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.
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.
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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