Best 5-Star Cameras

Find the Cameras With the Best Review Ratings

When you've been reviewing digital cameras as long as I have, it's natural to feel like there are a few models that I wouldn't hesitate to own myself or to purchase as gifts. When reviewing such cameras, I am going to give these models a 5-star camera ranking. These are the best of the best in my opinion, for which I've had a chance to perform a hands-on review over the years.

So if you're interested in finding the best cameras among those I've reviewed, you'll want to find those that I've awarded my top ranking of five stars. Here is a mix of some of the best DSLR, mirrorless ILCs, and point and shoot cameras that have received my five-star rankings during recent reviews.



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Those looking for an advanced DSLR camera that's a bit older, so it can be obtained at a slightly lower price, will want to consider an interesting candidate from Canon: The EOS 7D. This Canon model has an 18-megapixel CMOS sensor sporting the latest technologies, including a 19-point autofocus system, high-end ISO settings (100 to 6,400) for low-light photography, full HD video capture at up to 30 frames per second, and a built-in dual-axis electronic level.

Several accessories are available for the award-winning EOS 7D, too, including a wireless file transmitter (the WFT-E5A), which allows for remote photography, controlled over a laptop or smart phone. 



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Canon's smallest DSLR camera -- the Canon EOS Rebel SL1 -- is now available. This is the smallest DSLR camera on the market that contains an APS-C sized image sensor.

The SL1's CMOS image sensor offers 18 megapixels of resolution. Canon has designed the Rebel SL1 to be an easy-to-use camera for those photographers looking to make the jump from a point and shoot model to an interchangeable lens camera by including a mode called Scene Intelligent Auto Mode.

The SL1 also offers a 3.0-inch touch screen LCD, a four frames per second shooting option, and full HD video recording. You can purchase the SL1 with a kit lens or with the camera body alone. The SL1's camera body alone weighs 14.36 ounces, making it the lightest DSLR on the market with such a large image sensor.

The SL1's overall performance levels and image quality rival other Canon Rebel cameras, so the smaller size is an unexpected bonus. And it carries a reasonably good price point, making the Rebel SL1 an easy 5-star choice.

Canon PowerShot ELPH 520 HS


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The sharp-edged design of the Canon PowerShot ELPH 520 HS gives it an interesting look for a point and shoot camera. And it has some good photographic features to match its cool design.

The ELPH 520 HS includes a 12X optical zoom lens, which Canon claims makes the 520 HS the world's thinnest 12X zoom camera. The ELPH 520 HS measures 0.76 inches in thickness.

In addition, the ELPH 520 HS uses a 10.1MP CMOS image sensor, which should improve low light photography results. It has a high-resolution 3.0-inch LCD and full HD video capabilities. The ELPH 520 HS is available in blue, red, silver, and black camera bodies, depending on your location in the world.

Nikon D810 DSLR


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If you're looking for top-of-the-line photography performance and image results in all types of shooting conditions in a variety of image formats, the Nikon D810 DSLR camera is going to fit your needs very well. 

This powerful camera works quickly and quietly, especially in Viewfinder mode, while also offering a sharp and large display screen for use in Live View mode. Its performance speeds are excellent, including a 5 frames per second burst mode rate at full 36.3 megapixels of resolution.

Nikon Coolpix P500


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If I had to pick one point and shoot camera to recommend to people, the P500 would be the unit that I would select most often.

The Nikon Coolpix P500 offers one of the most versatile lenses you'll find on a point and shoot camera.

The P500 carries a 36X optical zoom lens. In addition, Nikon has given the P500 strong wide angle capabilities with a zoom range of 22.5mm to 810mm, and Nikon says the P500 is a strong macro performer, thanks to its powerful lens.

You'll find 12.1 megapixels of resolution in the P500's CMOS image sensor, a high-resolution 3-inch LCD screen, and 1080p HD video capabilities. The Coolpix P500 is available in either red or black.

Nikon Coolpix P7700


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One of the most impressive advanced fixed lens cameras that you're going to see currently on the market is the Nikon Coolpix P7700.

It has advanced Nikkor lens glass to go with a 7.1X optical zoom lens, a larger-than-usual CMOS image sensor with 12.2MP of resolution, a high-resolution 3.0-inch LCD that can swivel away from the camera, and full 1080p video recording. The P7700 has a built-in flash, and it also has a hot shoe, allowing you to add an external flash, if desired.

Best of all, the P7700's image quality is outstanding.

Nikon D5000 DSLR


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The D5000 from Nikon burst upon the scene upon its mid-2009 release, receiving praise from many different reviewers. As a slightly older model, you're sure to find a great price on this really nice DSLR camera.

The D5000 offers 12.3 megapixels of resolution, which is a good amount of resolution for an intermediate-level DSLR camera. With its mixture of scene modes and manual control settings, the D5000 will work well for intermediate photographers looking to learn more about photography. You can purchase an optional geotagging unit, allowing you to include information about where you shot each photo.

Olympus PEN E-PM1 Mirrorless ILC


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Olympus has created what it calls the world's smallest and lightest PEN camera, which, considering the history of the PEN family of cameras, makes it one of the smallest and lightest interchangeable lens cameras from any manufacturer. This is a great little camera, mixing a good image quality with a great look.

The PEN E-PM1 is a fun camera, and it may be the most colorful DIL camera, too, as Olympus is offering it in brown, black, pink, purple, white, or silver camera bodies.

The PEN E-PM1 offers some really nice features, too, including 12.3 megapixels of resolution with a CMOS image sensor, full 1080p HD video, and a 3.0-inch LCD. It measures only 1.33 inches in thickness (before you attach the lens) and it weighs only 7.65 ounces for the camera body.

Panasonic Lumix ZS10


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If you like the latest "gadgets" built into your digital camera, Panasonic has provided exactly the model for you with its Lumix DMC-ZS10. The ZS10 includes a 3.0-inch touch screen LCD, a built-in GPS unit, and a 16X zoom lens in a small, point and shoot camera.

Finding one of these features in a camera is always nice; finding all three in a camera -- that carries a sub-$250 price tag -- is pretty rare. Throw in really good image quality and sharp focus, and the ZS10 is a very powerful camera. It's a newer model, so you should have no problems finding it at this point.

Samsung NX10 Mirrorless ILC


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The NX10 from Samsung offers interchangeable lenses like a DSLR camera, but it is smaller in size because of its mirror-less design.

The NX10 has a 3.0-inch AMOLED screen, which is brighter than traditional LCD screens and uses less power. (AMOLED is short for active-matrix organic light emitting diode.) In addition, Samsung has included 14.6 megapixels of resolution with this model. Samsung is offering the NX10 in black, silver, or a limited-edition white, and this camera has won both a DIMA Award and a Plus X Award. It also made my list of the best cameras in 2010. The NX10 might be a little tough to find at this point in time, as it's a slightly older model, but it's a really good DIL model.

Sony Cyber-shot WX9


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The Cyber-shot WX9 includes a CMOS image sensor, which improves the camera's low-light performance. And, as I found in my WX9 review, this camera does a nice job in low light.

Sony included limited wide angle capabilities in the WX9's 5X optical zoom lens. This camera can shoot 16.2MP still images and 1080i HD video. Look for the WX9 to be available in black, red, and silver.


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