We scoured the internet and camera stores to bring you the most comprehensive review of our favorite cameras to place under your Christmas Tree. The only guideline was to keep it under $1000, and in many cases try to stay in the $500-$600 mark. Other reviews can be confusing with the specs, but we decided to describe to you the same way we'd describe to a friend...in easy to understand terms and just getting to the point.
IN NO PARTICULAR ORDER...
The Nikon D3300 is the choice for the best CHEAP DSLR. Why? For the value it’s an excellent choice with great performance for an entry-level camera, high value, and high resolution. You should know there is no wifi on this camera, but for the price you can slide the memory card into your reader and download away. It's low on the features but a very solid choice for a first time DSLR.
Why buy it? If you're a beginner and want a quality brand that will always be relevant, consider this. You'll have a chance to grow with the brand and keep upgrading over the years. It's for the person on your list who loves photography and you want to encourage them without breaking the bank. you can get beautiful imagery here,
Sony A6000 is feature heavy and boasts an incredibly fast continuous shooting speed for the price and it's a beautiful design. What I dislike about it is the time it takes to start-up (bad for soccer mom types who need to be quick, but generally OK for everyone else). In low light it's not the best image quality, but again... for many users that's not a deal breaker. Bottomline it's a great overall camera for more advanced photographers and want a smaller unit capable of fitting in their purse or backpack.
Why buy it? Because Sony is a brand we believe in. It's a small, powerful, easy to take to any location and Sony isn't hoarding technology like some other brands... (I'm looking at your Canon).
Sony A6300 is my new favorite camera. In fairness you should know that I am the owner of a Sony A6300 and my review may be slightly biased. Then again, I'm a real customer and you might want to hear what I have to say. The A6300 delivers first rate photo and video quality, and comes with a plethora of features. In fact it comes with so many, you probably will not even use all of them. The mirrorless camera with interchangeable lens. Personally I use a Metabones adaptor and use my older Canon lenses. This is my first camera outside of Canon and I am considering staying with Sony if they continue their innovative path.
Why buy it? It's small, discreet and looks like a small point-and-shoot but delivers the punch of a professional camera. It also shoots 4K, perfect for documentary making! It's also great for the person who understands cameras, they want to play with interchange lenses, plan on filming with this as much as they use it for photography. It's pretty much a professional camera at a great price!
Canon EOS 70D is a staple from the camera powerhouse. Even though Canon is lagging lately with their innovation, the 70D is still a solid choice for the hobbyist and prosumer photographer. What I like about the 70D is that it delivers an amazing autofocus and the camera itself is fast on many features. I dislike that it's too expensive for what it really offers. It's also not the most user friendly on wifi, card slot, and menu.
Why buy it? Buy it if you insist on Canon and want an excellent camera with a proven track record. But if you want to stay under the $1K mark, you'll need to factor in lenses for this guy. Expect a decent lens to be over the $400 mark.
Fuji Film X-A3 newly available in America at the end of October is almost identical to its predecssor the X-A2, even though it had a slightly higher launching price. It's an entry-level mirrorless but do not let that scare you, as entry level cameras have become more sophisticated. They've worked on the resolution to go from 16.3 Megapixels to 24.2, added a touch screen to the LCD, increased video from 1080/30p to 1080/60p and added panorama for outside enthusiasts & time-lapse. For those wanted to add an external flash, it does come with a hot-shoe, stereo audio, up to 25600 ISO, 6 fps for burst shooting, and has wifi.
Why buy it? Because just like Sony, Fuji is taking leaps and bounds in the camera game. They're bringing out innovation at a cheaper price, beautiful cameras, and offer excellent features for the prosumer level. Reacting to Canon's recent lackluster performance, Fuji is taking this opportunity to grab a bigger share of the mirrorless market. Also buy it, because it's pretty! This is a new mom/dad camera. It's quick and easy to use, light, good looking and gets the job done. When the kid upgrades to playing soccer games and running around the playground, the parents can upgrade their camera then also.
Panasonic Lumix LX7 is another camera I recommend because of how simple it is. Some would say it lacks the extensive features but does insist on an excellent photo quality, a great lens and the Lumix strengths of pervious generations. Besides a mediocre battery, I would say that it's drawbacks (lack of advanced features) are its strengths. Lets face it, 90% of us want beautiful pictures without much thought. They want to point and shoot, and we've forgotten that little part. It has an ISO of 6400, enough to cover your basic outside BBQ and darker living rooms.
Why buy it? Because the features that some say it lacks won't be used that much anyways. It's a beautiful camera that acts quick, has a very decent lens and takes beautiful photographs. If you want a little camera to put in your pocket and take with you to any party location, this is a good choice. I'd buy it for a person who hasn't really had a camera before and solely relies on their smart phone. It's a perfect camera for them, and will remain functional for a long time. For the person who wants an upgrade, I'd skip this and look at the Sony.
Fuji Film X70 is a really good camera with a beautiful design, manual-friendly, up to 51200 ISO, less noise than its predecessor and likely the best photo quality for its price. It comes with a lens that keeps its sharpness from from f2.8 all the way to f16. It really does well in the sharpness department! While it does boast a sharp image, the auto-focus on the camera needs more work, and sometimes even refocuses on your subject even thought they never moved. Keep in mind, in most cases people won't be doing portraits on this and shooting outside at a rather higher Fstop anyways...so you won't notice it much. What I dislike about it is the lesser video quality and no built-in viewfinder like other Fuji cameras.
Why buy it? It's a Fuji, and if there's any camera that did well in the "pretty" department it's Fuji. However, for the price you're getting a solid image. Sure people will say that autofocus is slow, but by "slow" we mean it takes .7 seconds on average. You will NOT notice the difference unless you're shooting sprinters, and in that case you will not be using this camera. Video quality is 1080/60p - for some that's perfectly OK. For others, they want 4K. Again, it's a perfect camera for the new parents and constant vacationers.