusiast should own, especially considering that it’s pretty inexpensive: a set of professional binoculars with a digital camera incorporated. Great shots from a wide distance will become a reality faster than you can say ‘wildlife’. The cool set of binoculars (pictured below) is available online starting from $159.99.
This concludes our top of the best digital camera reviews for 2015. Thank you for consulting with us and we hope you managed to find something suitable to your needs in our list. For further guidance, doubts or questions, don’t hesitate to contact us; we love hearing from our readers and the photo community.