Journal-Standard Photo and Web Editor Joe Tamborello rates the best digital cameras just before Black Friday. See Joe's picks for best budget, mid-range, and high-end point-and-shoot cameras.

Here we are again in the midst of another holiday shopping season. We all prepare, lists in hand for our family and friends – and maybe a wondering eye for the toys we've been wanting for ourselves.

My eyes tend to wonder each time I go by an electronics department or camera store. I could never have too many cameras, old or new. I use one every day. If it's not for work it's for pleasure. Yes, it's amazing! You have found someone who truly loves what what they do for a living! Try not to let the jealousy take over.

Below are my top three choices for current point-and-shoot cameras in three categories – budget, mid-range and high-end. There's also a best DSLR for each category:


No. 3 - Fujifilm FinePix J28 $79.99

A great camera with a lot of useful features at a great price. Includes facial recognition, a fairly open lens (f2.9 at the widest -- the lower the f-stop number on the lens, the more able to take good picture in dark situations), an ultra-high ISO 3200 (again, helps with dark situations), and 10.0 megapixels, which will give you good looking enlargements.

No. 2 - Panasonic Lumix DMC-FS42K $99.99

What a great lens on this camera at the price! Yes the Leica branding may not mean the same as it does on an actual Leica camera, but this is a great lens for clarity and low light on a budget camera. You're also getting 10.1 megapixels, 4x zoom (which is a little more than many others in the category), face detection, and more.

No. 1 – Canon PowerShot A1100IS $129 

I own this camera's predecessor, the A1000IS, and love it. Great photo quality and lots of features from a budget camera. This is a 12.1 megapixel point-and-shoot that includes facial detection, a great image stabilization system (which allows you to get sharp images in low light), and all the features the above cameras include. One of the best features of this camera is the use of two, readily available AA bateries. No need to carry around another charger on vacation.

Best budget DSLR: Olympus EVOLT E-420 w/ 14-42mm lens $445.00

A super-compact 10 megapixel DSLR body for a super-compact price with some features you used to only see in the professional bodies, including wireless flash and a dust reduction system among others.


No. 3 - Nikon CoolPix S640 $249

Ultra-compact with a great Nikor lens. 12.2 megapixels, 5x zoom, ultra-fast startup time, and great image stabilization are just some of the highlights of this little pocket camera.

No. 2 - Panasonic Lumix DMC - ZR1 $226.00

12.1 megapixel point-and-shoot with 8x zoom. You can also record HD videos with the zoom fully fuctional while recording. Panasonic's image stabilization is a great one, which will help you in low light situations.

No. 1 - Olympus Stylus 9000 $234

This is a really compact camera touting 10x zoom and 12 megapixels. A great pocket camera with super-zoom power. Great features like in-camera photo editing and panorama mode. Another nice feature is the HDMI out, allowing you to hook this camera up to an HDTV for slideshows.

Best mid-range DSLR: Canon EOS T1i $685 w/ 18-55 mm lens

Huge file size from the 15.1 megapixel sensor. CMOS sensor and Canon's DIGIC 4 processor make for great color reproduction and image quality. Also shoots video in full, 1080 HD quality.


No. 3 – Fujifilm FinePix S200EXR $448

Such good color reproduction from this camera! Film simulation modes gives you great artistic options. If you ever shot with slide film, you