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Best Overall: Nikon COOLPIX P1000 at Amazon
"You’ll be able to take a trip to the moon and stretch your photographic boundaries."
Runner Up, Best Overall: Nikon COOLPIX P900 at Amazon
"On top of its amazing zoom, the P900 has a 16-megapixel CMOS sensor, Wi-Fi and NFC connectivity."
Best Compact: Canon PowerShot G7 X Mark II at Amazon
"A robust, feature-rich camera that measures just 5.7 x 6.3 x 3.2 inches and weighs 1.4 pounds."
Best DSLR: Canon EOS Rebel T5i at Amazon
"This is a serious camera for serious shooters."
Best for Social Media: Olympus PEN-F at Amazon
"These vintage-inspired cameras are an amazing choice when you want to pay homage to old-school film cams."
Best Point and Shoot: Panasonic LX10 at Amazon
"AKA the one which gives you that coveted fully articulating selfie screen."
Best Megapixels: Nikon D5300 at Amazon
"Designed for folks who know what they’re doing and have a need for a serious, if somewhat bulky, interchangeable lens camera."
It’s not often you can say a camera is "out of this world" without resorting to hyperbole. But with the Nikon COOLPIX P1000 and its 3000mm zoom, you’ll be able to take a trip to the moon and stretch your photographic boundaries. If your tastes are more earth-bound, it can still capture minute details and focus as close as one foot from your subject, as the P1000 is automatically optimized for the subject matter thanks to its aptly named "Moon" and "Bird" modes. The f/2.8 maximum aperture is paired with high ISO capability for shooting even in low-light situations, and the fully articulated 3.2-inch LCD display helps you overcome the trickiest angles.
The camera does have a long lens and is not meant for everyday usage, but serious wildlife photographers will be able to flex their scope and subject material — just be ready for the extreme zoom lens' admittedly steep learning curve.
When it comes to getting maximum zoom power on a swiveling LCD camera, there is no better choice than the Nikon COOLPIX P900. This model has 83x optical zoom and 166x dynamic fine zoom, more than almost any other comparable model on the market. Nikon knows this is a crazy amount of zoom power, so the camera even features a “Snap-Back Zoom” button to help you find your subject again if you lose them while fully zoomed.
The camera is surprisingly compact at 5.5 x 4.1 x 5.5 inches and weighs just under two pounds. On top of its amazing zoom, the P900 has a 16-megapixel CMOS sensor, Wi-Fi and NFC connectivity for sharing photos to smartphones and tablets, and it takes 1080p HD video at four different frame rates if you feel like experimenting with video. As for the swiveling three-inch LCD screen, it can flip out to give you a view behind the camera or even flip forward if you want to take high-resolution selfies.
We love compact cameras here at Lifewire. Having an incredibly powerful camera in a compact frame means you can always carry it with you, whether you’re traveling or simply running errands. The Canon PowerShot G7 X Mark II falls into this category because it’s a robust, feature-rich camera that measures just 5.7 x 6.3 x 3.2 inches and weighs 1.4 pounds.
Notably, the PowerShot G7 X Mark II has a 20.1-megapixel CMOS sensor that delivers great photos even in low lighting. It has an aperture value of f/1.8 at wide angles and f/2.8 when fully zoomed, so you have a lot of flexibility for your shots. It shoots 1080p HD video and also has built-in Wi-Fi and NFC for easy sharing of your photos to smartphones.
When it comes to the three-inch swivel LCD screen, the PowerShot G7 X Mark II also impresses. The screen tilts up 180 degrees and down 45 degrees, so you can get the right shot at any angle. You can also tilt the screen in front of the camera if you feel like taking selfies that are higher quality than what your smartphone can produce.
Swivel, or “articulating,” LCDs are not just for fans of selfies and remote monitoring. You can find them on some pretty high-end DSLRs, and the Canon Rebel T5i is a perfect example. This is a serious camera for serious shooters. It’s not quite professional-grade, but anyone looking to buy this should know a thing or two about photography going in. It has an 18-megapixel CMOS sensor with an ISO range of 100-12800 (expandable to 25600), meaning you can depend on it in low-light situations. It shoots Full HD (1080p) video, has 5 fps continuous shooting, and, of course, it has a three-inch articulating touch display. It also has an optical viewfinder—a useful perk if you prefer immediate shot framing. It does come equipped with Wi-Fi or NFC connectivity, but you can upgrade to include a Wi-Fi SDHC Card. There’s also a GPS receiver that can be fixed to the hot shoe. It’s an all around serious camera for enthusiastic intermediates.
Olympus cameras operate on a couple of levels if you’re considering their value for social media. First, the cosmetic: These vintage-inspired cameras are an amazing choice when you want to pay homage to old-school film cams, and if you’re trying to step up your Instagram or YouTube presence — that'll earn you some cred, albeit that of the superficial breed. But what makes the Pen-F really great is the insane amount of features built right in.
The Olympus PEN-F offers in-body, 5-axis image stabilization, so you're able to swap on any lens and capture non-shaky video — regardless of whether the lens has built-in stabilization or not. But, perhaps the most essential feature of any social media camera is the ability to send photos wirelessly. Most Olympus cams come standard with Wi-Fi functionality, so all you’ll need to do to access your photos when on-the-go is fire up the Olympus Share app and pull them right in. Add that to some built-in Olympus filters right on the camera (to step up in-camera editing), and you’ve got a great camera for vlogging, Instagramming, and everything in between.
Panasonic is one of those camera names that somehow flies under the general public's radar. It doesn’t have the history of Canon or Nikon, nor does it have the caché of Sony’s new and award-winning digital cameras. But that is a bit of a shame as you get a ton of camera for your money with the Lumix line. The LX10 is Panasonic’s non-interchangeable lens option — AKA the one which gives you that coveted fully articulating selfie screen.
The Panasonic LX10 offers a one-inch, 20.1 MP sensor for perfectly adequate images sizes, and the built-in lens gives you a 24–72mm framing range with apertures spanning f/1.4–2.8. Just like on most of the Lumix line, you somehow get 4K ultra HD resolution video, so the camera is ideal for capturing high-quality video. That gorgeous, flip-able 3.0-inch screen offers a sharp resolution with about 1,040 dots. They’ve also poured some decent research into the autofocus, giving you 6 fps of continuous autofocus for great action and wildlife shots. The camera even includes built-in focus stacking for composite photos, which is pretty insane considering the point-and-shoot's tiny size.
Another mid-level DSLR, the Nikon D5300 is designed for folks who know what they’re doing and have a need for a serious, if somewhat bulky, interchangeable lens camera. Its specs are similar to the Rebel T5i in some regards—including an ISO range of 100-12800 (expandable to 25600), Full HD (1080p) video recording, 5 fps continuous shooting, an articulating LCD—but in other respects, it’s just a little bit beefier. The 24-megapixel CMOS sensor stands out, as does the built-in Wi-Fi connectivity, and the 39-point (as opposed to the T5i’s 31) autofocus (AF) system. Even the LCD is slightly larger at 3.2 inches. Of course, the D5300 is also more expensive than the T5i, but it’s a slightly better camera. If you’re fixated on megapixels, then this is probably the camera for you. It’s a powerful shooter for all kinds of situations.
We bought a top-rated articulated (swivel) LCD camera and our reviewer tested it for 30 hours. We asked our tester to consider the most important features when using this camera, from its price to its photo quality. We’ve outlined the key takeaways here so that you, too, know what to look for when shopping.
DSLR vs. point-and-shoot - Is it superb picture quality or convenience you’re after? This will help you decide if you want a DSLR (digital single-lens reflex) or a point-and-shoot camera. A DSLR has more advanced settings and lets you take better quality pictures, but a point-and-shoot is often cheaper and more portable.
Picture quality - When it comes to scoring the best picture quality, check the image sensor. This is usually the most expensive part of the camera and in general, the larger the sensor, the pricier the camera. There are two different types of sensors: CCD (charge coupled device) and CMOS (complementary metal oxide). The former is more expensive and has better light sensitivity, while the latter is less expensive to produce, but also is more susceptible to image noise. Look for a camera that has an image sensor of 16 to 24 megapixels and you’ll be in good shape.
Price - When you take into account the cost of lenses, tripods, and other peripherals, photography can add up to a very expensive hobby. Don’t fret, though, because there are plenty of reasonably priced camera options out there. However, a cheaper price tag often comes with compromises, like a smaller image sensor or lack of 4K (4K resolution) video. If you’re on a budget, be sure to prioritize which features are important to you as you’ll likely need to make some sacrifices.
Unbeatable optical zoom range
Impressive video quality
Unimpressive battery life
Difficult to use at a maximum telephoto range
Unimpressive low-light performance
Flimsy articulating screen
Our tester highly recommended this camera for its “incredible” zoom range, “beautiful” 4K video, and “impressive” ergonomics. “The P1000 is a truly unique camera,” our reviewer raved. “Its record-breaking zoom is amazing, and it's a ton of fun to use.” In terms of negatives, our tester noted its price and the fact that “it is very difficult to get good photos in even moderately dim conditions.” He also said, “The articulating LCD screen feels flimsy and delicate.” The takeaway? “There are much more practical superzoom cameras available at much more affordable prices, but none is quite so exciting as the P1000,” our tester declared.