Every year I receive messages from family and friends asking for recommendations for photography gear. And I completely understand why. Much like purchasing a PC, buying a camera can be a daunting prospect for those who aren’t familiar with the technology.
In the last five years, cameras have advanced by leaps and bounds. With trends and technology advancing constantly, it’s impossible to recommend the same cameras as the year before.
For example, just five years ago, when I worked as a professional photographer, I would never have considered using a mirrorless camera. Today, mirrorless cameras are some of the most sought-after cameras by both enthusiasts and professionals.
So this year I’ve partnered with Nikon to share a gift guide for the best camera gear. I’m putting my thoughts down on paper—the internet—to create a simple reference for which gear would be a good fit for your loved ones. Whether they’re a budding photographer or they’re already a professional looking to upgrade their kit, these are the cameras and lenses that will capture their heart this holiday.
Nikon Z fc
This is the camera I’ve been waiting for my whole life.
The Nikon Z fc manages to recreate the mechanical feeling of the company’s FE film cameras in a digital format. For anyone who misses the feeling of setting ISO and shutter speed with physical dials, the Z fc offers all of the advantages of a mirrorless camera while bringing that sweet dopamine rush with every click of the shutter.
Nikon’s Z fc is a surprisingly light camera considering its metal construction, making it ideal for those who love to take their camera with them everywhere they go. The slim design and detachable lenses mean that you can easily slip it into a bag or pocket, and the solid build will keep you from worrying every time you go over a bump in the road.
And while I believe that cameras should be invisible to their subjects, this is a camera that deserves attention for its looks. The silver body evokes the FM and FE cameras from Nikon’s past, but the leather wrapping is offered in a variety of colours from black and amber brown to coral pink, giving it a beautiful, modern touch. It’s stylish and compact, and it feels great to use.
But don’t think it’s all style and no substance. The Z fc features Nikon’s new Z-mount over a stacked CMOS sensor. I’ll spare you the technical jargon, but the Z fc offers incredible image quality, even in low-light conditions. The ISO can go up to 51,200, and while you likely won’t need to push it that high, it means that the camera can comfortably take photos of dark scenes without adding much noise to the image.
It’s also worth mentioning that the Z fc features 4K video at up to 30fps and a flip-out camera. If the photographer in your life also happens to be interested in video, this is an excellent choice, thanks to the excellent auto-focus that will keep your eyes sharp at all times.
Who is this camera for?
The Nikon Z fc is the perfect camera for photographers looking to add a bit of fun into their work. The mechanical body makes it feel like you’re shooting film again, and the light body makes it easy to keep the camera on you at all times. If the photographer in your life would like a stylish camera that delivers excellent images and video, the Nikon Z fc is the camera for them.
Nikon Z 50
This is the camera that will spark your love for photography.
At just 395 grams, the Nikon Z 50 is a mirrorless camera that’s tiny but mighty. Instead of getting your loved one a point-and-shoot that takes all the fun out of capturing memories, give them a mirrorless that’s dead simple to use, but takes photos that’ll blow their phone camera out of the water.
Despite its size, the Z 50 offers a lot of power and a surprising number of features. From high frame-rate 120fps video for beautiful slow-motion to in-camera editing and wireless sharing, the Z 50 is the camera for the social age.
The 20.9-megapixel sensor produces beautifully detailed images that won’t have too much noise, even in low-light conditions. And the creative modes on the camera make taking interesting images a breeze. Whether you want to grade your photos with a blue tint or shoot in black and white, the Z 50 lets you preview your shot in the Electronic Viewfinder before taking the photo.
Who is this camera for?
The Nikon Z 50 is the perfect camera for entry-level photographers and videographers. Thanks to its small body and powerful in-camera editing tools, the Z 50 offers the power needed to create incredible content without needing to understand all of the minutiae. If the photographer in your life is looking to learn more about photography, this is the camera for them.
This is the camera that will take your photography to the next level.
When it comes to professional photography, DSLRs continue to serve as the cameras of choice for most photographers. They’re fast, durable, flexible, and reliable. And when it comes to DSLRs, there aren’t many that match the quality of the Nikon D850.
With 45.7 megapixels, 7fps continuous shooting, 4K video, and one of the widest ISO range on any DSLR, this is the camera of choice for photographers who don’t want to miss the perfect shot.
Unlike the cameras on the list so far, the Nikon D850 is a full-frame camera. This means several things. The image won’t be cropped—it captures the full image from the lens. The sensor captures more light, giving it better low-light performance and detail. And the larger size allows for more depth in the images, producing beautiful bokeh.
If the photographer you’re buying for shoots portraits, the D850 uses a 153-point autofocus feature to ensure that their shots will be in focus in every frame. If they shoot action-oriented photography such as events, the continuous shooting will allow them to hold down the shutter and capture shot after shot without ever needing to lift their finger. With seven images taken every second, they’ll be sure to capture that one shot they’ve always dreamed of.
And for the nature photographers out there, the Nikon D850 has been built for every condition. Weather sealed, solidly built, and software-enhanced, the D850 is as comfortable in the desert as it is in a wedding venue. The camera can take time-lapse videos in stunning 8K quality and even switch the shutter’s release sound to be nearly silent in settings that require it.
Who is this camera for?
The Nikon D850 is the camera for professionals and serious enthusiasts. This camera has been tried and tested time and again. It’s the one you’ll want when you can’t miss an important shot, and the one that will take your photography to new heights. If the photographer in your life is looking to move to a more serious camera without making the jump all the way up to the D6, the Nikon D850 is the camera for them.
Before you dash out and buy a camera, it’s worth considering which lenses to buy. A camera body is only as good as the glass it’s attached to.
Luckily, Nikon makes some of the best lenses in the world.
All of the lenses mentioned below are designed for the Nikon Z-mount. If you’re not sure which lenses are compatible with your camera of choice, Nikon has an excellent Lens Finder on its website. You can input your camera and see a list of every compatible lens.
Here’s a list of the top Z-mount lenses for the photographer in your life.
Nikkor Z 35mm f/1.8 S
There are two must-have prime lenses. One of them is the 35mm.
A prime lens is a lens that is a fixed focal length. While it may not be as convenient when you want to zoom in on a far-away object, it makes up for it with its speed. The Nikkor Z 35mm f/1.8 S is a very fast lens, offering a shallow depth of field for beautiful bokeh, and bright images thanks to its wide aperture.
If the photographer in your life is interested in street photography, the 35mm is the lens for them.
Nikkor Z 50mm f/1.2 S
The other must-have prime lens is the 50mm.
Every photographer should have a 50mm prime in their kit, and the Nikkor Z 50mm f/1.2 S is the exact reason why. Very few lenses offer an aperture of f/1.2, meaning that this is one of the brightest lenses around, but the 50mm length also makes it one of the best portrait lenses in the world. This is the prime lens of many professional photographers around the world, thanks to its versatility and speed.
If the photographer in your life is interested in portrait photography, the 50mm is the lens for them.
Nikkor Z 70-200mm f/2.8 VR S
When it comes to zoom lenses, the Nikkor Z 70-200mm f/2.8 VR S is hard to beat. Perfect for sports photography and events such as weddings, the lens offers a huge range without compromising on image quality. The VR in the name stands for Vibration Reduction, a technology that will help to stabilize your shots, allowing you to take handheld photos even when you’re zoomed in to 200mm.
If the photographer in your life is interested in event or nature photography, the 70-200mm is the lens for them.
Nikkor Z 14-24mm f/2.8 S
For landscape photographers, the 14-24mm lens is an essential part of their kit. But the lens has many other uses. I regularly keep a wide-angle lens in my kit for creative portraits, fashion, and architecture photography. And the Nikkor Z 14-24mm f/2.8 S is one of the best wide-angle lenses at the moment. Despite its wide aperture, the lens still has surprisingly sharp edges and very little in the way of lens distortion.
If the photographer in your life is interested in landscape or creative photography, the 14-24mm is the lens for them.
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