Engadget's Holiday Gift Guide: Digital cameras

Welcome to the Engadget Holiday Gift Guide! The team here is well aware of the heartbreaking difficulties of the seasonal shopping experience, and we want to help you sort through the trash and come up with the treasures this year. Below is today's bevy of hand curated picks, and you can head back to the Gift Guide hub to see the rest of the product guides as they're added throughout the holiday season.

A new digital camera is a solid go-to gadget present for almost anyone on your list, since everyone loves taking and sharing photos. But pairing the right camera to the right person at the right price can be challenging -- with thousands of camera choices spanning every shape, size, and price tag, picking the right camera can be overwhelming. You're in luck, though -- we've looked through all of 2010's holiday camera offerings and narrowed things down for you. Read on!

Stocking stuffers

For just over a hundred bucks, Canon's baby PowerShot offers stellar image quality, a decent 4x zoom, an optical image stabilizer, and face detection. No, it's not the most tech'd out cam on our list, but it'll take great photos and it comes in a bunch of colors -- and isn't that what matters most?

Key specs: 12.1 megapixels, optical image stabilization, 2.7-inch LCD

Price: $109

Samsung TL205 - $149

Perhaps the ultimate tween present, the Samsung TL210 offers a front-facing LCD that makes oh-so-artful selfies easier to take, while optical image stabilization and Smart Auto shooting modes ensures quality shots. Step up to the TL210 for HD video and a 5x zoom -- it's $30 more.

Pentax Optio H90- $99

Budget compacts are generally bereft of style, but the Optio H90 comes in a variety of fun two-tone color schemes. On top of that, it actually takes decent photos and offers a 720p HD movie mode, although the interface is a little less than beautiful, and there's no optical image stabilization.

Oh, you shouldn't have

The mid-range compact market is packed to the gills with great options, but the Coolpix S8100 offers some of the most cutting-edge tech available at a terrific price. A backlit CMOS sensor allows for great low-light performance, there's a 10x zoom and 1080p video, and hey -- it's just a tick over $200 at Walmart and Best Buy right now.

Key specs: 12 megapixel sensor with up to ISO 3200 sensitivity, 10x zoom, 1080p video mode.

Price: $219

Pentax Optio W90 - $250

Rugged cameras generally don't offer the best image quality, but the Optio W90 can withstand water, dust, and even small children while taking solid snaps. Prices range all over the place on this one, so do some shopping around.

Canon S95 - $369

Sure, it's pricey, but if you can swing it, the Canon S95 might just be the best pocketable point-and-shoot camera ever made. With terrific manual controls, a built in HDR mode, solid low-light performance, and 720p video recording, there's not much more your loved one could want... except a DSLR.

We can't afford the rent now, can we?

Nikon's newest entry-level DSLR is the perfect blend of easy-to-use and feature-packed: it has a number of hand-holding auto modes, but still packs a 14.2 megapixel DX sensor with a max (boosted) ISO of 12,800, a 1080p/24 video mode with continuous autofocus, face detection, and subject tracking, and all the usual manual controls you'd expect. For the money it's hard to beat -- there's not much else you could ask for.

Key specs: 14 megapixel DX sensor, 1080p video with continuous autofocus

Price: $649 with 18-55 VR kit lens

Sony NEX-5 - $699

Sony's NEX cameras are a funky techno remix on the standard camera formula -- they offer terrific image quality in a tiny chassis that's still compatible with the entire range of A-mount lenses. If you're looking for a first-time camera, you're probably better off with a DSLR, but the NEX-5 is a great gift for someone who wants to try something new.

Canon 60D - $1,298 with 18-135 IS kit lens

It's a tough fight between the Canon 60D and the Nikon D7000 this season, but the 60D strikes our fancy for a couple reasons: first, it's a bit cheaper, and second, it has an articulating display, which we're total suckers for. Head-to-head against the D7000 we'd say it really comes down to personal preference and brand loyalty, but if you're just looking to step up your game the 60D will serve you well for years to come.