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Camera holiday gift guide

Capture some high-def memories

Photography continues to grow in popularity, but when you are ready to graduate from a smartphone, only a traditional camera will do. The latest models offer features no smartphone can – from high-quality 4K videos to large sensors and interchangeable lenses, and even futuristic technologies – and there’s one sure to satisfy the photo and video buff on your list.

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Nikon D750

for body only

For the full-frame enthusiast

No DSLR is perfect, but the D750 gets close, and is possibly the best DSLR to be introduced this year. It has a large full-frame sensor that creates beautiful still images, but it also satisfies the needs of filmmakers with its excellent 1080/60p video capture. It’s fast, and it has many of the features found in Nikon’s high-end DSLRs, but with a lower price (albeit not cheap). If you give this camera to the photo or video enthusiast on your list, he or she would love you forever.

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Sony Alpha a5000

For a lens-changing newbie

A mirrorless camera is a great entry point into the world of interchangeable lenses. The newest models are stronger than their early predecessors, yet they remain compact and many are point-and-shoot easy to use. Sony has been on the roll with its Alpha mirrorless cameras, and the lightweight A5000 is a terrific buy. It comes bundled with a starter lens, captures very high-quality stills, and there are a variety of lens options to grow into. It doesn’t have all the best features, but it’s great for users moving up from pocket cams.

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Pentax K-S1

For the tinkerer and customizing photographer

For the recipient who likes to stand out from the crowd, no DSLR gets louder than the Pentax K-S1. Ricoh recently introduced three new candy colored models, with dessert sounding names to boot. It has the same anti-aliasing simulator from the K-3, but, as if the camera isn’t unique already, it uses a LED-based user interface that changes its illumination to convey the current shooting mode. The Sweet Collection models even come with a matching-color lens.

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Lytro Illum

For the futurist

Lytro wowed the industry a couple years ago with a camera that lets you refocus a photo after it has been taken. This capability comes from the camera’s light-field technology, with a “megaray” sensor that takes in a lot of light. Now, Lytro has come out with a high-end shooter that captures 40 megarays and a longer 8x, constant f/2.0 optical zoom lens, and is powered by a Snapdragon 800 processor. While you can still do the refocusing trick (and more, like shooting 3D), images look far better than the first-generation products. The Illum is for the loved one who wants to be at the forefront of the future.

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Canon PowerShot G7 X

If you want a pocket rocket

Sometimes you want a compact camera that fits in your pocket, but has photography power that smartphone. Canon’s PowerShot G7 X is one of those models. It has a large 1-inch sensor, and an attractive all-black body. It also as a faster lens at f/1.8 at wide-angle. We really like the function ring around the lens barrel that lets you adjust your favorite shooting parameters. If you love selfies, the rear display flips up 180 degrees.

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Panasonic Lumix LX100

It’s a 4K wonder

Panasonic has been pushing 4K video capture in its latest cameras, like the LX100. But besides this high resolution, what’s amazing is that Panasonic squeezed a 12.8-megapixel Micro Four Thirds sensor that’s normally found in mirrorless cameras. Many of the features were trickled down from the higher-end GH4 and GX7 models, yet it’s all inside a more compact form-factor. The camera also has a luxurious build quality, and even if your TV isn’t equipped to handle 4K video now, you can extract high-resolution images from a 4K video – never needing to choose between shooting videos or photos.

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GoPro Hero4 Silver

For the action movie star

GoPro’s Hero cameras are fun, easy-to-use cameras for shooting your active lifestyle, but the new Hero4 offers new features and enhancements that make them useful for filmmaking too. For a camera that can slip into a pocket, it captures terrific-quality videos and photos. The Protune feature lets you fine-tune the settings, giving you more control over how your videos look. It’s a camera that’s both simplistic yet highly complex.

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