Know someone keen to be the next Ansel Adams or Henri-Cartier Bresson? Help take them there with the hardware or software a photographer can rely on in the modern age.
A great photographer should be able to take any camera thrown their way and make great images out of it — the camera is but a tool, after all — but it helps to have the best camera you can get your hands on.
Canon PowerShot G5X
Price: No official RRP, though street price is roughly $999
Canon has wowed us with some great single-lens reflex cameras before, but this year, our attention is squarely on the point and shoot variety, an area that is slowly being fed upon by the mirrorless space.
Canon isn’t letting up, though, and has found a way to get people re-interested in having an all-in-one shooter with them, and the G series could be.
Now more diverse than ever, the series offers a few cameras to choose from, and we’re eyeing the G5X, likely because of a viewfinder, 24 to 100mm lens length, and a decent ISO range for a compact hitting all the way up to 12800. Plus it looks and feels like a camera, which is always a good thing.
Maybe a mirrorless is more your thing and you’re keen on having something compact and phone friendly.
For that, Samsung’s NX500 is hard to look past as great bargain.
It does miss the flash, which instead arrives as an external that’s easy to lose (we may have lost ours, actually), but the camera quality is spot on, taking its sensor from the big gun NX1, and Samsung hasn’t skimped on controls either, because while it’s smaller, this 28 megapixel 4K camera may as well be the under-estimated little brother.
Panasonic Lumix G7
Easily one of the coolest cameras we reviewed this year, Panasonic’s Lumix G7 features game changing technology to let you capture the event before you press the shutter, buffering constantly and recording a small video with a second on either side of when you pressed the shutter.
This tiny video is captured in 4K, which is so high resolution you can easily cut out an 8 megapixel snap out of it inside the camera.
In fact, Panasonic has impressed us even more greatly recently by bringing an update to this camera offering advanced focus changes, allowing you not just to snap the image out of a small video, but also refocus after you’ve captured the image. Crikey!
Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II
A beautiful little retro-lookin’ shooter, the Mark II E-M5 is a solid update to what was still a great camera, and this time, Olympus has thrown in some particularly special additions.
We’re keen on the image quality and hand-hold already, but the included mode to let you shoot super high-resolution images by keeping the camera really still and moving the sensor slightly is a fantastic feature we’re surprised no one has thought of.
Oh, and good news, Olympus is working on a way that does this without requiring you to be a super statue!
Pricey-as but remarkable in nearly every way, Leica’s Q is without doubt one of the best cameras we’ve ever seen, and it doesn’t even push the greatest technology in the world.
There’s no doubting this new machine is a beautiful image making box, but it’s more than just another me-too, delivering some of the sharpest and clearest glass you’ll ever see, stunning colours amidst a beautiful monochromatic mode, and a design that just exudes classic camera all throughout it.
We’re in love, and anyone receiving this as a gift would have to be, as well.
Great camera phones
Dedicated cameras aren’t the only way to take photos these days, so if you know someone who may not want a new camera, but does want a new phone with a great camera inside, these are your picks for 2015.
Sony Xperia Z5 Compact
Easily one of the best phones of the year, Sony’s Z5 Compact shows that you don’t necessarily need a big phone in order to make for amazing features.
In fact, this little box features almost all of the things that we hoped would be good about its larger big brother, but with few of the bugs.
One of the standout features is definitely the camera, which can be a little slow to start up, but offers delightfully crisp images, lots of downloadable camera modes, and an actual shutter button on the phone.
Plus the whole device is water-resistant, basically making this a camera with a screen that you can take underwater. Neat!
LG’s flagship for 2015 may be as high end as the rest of them, but size was not on its size simply because of the thickness.
What was good about the package was the camera, with LG offering a manual mode in the G4 camera and a 16 megapixel sensor with laser autofocus, optical image stabilisation, and some pretty solid image quality.
Plus that back is in leather, you know, because that might matter to some people.
Samsung Galaxy S6
One of Samsung’s best phones ever, the Galaxy S6 delivers pretty much spec-for-spec design compared with all the other flagships Samsung has released this year, but with this phone being a smaller device than the big screened Note 5 and S6 Edge+.
A metal edge will make this one easy to carry, and aside for being a great phone, there is also a top quality 16 megapixel shooter here, with some pretty impressive speed and image quality.
The biggest downside of Samsung’s Galaxy S6 series devices? No removable memory, meaning you’re out of luck if you want to upgrade that storage because you’ve been taking photos all day, forcing you to buy a new microUSB to USB thumb drive.
A little bit different from the standard flagship set before this, Panasonic’s CM-1 is the company’s first proper thwack at a camera-heavy smartphone, though it’s not a smartphone the likes of which we’ve seen before.
Rather, this model brings a 4.7 inch Full HD touchscreen to a body that looks more like a thin camera, and that’s kind of what it actually is.
Designed to be about photos more than just phone calls, there’s even a focus ring you can turn, making it more camera-like than every other smartphone in this list.
Cameras come in all shapes and sizes, and the cameras for 2015 arrive in so many sizes and form-factors, it’s easy to mistake them for things that aren’t cameras anymore, like these boxes.
GoPro Hero4 Session
GoPro wasn’t happy resting on its laurels this in the action camera world, and this year showed that it could do more than just make another well spec’d model for the masses.
So instead of just increasing the technology on its rectangle cameras, it reinvented them, resulting in a tiny box of a camera that doesn’t need an external case and is instead waterproof.
Camera quality appears to be pretty top notch, too, and even though there isn’t 4K support included in this model, the new form-factor is pretty exciting since you can just basically hold a cube that captures your life wherever you go.
GoPro Dog Harness
Once you have a GoPro in your life — any of them, really: regular-rectangular models or that new cube-like Session — you begin to realise you can film anything, even what your dog sees.
With GoPro’s Dog Mount, you can strap a special harness to your pooch or very large cat and see what it sees. It won’t really work on anything the size of a Chihuahua, needing at least a Frenchie or a Jack Russell to start with, but the bigger the dog, the less likely it’ll fall off when he or she inevitably comes barrelling up from the water ready to shake those droplets off!
360Fly 360 degree camera
The world is a fun place, but most cameras are built to capture one frame of that world: the frame your eyes typically see.
360Fly is something different altogether, taking the GoPro action camera formula and applying it to a special camera and lens that captures everything around you, or most of it.
Think of the 360 degrees around you and that will be captured, with this playable not just through a virtual reality headset, but able to be manipulated with varying viewpoints on social media.
This new concept means you’ll have to think about capturing images and video very differently, no longer taking the shot, but placing the camera in the shot and letting the camera capture you in the shot with it.
There’s certainly a lot of creativity to be had with this one.
Regardless of what camera you get, you’re probably going to need some top accessories, so here are our picks for when you think an extra thing could be better for filling the gap.
Lexar SD cards
Price: $120 to 599
Depending on how professional the person you’re buying for is, you might want to grab a new SD card.
Sure, it’s not the most exciting of gifts, but it could save them in a pinch, and if they end up with that humdinger of a card that shoots at 2000x, they might just be singing your praises when the time comes.
Lowepro ProRunner BP 350 AW II
Made for someone with a lot of cameras and a lot of interest in said cameras, the ProRunner backpack for 2015 is a massive thing, allowing you to pack in so many cameras, you’ll wonder how you relied on anything else in the past.
Its huge size is also a bit of a downside, because it’s just so freakin’ big, but its water-resistant cover and massive amount of room is the saving grace. Seriously, the next trip we go on, we’re taking this.
Samsung 1TB T1 SSD
Ask any photographer or videographer and they’ll tell you the worst part of being in this profession is backing up.
It. Can. Just. Take. So. Long.
Fortunately, it can be automated, and even better, it can be replaced with a technology that makes you feel glad you’re living in a modern age.
These days, that technology is solid-state storage, boasting lightning fast data transfer speeds that leave regular hard drives in the dust, and a size and weight that’ll make you wonder if it’s even in that big hulker of a backpack you just bought.