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Best Cameras to Buy Right Now

From a Wi-Fi-connected point-and-shoot to a stunning mirrorless model, here are six standouts from our testing

It's a great time of year for taking memorable photos, which means it's a great time to ask about the best cameras on the market. As the calendar swells with graduations, weddings, and vacation plans, you'll soon be confronted with amazing photo ops—the kind you dare not entrust solely to a smartphone.

That's not to say you have to spring for an SLR and pricey lenses (although those do make great gifts.) Most advanced point-and-shoots are built with a large image sensor and a high-quality zoom lens. They’re usually small and lightweight, too.  

But just about any digital camera has an optical zoom that brings you closer to the action without degrading the image quality. The same can't be said for the digital zoom on your iPhone.

Let's say you want to come in tight on that well-earned diploma handoff. Consider a point-and-shoot with a long zoom, which we call a superzoom (24x or greater). Wedding on a beach? How about a waterproof and rugged point-and-shoot?

To help you evaluate your options, here are six of the best cameras we've tested. For more expert advice, take a look at our buying guide as well.

Canon PowerShot N100

Canon PowerShot N100

One reason people like snapping photos on their smartphones is that smartphones are "connected" to the Internet, email and message services, making it easy to share their work. This small, portable point-and-shoot uses Wi-Fi to transfer images to phones, tablets, and computers, as well as other PowerShot N-series cameras. It can even upload photos directly to Facebook. It has fun features, too: In Creative Shot mode, it lets you edit your images using various filters and cropping techniques (think Instagram) and save five versions of each shot.

    Nikon Coolpix P900

    Nikon Coolpix P900

    With its 83x optical superzoom lens (24mm-2000mm), this Coolpix captures the craters on the moon. Far out, right? To keep your pictures sharp and your video jitter-free, it has an excellent image-stabilization system. And unlike many point-and-shoots, it includes a swiveling liquid crystal display for framing hard-to-reach shots and an electronic viewfinder, useful when bright sunlight washes out that LCD screen. The camera also offers a second zoom control, right on the barrel of the lens.

      Sony Cyber-shot RX10 II

      Sony Cyber-shot RX10 II

      Though a bit heavy, this fixed-lens Sony nonetheless has benefits that make it an attractive alternative to an SLR or mirrorless camera. For starters, its 8.3x optical zoom (24mm-200mm) is longer than the lens you'll find in most kits. It also has a constant f/2.8 aperture, which delivers better low-light shots by letting more of that glow into the lens over the length of the zoom. By creating a shallow depth of field, even at the telephoto end of the zoom, it also produces more professional-looking images.

      The camera has lots of other nifty features too, including a high-quality electronic viewfinder, the power to fire off 14 frames per second in burst mode, the ability to capture 4K-resolution video, and various high-frame rate video settings for dramatic slow-motion effects.  

        Olympus Stylus TG-4

        Olympus Stylus TG-4

        A waterproof point-and-shoot lets you go where smartphones dare not tread—like, say, a waterpark or a river rafting expedition. This point-and-shoot is rugged enough to survive a deep dive of roughly 50 feet or a freefall of seven feet.  

        lt shoots photos of very good quality and has a good flash. Plus it can capture images as RAW files, a feature found mostly on advanced cameras. Unlike a JPEG, this uncompressed format isn't processed inside the camera and can yield the best quality images.

          Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH4 w/ 14-140mm f/3.5-5.6 ASPH. Power O.I.S.

          Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH4 w/...

          If you're not put off by the pricetag (especially when the unit is paired with the 14-140mm lens), this wireless mirrorless camera has all the bells and whistles one could want. It captures stunning stills, even in low light, and can shoot 4K (ultra high definition) video at 30 frames per second. It comes with a fantastic, swiveling, touch-screen OLED display and an excellent electronic viewfinder. And, if you don't want to miss a single moment of the drama in that viewfinder, you'll be glad to know the Lumix DMC-GH4 can capture 12 frames per second.

            Nikon D750 w/ AF-S 24-120mm f/4G ED VR

            Nikon D750 w/ AF-S 24-120mm f/4G...

            Thanks to a full-frame-sized sensor (24mm x 36mm), this pricey-but-powerful, 24-megapixel SLR can handle a wide variety of lighting situations. Even without a flash, images shot in low-lamp conditions were sharp with no visual noise. The camera has a large, 3.1-inch LCD screen, built-in WiFi, and it can fire off 6.5 frames per second in burst mode.

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