Digital Camera Holiday Gift Guide - $250 - $400 Cameras
2014 Holiday Gift Guide TOC
Sony Alpha 3000
The Sony Alpha 3000 is one of the most affordable and compact dSLR-style cameras on the market. It has been designed for use by beginner and amateur photographers, keeping the camera control and use as simple as possible. It is also one of the smallest dSLR-style cameras around, and unlike most of the other Alpha labeled models, the a3000 uses Sony's mirrorless E-mount system; which uses smaller and lighter lenses. This keeps the size and weight even lower, making the camera easier to use and carry. Featuring a 20.1-Megapixel, APS-C sized EXMOR image sensor; the a3000 provides better image quality, higher resolution and better low-light performance than any compact camera that you will find in its price range. It also provides you with an LCD and EVF for composing your images, dedicated video recording button for full 1080p HD video, 3.5fps burst shooting and Sony's Panorama shooting mode. This is one of the easiest to operate dSLR-style cameras you will find thanks to these great features combined with their Intelligent and Superior Auto shooting modes. Pick this up if you are looking for an affordable an affordable dSLR that is still small enough to carry easily and is a great option for a first dSLR
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Canon PowerShot SX700 HS
Meet Canon's powerful high zoom point-and-shoot camera, the PowerShot SX700 HS. HS stands for High Sensitivity, brought to you by Canon's newer DIGIC 6 image processor and the 16.1-megapixel HS CMOS image sensor, which really allows the camera to perform more tasks quickly and in low-lighting scenarios. The SX700 also boasts Full 1080p HD video recording, a 3.0-inch LCD display, and a long 30x optical zoom lens (25-750mm 35mm-equivalent) kept shake-free by Canon's Intelligent IS (image stabilization). Like many 2014 models, the SX700 includes Wi-Fi and NFC (Near Field Communication) technologies. Using the Canon iMAGE GATEWAY, the Mobile Device Connect Button, or Canon Camera Window app, owners can use Wi-Fi or NFC to connect the SX700 to compatible smartphones and tablets. From there, you'll have the chance to back up files to the cloud, transfer files to PCs or the aforementioned smart devices, or use said smart devices to remotely control the camera (settings, shutter button, etc.). Pick this up if you want the zoom and performance of an ILC or DSLR in the compact body of a point-and-shoot.
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Nikon Coolpix S810c
Nikon's new Coolpix S810c takes a new approach to the point-n-shoot camera by giving it an Android operating system. This gives you a Nikon camera with the capabilities of a tablet. This is no gimmick either, the camera also features a 12x optical zoom lens, 16-Megapixel CMOS imaging sensor, 3.7-inch touchscreen LCD, WiFi, GPS, Lens-Shift O.I.S. and full HD video capture. Combining these great features with the Android 4.2.2 and the Google Play Market give you endless possibilities that extend far beyond just taking pictures. This entire package has been gathered into a body that is smaller than most smartphones, but about twice as thick. Available in either black or white, this compact digicam is easy to carry and works as far more than just a digicam. Featuring the Android 4.2.2 operating system, the camera has access to thousands of apps for anything you can think of, not just photography. Games, Music, Email and all forms of Social Media can be easily accessed as long as the camera is connected to WiFi. This also adds a whole new dimension to apps like Instagram and others related to photography with the ability to capture much higher quality images than with a standard smartphone or tablet. Pick this up if you are looking for more than just a camera. The Android system adds the same capabilities as a tablet or smartphone to a compact and capable digicam.
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Fuji has developed the FinePix HS50 EXR to give the feel and quality of an entry-level dSLR with the ease and versatility of a point-n-shoot camera. Sporting a new EXR II image sensor and processor, Fujinon 42x manual optical zoom lens, lens-shift image stabilization and a 3.0-inch tilting LCD screen, the HS50 EXR has been built to tackle tough shooting situations. A dial full of shooting modes offers the perfect mode for anyone using the camera including full automatic, full manual and variety of scene and advanced modes designed to increase your artistic abilities. Fuji has also included a powerful new hybrid AF system that allows for accurate and much faster autofocus than with the standard contrast AF system. The brains of the HS50 EXR is its EXR system. This system is the combination of the EXR II image sensor, EXR II processor and the huge Fujinon manual zoom lens. This powerful system is able to recognize all of your shooting situations and make every adjustment possible without you even noticing. It does more than just picking a scene mode to go along with the shooting settings, it can also adjust the sensor itself to one of three modes: High Resolution, High Sensitivity and Dynamic Range. This increases the overall image quality by collecting the light in the best way for your situation. Part of the hybrid AF system, the Phase Detection AF, is built into the image sensor as well. This is what gives the AF system its incredibly fast capabilities, blowing away most compact digicams. All of this sits behind the incredibly versatile 42x optical zoom lens. Pick this up if you are looking for versatility over anything else. The 42x optical zoom lens means you never need to carry spare lenses, while the camera's performance is ready for all situations.
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Nikon Coolpix S9700
Nikon has created a versatile ultra zoom camera with its Coolpix S9700. Nikon has paired a relatively thin camera body with a 1/2.3-inch 16MP image sensor and 30x optical zoom lens, which gives the S9700 usefulness in a variety of shooting situations. Images recorded with the Coolpix S9700 are extremely sharp throughout the lens' zoom range, as the Hybrid Vibration Reduction feature Nikon included with this model works well. Perhaps the best feature of the Nikon S9700 versus other thin ultra zoom cameras is this model's fast response times. Shutter lag is not really noticeable and shot-to-shot delays are minimal, which isn't common in these types of cameras. All of the S9700's features make this an almost ideal travel camera. You can place it in a pocket, but it still creates images that are sharp enough and of a high enough quality that you can trust this camera with important vacation photos. And the 30x zoom will undoubtedly come in handy many times while traveling. Whether this camera will be a good value for you will depend in large part on whether you plan to use the GPS and Wi-Fi features, which do add a bit to the cost of the Coolpix S9700 versus other thin ultra zoom models. Pick this up if you want a thin camera that will fit in a pocket but that provides plenty of flexibility, including a large zoom lens, sharp images throughout the zoom range, and extremely fast performance levels.
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