If you’re considering giving a professional digital camera as a gift, there’s a good chance that your recipient is already familiar with the various features a camera of this caliber has to offer. However, it doesn’t hurt to familiarize yourself with the basics when shopping for the right digital SLR (DSLR) camera. Some enthusiasts prefer mirrorless cameras, which are lighter and easier to transport because they lack the mirror that reflects light into the viewfinder in a standard DSLR. The reliable autofocus performance of a traditional DSLR generally makes it the preferred choice for photographing sports and action.
Some cameras come with a lens, or are intended for use with a single lens. Others are designed for interchangeable lenses, giving the photographer a wider range of options. Size and weight are other considerations, especially for photographers who plan to use the camera for extended periods of time. Those who are interested in photographing or taking videos outdoors during inclement weather may want to invest in a water-resistant camera. For more shopping tips and advice, check out the following articles: How to Choose a Digital Camera, Camera buying guide on CNET, and Choosing a camera type: Advice to help you buy a camera.
Still searching for that perfect gift? Don’t miss our Gifts page for gift guides this holiday season. If this list doesn’t have what you’re looking for, shop a wider selection of digital SLR cameras for more options.
1. Nikon D5 Digital SLR Camera Body (XQD Version)
If you’re looking for a well-rounded professional DSLR camera, the Nikon D5 is a solid choice. The FX-format camera features advanced sensors, metering, autofocus, and image processing. It also boasts Nikon’s widest native ISO range ever, 100 to 102,400, and an advanced AF system that lets you take photos in almost total darkness. The expanded ISO range lets you take crisp and sharp images in low-light situations such as arenas, dark reception halls, and during the night. A powerful EXPEED 5 image processor promises high resolution and detail, while a second processor is entirely dedicated to autofocus. Other highlights include the ability to record 4K Ultra High Definition video and a high-resolution touchscreen LCD with a swipe interface for enhanced control.
2. Canon EOS Rebel T6i Digital SLR Camera Bundle
This bundle includes the Canon EOS Rebel T6i Digital SLR along with a variety of lenses and accessories. You’ll find a Canon Zoom Wide Angle-Normal EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 STM autofocus lens in addition to the Canon Zoom Telephoto EF 75-300mm f/4.0-5.6 III autofocus lens. A 58mm 2X professional telephoto lens is included as well. A photo video tripod holds the camera still to ensure crisp, clear shots. There’s also a water-resistant camera case to keep the equipment protected even in inclement weather. Other highlights include a high-speed HD USB card reader and a 58mm Ultraviolet VT protector filter. Don’t need all the accessories? Take a look at the base Canon EOS Rebel T6i Digital SLR.
3. Fujifilm X-T2 Mirrorless Digital Camera
This compact and lightweight camera stands out for its high-speed AF and its compatibility with a wide variety of interchangeable lenses. High-speed X-Processor Pro image processing produces vibrant colors and tones in stills and videos. Basic autofocus performance has also been improved, delivering optimal focusing and performance on low-contrast objects and those with fine details, such as animal fur or bird feathers. The large viewfinder features a magnification ratio of 0.77x and tilts in three directions. This digital camera also offers high-quality 4K video recording along with a weather-resistant structure for use in a variety of conditions. The Fujifilm X-T2 Mirrorless Digital Camera with 18-55mm F2.8-4.0 R LM OIS Lens is also available.
4. Canon EOS 80D Digital SLR Camera
The Canon EOS 80D stands out for its 45-point all cross-type AF system, which offers enhanced low light performance and is compatible with most EF lenses. There are four AF modes for a variety of situations. These modes include zone, large zone, single-point, and auto selection. An intelligent viewfinder offers nearly full viewfinder coverage and a clear view to help photographers get the ideal shot. A speedy and accurate autofocus lets you shoot clear video and stills. Other highlights include wireless connectivity and full HD 60p movies.
5. Sony Alpha SLT-A99V Full-Frame SLR Digital Camera
A full frame sensor helps capture more light and detail with an expanded receptor surface and thinner wiring layer. A BIONZ image processor offers noise reduction when necessary. This camera comes with a maximum ISO level lf 25600 for clear and bright images even in low light conditions. Another feature is the Dual Autofocus system, which keeps moving subjects in focus with a lock-on function. This DSLR camera comes with a high-performance 19-point autofocus and can shoot 10 frames per second, making it a solid choice for photographing wildlife and sports.
6. Canon EOS 5D Mark III Digital SLR Camera
The Canon EOS 5D Mark III stands out for its exceptional full frame high-resolution image capture and optical technology with an ISO range of 100-25600 for shooting quality pictures and videos in a variety of settings. Advanced high definition video performance lets users take videos in high-quality EOS HD. Other highlights include up to 6.0 frames per second continuous shooting to capture fast-moving scenes and subjects along with a multiple exposure mode. There’s also an intelligent viewfinder and advanced metering system. A newer model, Canon EOS 5D Mark IV Full Frame Digital SLR Camera, is also available.
Price: $2,499.00 (11 percent off MSRP)
7. Nikon D3300 Digital SLR
The Nikon D3300 is a solid budget-friendly camera. It’s small and light, making it easy to transport from one location to the next. This camera also stands out for its versatility and can be used to record full HD videos with sharp details, add special effects, take high-resolution panoramas, and more. An 18-55mm VR image stabilization lens is included. The camera offers up to five frames per second continuous shooting and comes with 11 AF points with 3D tracking. A three-inch LCD screen provides vibrant and crisp images. An Auto Focus-S DX NIKKOR 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G VR II zoom lens is included. A newer version, Nikon D3400 w/ AF-P DX NIKKOR 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G VR, is available.
8. Sony a7R II Full-Frame Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Camera
A distinctive feature of this DSLR camera is its full-frame CMOS 35mm image sensor, which is backlit and has 42.4 megapixels. The camera comes with a Fast Hybrid AF system with phase detection to keep subjects in focus throughout the frame. Five-axis image stabilization keeps blur to a minimum during handheld shots. There’s also a 4K movie recording feature with a full pixel readout. Additional features include swift connectivity to smartphones using WiFi and shutter vibration suppression.
9. Nikon D750 FX-Format Digital SLR Camera
Built-in WiFi connectivity adds an extra element of convenience. This full-frame digital SLR camera also has a tilting Vari-angle LCD display and can shoot up to 6.5 frames per second at full resolution. Professional photographers and those seeking an upgrade will appreciate features such as a full-frame 24.3 megapixel CMOS image sensor along with an EXPEED 4 image processor. There’s also full HD video and a pro video feature set with auto ISO for seamless exposure transitions. The body is lightweight and compact, making the camera easy to transport.
Price: $1,896.95 (5 percent off MSRP)
10. Panasonic LUMIX DMC-FZ2500 Digital Camera
This newly released digital camera is described by Panasonic as a hybrid camera ideal for both 4K video and photography enthusiasts. Highlights include 4K Ultra HD video recording with the ability to record up to 30 frames per second. A quick-stability grip keeps hand fatigue at bay and gives users comfortable control during photo and video shoots. A large 0.74x OLED Live View Finder gives superior visibility even in direct sunlight. The monitor tilts and swivels to find the optimal angle. A single touch instantly sets the focus and can release the shutter.