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The Best Cameras of 2012

Cameras that are actually shipping and that I have reviewed and used extensively.

Each of these make the cut by doing something really, really well.

Sony RX100

This is the best small (really small) compact camera I have ever used. Perfect fill flash, beautiful color, lovely lens bokeh. Not nearly as sharp across the frame as its 20 megapixel sensor would suggest, but exceptionally pleasing images. About $648, reviewed in Guide to Mirrorless.

Olympus OM-D E-M5

Mid-sized interchangeable lens camera offering outstanding image quality for the serious shooter willing to use ETTR techniques in RAW, and excellent image quality even without taking too much care.

Best-shooting camera for “active” video I have ever used (superb image stabilization)— nothing can touch it for my mountain bike videos. About $949, reviewed in Guide to Mirrorless.

Sigma DP1 / DP2 Merrill

Larger than the Sony RX100, smaller than the Olympus E-M5, and offering stunning per-pixel sharpness superior due to its true-color sensor (14.75 megapixel finished images). Ergonomics very well thought out for shooting, and with much simpler menus than the stupefying ones in the Olympus E-M5 or Sony RX100.

Fixed 28mm or 45mm (equivalent) lenses, both of which are excellent, the 45mm particularly so (DP2 Merrill). About $849, reviewed in Guide to Mirrorless.

Nikon D800E/D800E

World’s best DSLR for image quality in late 2012. Some user interface flaws, but the image quality rocks.

About $3000, reviewed in DAP.

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