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T+L Camera Guide

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Launch Slideshow
Photo: Davies + Starr

All-Around

Panasonic Lumix LX2

Specs

10.2 mp; 4x optical zoom with 33 mm focal length; 2.8" LCD screen; 6.56 oz. panasonic.com; $500

pros

This 10-megapixel camera has more power than most point-and-shoots. Lots of manual functions allow photo buffs to override automatic settings

cons

No optical viewfinder; delayed action, especially in low light; costs a little more than many point-and-shoots

Summary

A logical step up from an ultracompact, this camera is packed with professional-level features but still fits into a pocket

Entry-Level DSLR

Nikon D40

Specs

6.1 mp; 3x optical zoom; 2.5" LCD screen; 16 oz. nikon.com; $600

pros

An affordable introduction to digital single-lens reflex (DSLR) cameras; switching from auto to manual is very easy; logical interface; vivid colors; bright screen for viewing photos

cons

Though compact for a DSLR, this camera will not fit into any pocket; only 6.1 megapixels means poorer image quality than others in its category

Summary

Ideal for someone who wants to graduate from point-and-shoot to DSLR; shares lenses with the Nikon D200 if you want to upgrade eventually

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