Fall's Most Promising Cameras

(Updated 8/19/2009) As the leaves change, so do your camera options. Are big-name manufacturers saving the best models of the year for last? Here are the camera announcements we're excited about this fall.

Canon PowerShot G11

The top-of-the-line Canon PowerShot G11 camera has some mighty big shoes to fill, since it's the follow-up to the RAW-shooting, 14.7-megapixel Canon PowerShot G10 released last year. By the looks of its specs, though, the G11 seems poised to bust clear out of those shoes entirely. Despite having a lower megapixel count (10 megapixels to the G10's 14.7-megapixel sensor), the G11 brings a few new tricks: In addition to an optical viewfinder, it has a flip-out LCD for tough-angle shots, and its revamped sensor is optimized for low light. Other than that, the specs are nearly identical to the G10, including optical image stabilization, RAW mode, a 5X optical zoom (28mm to 140mm), rugged old-school looks, and fast access to ISO and exposure compensation settings via handy camera-top dials. The $500 PowerShot G11 will be available in October.

(See PC World's Cameras page for more on new cameras.)

Samsung DualView TL225

If you find it hard to frame those arm's-length self-portraits or to get your baby to smile for the camera, two new Samsung models coming in September have an innovative solution. The DualView TL225 ($350) and TL220 ($300) both have secondary LCD screens built into the front of their frames. You simply tap the front of the camera to turn the screen on, and they can act as a front-facing viewfinder, an animated baby-charmer, or a countdown clock display for the self-timer. Both new TL-series cameras also have big touchscreens on the back, 27mm wide-angle lenses, dual image stabilization, 12-megapixel sensors, and 720p HD video recording.

Nikon Coolpix S1000pj

Samsung isn't the only company with some crazy new display tactics. The Nikon Coolpix S1000pj ($430) comes equipped with a built-in projector for playing back photos and videos. The miniature projector (on the front and center of the camera) has a throw (or projection) range of 10 inches to 6.5 feet, standard-definition VGA resolution, and a brightness rating of 10 lumens. Available in September, it will come armed with a 12-megapixel sensor, a 5X optical Nikkor zoom lens (28mm to 240mm), and a 2.7-inch-diagonal LCD on the back.

Kodak Zi8

Come September, we'll also have a new clubhouse leader in terms of pocket camcorder specs. The Kodak Zi8 will have a few features we haven't seen so far in a pocket camcorder, namely, 1080p HD recording, digital image stabilization, and an external microphone jack. The $180 Kodak Zi8 will store footage on an SD or SDHC card, shoot 5-megapixel still photos, and offer both a flip-out USB connector for offloading files and an HDMI-out port for viewing video on an HDTV.

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-WX1

Shooting stills in low light without a flash can be tricky, since boosting the ISO levels in your camera can create noise in your image. Using a revamped Exmor R sensor designed to capture more light in dark environments, the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-WX1 ($350, slated for October) promises to snap crisp, well-defined low-light shots thanks to its "Handheld Twilight" mode; it shoots several images in rapid succession, then combines them to create low-light shots with increased dynamic range. Rounding out its specs are a high-end Sony G lens with 5X optical zoom (24mm to 120mm), 720p HD video recording, and a nifty Sweep Panorama mode.

Fujifilm FinePix S200 EXR

Fujifilm's first-generation Super CCD EXR camera, the FinePix F200 EXR, had a lot to like. The second wave of cameras with this fine-tunable sensor is bound to be even better. The fixed-lens (but DSLR-like) FinePix S200 EXR ($600) offers a manually controlled wide-angle zoom lens with a 14.3X optical reach (30.5mm to 436mm), as well as the ability to shoot in RAW mode. It has the same 12-megapixel, 1/1.6-inch Super CCD sensor as the pocketable F200 EXR, but that big-time glass should translate to even better image quality. It should be out later this month.

Pentax Optio P80

With a frame that measures just 0.8 inches thick and a price tag that limbos under the $201 mark, the Pentax Optio P80 ($200, available in September) seems like a great option for anyone looking for a slim, fashionable, wide-angle-lens camera that also shoots HD video. The Optio P80 offers a 4X optical zoom lens starting out at 27.5mm on the wide-angle end (and 110mm telephoto), and it shoots 720p HD video at 30 frames per second. That's a nice set of features for a couple of C-notes.

Nikon D300s

A noble successor to the Nikon D300 digital SLR, the recently-announced Nikon D300s offers many of the same specs (a 12.3-megapixel CMOS sensor and a 51-point autofocus system), but with a few deal-sweeteners: a new Expeed processor that translates to a faster burst mode at 7 frames per second and the ability to shoot 720p HD video at 24 fps (autofocus is also enabled in movie mode). Nikon has also added a stereo jack for an external microphone, as well as an SD/SDHC card to accompany the D300s's CompactFlash card slot. The high-end Nikon D300s will be available in late August for $1800 (body only).

Samsung CL65

Samsung didn't stop the innovation train at the dual-LCD station. No sirree. The well-connected Samsung CL65 offers no fewer than four wireless connectivity options for sharing and tagging photos: Wi-Fi for e-mailing your pics to friends and family, GPS capabilities for geo-tagging your shots, Bluetooth 2.0 for beaming photos to supported devices, and DLNA connectivity for showing off your shots on DLNA-compliant HDTVs. The 12-megapixel CL65 ($400, available in September) also offers a 3.5-inch touchscreen LCD on the back, complete with gesture- and accelerometer-controlled in-camera settings, and 720p HD video recording.

Fujifilm FinePix F70 EXR

Just in case the FinePix S200 EXR we mentioned before is a bit too bulky for you, a slimmer--but still powerful--Fujifilm Super CCD EXR camera is coming in late August. The $280 Fujifilm FinePix F70EXR pocket megazoom packs a 10X optical-zoom lens (27mm to 270mm), dual image stabilization, and a body less than an inch thick. Like the S200 EXR, the F70 EXR offers Fujifilm's well-respected Super CCD EXR sensor and two interesting new "Multi Frame" modes: Pro Focus Mode, which simulates a large aperture setting, and Pro Low Light mode, which promises to create sharper high-ISO shots.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ35

Camera or camcorder? Camcorder or camera? If you can't decide on which of the two you need to buy, Panasonic's Lumix DMC-FZ35 is a fixed-lens megazoom that aims to split the difference. The 18X optical-zoom (27mm to 486mm) Lumix FZ35 offers optical image stabilization and 720p AVCHD Lite HD video recording at a bit rate of 17 megabits per second. Advanced settings are available in both movie and still modes, specifically manual aperture and shutter controls, as well as a mode optimized for high-dynamic-range shooting. The Lumix DMC-FZ35 is coming in September for $400.

(See PC World's Cameras page for more on new cameras.)

Canon PowerShot S90

Packing the same 10-megapixel sensor, Digic 4 processor, and low-light capabilities as the just-announced Canon PowerShot G11, the versatile PowerShot S90 pours many of the G11's advanced features into a compact, pocketable frame. The make-or-break feature for the S90 is its "control ring," a dial that surrounds the lens and controls some in-camera settings. The S90 also serves up a 3-inch-diagonal LCD screen, a 3.8X-optical-zoom lens (28mm to 105mm), optical image stabilization, and 640-by-480 standard-definition video capture at 30 frames per second. Coming in October, the PowerShot S90 will carry a $430 price tag.

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