Picking cams a shot in the dark? Fret not

Picking cams a shot in the dark? Fret not

Giving a camera as a Christmas gift is not something one should do without first considering a number of factors - aside from the cost, your chief consideration is whether the recipient is already allied to a particular brand.

Like dog or cat owners, photographers tend to be relatively loyal to their brands. If you're married to a shutterbug, it's probably best to sit down and talk about the photography-related gift and not keep it a surprise.

However, if you're giving a camera to a person who has never owned one, we've a few ideas.

Camera for kids

The problem is that cameras aren't cheap and are usually too large for a child's hands.

Well, the Q10 is just the opposite - this 12.4MP mirrorless interchangeable-lens camera is super tiny and is full-featured. The Q10 can hide within the palm of an adult-sized hand and yet has a host of features, including sensor-shift optical image stabilisation, a full complement of shooting modes and a 3-inch LCD screen on the back.

Pentax has three Q mount lenses that can be purchased separately, ranging from telephoto to fisheye, and at prices that are relatively affordable. It comes in a bewildering array of colour options, which should also appeal to kids.

The Q10 has a list price of $959 with the kit lens.

Entry-level DSLR

At $999 with the 18-55mm kit lens, the Canon EOS 100D is not just a budget DSLR, but is also one of the smallest DSLRs on the market. It's actually not much bigger than some mirrorless interchangeable-lens cameras on the market, even though it's a full-blown DSLR with a mirrorbox and which accepts all Canon EF and EF-S lenses.

Despite the size, the EOS 100D comes with an 18MP sensor, 1080p 30fps video recording and even a 3-inch touch-sensitive LCD screen that allows you to navigate, focus or shoot photos by tapping on the screen.

Well worth considering, if price and size are the criteria.

Full-featured mid-range

If it's quality you're looking for, then the Nikon D5300 should be on your list.

This newly launched model in the Nikon stable features a 24MP CMOS image sensor with no optical low-pass filter (which translates to sharper images in some situations) and a full complement of functions that will allow the budding photographer to grow with the camera.

The D5300's most notable features are its rotatable LCD screen, built-in Wi-Fi (for easy transfer of images to your Android or iOS device) and GPS (for tagging location information to your pictures). It has a list price of $1,279 with the 18-55mm kit lens.

State of the art

If you're in a really giving mood and don't mind spending a little more for your loved one, consider either the Canon EOS 70D or the Nikon D7100.

Both DSLRs represent about the best one can get with DSLRs with APS-C-sized image sensors.

If the recipient is interested in shooting videos, then the EOS 70D is the better choice, as it features a rotating LCD screen and Canon's newly developed sensor, which provides faster and more accurate phase-detect autofocus in Live View and video shooting.

However, for the still photographer, the D7100 slightly edges out the 20MP EOS 70D in terms of image quality, with a slightly higher-resolution 24MP image sensor with no optical low-pass filter.

While the Canon, bundled with its 18-55mm kit lens, is slightly cheaper, for some extra cash, the D7100 comes with a lens with a longer "reach" at 18-105mm.

The EOS 70D has a list price of $1,499 (body only) while the D7100 costs $1,799 (body only).

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