This year I am going to inform you that all the camera's are great. All of them, really. Every manufacturer has caught up and everybody is producing a decent product with wonderful image quality.
This year I believe is the year that the Mirrorless Camera will emerge as the dominant product people are after. Since they are so small and so capable, plus we are seeing some nice price reductions due to some newer models being announced. This is the best time to pickup some great deals and still get a camera that is very new in the world of technology. First the Nikon 1 series of camera's are being switched to a new model which has had a very soft upgrade to the new version (series 2). Olympus Pen E-PL3 is one of my fav's in the Olympus lineup.
As for the Compacts.. again, they are all good. A feature that I have enjoyed is the Sweeping Panoramic system. Available in most of Nikon's upper end models with the 16MP Sensor.
As for the styles that seem to be most popular are the Shockproof, Waterproof models. These models are fantastic for butter fingers, too many times have I seen camera's with "impact" damage. The same applies to how many times I have watched a Cell Phone hitting the ground and dispersing into 20 glorious pieces. The need for these camera's is evident! Nikon AW100 or Pentax WG-2 and both excellent for under $249.
Then we hit the serious enthusiast Pocket Camera's. Canon has an impressive lineup at this time, includes the Powershot S110 ( now with WiFi and Raw capable). Sweet little 5 X Zoom and sweet customizable Ring Feature. We can kind of slip the Fuji X10 and the New, but not yet available Fuji XF1 in this category also. All very well made camera's with a whole bundle of capability and great for creativity.
Lastly, the DSLR's. All looking very impressive. Best value for a DSLR designed for our dreary weather system is Pentax's K-30. Soooo weather sealed. It's insane. None of the other sub $900 DSLR's have any kind of weather sealing like this. So give it a thought! All offer HD video, some now offer WiFi capability such as Nikon D3200 (WiFi adapter required for $70), Canon EOS 6D (built in WiFi)
Probably some of the best-est bets this year will be accessories. Bags, tripods, filters..... FLASH'S, Yes. As a wise man once said " Flash is your friend"... oh, that was me! Without light you are powerless, unless you have F1.2 lenses, but who really can afford them! If your current camera can take an additional flash then get one that can change the light direction. Starting at $100 the Metz 24 AF-1 (available for all manufacturers in TTL), simple, powerful. Makes indoor shots nicer.
Then wrap up all the Christmas presents with a One on One Lesson with yours truly Then they can have a nice camera and I can start to teach them how to use it.