What's New in Digital Cameras

In this guide, we take a look at some of the year's biggest innovations in digital cameras. Manufacturer's have made great advances in megapixels, zoom, video, and image stabilization, and you should know what to look for.
By , Last updated on: 5/18/2014

It's been a busy and exciting year for digital cameras. Just when you think they've done it all, out come the new models with all sorts of fancy features and shiny doodads. Throughout 2007 we've seen the steady upward creep of megapixels to 12 megapixels, the stunning debut of cameras with 18x optical zoom, the further proliferation of image stabilization, and the first signs that digital cameras might be a good gadget for high-definition video. Below, we'll give a brief recap of what each of these new developments mean and what products you should be looking at if they capture your interest.

12 Megapixels

It's hard to believe that just two or three years ago, the ceiling for a non-professional camera was somewhere around 5 or 6. Now, everybody's got a 12 megapixel camera, in various different forms. There's the Canon flagship, the , a number of ultracompact models like the and even a sub-$300 affordable options like the . Though this is all very exciting, don't get carried away. Though the camera manufacturers would love you to believe that megapixels is the prime factor in what makes a camera good, that simply isn't the case. The difference between a 12 megapixel camera and a 5 megapixel camera isn't image quality, it is image size.

18x Optical Zoom

Another giant leap for digital cameras this year was the introduction of 18x optical zoom. For a long time, things had held steady at 12x, but when the Olympus SP-550UZ debuted, it set off a flurry of activity as other brands jumped into the competition. Fuji's S8000fd and the both made excellent cases as potential alternatives, while Canon and Sony played it safe by releasing cameras with 12x and 15x zooms, respectively. In the end, that may have been a wise decision. The and are the highest rated extended zoom cameras on our site, while the others have yet to catch fire. We suggest you keep an eye on that Panasonic, though. It's still new and comes from a long line of superlative zoom cameras.

Image Stabilization

Image stabilization isn't just a special feature anymore, it's practically standard. The latest wave of digital cameras all have some kind of IS, which we're very excited about. Image stabilization (the optical or lens-shift kind, not electronic), is a nice little safety-net that compensates for jittery hands and is pretty much essential on smaller or lighter digital cameras. As we previously mentioned, Canon's flagship point-and-shoot, the has image stabilization, as do their recent ultracompact models like the and . Fuji seems to be following suit, and Sony has included their Super SteadyShot IS in most of their cameras for a long time now.

High Definition Video

Face it: we're now living in a high-definition world. With HDTVs becoming more affordable and more ubiquitous in the living room, it only stands to reason that other products will rise to the occasion. This year, we've seen both camcorders and digital cameras move toward high-definition video, in some cases blurring the boundaries between those two typically separate product categories. These hybrid camcorder/cameras, like the or the are injecting some excitement into personal video recording, and seem to be opening up new avenues in which both digital cameras and camcorders can grow and develop further. You can see our full take on hybrid camcorder/cameras by clicking here.


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