smartphone to capture moments for posterity, and we rationalize it by telling ourselves that our hastily taken shots look "good enough."
Deep down, we know that they don't, though, which is why we'll be asking for a higher-quality camera this holiday season. If cell-phone photography is bumming you out too, we encourage you to add one of the eight impressive cameras below to your wish list.
For the Eternally Nostalgic
Amazingly, Polaroid is still chugging along. With the Z2300, the storied company's patented technology has been freed from the clunky, black-plastic camera design prison.
Still, you'll get a nostalgic thrill whenever the Z2300 goes old-school and spits out a 2x3 photograph—which it accomplishes in under a minute using the same technology found in many printers. If you insist on staying in the 21st century, the image can also be stored digitally on an SD card. $159
For Facebook Oversharers
This offbeat gizmo combines a 16-megapixel, ultrazoom camera with Android 3G Internet connectivity—a gearhead way to say that it allows you to shoot, edit, and share your images with the tap of a finger. The Galaxy makes it a breeze to add Instagram filters and other social-media bells and whistles before you push pictures up to the cloud. When you're not feeling the shot, check your e-mail or play Fruit Ninja instead.
$500, optional AT&T data plan
For Shutterbugs Into Leather
It's the Usain Bolt of the camera world, with a swift .55-second startup time and .15-second focus speed. But we love this compact point-and-shoot bad boy because it wears more leather than David Lee Roth circa 1983. Available in tan, red, and black, the XF1 gets bonus points for its retractable manual zoom and its 12-megapixel sensor, each as impressive as a vintage Diamond Dave leg kick.
For the Jittery-Handed
Lytro Light-Field Camera
Featuring something called light-field photography, this camera lets you take a photo and focus the image after it's shot. This means there'll be no more worrying about autofocus and shutter lag, freeing your mind to think about more important things, such as what the hell to shoot.
Starts at $399
For Weather Channel Addicts
Completely weather-sealed, this DSLR is man enough to hack being dunked in water, buried in dust, and exposed to extreme temperatures. This means you can bring it along on scuba dives, snake hunts, and ski trips, or just simple strolls in the rain. Rest assured, it also has the guts (i.e., a 16-megapixel CMOS image sensor and 1080p HD video capture at a rate of 30 frames per second) to make its competitors look like sissy cameras.
For Richard Avedon Wannabes
The pro: The newest Cyber-shot is the world's first fixed-lens digital camera to sport a full-frame 35mm-format. Specifically, it has a Carl Zeiss lens and ISO range of 100 to 25600, up to 5-fps (frames per second) continuous shooting speed, and 14-bit RAW image-data recording. Translation: It's professional-grade. Did we mention it fits in your pocket? The con: Check the price tag.
For Steven Spielberg Wannabes
Canon EOS 6D
Most videos uploaded to YouTube are crudely shot cell-phone jobs that scream "amateur!" This excellent entry produces anything but, wielding 20.2-megapixel DSLR power and shooting in remarkable full-HD video, while giving you manual control over exposure and audio levels. The 6D is the real deal: It boasts the same remarkable video-capturing capabilities as Canon's 5D, which, as camera geeks already know, was used to shoot scenes in a little movie called The Avengers.
For Status-Conscious Spendthrifts
The New York Times deemed Leicas the accessory of choice for the celebrity class on red carpets, film sets, or vacation. Brad Pitt, Jude Law, and Daniel Craig are all fans. It's fitted out with a 24-megapixel full-frame sensor (and able to accommodate different lenses). Plus, there's a giant upgrade to 1080p HD video recording. Sadly, the seven grand you just shelled out doesn't come with a guarantee of getting into hot clubs—worse, the lenses cost extra. $6,950
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