Canon makes a whole range of cameras, from pocket-sized point-and-shoot compact cameras, right up to professional DSLRs – but which is the best Canon camera for what you want to do?

The sheer number of Canon cameras can be quite confusing, so here's a guide to the different types, who these cameras are aimed at and the best Canon camera for you.

Canon Ixus compact cameras

These are ideal if you're a casual photographer looking for a simple point-and-shoot camera that doesn't blind you with science. More experienced photographers could probably point out dozens of missing features and failings in the image quality, but not everyone is that demanding – and not everyone wants to have to learn about photography just to capture pictures of their friends, family and travels.

Canon Ixus 145
Canon's Ixus range is perfect for trouble-free point and shoot photography.

This is the market that Canon's Ixus cameras are aimed at. They range from the inexpensive Ixus 145 and Ixus 150, both with a 16-megapixel sensor and 8x optical zoom, through the Ixus 150 (20 megapixels and 10x zoom) up to the 16-megapixel 12x zoom Ixus 265.

To find out more, check out our Techradar camera reviews:

Canon Ixus 145 review
Canon Ixus 150 review
Canon Ixus 265 review

Canon PowerShot D30 waterproof camera

The D30 is the perfect compact camera for more adventurous travellers. It's waterproof down to a depth of 25m, which is pretty good going for a consumer camera without a specialised underwater housing. It's also designed to survive a drop of 2m, and it has GPS built in so it can add location data to your photos.

Canon PowerShot D30
The PowerShot D30 is waterproof down to a depth of 25m.

The D30 also offers full HD video recording and a funky Movie Digest mode that'll capture a short video clip in conjunction with your images and compile everything into an HD movie.

• See our full Canon D30 review.

Canon PowerShot N and N100

The PowerShot N has a fun design with a square, 'any way up' body and a flip-up screen that can also double as a makeshift camera stand for hands-free photography.

Canon PowerShot N
The Canon PowerShot N is designed for fun 'social' photography.

The Canon N isn't intended to take the place of a DSLR or even a phone, but to complement them as a 'take-everywhere' type camera. The Canon PowerShot N is easy to use, and it's small enough to slip in a pocket, yet it produces high-quality images for a compact camera.

The newer PowerShot N100 looks more conventional – it's rectangular rather than square, but it too is designed for fun, 'social' photography.

Its unique selling point is a second lens on the back of the camera that captures a selfie at the moment that you're taking the picture.

Canon PowerShot N review
Canon PowerShot N100 review (hands on)

Canon PowerShot travel zoom/bridge cameras

Bridge cameras are designed to 'bridge' the gap between regular compact cameras and digital SLRs, with a long-zoom lens to take care of as wide a variety of subjects as possible.

Some fall into the 'travel zoom' category – they have a long zoom range, but the lens retracts into the body when the camera is switched off, and you can still get the camera in your pocket.

These include the Canon PowerShot SX600 HS, which has a 16-megapixel sensor and an 18x zoom lens. The SX700 HS goes further, with a massive 30x zoom range, and it will still fit easily in a pocket.

Canon PowerShot SX700 HS
The SX700 HS combines a long zoom range with a pocket-sized body.

The PowerShot SX170 IS is a lower-cost camera with a 16x zoom lens and a slightly thicker body – the shape is just starting to resemble the protruding grip and lens of a bridge camera design.

Canon describes the next model,the PowerShot SX400 IS as a 'mini' bridge camera. It's certainly smaller than other bridge cameras, but the deep SLR-style design means it's more awkward to push into a pocket. On the upside, it does have a 30x optical zoom.

From here on, you're definitely into bridge camera territory. The PowerShot SX510 HS has a 30x optical zoom lens, and the newer PowerShot SX520 has a 42x optical zoom and 16-megapixel resolution.

Canon PowerShot SX60
The SX60 combines a massive 65x zoom with DSLR styling and controls.

The top model, though, is the PowerShot SX60 HS, with a massive 60x zoom range, full manual control and the option shoot raw files. It even comes with an electronic viewfinder, so it's the most versatile of all of Canon's bridge cameras.

The one problem for the SX60 HS and all the other Canon bridge cameras is that the sensor is small – it's unavoidable when designing a camera with this kind of zoom range while keeping the size and the cost manageable.

If outright image quality is your main priority, but you still want a camera that's easily portable, you need one of Canon's advanced PowerShot compact cameras.

Canon PowerShot SX600 HS review
Canon PowerShot SX700 HS review
Canon PowerShot SX170 IS review
Canon PowerShot SX400 IS review
Canon PowerShot SX510 HS review
Canon PowerShot SX520 HS review
Canon PowerShot SX60 HS review