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CAMERA OF THE YEAR 2007 FINALISTSHere are the 8 digital SLRs that best refined and redefined photography in 2007.

What a year for cameras, especially DSLRs! And as this is written, there are still more to come before the page is turned on 2007.

In the past, we presented this award in the December issue. But this year, our print production deadlines are too early for us to be absolutely certain that we have already tested the product deserving what we believe is the highest honor in this field:

Popular Photography & Imaging’s Camera of the Year.
The camera that best refined or redefined photography in 2007.

So with a phalanx of new DSLRs still to be tested in the field and the Pop Photo Lab, we are proud to present the Finalists — those cameras that have already proven their mettle and those that appear to have the makings of greatness.

But, of course, only the Pop Photo Lab, real-world shooting, and the experience and expertise of our editors can sort it all out.

This 10.1MP camera keeps what we loved about the 20D and 30D — and offers major upgrades, such as new weatherproofing, better viewfinder, changeable focusing screens, more-sensitive AF, and live view with video out for watching your subject on a monitor. Sports shooters will crave the 6.5 fps burst rate. ($1,300, street, body only; $1,500 with 28-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS AF lens)Lab Test Product Gallery Image Quality Gallery
This 12.3MP heavy-duty workhorse offers unusual flexibility in imaging control, particularly the ability to dramatically extend dynamic range. You can emulate film styles, including Fujicolor Pro color negative and Fujichrome. The Nikon mount lets you use any Nikkor lens or compatible third-party glass. ($1,800, street, body only)Lab Test Product Gallery Image Quality Gallery
This 10.1MP starter DSLR can play in the majors. There’s face detection for up to 15 mugs, live view on a swiveling LCD, and even classic film emulation modes. The standard lens is a Leica zoom designed for the Four Thirds system (2X lens factor) with state-of-the-art MEGA Optical Image Stabilization. ($1,300, street with 14-50mm f/3.8-5.6 Leica D Vario-Elmar lens)Lab Test Product Gallery Image Quality Gallery
A 10.2MP pro-caliber DSLR at a soccer-parent price. The gaskets and seals are serious. The viewfinder is bright and highly accurate. Built-in Shake Reduction steadies any lens you mount (and there are millions, literally). You can correct and convert RAW files right in the camera. In all, it’s a steal. ($700, street, body only; $750 with 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 SMCP-DA AL AF Zoom lens)Lab Test Product Gallery Image Quality Gallery
This well-built camera has become a cult favorite. It uses the unique Foveon X3 sensor chip, which captures images in three separate layers, much like film. Take off the IR cut-off filter, and you have a sophisticated infrared camera. Don’t overlook the large catalog of Sigma glass. ($1,140, street, body only)Lab Test Product Gallery Image Quality Gallery
If you thought the A100 was something (and we did — naming it the 2006 Camera of the Year), check out this metal-bodied 12.2MP heavy-hitter. It’s loaded! Super SteadyShot counters shake with any lens you can put on. It allows huge dynamic-range adjustments. The burst rate? Try 5 fps, limited only by the capacity of the memory card. ($1,400, street, body only; $1,500 with 18-70mm f/3.5-5.6 DT AF lens)Lab Test Product Gallery Image Quality Gallery
Seals and gaskets are just the beginning with this rugged, durable (150,000-cycle shutter life) 12.3MP newcomer. It offers live view with autofocus, and a 51-point AF system that can even track by color. And it promises super-low-light shooting. ISO 6400, anyone? ($1,800, street, body only; $2,100 with 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6G ED-IF AF-S DX Zoom lens)Lab Test Product Gallery Image Quality Gallery
Just announced, this successor to the E-1 (there was no E-2) puts Olympus squarely back into the pro/advanced-amateur field. Boasting super-fast, super-slick autofocus, the 10.1MP E-3 has live view on the articulating 2.5-inch LCD, and tank-caliber build quality. With a new wireless flash system and lots of new lenses, it brings new gravitas to the Four Thirds system. ($1,800, estimated street, body only)Lab Test Field Report Product Gallery Image Quality Gallery

UPDATE: See the Camera of the Year 2007 Winner!