Not sure what camera to put on your Christmas list? In the market to get someone a camera? Here’s my two cents on buying a camera this holiday season. (I’ve left out the pro equipment because pros already know what they want!)
FOR BEGINNER PHOTOGRAPHERS
- Nikon D3200 ($499 w/ kit lens)
This is a great starter camera for someone wanting to learn more about photography. Nikon camera bodies always feel really solid. The “old” D3100 version is just as good, though I believe for the holidays that most stores are bringing the D3200 price down close enough to the 3100 that you might as well buy the newer version! Specs: 14.2 mp, 1080p video, 3″ LCD.
- Canon EOS Rebel T3i ($519 w/ kit lens)
Another great starter camera. This version has the swivel LCD screen which is particularly nice for shooting video. Start with the kit lens if you aren’t looking to invest in your gear yet. Specs: 18mp, 1080p video, 3″ swivel LCD.
ADVANCED AMATEURS, BLOGGERS
- Canon EOS 70D ($1250 w/ 18-55mm kit lens)
The Canon 70D is just a really great camera. It feels more substantial than the Rebel series bodies. I also love that the lens will adjust itself while shooting video, so if you want to video yourself you won’t necessarily need a second person to set the focus for you. Pair this body with the ridiculously cheap 50mm 1.8 lens and you are set for some nice portraits and detail shots. Specs: 20.2 mp, 1080p video, 3″ swivel LCD.
- Nikon D7100 ($1399 w/ 18-140mm lens)
I’m including this comparable Nikon in this category for those who prefer Nikon. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: shoot Nikon or Canon. It doesn’t matter. They’re both great and we can all be friends.
- Canon PowerShot S110 ($349)
The quality of photo and video is super sharp. It also has Wi-Fi so you can connect your phone to it (i.e. make your instagrams look even better). It’s really compact so it’s easy to carry around and it’s quick to capture. Specs: 12.1 mp, 1080p video, 3 inch LCD screen.
This is mostly ideal for wide angle video or time lapse photos. You can wear it or mount it and it provides a really unique angle for sports or water activities. If you’re going skiing or scuba diving this would be a really awesome camera to have with you. Specs: 10mp, 1080p video, built-in Wi-Fi.
- Canon PowerShot G15 ($424)
Canon’s G series cameras are great for someone wanting more control over their settings without having the full blown DSLR with separate lenses. The G15 has an f/1.8 lens which means you can take better photos in low light. You can shoot in Manual mode like an SLR. It’s a bit bulkier than other point and shoot cameras, but I, personally, like the look of it and find it easier to shoot with than the really small point and shoots.
THE ANALOG FRIEND
- Canon AE-1 (search ebay)
This fully manual 35mm film camera is a really great tool to learn on. 35mm film is still easy to find (even drug stores and Wal-Mart carry film). This camera will force you to slow down and think about each picture before you take it.
- FujiFilm instax mini 8 ($69)
This would be a great gift for an Instagram fanatic because it’s basically tangible Instagram pictures. You get the fun of film but with instant viewing gratification. Film comes in packs of 20 exposures for around $14.
THE “NO EXCUSES” LENS
There is no reason to NOT have a 50mm in your camera bag when you can get one at this price. This focal length is so versatile and at 1.8 you can get a really shallow depth of field. If you’ve had the 1.8 and would like to upgrade, the 1.4 is really great and not too pricey ($314), especially in comparison to the 1.2 version ($1600).
I hope this list will help your online research before hitting the stores this Friday. If possible, I definitely recommend trying out cameras in-store or borrowing a friend’s before buying. My other tip is to check keh.com for used gear. From what I hear, even the quality level “BGN” is still just fine.