Best Digital Cameras of 2013 (Including 2009 – 2012)

Canon 5DMark III camera. Canon EF 17-40 mm f/4 lens. Really Right Stuiff L-Bracket.

It’s that time of year. The holiday season is here and I am getting the usual questions about which digital cameras I recommend. The camera lists below will point you to the highest rated models. There is also some information and advice on choosing a camera. The lists will be updated throughout the holiday season as new, highly rated cameras become available. (Originally posted Nov. 26, 2013. Updated Dec. 3, 2013.)

Choosing a Camera

Before I get to the lists of top rated cameras, here is some information on picking a camera. Your first decision is to decide which of three broad categories of digital cameras is best for you.

Not long ago, there were two broad classifications of digital cameras, the digital single lens reflex (DSLR) cameras and fixed lens, point-and-shoot (P&S) cameras. Over the last few years a whole new category has grown up, interchangeable lens compact (ILC) cameras.

Digital SLR Digital SLR (DSLR)


DSLR cameras have a reflex mirror that bounces light up through a pentaprism (or mirror box) and out through an optical viewfinder. This allows you to see through the viewfinder exaclty what the camera sees through the lens. When taking a photo, the mirror moves up out of the way (hence the name “reflex”) so the light can strike the digital sensor. One of the key advantages of a DSLR is the ability to change lenses. Most DSLRs give you a wide variety of lenses and accessories for tackling specialized photographic projects. No matter what you want to do, there is a lens or accessory to help you do it. As a group, DSLRs are also faster and more responsive than P&S cameras. DSLRs excel at fast action, high speed photography. They also give you “cleaner” images with less digital noise when shooting in low light at high ISO settings (more about ISO settings on the bottom third of this page). The downside is most DSLRs are usually bigger, heavier, and more expensive than most P&S and ILC cameras.

With so many DSLRs receiving high ratings, which camera should you choose? The answer usually comes down to lenses and systems. If you have a lens or set of lenses that you like, get a digital camera that will take your lenses.

If you need certain specialized lenses, then pick a camera brand that has the lenses you need.

If you need highly specialized equipment, you will want to go with a manufacturer that provides a wide range of specialized accessories.

If you don’t have specialized needs, almost any high-rated camera from any manufacturer will work very well. Check the lists below and the reviews at DP Review to narrow down your choices. Pick out several models and brands of cameras in your price range. Go to a well equipped camera store and try the cameras out to see how they feel and work in your hands. Narrow down your choices to your top two models, but don’t buy a camera just yet.

Rent both of your favorite models (with a lens) for a week (one week with each, not both at the same time). Online camera and lens rentals have become quite reasonable. A week with each camera will tell you which one you most like to work with. And remember, you can’t go too far wrong with most any recent, high-rated DSLR.


A typical all-in-one point and shoot digital camera.

Point-and-Shoot (P&S)

Point-and-shoot cameras are usually smaller, lighter, and less expensive. They don’t have a reflex mirror and they have one, fixed (non-interchangeable) lens. They are perfect for people who want a convenient, all-in-one camera, with no need for a wide variety of lenses or accessories. If you want to push a button and let the camera do the rest (at least most of the time), a P&S is probably your best choice. Some P&S cameras give you a lot of manual controls for those occasions that you want to make the photographic decisions. The size variation is huge from smaller than a deck of cards to as big as a smaller DSLR. The right P&S fixed lens camera can give you convenience and simplicity when you want it, to a lot of controls if you need them. They vary widely in the focal length range their zoom lenses cover.

Sony Alpha NEX-5N Digital ILC Camera

Interchangeable Lens Compacts (ILC)

Hybrid, interchangeable lens compacts (ILC) have become available that mix some features of both the above types of cameras. For some photographers, they combine the best of both worlds. They are usually smaller and lighter than DSLRs, but they do take interchangeable lenses (although the selection of lenses is less than for a DSLR). They don’t have a movable “reflex” mirror or a pentaprism bump on top with an optical viewfinder, two of the reason they are smaller than a DSLR. Either there is no mirror at all or the mirror is fixed in place and some light passes through to the sensor and some is bounced up to the viewfinder. If you want more than a P&S, but don’t need everything a DSLR offers, a hybrid ILC camera may be just right for you.

P&S and ILC Features

As a group, ILC and fixed lens cameras are hugely different in terms of functionality and feature set. Some are almost as big as a DSLR, others are shirt pocket tiny. Some have lenses with a fairly limited focal length range. Others have a very long zoom lens range so you can zoom in on your child or grandchild at a sporting event, even if they are on the far end of the ball field. If you want a “carry anywhere” shirt pocket camera, your choice will be very different than if you want to photograph wildlife at a distance with a camera that has a long range zoom lens. Decide on what you want a camera to do and then read some full reviews at DP Review before you make your final camera choice. It wouldn’t hurt to look at the cameras on your short list at a local camera store. Don’t get talked into getting a camera you haven’t thoroughly checked out ahead of time at DP Review.

Camera Ratings

DP Review is my favorite camera rating site. They have been doing this for a long time. For a long time I have recommended the purchase of a camera that receives one of DP Reviews two highest ratings. Under the old system, the highest rating was “Highly Recommended”. Under the new system which began this year, the two highest ratings are the Gold Award, and the silver Award. DP Review also began giving cameras an overall percentage score, but the scores are only comparable within the same class of cameras. Don’t compare the score of a P&S fix lens camera with the score for a DSLR.

The cameras listed below received a Gold or Silver Award from DP Review under the new system or a “Highly Recommended” rating under the old system. I also included the overall percentage score.

Cameras are listed back through 2009 since there are some excellent camera models came out prior to 2012 are still available on the new and used market. An example is the excellent Canon 7D which came out in 2009 and it is still part of the current Canon line up.

Buying These Cameras Online

You can find all of the more recent camera models listed below at my photography store (powered by which you can find here at my Web site, and here as a stand alone site. Just look in the “Canon Camera Gear” and “Nikon Camera Gear” sections for Canon and Nikon DSLRS as well in the “Highest Rated” sections. Your order, purchase, and delivery at my photography store are handled by’s safe and efficient system, and you are protected by Amazon’s excellent guarantee and return policies.


The Best Digital SLR Cameras – 2013

Canon EOS 70D – 83% – Gold
Canon EOS Rebel SL1 (100D) – 78% – Gold
Canon EOS Rebel T5i (700D) – 76% – Silver
Pentax K-5 IIs – 81% – Gold
Pentax K-5 II – 80% – Gold
Nikon D5200 – 79% – Silver
Nikon D7100 – 85% – Gold
Canon EOS 6D – 83% – Silver
Sony SLT-A99 – 84% – Gold

The Best Hybrid Interchangeable Lens (ILC) Cameras – 2013

Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX7 – 79% – Silver
Olympus OM-D E-M1 – 84% – Gold
Olympus PEN E-P5 – 78% – Silver
Fujifilm X-M1 – 77% – Gold
Olympus PEN E-PM2 – 77% – Silver
Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH3 – 79% – Gold
Sony Alpha NEX-6 – 78% – Silver

The Best Fixed Lens (P&S) Cameras – 2013

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 II – 79% – Silver
Fujifilm X100S – 81% – Gold
Nikon Coolpix AW110 (underwater) – 73% – Silver
Pentax MX-1 – 74% – Silver
Olympus Tough TG-2 iHS (underwater) – 72% – Silver
Ricoh GR – 79% – Gold
Nikon Coolpix A – 75% – Silver
Nikon Coolpix P7700 – 75% – Silver
Fujifilm X20 – 77% – Silver
Fujifilm X-E1 – 79% – Gold
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX1 – 79% – Gold
Canon PowerShot G15 – 76% – Gold

Cameras to watch that will likely be highly rated

Nikon Df
Nikon D5300
Canon PowerShot G16
Nikon D610
Sony Alpha A7 / A7R
Canon EOS 1D X

The Best Digital SLR Cameras – 2012

Sony SLT-A99 – 84% – Gold
Nikon D600 – 87% – Gold
Pentax K-30 – 78% – Silver
Canon EOS Rebel 4Ti – 77% – Silver
Nikon D3200 – 73% – Silver
Nikon D800 – 82% – Gold
Nikon D800E – 84% – Gold
Canon EOS 5D Mark III – 82% – Gold

The Best Hybrid Interchangeable Lens (ILC) Cameras – 2012

Sony SLT-A57 – 78% – Gold
Sony Alpha Nex-F3 – 74% – Silver
Samsung NX210 – 78% – Silver
Fujifilm X-Pro1 – 79% – Silver
Olympus OM-D E-M5 – 80% – Gold
Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX1 – 77% – Silver

The Best Fixed Lens (P&S) Cameras – 2012

Canon PowerShot G15 – 76% – Gold
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ200 – 80%- Gold
Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX7 – 75% – Silver
Sony Cyber-Shot DSC-RX100 – 78% – Silver
Fujifilm X10 – 76% – Silver
Nikon Coolpix P510 – 75% – Silver
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ150 – 76% – Silver
Canon PowerShot G1 X – 76% – Silver

Cameras to watch that will likely be highly rated

Canon EOS 1D X
Canon EOS 6D
Canon Powershot S110
Nikon D5200

The Best Underwater P&S Cameras – 2011

Panasonic Lumix DMC-TS3 – 72% – Gold
Sony Cyber-shot TX10 – 71% – Silver

The Best Digital SLR Cameras – 2011

Sony A580 – 75% – Silver
Nikon D5100 – 76% – Silver
Canon Rebel T3i – 77% – Silver
Nikon D3100 – 72% – Silver
Pentax K-5 – 83% – Gold
Nikon D7000 – 80% – Silver
Canon EOS 60D – 79% – Silver

The Best Hybrid Interchangeable Lens (ILC) Cameras – 2011

Sony NEX-7 – 81% – Gold
Sony SLT-A65 – 78% – Gold
Olympus Pen E-PM1 – 71% – Silver
Sony SLT-A77 – 81% – Silver
Sony NEX-5N – 79% – Gold
Sony SLT-A35 – 73% – Silver
Olympus PEN E-PL3 – 72% – Silver
Sony NEX-C3 – 74% – Silver
Olympus PEN E-P3 – 74% – Silver
Panasonic DMC-G3 – 75% – Silver
Panasonic DMC-GH2 – 79% – Silver
Olympus PEN E-PL2 – 71% – Silver

The Best Fixed Lens (P&S) Cameras – 2011

Canon S100 – 72% – Silver
Panasonic DMC-TS3 (waterproof) – 72% – Gold
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-TX10 (waterproof) – 71% – Silver
Fujifilm FinePix X100 – 75% – Silver
Olympus XZ-1 – 74% – Gold
Canon G12 – 73% – Gold
Canon S95 – 72% – Silver
Panasonic DMC-LX5 – 73% – Silver

The Best Digital SLR Cameras – 2010

Nikon D7000 – 80% – Silver
Canon EOS 60D – 79% – Silver
Canon Rebel T2i – 77% – Gold
Canon EOS 1D Mark IV – 89% – Gold
Nikon D3S – 89% – Gold
Nikon D3100 – 72% – Silver
Nikon D3000 – 72% – Highly Recommended
Nikon D300S – 82% – Highly Recommended
Canon 7D – 84% – Highly Recommended

The Best Hybrid Interchangeable Lens Cameras – 2010

Sony SLT Alpha A55 – 76% – Gold
Panasonic DMC-G2 – 72% – Silver
Sony NEX-5 – 71% – Silver
Sony NEX-3 – 70% Silver
Sony E-PL1 – 69% – Silver
Olympus E-P2 – 69% – Silver

The Best Fixed Lens Cameras – 2010

Canon G12 – 73% – Gold
Canon S95 – 72% – Silver
Panasonic DMC-LX5 – 73% – Silver
Canon SD 4000 IS – 74% – Gold
Samsung TL500 – 73% – Silver
Panasonic FZ35 – 75% – Gold
Canon SX20 IS – 73% – Gold
Nikon P100 – 70% – Silver
Casio EX-FH 100 – 72% – Gold
Samsung HZ35W – 72% – Gold
Canon S90 – 75% – Silver
Canon G11 – Highly Recommended

The Best Digital SLR Cameras – 2009

Canon EOS 5D Mark II
Canon EOS 7D
Canon Digital Rebel T1i
Nikon D3X
Nikon D300S
Nikon D5000
Olympus E-620
Olympus E-30
Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH1
Panasonic Lumix DMC-G1
Pentax K-7

The Best Hybrid Cameras – 2009

Olympus Pen E-P1, 12.3 megapixels, interchangeable lenses
Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF1, 12.1 megapixels, interchangeable lenses

The Best Fixed Lens Cameras – 2009

Canon PowerShot SD880 IS
Canon PowerShot SX110 IS
Canon PowerShot SX10IS
Fujifilm FinePix F100fd
Fujifilm FinePix F200 EXR
Panasonic Lumix FZ28
Panasonic Lumix LX3
Panasonic Lumix TZ5
Panasonic Lumix ZS1
Panasonic Lumix ZS3

The Best Fixed Lens Underwater Cameras – 2009

Canon Powershot D10, 12.1 mp, 3x zoom lens
Panasonic Lumix DMC-TS1, 12.1 mp, 4.6x zoom

(Original written Dec 3, 2013. Updated March 6, 2014.)