The range of digital camera options on the market today is staggering, from quality entry-level DSLR cameras with interchangeable lenses, an electronic viewfinder and image stabilization, to full-frame DSLR or mirrorless cameras with an optical , so it can be hard to pick out the best camera for the photographer in your life. Plus, what about an image sensor? Different cameras have different sensor sizes, different kinds of sensor (such as a full-frame sensor) and more. Add to that the stiff competition among quality smartphone cameras (or a travel camera) and it can be overwhelming to figure out just what the best camera or accessory (zoom lens, anyone?) to buy for yourself or your favorite photographer, whether they’re beginners or professional photographers.
This buyer’s guide line-up has something suitable for beginners through to professional high-quality photos and video.. It won’t be long before you get to zoom in and shoot
When moving at high speeds, nothing beats an action camera for sharing the most breathless moments. The latest version of this excellent little action cam got rid of the separate mounting frame, improved on its already-terrific image stabilization with even better image stabilization, and made it easier to shoot better-looking videos. This travel camera is a perfect gift for the outdoor enthusiast or traveler shooting landscape adventures. Read our GoPro Hero 8 Black preview.
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This is a great camera choice for an experienced photographer who wants the photo and video quality that only a full-frame camera can produce. It’s one generation old, but it’s relatively small and for just under $1,000 you get a lens with it — not a terrific lens, mind you, but there are lots of FE-mount lenses to choose from at a wide range of prices before you shoot. Or that can be next year’s gift. Read our Sony A7 II preview.
This travel camera gives new meaning to the term “travel camera.” To quote our Mavic Air review, this is “a folding 4K mini drone that’s close to perfect.” It’s an amazingly capable quadcopter that can shoot lovely 4K video — and it’s actually small enough to fit into a pocket, albeit a big one and is great for travel. Just make sure to keep an eye on the battery! Read our DJI Mavic Air review.
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Canon’s entry-level full-frame mirrorless is a quality current full-frame camera. I recommend it as a gift for people who already own Canon EF lenses or who’ll be OK buying new ones, because the camera line is relatively new and there aren’t many affordable R-mount options. But there are tons of compatible lenses (telephoto lenses and otherwise) that they can use with an adapter. Read our Canon EOS RP preview.
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Any newbie downsizing from a DSLR or upgrading from a phone will find this a great mirrorless interchangeable-lens model. Providing the image quality and performance you expect when graduating from using a smartphone to shoot, the A6000 may be several generations old, but that just means it’s inexpensive enough to make an affordable yet terrific gift, and there are usually plenty of bundle deals to choose from this time of year. And at this size, it’s a great travel camera.
Its current descendant, the A6400,has a much-upgraded autofocus system and improved image processing, but it’s also $1,000 with a basic kit lens. And after all these years, people who shoot with the A6000 still rave about it. Read our Sony Alpha A6000 review.
Mirrorless models are lighter and more convenient than their cheaper mirrored counterparts. One of the best things about this quality Micro Four Thirds interchangeable-lens camera as a DSLR alternative is that the lenses are tiny — you can throw five in your bag and barely feel them. The E-M10 Mark II is fast, with solid photo and video quality and a useful feature set, plus Olympus’ policy of adding features via firmware upgrades makes this one a long-term choice. The Mark III succeeded this one, but most of the changes were in the interface, so performance and photo and video quality should be identical if you feel compelled to shoot with something newer. Read our Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark II review.
It’s easy to go for the cheaper models when it comes to general travel photography, but shooting fast-moving subjects such as sports and wildlife still requires a little more outlay. The Nikon D7500 takes great shots and is a terrific DSLR for the enthusiast action photographer. And at about $1,200 for a dual-lens kit, it’s not even that expensive for its class anymore. Read our Nikon D7500 preview.
You can find this quality general-purpose DSLR at a reasonable body-only price. That makes it a nice gift for anyone who’s done with their cheap DSLR and looking for faster focus and continuous shooting or looking for a good video experience in a DSLR. It’s been succeeded by the 90D, which brings with it 4K video support, but that kit will run you at least $1,300 — you can get a dual-lens kit of the 80D for less than that — and may not see big discounts this holiday season. Read our Canon EOS 80D review.
For the video streamer on your list, the C922 Pro delivers 720p at 60 frames per second (fps) with solid image and video quality and decent audio. It also comes with a three-month subscription to XSplit Broadcaster and Gamecaster to do more than simple video broadcasts. See our favorite YouTube webcams.
The Brio 4K has more features than the C922, like the option to use it to sign into a Windows 10 PC using facial recognition. The main attraction is the increased performance for streaming video at full ultra HD 1080p resolution at up to 60 fps and recording in 4K resolution at 30 fps. It can also compensate for bad light with HDR. And don’t you want your giftee to appear in the best light? See our favorite YouTube webcams.
Nikon and Canon’s cheap (but good quality) DSLRs are great for the newbie photographer who’s ready to move beyond a smartphone. Nikon’s entry-level models will deliver sharper photos and video, thanks to a sensor that doesn’t use a low-pass filter. It’s a great bit of sensor innovation that makes for a great sensor. The current D3500 is essentially identical to the D3400 it replaced. Read our Nikon D3400 review.
Originally published last year.