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We've tested dozens of cameras this year, putting them through the gauntlet of our labs and the scrutiny of a staff that isn't easily impressed. Despite a couple of disappointments and a pretty thin lineup of new high-end cameras, 2011 had a few bright stars. We consider these products the very best that the industry has to offer this year—cameras that we would recommend not just to our readers, but to our family and friends. **Camera of the Year** **[Nikon D5100](https://www.reviewed.com/cameras/content/Nikon-D5100-Digital-Camera-Review.htm) **(MSRP $849.95 w/ 18–55mm lens) While we enjoyed the additions of autofocus during video recording and Nikon’s creative digital filters, the D5100 blew us away by getting the simple things right. Phenomenal color accuracy, expanded dynamic range, and above-average performance in nearly every category proved enough for this sub-$1000 DSLR to be our camera of the year for 2011. "**Read the Full Review**":https://www.reviewed.com/cameras/content/Nikon-D5100-Digital-Camera-Review.htm **Best Budget Camera** - under $200 "**Canon PowerShot ELPH 100 HS**":https://www.reviewed.com/cameras/content/Canon-ELPH-100-HS-Digital-Camera-Review.htm (MSRP $179.99) In the crowded ultracompact market, we’ve noticed an increasing reliance on extra features, effects, and doodads to help cameras stand out. Canon’s PowerShot ELPH 100 HS doesn’t play this game. Instead, it succeeds in areas that matter: excellent image quality, a painless user experience, and that reasonable sub-$200 price tag. And when cost is an issue, wouldn’t you rather shell out for excellent photos, rather than bells and whistles? "**Read the Full Review**":https://www.reviewed.com/cameras/content/Canon-ELPH-100-HS-Digital-Camera-Review.htm Runner-up:Samsung PL120 (MSRP $149.99) After talking down the point-and-shoot market’s recent obsession with gimmickry, it seems strange to now praise the Samsung PL120, complete with this model’s distinguishing front and rear dual-LCD design. The feature is clearly intended for those cheek-to-cheek, best friends for life, Facebook-bound self-portraits; yet we can’t argue with results. This affordable camera aced our most important tests, making it a versatile product, equally at home on a serious shooter’s tripod as it is in the hands of a partying teenager. "**Read the Full Review**":https://www.reviewed.com/cameras/content/Samsung-PL120-Digital-Camera-Review.htm **Best High-End Compact Camera** "**Olympus XZ-1**":https://www.reviewed.com/cameras/content/Olympus-XZ-1-Digital-Camera-Review.htm (MSRP $499.99) Olympus nailed their re-entry into the serious compact space with the XZ-1. This pocket-sized shooter captures excellent photos and offers a heap of manual control, including RAW capture and a hot-shoe attachment. It’s a best-bet in the high-end compact niche. "**Read the Full Review**":https://www.reviewed.com/cameras/content/Olympus-XZ-1-Digital-Camera-Review.htm Runner-up:"**Canon PowerShot G12**":https://www.reviewed.com/cameras/content/Canon-G12-Digital-Camera-Review.htm (MSRP $499.99) The latest entry in the Canon G series is another winner, with great image quality and the most decked-out set of external controls you’ll ever see on a compact. The G12 finishes a hair behind the Olympus XZ-1 in most important performance categories, but it’s nevertheless another solid serious compact. "**Read the Full Review**":https://www.reviewed.com/cameras/content/Canon-G12-Digital-Camera-Review.htm **Best Ultra-zoom Camera** "**Panasonic LUMIX DMC-FZ150**":https://www.reviewed.com/cameras/content/Panasonic-FZ150-Digital-Camera-Review.htm (MSRP $499.99) Panasonic’s FZ150 is a story of redemption, following in the wake of their just-okay FZ100, which temporarily soured the reputation of the company’s long history in the ultrazoom category. Outwardly, few changes have been made since the FZ100, but the real difference is inside: a brand new 12.1 megapixel CMOS sensor. That single, crucial change rocketed the FZ series back out of mediocrity and into position as the finest superzoom we’ve ever tested. "**Read the Full Review**":https://www.reviewed.com/cameras/content/Panasonic-FZ150-Digital-Camera-Review.htm Runner-up:"**Canon PowerShot SX40 HS**":https://www.reviewed.com/cameras/content/Canon-PowerShot-SX40-HS-Digital-Camera-Review.htm (MSRP $429.99) Canon’s strategy for their SX40 HS seems remarkably similar to Panasonic’s for their FZ150: swap out the problematic elements of an already-decent camera, and ship it. The experiment was successful for Canon too, aside from a few inherited flaws of the predecessor. Otherwise, the SX40 HS is a high-performance, feature-rich ultrazoom, with special emphasis on the expert lens design this company is known for. "**Read the Full Review**":https://www.reviewed.com/cameras/content/Canon-PowerShot-SX40-HS-Digital-Camera-Review.htm **Best Mirrorless System Camera** "**Olympus E-P3**":https://www.reviewed.com/cameras/content/Olympus-E-P3-Digital-Camera-Review.htm (MSRP $899.99 w/ 14–42mm lens) With outstanding color accuracy and video performance, the Olympus PEN E-P3 rated higher than any other mirrorless system camera we have tested to date. Add to that the gorgeous OLED touchscreen, improved menu, and innovative yet stylish interchangeable grip and the E-P3 ran away with this category for 2011. "**Read the Full Review**":https://www.reviewed.com/cameras/content/Olympus-E-P3-Digital-Camera-Review.htm Runner-up:"**Panasonic LUMIX DMC-G3**":https://www.reviewed.com/cameras/content/Panasonic-G3-Digital-Camera-Review.htm (MSRP $699.99 w/ 14–42mm lens) Excellent dynamic range and low light performance show that the Panasonic LUMIC DMC-G3 houses the best image sensor we’ve tested in a Micro Four Thirds camera. While we felt the total package didn’t quite add up to the value provided by the Olympus E-P3, the G3 has us very excited to see what Panasonic can cook up in 2012. "**Read the Full Review**":https://www.reviewed.com/cameras/content/Panasonic-G3-Digital-Camera-Review.htm **Best Budget DSLR** - under $1000 "**Nikon D5100**":https://www.reviewed.com/cameras/content/Nikon-D5100-Digital-Camera-Review.htm (MSRP $849.95 w/ 18–55mm lens) The advent of the sub-$1000 DSLR has been great for amateur shooters looking to get more serious about photography. With image quality that can match (and at times exceed) the more expensive D7000, the D5100 offers entry-level shooters great image quality in a lightweight, affordable package. "**Read the Full Review**":https://www.reviewed.com/cameras/content/Nikon-D5100-Digital-Camera-Review.htm Runner-up:"**Canon EOS Rebel T3i**":https://www.reviewed.com/cameras/content/Canon-Rebel-T3i-First-Impressions-Review.htm (MSRP $899.99 w/ 18–55mm lens) While we loved the Rebel T3i’s video quality and ease of use, we felt it just didn’t build enough on last year’s excellent T2i. In terms of image quality, the Nikon D5100 simply outperformed it—and nearly every other camera we’ve tested. "**Read the Full Review**":https://www.reviewed.com/cameras/content/Canon-Rebel-T3i-First-Impressions-Review.htm **Best Camera Value** "**Canon PowerShot ELPH 100 HS**":https://www.reviewed.com/cameras/content/Canon-ELPH-100-HS-Digital-Camera-Review.htm (MSRP $179.99) The Canon ELPH 100 HS is a near-perfect point-and-shoot specimen. It’s super-fast, easy to use, and takes better pictures than your smartphone and better videos that your pocket camcorder. That’s everything a compact camera should be, and this one costs just $179. "**Read the Full Review**":https://www.reviewed.com/cameras/content/Canon-ELPH-100-HS-Digital-Camera-Review.htm Runner-up:"**Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF3**":https://www.reviewed.com/cameras/content/Panasonic-GF3-Digital-Camera-Review.htm (MSRP $699.99 w/ 14–42mm and 14mm lens) “Serious” photography used to mean hefty cameras with price tags to match. Panasonic’s GF3 mirrorless compact system camera turns that notion on its head. It’s a real-deal shooter with interchangeable lenses, a legitimately pocket-sized body, and fantastic image quality. And right now, Panasonic lists the camera and two lenses all for under $700. "**Read the Full Review**":https://www.reviewed.com/cameras/content/Panasonic-GF3-Digital-Camera-Review.htm **Best Camera for Video**(in conjunction w/ CamcorderInfo.com) "**Canon EOS Rebel T3i**":https://www.reviewed.com/cameras/content/Canon-Rebel-T3i-First-Impressions-Review.htm (MSRP $899.99 w/ 18–55mm lens) The Canon Rebel T3i came away with this award thanks to its ability to capture crisp video in bright light, accurate colors in low light, and good video performance all-around. Like most DSLRs, the T3i had trouble with autofocus in video mode, but the rest of the camera's controls worked well when shooting video. We also enjoyed the articulated LCD on the back of the T3i, which made shooting video with the camera on a tripod a much easier task. "**Read the Full Review**":https://www.reviewed.com/cameras/content/Canon-Rebel-T3i-First-Impressions-Review.htm Runner-up:"**Olympus E-P3**":https://www.reviewed.com/cameras/content/Olympus-E-P3-Digital-Camera-Review.htm (MSRP $899.99 w/ 14–42mm lens) The Olympus E-P3 can't record video with the same quality as the Canon T3i, but it's compact design and suite of manual controls still make it a good choice for video enthusiasts. The E-P3 is small enough that you can use it to record video all day long without overexerting your arm muscles, and its results in our video performance tests were better than the other cameras in its size and price range. "**Read the Full Review**":https://www.reviewed.com/cameras/content/Olympus-E-P3-Digital-Camera-Review.htm