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Best Cameras 2014: 13 great cameras you can buy right now

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Trying to find the best camera for your needs? Fresh developments and new models have made the decision harder than ever. You no longer need to buy a DSLR to get DSLR-grade pictures, and even compacts can offer serious image quality if you know what you're looking for. Need a few tips? You've come to the right place.

Updated: 21/10/2014

Click the 'Next' arrow above to start browsing, or simply choose the cameras you fancy from the list below.

Best Compacts and Bridge Cameras

Best Compact System / Micro Four Thirds Cameras
Best Digital SLRs

If you think you need to know more about the various types of model on offer before deciding to splash the cash, read on.

Compact, DSLR and Bridge cameras: What's the difference?

If you're looking for the best cameras for casual use and don't want to fuss about settings before hitting the shutter button, a compact camera is probably the best fit for you.

There are still plenty of cheap and cheerful compacts out there, but higher-end models also cater for the enthusiast. There are numerous kinds of these too. You'll find chunkier advanced compacts that give you good manual control, and simpler ones that focus on providing a higher-end sensor and lens optics for better image quality and ease-of-use.

Bridging the gap between compact cameras and DSLRs are Compact System Cameras (CSC). Expect these types of snappers to offer an excellent balance of convenience and image quality, though at the very top-end we're beginning to see CSCs that match or even exceed similar DSLRs. Sony's full-frame A7-series is a good example. Within the CSC category, there's a number of different types of sensor used, each giving quite a different experience.

Nikon's CSCs use 1-inch sensors that provide lightning-fast shooting and dinky camera bodies, but not the best low-light performance. Olympus and Panasonic use Micro Four Thirds-size sensors, providing a middle ground. The latest MFT sensors are particularly impressive, seen in some of our favourite CSCs.

The largest sensors you'll find in affordable CSCs are APS-C ones, used in cameras from Samsung and Sony. Of course, Sony has now gone even further, adopting full-frame sensors in the top-end A7 and A7R. These provide the best image quality among CSCs, rivalling top-end DSLRs.

But the big daddies of the camera world remain the DSLRs. The most popular cameras among enthusiasts and professionals, DSLRs offer the greatest detail, the least noise and the fastest focusing. They’re evidence that size does matter sometimes. Larger sensors and larger, higher-quality lens glass is what the DSLR is all about.

Last up are the Bridge Cameras. These cameras are something between a compact camera and a lens system camera. They have permanent, generally very long zoom lenses and a similar feel to a DSLR. But Bridge Cameras have sensors that are similar sized to compact cameras, producing photos similar in quality.

Now that you know the types that are out there, click the arrow below to see which models have made our best cameras round-up.

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