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Welcome to the 2010 Ben's Holiday Gift Guide series. To all you boys and girls who've been good this year, you better know what to put on your wish lists to Santa, otherwise he might be bringing you a Grandma sweater, Zhu Zhu pet or a Zune. Below, I've compiled a few ideas to get you going. (If you missed my gift guides for HD Media Players, Home Theater and Notebooks & Desktops, please visit the Gift Guides page.)

Point-and-Shoot
For a great balance of quality and value, check out the Pentax Optio I-10 Classic 12.1 MP Digital Still Camera ($109 shipped, history, compare). It has a CCD-shift-type shake reduction mechanism, 5x optical zoom and 720p video recording in a classic-styled body. For more oomph, take a look at the Canon PowerShot SX210 14.1 MP 3.0" Digital Camera ($249 shipped, history, compare).

Bridge Camera
The Nikon Coolpix L110 12MP Digital Camera ($196 shipped, history, compare) combines the ease of a point-and-shoot and the capabilities of a DSLR. With a 15x optical zoom, 5-way VR Image Stabilization System, and HDMI output, it's a great companion for everyday shooting. A cheaper alternative is the Fujifilm Finepix S1800 12.0MP Digital Camera ($152 shipped, history, compare).

Digital SLRs
The Nikon D3100 14 MP DSLR Camera w/ 18-55mm Lens ($588 shipped w/ CIO14803, history, compare) is a great starter option in this class. It's rounded out by a 3" TFT LCD display and full 1080p HD video recording. If you prefer Canons, definitely check out the very popular Canon EOS Rebel T2i 18 MP 3.0" DSLR ($769 shipped, history, compare).

4/3rds System Cameras
The Panasonic Lumix DMC-G10 12.1MP 4/3rds Camera ($350 shipped, history, compare) is the best value on this open-standard format. It features a 4/3 12.1MP live MOS sensor, seven color modes, 3" LCD, dual live view, and 720p 30fps video recording. Also worth checking out is the Olympus PEN E-PL1 12.3 Micro 4/3rd Camera ($450 shipped, history, compare).

Rugged Cameras
For a camera that will withstand your next backpacking trip, the Fujifilm Finepix XP10 12MP Waterproof Camera ($133 + shipping, history, compare) is perfect. It's water-, shock-, freeze- and dustproof and features a 5x optical zoom and 720p video recording. Also consider the Panasonic Lumix DMC-TS2 Waterproof Camera ($260 shipped, history, compare).

Smartphones
In this fast-rising camera category, it's hard to beat the HTC Droid Incredible Android Phone (Free w/ contract, history, compare) for photo quality on a phone. It boasts an impressive 8MP camera with dual LED flashes and 720p video recording. The camera capabilities of the Apple iPhone 4 ($199 w/ contract, history, compare) have also won plaudits from casual and pro users.

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    whoster69 Ben's cred: 40
    Posted 4:50 pm PST 12/8/10

    And the Fujifilm Finepix XP10 takes really shitty pictures!

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    Ghost Rider Ben's cred: 469
    Posted 4:53 pm PST 12/8/10

    Ben don't even mention 7D or 60D nor 5D MKII....

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    c3688t Ben's cred: 15
    Posted 5:22 pm PST 12/8/10

    As much as I badmouth Ben's opinions, this is a fairly good high level overview for someone looking for a best bang for the buck deal on a digitial camera setup.

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