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Canon EOS Rebel T3i

If you're planning to study photography or video, this is an excellent and well-priced starter camera. Plus, given Canon's place at the head of the class in the dSLR-based video world, it's a good start to investing in your future career.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Sarah Tew/CNET

Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS20

If you're going to be studying abroad, here's a great traveling companion. The fast-shooting ZS20 is small and lightweight considering it's packing a 20x zoom lens. And its built-in GPS will geotag your photos as well as add landmark info for all your sightseeing trips.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Sarah Tew/CNET

Canon PowerShot SX150 IS

The SX150 IS is a solid, inexpensive camera that's good for learning how to control shutter speed and aperture. Plus, it runs on AA batteries, so you never have to worry about charging before you start shooting.

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Olympus Tough TG-1 iHS

Are you hard on your tech? The rugged TG-1 can handle a lot of abuse -- from bumping around in a backpack to drops in a pool or on the ground to cold winter days. But its lens sets it apart from other rugged models, letting you shoot in lower light with less noise.

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Sony Alpha NEX-7

While the NEX-7 is expensive, if you're an avid photographer and can afford a camera on the cutting edge -- one that doesn't sacrifice the experience of shooting on the way -- this is a great option.

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Nikon D3200

Want a dSLR but on a student's budget? The D3200 is the best of the least-expensive options, plus Nikon has a decent selection of lenses for price-sensitive shoppers.

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Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF3

When you're ready to graduate from a point-and-shoot but not quite willing to take on the bulk or complexity of a dSLR, this relatively compact interchangeable-lens model with a point-and-shoot type of touch-screen interface will provide the speed and step up in photo quality you're looking for.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Sarah Tew/CNET
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