Holiday season is camera buying time. They make great gifts and are available at prices to suit nearly any pocket. They are also easy gifts to decide on. For someone with an old film camera for taking family photos, a point and shoot digital will be highly appreciated. If someone already has a digital point and shoot, an entry level digital SLR will always be welcome. And a top of the line digital SLR, if you can afford it, would be a dream come true.
When shopping for a camera, remember that a high price tag and fancy features do not always translate into a good camera or one that is right for the user.
Point and shoot cameras have grown by leaps and bounds in terms of their sophistication and the quality of the pictures they produce. Although the importance of megapixels is often overrated, since the minimum available today is usually 7, they are all good enough to take great photographs. If you are looking for an entry level camera of this type, a good option would be Canon PowerShot A590 which has manual control options and an image stabilizer. Other than this, Pentax Optio M50 and Samsung L210, both of which are truly pocket size, are also good buys. All these cameras are in the $150 to $170 price range.
Those looking for a point and shoot with slightly more advanced features could look at the Sony Cyber Shot DSC-T20 which has a non telescoping zoom lens, a 3 inch touch sensitive LCD display and a short delay between pictures. Casio Exilim Card EX-S10 also is a short delay camera with many manual setting options. Canon PowerShot SD1100 IS ELPH stands out for its low light performance and, once again, short next shot delay time. These cameras fall in the $200 to $260 price band.
Digital SLRs are available in a very wide range of models and these are used by the slightly more advanced photographers for whom personal preference in terms of features, lenses and accessories as well as issues like feel and weight are important. One thing to keep in mind is that while many new DLSRs offer video recording capabilities, do not let this feature influence your decision too much. It’s a nice option but do not expect a DSLR to give you HD video quality.
Among these cameras, Canon EOS-40D is a very versatile camera with excellent image quality. So is Nikon D90 with 12 megapixels. Both cameras are in the $1000 to $1100 range. Slightly more basic and priced at around $700 are Canon EOS Rebel XSi and Pentax K200D. Canon has what is probably the best picture quality in this price range along with a live view 3 inch LCD. Pentax is very well designed and is more dust and moisture proof than its contemporaries.
A great buy for the holiday season is Panasonic Lumix DMC-G1, priced at $800. It is the size of a point and shoot but has interchangeable lenses and an SLR type large image sensor.
Once again, when buying a camera, either as a gift or for yourself, keep your focus on the features you or the gift receiver needs and do not waste money on features that will not be used and may needlessly complicate the picture taking process.