It's no secret that Canadians like to research products online, then head over to the retail stores in person to make a purchase.

With overall online sales crossing $18 billion in 2011 and many leading Canadian retailers seeing improved site visits - up 5 to 10 percent in numerous cases - over the holiday season, things are definitely looking up.

Future Shop, one of the beneficiaries of the increasing holiday traffic, hopes that trend continues, but is still persistent in preparing for the educated Canadian consumer.

On April 18th, Future Shop participated in a national training event and mini trade show to introduce new products to market and to increase the level of expertise among staff.

Held at the Sheraton Centre in downtown Toronto, this session focused on digital imaging and cameras.

Perhaps the most captivating single product from the stunning display of cameras from the leaders including Sony, Olympus, Nikon, Fuji, Samsung and others, was the compact single-lens reflex camera.

These mirrorless models, also called Interchangeable Lens Digital Cameras, are gaining market share on Digital SLR cameras and for the first time have taken a slight lead in Japan.

The Olympus PEN cameras, Sony NEX series and the Nikon 1 V1 & J1 are all competing for leadership in the mirrorless category.

Camera buffs may know that Olympus was the first out of the gate with compact SLRs in 2008 with the introduction of the first PEN model. Now in its third generation, the cameras are still stylish, powerful and affordable - perfect for the hobbyist.

The Sony NEX series takes all the power from the DSLR and packs that into a sleek, compact and well-engineered camera with all the features a photography enthusiast requires, including interchangeable lenses, a high resolution 14.2MP Exmor CMOS sensor, and powerful BIONZ processor.

The latest to join in the mirrorless party is Nikon (as of September 2011) with the V1 and J1 models. In addition to keeping to the 'SLR that can fit in your pocket theme', one thing that stands out is that the Smart Photo Selector mode on the Nikon 1 lets you shoot multiple photos, automatically evaluates them, then keeps the five best shots and deletes the rest.

If you're in the market for one of these cameras there's plenty of information out there to research before you make your purchase at Future Shop, the retailer that continues to "push the expertise envelope."

Visit our Portable Electronics forum, to add to the discussion.