2007 turned out to be the year of the Digital SLR, just as many predicted. Industry shipments confirm the huge growth in Digital SLR sales in 2007, and that growth continued through most of 2008. Many believed the slowing economy would have no impact at all on the growth of DSLR sales; however, the last couple of months have seen lower growth than expected.

That news means there will be many bargains in current Digital Camera models over this holiday season. Year-end is always a time of bargains, but they are usually last year's models. This year you will likely see sale prices on the latest and greatest. That's good news if you're in the market for a new digital camera this year.

There are also bargains galore on low-end point-and-shoot digital cameras. As prices have fallen on DSLR cameras it has pushed the P&S prices even lower. For the first time we've found a couple of point-and-shoot cameras we can easily recommend that are selling for around $100. You will also find recommendations for good values in the Superzoom category. Bigger sensors (larger size, not higher resolution) are coming to the P&S market and that development is already having an impact.

We have also been enjoying our time with the new micro 4/3 Panasonic G1. This interchangeable lens digital is not an SLR, but it is likely to become the poster child for what's coming in the midrange "DSLR" and Point-and-Shoot space. Very few things are truly revolutionary in electronics, let alone the slower paced digital camera market. The Panasonic G1 is truly revolutionary, as you will see in our recommendations in entry and midrange interchangeable lens cameras.

With the introduction of the Nikon D90 and Canon 50D, the advanced amateur or "prosumer" market is finally complete for a few months. This recommendation always generates the most comments as buyers loyal to one camp or another question our picks for the buyer's guide. With so many competent DSLRs in this segment this year, the choice was difficult.

With the three biggest players all with full-frame (35mm size sensor) models at the top, it should be crystal clear that our prediction last year that full-frame become would become the camera of choice in the pro market has certainly come true. It happened even faster that we thought, and there are now 5 full-frame DSLRs with more on the way. Three very different models now compete at $3000 or less in a market first carved out by Canon. It's fair to ask if anyone can price a full-frame DSLR at $8000 any more?

If you are shopping for a digital camera but you're not really a photo hobbyist, you might want to start with our overview of digital photography in Digital Photography from 20,000 Feet. If you want to delve a little deeper you really need to know more about the digital sensor, an analog device that is the heart of any digital camera. Take a look at our two part series on the Digital Sensor in The Digital Sensor: A Guide to Understanding Digital Cameras and The Digital Sensor: Part 2.

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  • gaston1 - Friday, November 28, 2008 - link

    I totally agree about the Pentax part. How can one mention Canon 40d and 50d and totally miss to mention the 14.6 Megapixel K20D which is currently selling for less than $750 and is actually loaded with pro features! Reply
  • DragonzFx - Thursday, November 27, 2008 - link

    I own a Fuji S100FS and for the price I paid ($720cdn tax incl). That
    is a lot of camera for the money in my opinion. It would have been nice to see this camera reviewed in your article as it is a great bridge camera. It is so feature rich and gives you the equivalent of a camera having anywhere from 35mm equivalent of 50mm Wide Angle all the way up to400mm Telephoto due to the 14x optical zoom. You can shoot fully manual or auto. In Jpeg or Raw, this camera does it all without the need to change a lense. And it uses a Li-on battery not AA's lol. Just my 2cents
  • Johnmcl7 - Thursday, November 27, 2008 - link

    "If you are an Olympus fan, you will need to wait for a couple of months. Olympus has announced the new 12MP E30 that brings most of the great E1 features, including its super fast AF module, down to a lower prosumer price point."

    I assume you're referring to the E-3 rather than the E-1 and it's geriatric AF.

  • Wesley Fink - Thursday, November 27, 2008 - link

    Yes, you correctly point out the E-3 is the Zippy AF master with 11 double-croos AF points (44 segments). I have corrected the typo. Reply
  • Dennis Travis - Thursday, November 27, 2008 - link

    I just purchased the Canon A590 IS because I did not have a lot of $$$. It totally blows away my way more expensive Digi. It's an amazing little camera for the price and in spite of the price also. I took it to the opening of the Apple Store in my city and every picture was first rate and even though it was very crowded in there and I was in a hurry to get some shots, the IS did it's job. Not one bad pic in the lot and I took over 100.

    So many great features also with both aperture and Shutter Priority which is amazing at that price point. Canon did an excellent job with the A590 IS. I highly recommend it to anyone on a budget that wants a lot of control over your pictures.
  • brokensoul - Thursday, November 27, 2008 - link

    No word of DxOMark ? new website, quite handy to judge pure Raw quality of sensors, but it could do with some explanations.. :-P
    Nice work though, quite a broad coverage of the camera market
  • dani31 - Thursday, November 27, 2008 - link

    Where is Panasonic DMC-LX3, probably the best compact in the world? Reply
  • zzzxtreme - Monday, December 1, 2008 - link

    I agree, Panasonic DMC-LX3 is one of the best compact. It is what reviewers claim, almost like a $5000 Leica compact. Reply
  • Wesley Fink - Thursday, November 27, 2008 - link

    We do agree the DMC-LX3 is a terrific Point-and-Shoot, but at $500 it is more than we can justify for a compact in today's market. As we stated in the review it is very hard to justify spending more than $250 to $300 in today's market with DSLR's starting at $400.

    The Panasonic G1 interchangeable lens large sensor - which was selected as the best entry large-sensor - is significantly better and more flexible than the LX3. With some selling it for $649 and special promotions getting the price below $500 in some cases the G1 is the camera we sould buy in this price class - or the Sony A200 2-lens kit or the Canon XS kit.
  • PrinceGaz - Thursday, November 27, 2008 - link

    If you've got $500 to spend on a camera, and it's a choice between a quality compact you can slip into your pocket for everyday use, or an SLR which will normally be left at home, I'd spend the $500 on a compact.

    Whilst the SLR can no doubt take better pictures, that's of no value whatsoever unless you actually have it with you. The SLR won't be taking any pictures when it was left at home, while the compact is always ready to be used at a moments notice.

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