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