Digital Camera Holiday Gift Guide - $600 - $2000 Cameras
2014 Holiday Gift Guide TOC
Canon PowerShot G1 X Mark II
The PowerShot G1 X Mark II is Canon's newest professional level point-and-shoot camera for 2014. What does that mean, exactly? Basically, for a similar price as an entry-to-mid-level DSLR, this is a fixed lens camera brimming with Canon's latest and best features. These include an all new 12.8-megapixel High-Sensitivity CMOS image sensor which, at 1.5-inches, is 4.5x larger than the 1/1.7" sensor more commonly found in this type of camera. There's also the brand new DIGIC 6 image processor with the Canon HS SYSTEM, which is capable of faster AutoFocus (AF) times, Full HD 1080p video recordings, 14-bit RAW + JPEG file capture, and "improved" low-light performance. The G1 X Mark II also features a 5x optical zoom lens with a fast f/2.0 maximum aperture at its widest angle (24mm) and a f/3.9 maximum aperture at full telephoto (120mm). The 3.0-inch LCD tilts 180 degrees up, and 45 degrees downwards. To mimic DSLR with premium lenses, the camera includes Background Defocus Mode. And, there are four Advanced Star Modes: "Star Portrait" and "Star Nightscape" allow you to see stars as well as terrestrial subjects. "Star Trails" records video trails of stars to turn the trails into one "luminous still image." And, "Star Time Lapse Movie" captures a series of stills over the course of a user-defined period, and then turn them into a video which shows the stars' movement over that time. Pick this up if you need a fixed lens camera to complement a DSLR, and you're planning to use this model primarily in a studio where you need high image quality results.
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Olympus OM-D E-M10
As the smallest and most affordable camera in the Olympus OM-D lineup, the E-M10 brings the quality and versatility of these great little interchangeable cameras to a new demographic. The E-M10 sports a 16-Megapixel 4/3 Live MOS image sensor and TruePic VII processor, you get the best Olympus has to offer in a compact and easy to use body. They have also included a 3.0-inch touch LCD, high resolution EVF, built-in WiFi and a slew of creative shooting modes to make sure that you get the best possible images from any shooting situation. Full 1080p HD video capture with loads of control compliments the still image shooting modes and capabilities nicely. Assisting with both still and video, you will find Olympus's 3-axis, sensor shift optical image stabilization system helps greatly when shooting in low-light situations as well as shooting and recording on the move. The standard kit comes with the M.Zuiko 14-42mm f3.5-5.6 II R lens which works well as an everyday lens. Olympus has also put together a Premium kit that includes the M.Zuiko 14-42mm f3.5-5.6 EZ power-zoom lens and several additional body and accessory color options. Portability and convenience are enriched by a few of the great features that have been built into this very compact camera. This is the first OM-D model to include a tilting touchscreen LCD, built-in WiFi and a built-in flash unit. While these features may sound standard for most point-n-shoot and mega-zoom camera's today, we are not seeing all of these features on most ILC's in the attempt to keep the size down. Olympus has achieved keeping the size incredibly compact while still including all of the features that you are looking for. These features allow you to carry the camera with ease, even to places that most people don't want to lug a large dSLR. Once you are there, you access to a flash if needed, the ability to shoot over or around difficult objects and the option to share your images almost instantly via WiFi with a smartphone. Pick up this camera if you are looking for dSLR quality and performance in a much smaller package. This is a great step up from a point-n-shoot camera or awesome as a smaller travel alternative.
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The Samsung NX30 features a 16MP CMOS image sensor mated to the DRIMeIV Image Processor for faster shooting (1/8000 sec shutter and 9 FPS continuous shooting), improved performance in lower lighting conditions, as well as the the NX AF (Auto Focus) System II for a quicker and more even focus. In terms of viewfinders, there are two. The first is a Tiltable Electronic Viewfinder (2.359K dots); the second a 3.0-inch Super AMOLED Swivel and Touch Display. If you need to shoot video, the NX30 has you covered. It can not only record Full HD 1080p movies in 2D, but also in full stereo 3D (with the optional 45mm F/1.8 2D/3D lens). And, there's a microphone input and Live HD Streaming, via the HDMI output, to connect an external monitor or to record footage directly to an external recording device. The NX30 also boasts the ability to customize your settings, thanks to two Custom Modes on the dial. And, with i-Function and i-Function Plus, shutterbugs of all experience levels can access certain settings, like shutter speed or aperture, at the touch of a button. You can even customize and reprogram existing buttons. Pick this up if you are looking for an easy-to-use ILC camera that still offers great performance and image quality, while also featuring plenty of high-end add-on features, such as a touch screen display and a viewfinder.
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Pentax has produced a very competitive and capable mid-range dSLR with the K-3. It provides the image quality, performance and feature set to compete with any other dSLR in its price range. Sporting a 24-Megapixel APS-C sized imaging sensor, real-time scene analysis, incredible AF system and a shutter that can provide up to 8.3fps, you will be hard-pressed to find anything that this camera doesn't excel at. In-Camera SR (Shake Reduction) allows any and every lens to work with the camera's image stabilization system. The great features don't stop there either. Dual memory card slots, Eye-Fi compatibility, pentaprism optical viewfinder, full 1080p HD video recording, HDR image capture and a fully weather-sealed body help to round out the best features; but there are still plenty more. All of the features provide unique and amazing shooting possibilities that will allow and enhance your creative photography. The K-3 offers an amazing amount of control and usability thanks to its versatile and adjustable shooting modes, extensive custom settings menu and complete set of camera controls, with a programmable Fx/RAW button. This allows you to set the camera up exactly the way you like it, while even programming the custom buttons for one-touch access to the settings that you need the most. Pentax has included many of the AF controls on the camera including an AF selection button and AF/MF switch for instant changes. Control of the included 50-200mm lens is also very nice. The lens itself has two smooth, free-turning rings with comfortable rubber grips. Pick this up if you are looking for a high quality and reliable dSLR that will survive just about any shooting situation that you put it in.
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The Nikon D5300 is the smallest D-series camera to date despite having a new grip that offers more surface area and a better hold than the D5200. The D5300 is also the first Nikon D-series camera to shoot Full HD video at 1080/60p, offer built-in Wi-Fi and GPS, and to include the new EXPEED 4 processor, which improves low-light capabilities, shooting performance, and noise levels. The D5300 also boasts a newly developed 24.2-megapixel DX-format (APS-C) CMOS image sensor with no OLPF (Optical Low Pass Filter) for greater sharpness and detail when taking advantage of the camera's wide ISO range of 100 - 12,800. The D5300 also features Nikon's Scene Recognition System, which uses a 2,016-pixel RGB metering system to analyze shooting conditions and then adjust exposure, AF, and white balance levels for perfectly balanced photographs. As the first Nikon DSLR with built-in Wi-Fi and GPS, users will be able to connect the D5300 to a free app on iOS or Android smartphones. From there, it's easy to email photos or share them on various social networks like Facebook. GPS is great for geo-tagging, which allows social networking sites, mobile phones, and PC picture editors to keep track where you've taken all your photos. Pick this up if you are seeking an entry-level DSLR camera with an excellent set of features that can grow with you as your photographic skills improve.
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The X-T1 boasts not only a 16.3-megapixel APS-C sized CMOS II image sensor and works with a ton of X-series lenses, but also 75 points of weather sealing to make the camera dust and water resistant, and also freezeproof down to -14°F. Not to mention that its 3.0-inch tilting LCD screen (with 1.04million dots) is made of tempered glass. Pretty cool, right? The other big bonus is the included EXR Processor II which, when combined the X-Trans CMOS II image sensor, boasts the world's fastest AutoFocus (AF) time of just 0.08 seconds. The X-T1 also starts up in 0.5 seconds, has a shutter time lag of only 0.05 seconds, and a shooting interval of a half second. Speaking of speed, the X-T1 can shoot up to 8 frames per second (fps) with phase detection AF engaged, and just so happens to be the first ever camera to be compatible with the SDXC UHS-II format memory cards, which can write data twice as fast as a conventional SD memory card. The X-T1 also has a 2.36-million dot OLED EVF (Electronic Viewfinder) that has not one, but four different display modes. These include FULL (which uses the camera's 0.77x magnification ratio to show the whole scene), NORMAL (which display an optimum scene view as well as shooting settings), DUAL (which splits the view for manual focusing that's checked by Digital Split Image or Focus Peak Highlight technology), and PORTRAIT (which automatically rotates displayed information if the camera is held vertically in Normal or Full modes). Finally, the X-T1 boasts one-touch Wi-Fi connectivity, which allows you to connect the ILC to a smartphone or tablet running the free FujiFilm Camera Remote app. As the name implies, you can control the X-T1 directly from your smart device, or transfer and share images to the web. Pick this up if you are are looking for one of the top mirrorless ILCs on the market, the high starting price is not a concern, and you don't mind that the cool retro design can be a little awkward to use without some practice.
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