Hi, I am Shawn Kenessey, editor in chief of Happy Pixel Club. I know a lot of you have aspiring photographers in your family who are interested in learning more about the art of taking pictures. I have compiled this helpful list of the best options for different skill levels. No matter who you are shopping for (even yourself) I think any one of these options will be a great gift this holiday season!
Category 1: For the young person or beginner in your family who has not really done any photography before.
The Canon Ivy Cliq+ is an inexpensive way for someone to begin their journey in photography. What’s nice about it is that it gives you the instant gratification of printing out the photos right from the camera body but it still saves your pictures to an SD card like a normal digital camera.
The Canon PowerShot SX620 is another inexpensive option that brings more capability to the table than the typical cell phone has. If you’re not quite ready to gift your special person something with a higher price tag this is a great option that should be fun to learn with.
Category 2: For the young person or beginner who has a camera phone who doesn’t know much about dedicated cameras but wants something more advanced that can take better pictures than a phone.
The Canon Rebel T6 is a great camera for the price, and with the 2 lens kit, it is an even greater value. It should take better quality images than any cell phone in existence as long as it used correctly, and it has enough manual settings to keep someone busy learning how photography works. The 2 lenses in the kit also give your aspiring photographer plenty of versatility to take photos in different situations.
The Canon Rebel SL3 is a step up from the T6 and features 4k video recording among other advanced features. Don’t let the low price fool you on this one, this is a seriously capable photographic instrument that shoots excellent quality 4k video. The 2 lens kit also includes the same lenses that come with the Rebel T6 kit I mentioned before. Considering everything that comes with this, it’s hard not to recommend it. Remember this is still cheaper than an iPhone and way more capable.
Category 3: For the teenager or adult who has demonstrated a strong interest in making videos or taking pictures and is looking to step up their videography/photography to a semi-pro level.
Don’t mix up the A6400 with the A6500, you really want the A6400, it’s newer and better than the older model. The Sony A6400 offers a huge range of features for the money, including 4k/30p and cinematic 4k/24p video recording. The quality of video and photos from the A6400 is frankly, good enough to be considered professional by all but the most demanding users. If you can’t get amazing results with this camera, it’s not the camera’s fault that’s for sure.
The EOS RP is the natural step up from the A6400. Only a little bit more expensive and a lot more capable it’s the entry-level FF camera in Canon’s mirrorless line. It has all the features we’ve come to expect like 4k/30p video recording and Canon’s excellent Dual Pixel AF. Canon has really focused on value for the dollar with this combo and it’s almost silly to call this semi-pro because the results are outstanding by any measure. The RF 24-105 lens is also a winner sporting a flexible zoom range, constant f/4 aperture, and superb image quality. I personally own this camera and I love it.
Category 4: For the college student or adult who regularly does photography and video but hasn’t yet gotten a pro-level camera.
The Canon EOS R with RF 24-105mm L lens is an exceptional powerhouse for either photography or videography. With the latest firmware updates, the camera’s AF has been upgraded to be among the best if not the best available from any manufacturer. The picture and video quality are both pro-level offering 4k video using the same full-frame sensor from the much more expensive 5D IV. Arguably, the EOS R is a better overall camera than the 5D IV and over a thousand dollars cheaper making it an excellent value. Canon offers some of the best lenses available in the world and they’ve been outdoing themselves for their new line of mirrorless cameras. This the best way possible to get into Canon’s new Full Frame mirrorless system.
Recently released, the Sony Alpha A7IV is packed with great technology. Featuring a massive 61MP full frame sensor it has enough resolution for any use. In this kit the included 24-70mm G Master lens offers superb performance and represents the pinnacle of quality available in the Sony system. Of course, Sony has included 4k video with full pixel readout and professional video formats like S-log and Hybrid Log-Gamma for HDR recording. In some ways an evolution rather than a revolution over its predecessor, this camera still boasts some of the most eye-popping features available at any price.
A better overall value than the Sony A7IV with G Master Lens, the Canon EOS R with RF 28-70mm f/2 L lens is near the pinnacle of camera technology on a variety of fronts. Aside from boasting class-leading AF and an excellent full-frame sensor at the heart of the EOS R, the RF 28-70mm f/2 L is in another league altogether. This lens is the fastest zoom lens ever made for a consumer camera and gives photographers options they never had before. The lens has prime level quality throughout its range and the large f/2.0 aperture will give users the creative control of depth of field they need to stand out from the crowd.
Category 5: A cost no object gift for someone that wants the very best camera regardless of price.
Ok, it’s not the highest-resolution sensor on this list but its arguably the very best quality possible in the 35mm format. The 1Dx Mk II has been used by professionals around the world at the peak of their game whether we’re talking about sports photography of the biggest events on earth or feature film cinematography on movies with multi-million-dollar budgets. The Canon 1Dx Mk II quite simply gets the job done. Built to produce the finest video output available it’s forte has always been working with those famous big white Canon telephoto lenses. Canon makes a lot of cameras for a lot of different kinds of people, but they all look up to this one, the absolute pinnacle of 35mm camera technology.
This is the camera you buy when you have the money to buy 10 of everything else but just want 1 of something really, REALLY good. Not a video camera, so if that’s your thing forget about it. This is quite simply the highest quality stills photography camera you can buy on planet earth. This camera system features huge medium format sensors with up to 150 MP of resolution. I say sensors (plural), because the way the Phase One system works you buy the camera and the image sensor separately. This lets you freely upgrade your image sensor in the future, presumably, to help offset the extreme cost of these items. Several different sensors are available for the system each with unique capabilities. If you’re interested in buying anything from Phase One you’ll have to find an authorized Phase One dealer to do so.
I hope this buying guide helped you out. Photography is a great hobby or profession that is rewarding and offers a creative outlet to people of all ages and walks of life, so I think it’s great that you’re looking at giving the gift of photography. I really enjoyed putting this list together for you and hope you find something great to buy your loved ones this holiday season!