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Nikon D40

Nikon D40

With all the focus being put on prosumer digital SLR cameras, it's about time someone designed one for the point-and-shoot crowd. With the capabilities of a dSLR and the ease-of-use of a pocket shooter, the compact and lightweight Nikon D40 ($600; Dec. 06) is ready to go with a 6.1-megapixel sensor, nearly instant startup, the ability to shoot 2.5 pictures per second, in-camera image editing, and a simplified menu system with built-in help. It's got a 2.5 inch LCD, eight preset modes, SD storage, and a 18-55mm Nikkor lens. The perfect model for a photography novice looking to make the jump to an SLR.

  • Sony Cyber-shot DSC-N2

    Sony's new 10-megapixel Cyber-shot DSC-N2 ($450; Oct. 2006) features an elegant champagne gold exterior, a Carl Zeiss Vario Tessar 3x optical zoom lens, and three-inch touch-screen LCD displays. The camera also sports a nifty photo album feature that lets you easily watch slide shows of your saved photos on a TV with music and transition effects. Every time you snap a picture, the DSC-N2 stores a full-resolution image on your
    memory card and automatically resizes and
    saves that same image in VGA resolution.

  • Sony HDR-FX7 1080i Camcorder

    While it certainly isn't for the novice videomaker, the new Sony HDR-FX7 1080i HDV Camcorder ($3500; October 2006) is definitely a powerhouse. It features three-chip ClearVID CMOS Sensor technology, a Carl Zeiss lens with 20x optical zoom, a high-resolution, 3.5-inch LCD, and of course the ability to record in 1080i HD. All of this comes in a package that is 40 percent smaller and 25 percent lighter than Sony's original prosumer HDV camcorder, making it ideal for aspiring filmmakers who like to shoot on the go.