Cameras haven't been this cool since Nikon brought on the digital era in 1999 with the D1. Now it's all about the convergence of still and motion photography. Cameras from the simplest point-and-shoots to pro-level DSLRs can now shoot HD video. So stop worrying about megapixels and figure out which camera is right for you. Just want to make YouTube clips and galleries of your pets? A point-and-shoot is all you need. Want photos you can hang? Go for a full-frame compact or pay at least a grand for a DSLR. And, in all cases, remember that more features don't make a better camera. Intuitive controls, good glass, and weatherization will go further toward helping you create great shots than any list of resolutions and processor speeds.
The best camera is the one that's actually on you when something photo-worthy happens. The W90, with its pack-strap-ready carabiner, not only lives up to that maxim but brings some serious photographic punch when the shooting begins. Pentax upped the waterproof depth of this classic ruggedized line to 20 feet and the safe drop height to four, thanks to a heavy-duty rubber housing and internal reinforcements. Simple flick-and-slide gaskets make the battery and SD memory-card slots easy to get to, while three LEDs provide light for macro subjects as close as half an inch from the lens. Featurewise, the W90 is right in the sweet spot of high-end point-and-shoots: 12 megapixels, a 28140mm optical zoom, 720p HD video at a rapid-fire 30 frames per second, and a time-lapse feature. In your hand, the W90 feels substantial, with simple thumb controls, and the 2.7-inch LCD screen is easy to seeeven through goggles.
5.7 oz; pentaxwebstore.com
Features: 3.7 (out of 5)