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With camera vendors vying to capture every potential buyer with a perfectly suited camera, there's a constant glut of new models hitting the market. At last January's CES 2011 alone, manufacturers trotted out new cameras practically by the dozen, debuting a whopping 60 compact models. With new announcements coming every month throughout the rest of the year, the compact camera market has seen well over 130 new additions this year. The good news is that you're sure to find a perfect camera for absolutely anyone on your holiday shopping list this year. Check out our list of the Top 10 compact digital cameras on the market today (as of December 2011).
Canon PowerShot S100
This fall's Canon PowerShot S100 improved upon its wildly popular predecessors with a complete overhaul of the imaging system, though the super-compact body design remains very similar (save for the welcome addition of a small grip, as well as a new silver color option). The S100 sports a wider and longer 5x zoom lens and includes a built-in GPS receiver to enable automatic geotagging. The ability to zoom while shooting video is a nice addition too.
The Olympus XZ-1 is the first high-end compact point-and-shoot to be released by Olympus in almost a decade. Though not quite as tiny as Canon's S100, it’s still relatively trim. The bright 4x zoom lens (28-112mm equivalent) has a maximum aperture of f/1.8 at the wide angle and f/2.5 at telephoto, and a dedicated low-light mode automatically adjusts ISO sensitivity up to ISO 3200. The camera's high-resolution 610,000-dot, 3-inch OLED display is also a standout.
The elder statesman of the group, the Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX5 can still hold its own among newer competitors like the S100 and XZ-1.Like the S100, its ultra-wide-angle 24mm equivalent lens has a bright f/2.0 maximum aperture, and delivers impressive image quality in low light with a sensitivity range up to ISO 12,800 (in high-sensitivity mode). Like the XZ-1, the LX5 includes a hot shoe for adding an external flash, and it also accepts an optional electronic viewfinder. Ultimately, though, it's the impressive image quality and better-than-average performance of the LX5 that keeps it in the running despite newer entries with more advanced technology.