GoPro Hero3 White Edition
GoPro’s latest action cam can shoot still images, but it’s primarily a video camera, letting you capture high-quality clips in a variety of settings. Optional mounts let you position it above the net at basketball games or on the side of your boat for crew practice, or you can stick it on a tripod to capture the party scene or use it as a second cam for class projects.
This Sony mirrorless camera is incredibly versatile, with a powerful 20.1-megapixel sensor, an interchangeable lens mount and great low-light performance. You can use it to capture casual gatherings, but with a variety of manual control options, it’s also a great fit for classwork, letting you snap sharp shots every time.
Sure, $400 is a fairly hefty price to pay for a point-and-shoot camera, but Olympus’ new Tough shooter can handle just about anything you throw its way. It packs standard ruggedized camera features, such as a waterproof housing and impact resistance, but integrated WiFi and a unique add-on macro light guide make it more flexible than the rest.
Nikon D610 with 28-300mm lens
If you have even more cash to spare, Nikon’s D610 kit is where it’s at. The full-frame sensor delivers fantastic image quality and the bundled 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6 lens will have you covered for shots near and far. This is our go-to liveblog-shooting rig — we count on it to capture a perfect image every time, and you should, too.
Sony’s third-generation RX100 is the best compact point-and-shoot camera money can buy, but it’s anything but cheap; 800 bucks nets you a 1-inch, 20.1-megapixel sensor, a very high-quality 24-70mm lens and a pop-up OLED viewfinder. You also get WiFi, a flip-up LCD and support for XAVC S video encoding for super-sharp 1080p clips.
Yes, $1,300 is a hefty price to pay for a mirrorless camera, particularly one that excludes a lens, but if you need the best, this is the cam to get. Image quality is spectacular and focusing is incredibly fast, so you’ll never have an excuse for missing the shot. For prime performance, add on the 12-40mm f/2.8 lens ($999).
Sony’s unique QX10 uses your smartphone as the viewfinder — there’s no integrated LCD and very few hardware controls. With an integrated clip mount, this “lens camera” essentially adds a 10x optical zoom lens to your handset, giving you significantly boosted image quality for less than 200 bucks.
Canon’s $179 pocketable point-and-shoot sports a 12x optical zoom lens, letting you get closer to the action at guest lectures and football games alike. The ELPH 340 HS also includes WiFi, so you can upload images to Facebook and Twitter with only a few clicks.