Shopping for a gift that’ll please a snap happy friend this festive season? We’ve got you covered…
£1150 (w/12-50mm lens), olympus.co.uk
A worthy successor to Olympus’ OM high end film cameras of yore, this Micro Four Thirds compact system camera is one of the finest photographic tools we’ve encountered this year. The lightning-fast autofocus, excellent low light ability, next gen image stabilisation, crisp screen and viewfinder, and 9fps continuous shooting mode make this the equal of most mid-range DSLRs, and Olympus’ best CSC yet.
Olympus OM-D E-M5
One of the cleverest compacts ever, the LX7 boasts a sharp screen, sharper images and RAW shooting to make it more friendly for Photoshop twiddlers. The ideal back-up camera for your DSLR-toting enthusiast friend.
If you have a pal that owns an iPhone 4 or 4S and yearns to take better snaps, consider this highly unusual case: it sports space for a tripod and LED flash (supplied here – but you can get a £25 version without if you have your own gear), allowing for crisper, better-lit exposures.
Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX7
It’s not just the understated style of the 20MP RX100 that makes it one of this year’s best compacts – it’s the fact that it succeeds in being suitable both for hardcore shutter nutters and clueless noobs. Powerful in the hands of a skilled shooter, it’s also a nifty product when flicked to Intelligent Auto mode and used as a simple point-and-shoot.
Need a camera tailored to an adventurous friend? The AW100 features not only A-GPS but a world map and compass, as well as a tough exterior that protects it against the elements and the sort of drops that would leave most cameras in bits. Throw in great picture and video quality and you’re left with one of the best outdoor compacts around.
Manfrotto KLYP and Pocket tripod
Camera backpacks are usually about as attractive as the rear end of a bus, but the Klettern looks back to traditional klettersack bags for design inspiration. There’s plenty of space inside too: room for a 17-inch laptop as well as a standard DSLR and flash or extra lens. There’s even a pull-out tripod sleeve.
Available for almost every DSLR lens mount system around, the Composer features twin lenses joined by a ball and socket, allowing you to move them around and defocus parts of the frame while your subject stays sharp.
£1660 (w/16-60mm lens), sony.co.uk
It might look like a DSLR, but Sony’s enthusiast camera actually features a translucent mirror, allowing it to shoot at 12fps with barely any shutter lag. There’s an electronic viewfinder as a consequence, but its huge and uses OLED technology, making it one of the best we’ve ever clamped eyes (or eye) on. The sturdy body and quick autofocus are other pluses, and the image and video quality? Nothing short of stunning.
£930 (w/14-42mm lens), panasonic.co.uk
If you’re looking for something a little less hardcore than the Olympus OM-D but compact and still capable of taking stunning shots and video, the G5 is well worth a scope. It’s not quite as much of a master in low light, but it delivers a winning level of control, a classy UI and good images and videos.
Nikon Coolpix AW100
This unassuming shoulder bag lets you heave round a veritable treasure trove of gear, including a DSLR with lens attached and two to four additional lenses. It’s also rainproof, and opens silently – ideal if you don’t want to scare away any of your subjects.