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In pictures: Ten camera options that go way beyond point and shoot

Latest innovations in photography designed for the casual shooter or the serious hobbyist

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Samsung EX2F: A small camera for serious enthusiasts, Samsung’s EX-F2 sports a super bright, high-performance 24- to 80-millimetre f/1.4-2.7 equivalent lens and a satisfyingly large 1/1.7-inch 12-megapixel CMOS image sensor great for capturing both stills and high-definition video. And with Wi-Fi support there’s no need to connect to a PC before uploading to the cloud. Samsung even managed to stuff an articulating touch screen into its relatively skinny body. ($549.99; samsung.com/ca)

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Canon Rebel T4i kit: Canon’s latest consumer single-lens reflex (SLR) is a satisfyingly full-featured camera with all the functions and features most amateur shutterbugs are likely to need, and then some. Its 18-megapixel image sensor paired with Canon’s stock 18- to 55-millimetre EF-S IS II lens work together to capture gorgeous stills and stunning full high-definition video. Advanced perks – such as high-dynamic range (HDR) backlight control, which snaps multiple shots with different settings then stitches them together for a professional-grade image – make snapping the perfect shot easier than ever. Plus, its large and clear four-inch, variable-angle touchscreen can be manipulated to suit any situation, from self portraits to overhead shots in crowds. ($899.99; canon.ca)

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Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF5KK: This 12-megapixel camera is the newest micro 4/3 format consumer camera from Panasonic. It gives hobbyists the flexibility of an interchangeable lens system supported by multiple brands (including Olympus), while simultaneously offering casual shooters the accessibility of a compact camera, complete with shooting tips, two dozen auto scenes and rapid auto focus. Full HD video with stereo audio is the sugar on top. ($649.99; panasonic.ca/english)

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Lytro: This odd-looking, box-shaped device could be the beginning of a revolution in the way we take pictures. It captures a full field of light without delay. That means you can shoot pictures instantly, then focus your shot after the fact. It’s a different and decidedly modern way of thinking about photography. Pictures are no longer static two-dimensional images, but rather interactive images that live on your computer or tablet. While viewing them, you can click or tap anywhere you like to redefine subjects and artfully blur foreground and background details. There’s never been anything like it, making it an ideal present for that hard-to-shop-for person on your list. ($399.99; lytro.com)

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Nikon 1 J2: A camera for folks who want the fun and freedom found in chunkier digital SLRs but without the size and heft. The sleek, metallic Nikon 1 J2 gives users full manual control so they can tinker with aperture control and shutter speed, and lets them swap out lenses in situations that call for telephoto or wide angle glass. At the same time, it also offers the simplicity of a point-and-shoot, with a full range of automatic modes, including preset scene selections and creative effects that let you churn out panoramas, soft-edged subjects and diorama-style shots in-camera so you need not muck about with PC software. ($599.95; en.nikon.ca)

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Nikon Coolpix S01: This wee shooter (it weighs just 96 grams and is 2.75 inches wide) packs Nikon-quality pictures into a tiny device small enough for a toddler to wield. But don’t let it’s small size fool you. Contained within its colourful casing is a 3x wide-angle zoom lens, a touch screen and a bevy of fully automatic features. Just toss it in your purse or messenger bag and it will always be there when you need it. ($149.95; en.nikon.ca)

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Sony Cyber-Shot RX100: Just as important as the number of megapixels a camera can capture is the physical size of the image sensor. The Sony Cyber-Shot RX100 has you covered in both areas, with a huge one-inch sensor – by far the biggest of any commercial point-and-shoot camera – that can acquire a gobsmacking 20 megapixels worth of visual information in a single shot. Add a satisfyingly bright piece of Carl Zeiss glass and a broad spectrum of manual controls and you have a compact shooter that means serious business. It’s point-and-shoot photography for professionals. ($699.99; store.sony.ca)

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Canon PowerShot SX500 IS: Superzoom cameras are a godsend for amateurs unwilling to bear the expense of interchangeable lens cameras but still interested in capturing long range shots. Canon’s 30x optical zoom PowerShot SX500 sits at the head of the class in this category because of its top-notch image stabilization (key for telephoto shooting) and smart perks such as a zoom assist feature that lets you tap a button to zoom out and regain your bearings after losing a subject, then release to zoom back in on target. ($349.99; canon.ca)

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Fujifilm X10: A camera for hipster shutterbugs unwilling to sacrifice performance in their quest for retro-inspired hardware. The delightfully old-fashioned-looking X10 sports eye-catching outward flourishes such as an optical viewfinder and mechanical zoom ring. Inside, however, reside the marvels of modern technology, including an image sensor twice the size that of most compact cameras and digitally-controlled functions such as single-sweep panorama. ($599.99; fujifilm.ca)

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Olympus TG-1 iHS: Nothing dampens an adventurer’s spirit like a busted camera. Olympus’ rough ’n’ tumble TG-1 iHS helps make sure that doesn’t happen. It can withstand water, endure drops, function in the freezing cold, and even survive being squashed by a heavy man’s bottom. It’s also extremely versatile, thanks to both still image and 1080p video modes and a converter ring that supports special telephoto and fish-eye lenses. ($399.99; olympuscanada.com)

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