When it comes to picture quality, a smart phone still can’t compare with a good camera. But cameras can learn a lesson or two from smart phones about connectivity—and some have.
Many new cameras have built in Wi-Fi and NFC (near field communication) antennas that let you transfer your photos to a phone or tablet. Some cameras can connect directly to online services such as Dropbox, Facebook, and Flickr. (In our experience, cameras don’t always share as quickly and as easily as phones, so it might take a little time and effort to get this working, especially at first.) You can also add an app to your phone or tablet that lets you print directly from a social-networking site. We included one printer with that capability here as well.
This point-and-shoot subcompact uses Wi-Fi to transfer images to phones, tablets, and computers, and it can connect to other PowerShot N-series cameras. (In our informal tests of an earlier model, connecting wirelessly to phones and tablets was easier than connecting to computers.)
When set in Creative Shot mode, the Canon PowerShot N100 can automatically alter photos using various filters and cropping techniques, and save five versions of a shot, mimicking many of the filters you would find on Instagram.
Sony DSC-QX10 lens-based camera
This cylindrical-shaped device looks like a lens, but it’s actually a full-fledged camera minus a viewfinder and display. The idea is that you use your smart phone’s display—and that’s an interesting idea. By using a Wi-Fi link to your phone, the Sony QX10 takes advantage of the phone’s large, high-resolution display, processing power, and sharing capabilities.
What the QX10 has that your phone doesn’t is a 10x optical zoom and image stabilization. In our informal tests of the DSC-QX10, we found it easy to connect to an iPhone 5 via Wi-Fi, and we got better close-ups and had fewer blurred photos than with the iPhone’s camera.
NFC lets you tap the mirrorless Samsung NX30 to a compatible Android phone or tablet to share photos instantly. (You need to download Samsung’s Smart Camera app to your device.) The camera’s AutoShare feature automatically sends photos to iOS or Android phones or tablets. The Group Share feature sends photos to four people at once.
The NX30 can post images directly to Facebook, YouTube, Flickr, and Dropbox via Wi-Fi. It even has a Baby Monitor mode that sends photos to a compatible phone or TV when it detects a sound.
Canon Pixma MG7120 all-in-one printer
For years, many printers from the major brands have been able to connect wirelessly to mobile devices to print photos, documents, and Web pages. Some models now go beyond that.
The Canon Pixma MG7120 can print directly from Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, Dropbox, and other services when used with a phone or tablet running Canon’s new cloud-based printing app, Pixma Printing Solution. This all-in-one inkjet also works with Apple’s AirPrint technology, which lets you print easily from most iOS-based devices.
Editor's Note: This article also appeared in the June 2014 issue of Consumer Reports magazine.