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Best digital cameras of 2006

This year was a big for digital photography. Megapixels increased, LCDs got bigger and image stabilisation became the norm. Read on for our top ten digital cameras of 2006.

2006 was a big year for digital photography. We saw standard features improve and new technologies enter the market.

An ever-increasing number of units added image stabilisation to their feature set, megapixels increased as did the size of LCDs, and a slew of new entry-level dSLRs tempted point-and-shoot users to take the plunge into professional photography.

The development of waterproof and shockproof capabilities in models such as Olympus' 725SW gave us more flexibility to capture an active lifestyle without worrying about damaging hardware. Built-in Wi-Fi means you can now tranfer images wirelessly from the camera itself, rather than having to fumble with cords and connect to a computer. Cameras such as the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-T10 come bundled with software that pair the camera to a GPS module, allowing images to be geographically "tagged" with GPS location data to pinpoint where they were taken.

Below are our top ten picks for the best cameras of 2006. What will 2007 hold for the digital camera world? Are there any features you'd like to see refined or technologies you'd like to be further developed? Send your thoughts to cnet@cnet.com.au.

Canon Digital IXUS 65 Canon Digital IXUS 65

Making the most of its three-inch LCD screen, the IXUS 65 lends itself to those who prefer to show off their photos immediately. An array of colour options gives the best possible chance to get the shot right first time, so you can make the most of the camera's slideshow presentation.

Olympus Tough 725SW Olympus Tough 725SW

Olympus' upgrade to the Tough 720SW increases its waterproofing to 5 metres, offers an Underwater Snap scene mode and adds Nightproof technology via a dedicated "ISO booster" button.

Nikon D80 Nikon D80

Nikon's newest midlevel dSLR has a solid feature set that should make it a favourite for experienced photographers or even for SLR newbies who crave more power than the D50's.

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-T10
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-T10

The Cyber-shot DSC-T10 is a good overall camera. It combines functionality with a beautiful design and the built-in features mean that even the least experienced photographer can take a decent shot.

Ricoh Caplio R4 Ricoh Caplio R4

The Ricoh Caplio R4 is a great point and shoot camera with impressive zoom capabilities, but it's not for those with large fingers or tight jeans pockets.

Pentax K100D
Pentax K100D

With its built-in image stabilisation and comfy mix of manual and automatic features, the Pentax K100D is one of the best dSLR bargains on the market.

Casio Exilim EX-Z70
Casio Exilim EX-Z70

It's small, cheap, and fast, but this 7-megapixel shooter is hindered by a couple of irritating flaws.

Nikon Coolpix S6 Nikon Coolpix S6

The Nikon Coolpix S6 is a stylish performer with a handy control wheel, but its Wi-Fi implementation feels almost like an afterthought.

Fujifilm FinePix F30 Fujifilm FinePix F30

Low-light shooters will love that the Fujifilm FinePix F30's screen actually lets you see through the darkness and that its high ISOs produce usable photos with acceptable levels of noise.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX07 Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX07

While the FX07 may not be as enticing to users who own a similar, but older, shooter, we feel it warrants a quick look to unearth the differences.