Cameras and photography accessories are always a big hit at Christmas time. Every year, more and more people become interested in exploring photography as a hobby, and thanks to advances in camera tech (and dropping prices), it’s never been so easy to make the jump from casual point-and-shooter to budding photo enthusiast.
Just in time for Christmas, we’ll share our picks for the best camera and accessories for the new fan of photography.
It wasn’t that long ago that only pros carried a big camera. But go to the zoo or a kid’s soccer game now and it seems everyone’s sporting a DSLR with one or two removable lenses. While it’s still possible to spend thousands on a good body and the same again on fast glass (photog-speak for ‘lenses’) really good equipment is available at the entry-level price point. Our pick, the Nikon D3100, is an ideal camera for those looking to get more out of everyday snaps. Featuring 14 megapixels, 1080p HD video and a handy ‘Guide’ mode for beginners, the D3100 also offers a complete range of manual control settings that will allow the newbie to grow into more advanced techniques as their photography skills develop. Price: $476.95
Most DSLRs, including the Nikon above, come with a standard zoom lens that can handle pretty much everything a beginner needs to shoot. But at some point, that beginner is going to say, ‘I wish I could get a better picture in low light’ or ‘I want my portraits to be more striking.’ And when that happens, it’s time to go beyond the kit lens. The Canon 50mm f/1.8 II prime lens, or Nifty Fifty, is the logical first choice. At around $100, it’s the perfect choice for new photographers looking to add some inexpensive variety to their bag. The narrow depth of field is amazing, keeping subjects super-sharp while blurring the background. There’s a version for Nikon, too: the Nikkor AF-S 50mm f/1.8G
Price of Canon: $110.99 | Price of Nikon: $199.99
For someone diving into photography, there’s a temptation to overspend on gear. Some things are worth every penny and useful to almost anyone, whereas some gear is best suited to only serious shooters. A giant tripod, for instance, probably isn’t all that handy to the new lensmith, but the Joby Gorillapod deserves a spot in everyone’s kit bag. Small enough to fit in a pocket, but heavy-duty enough for your zoom-lens’d DSLR, the GorillaPod flexible tripod latches on to just about anything and lets you easily capture everything from shake-free long-exposure landscape portraits, to armless selfies. Price: $49.95
Moving up to a DSLR camera from the point-and-shoot will require more storage. An extra lens here, a strap and some cords there and even the beginner will start to look like a seasoned photojournalist before long. But the Lowepro SlingShot AW Series sling bag keeps all your gear tucked away safely and within reach for easy access when a picture presents itself. Featuring an updated divider system to protect the camera body and lenses, plus lots of specialized pockets for accessories – including a hideaway tripod mount – the SlingShot has room for everything you need and more. Price: $99.99
Once you’ve taken your pictures, chances are you’re going to want to play around with them. A decent camera will produce decent pictures, but if you want to really ramp up the wow factor, you’ll have to fix it in post. Adobe Photoshop Express is a free app that offers plenty of processing power for the beginner and lots of more advanced features for growing into. Fix flaws, add filters or effects, and when you’ve maxed out Express, the paid version offers the ultimate in photo manipulation software. Price: free