Olympus Stylus-9000 ($350)
The stylish, 12-megapixel Stylus-9000 has a lot more going for it than just its looks--starting with a 10X optical zoom that reaches from 28mm on the wide-angle end to 280mm on the telephoto end. Rounding out its list of features are dual image stabilization, a smile-triggered shutter, backlight and shadow correction, and a 2.7-inch LCD. The Stylus-9000 is priced at $350.
Next camera: Canon Vixia HF S10
Canon Vixia HF S10
Pocket camcorders are the latest craze, but if you want a high-end, high-def beast, the Canon Vixia HF S10 looks to be one of the best options out there. It records footage at a bit rate of 24 mbps--the highest bit rate that the AVCHD codec can handle--to its internal 32GB flash drive and to SDHC cards. The Vixia HF S10's 8-megapixel CMOS sensor means that still images shouldn't look too shabby, either.
Next camera: Pentax Optio P70
Pentax Optio P70 ($200)
If you're looking to maximize value, check out the stylish and slim Optio P70. It offers a whole lot of camera for just $200. This 12-megapixel point-and-shoot has a 28mm wide-angle lens, captures 720p high-def video, offers low-light image correction via Pixel Track Shake, and includes a smile-triggered shutter.
Next camera: Olympus Stylus Tough-8000
Olympus Stylus Tough-8000 ($400)
If you spend a lot of time swimming, snowboarding, or hiking (or if you just have a bad case of fumble-itis), this rugged, weather-resistant Olympus camera may suit your lifestyle. It's crushproof up to 220 pounds, waterproof down to 33 feet, and drop-proof up to 6.6 feet--and you can operate it by slapping its top and sides.
Next camera: Sony Handycam DCR-SR67
Sony Handycam DCR-SR67 ($450)
In this day and age, would you consider buying a standard-definition camcorder? You might if you wanted to unleash a truly awe-inspiring optical zoom. This Sony camcorder comes with a 60X optical zoom and holds up to 84 hours of video on its 80GB hard drive. And if that's not enough zoom for you, be advised that Panasonic has standard-definition camcorders coming in April that crank the optical zoom up to 70X.
Next camera: Samsung HZ10W
Samsung HZ10W ($300)
Everything looks more dramatic in wide-angle, and this Samsung camera may lead the charge when it comes to drama. With a 24mm ultra-wide-angle lens and a 10X optical zoom, the 10-megapixel HZ10W should be a good pick for landscape photographers and budding photo artists.
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