Photography is one of those things people love but rarely say it out loud. You’ll know the person because they love black & white or love colour images, and print them out, and talk about cameras forever, and maybe they’ve been giving you a hint for the past few months that a new camera is just what they wanted.
We’ll start with the photographers out there. If you’re shopping for an amateur, an enthusiast, or someone who already loves to spend time behind a viewfinder snapping shots, this should be a good enough guide to make your choices a little easier.
Entry level cameras with interchangeable lenses often dumb things down to a level that makes them hard to use, but one of the models we checked out this year gave enough balance for both amateur and enthusiast that we could see beginners improving with it.
It’s the Nikon D3300, a 24 megapixel DSLR with both auto and manual modes, Full HD video, support for RAW, ISO25600, and a display that shows you what the aperture is doing when you’re modifying it. If you’re a beginning, this information is valuable and will help a great deal, making this a good choice for people learning to take photos with more than an automatic shooter.
Samsung Galaxy K Zoom
Samsung’s experiments with merging the camera and phone have taken it to something highly usable this year with the Galaxy K Zoom, a 4G phone for someone who love to take photos. There’s a 10X optical lens, textured body, and a microSD slot to expand the memory considerably.
One of the small cameras that has our attention this year, Canon’s G7X packs in a 20 megapixel sensor, low-light friendly 24-100mm lens sporting f/1.8-2.8, 3 inch selfie friendly touchscreen, and support for Near-Field Communication. It’s the pocket friendly camera for people who love taking pictures, and even we’re tempted by it.
Mirror-less cameras are great, but they’re often still bigger than compacts, offering fast shooters that are much lighter than their DSLR counterparts but still a little on the chunky side.
The E-M10 tries to change this with a small body that looks like a big camera, and yet offers features and controls like the bigger cameras, such as ISO25600, 16 megapixels, and remote control using a smartphone or tablet.
Plus, it looks like a camera, which is a positive thing for us.
Sony Alpha A7 II
It’s a camera we haven’t written much about yet, but are looking forward to it, and not just because the look of the body brings to mind a solid magnesium-encased machine.
Rather, you’ll find a full-frame sensor inside rated for 24 megapixels of image goodness, optical image stabilisation built in over a five axis setup, fast autofocus, and a new LCD that tilts and offers what Sony says is “exceptional visibility under bright sunlight.”
Colour us intrigued, indeed, though be prepared to spend a pretty penny to play.
Next up is a guide for the filmmakers and video nuts, those who spend time thinking of scenes at 25fps, picturing life in motion and imagining a scene from the director’s chair.
GoPro Hero 4 Black
If there’s someone in your gift buying list that takes to the surf, snow, or anything else that involves action of some kind, there’s a good chance they’ve wanted a GoPro to document their exploits at one point in time.
This year’s flagship “Black” edition of the GoPro ups the ante with Ultra HD 4K video capture, and more than with 15 frames per second, making it a camera capable of providing footage for the few UHD TVs out there. There’s also more slow motion support in the camera, better WiFi, and yup, still a water-proof case included.
And if you don’t need 4K, you can save a few quid and grab a touchscreen version in the GoPro Hero 4 Silver for $549.
GoPro Dog Mount
One of the funniest ideas we tried this year was mounting a GoPro to a JackChi (Jack Russell and Chihuahua mix), providing some crazy video that let the pups get in on the film-making fun. If you or someone you know has a dog, is a filmmaker, and has a GoPro this is a top little gadget to let them take a furry step into film.
There’s only so much height a regular camera gives you, and yet there’s so much of the world to explore and take photos of.
That’s probably where a drone can help, and this year, Parrot’s AR Drone quad-copter gets a camera in the Bebop, taking advantage of a Full HD video camera in a 14 megapixel stills shooter, capable of shooting a 180 degree field of view. Support is also there for a headset, so if you have one of those, you can imagine yourself flying, just make sure to sit down when you’re doing it, otherwise you might fall over.
Panasonic has been in the camera business for long enough, and this year’s flagship effort has really grabbed attention with support for shooting 4K, wireless support to smartphones and tablets, a multi-angle LCD with a touchscreen, and controls that make the camera feel like a solid piece of kit.
Accessories for the camera crowd
What happens when you’re out of ideas for a photographer or a videographer?
You turn to the accessories, and while our list isn’t huge, it’s an assortment of bits and bobs digital camera nuts are sure to appreciate.
Lexar 128GB microSDXC
Remember when memory was expensive? We can, and boy, we’d like to forget about it.
These days, though, memory is as cheap as chips, which is ironic since memory is chips. If someone you know needs a microSD — whether for a phone or camera (like a GoPro, which takes the microSD format) — a 128GB card is a solid upgrade, and very inexpensive for what you get.
Photo frames are a dead thing, but thanks to an obsession with faux retro images on the photography social network that is Instagram, they may well be coming back, and Instacube is the first one there.
If the name hasn’t given it away, Instacube is a cube-like digital photo frame for Instagram images, taking a slideshow feed from an Instagram user account, hashtag feed, or liked images.
The screen could do with some work, but the concept could grab people obsessed with Instagram who haven’t tried
the whole Instagram on marshmallow concept we checked out last year.
Canon Selphy CP910 portable printer
If the idea of the Instacube rocks your boat, but you’d prefer to print the photos when you’re out and about, Canon has you covered with a portable printer to do just that.
Think of it as the latest incarnation of those dye-sub printers from a few years ago, but updated with modern tech, featuring wireless support to receive photos directly from iPhone, iPad, Android, and Windows, with support for either 6×4 postcards and square sticker paper.
WD My Passport Wireless
Price: $250 for 1TB, 300 for 2TB
Hard drives are more of a necessary thing for photographers and videographers, but if you need something a little cooler for a gift, it’s time to look at something unusual.
Case in point, the WD wireless edition of its “My Passport” range of external hard drives, bringing a WiFi connection to a portable hard drive and making it possible for up to eight devices to talk to it without cables. If you know someone with a wireless camera, this could be a cool gift idea.
Apple iMac (2014)
It might not seem like a very photo-centric gadget, but this year’s iMac is all about the images and video you run through it thanks to the world’s first 5K screen, and not just that, but one inside of an all-in-one machine. If you have the spare cash and want the recipient to scream as they open the box, this is the gadget to get.