The tech gift guide: cameras to document precious Christmas memories

17 Dec 2013

While advances in smartphone photography continue to threaten the digital camera market, it’s holding strong with innovations and new products that make these stand-alone devices a worthwhile purchase this holiday season.

Smartphone step-up

For those that rely heavily on their smartphone for capturing the moment, Sony’s lens-style cameras can provide an added boost. The DSC-QX10 and QX100 devices do away with the digital camera rear screen and casing, packing everything into a stand-alone mountable lens.

Both devices can be mounted to a compatible smartphone paired using NFC and Wi-Fi connectivity and users can then use the smartphone screen as a viewfinder and to control the camera. The lens itself houses manual controls for the shutter and 10x zoom and can still be operated without use of a smartphone – providing a bit of added mystery because you can’t see what you shot until you slip out the SD card.

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-QX10 and mount (supplied) with the Xperia Z1

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-QX10 and mount (supplied) with the Xperia Z1

Both lenses house a micro-SD slot and 18.2MP 1/2.3-type Exmor R CMOS sensor supported by a Bionz processor, which is a step up for the majority of smartphones on the market.

The QX10 is available from all Irish retailers for €229, while the more advanced QX100 costs €499.

Social assistant

Since most of our pictures end up on social networks anyway, it makes sense that Canon this year introduced a camera built for instant online sharing. The PowerShot N is a square-shaped point-and-shoot with a 12.1MP CMOS sensor, advanced DIGIC 5 image processor, and Canon’s HS System. It comes equipped with a 28mm 8x optical zoom lens, with ZoomPlus technology stretching to 16x.

Canon PowerShot N

The unique design of the PowerShot N allows for operation in any orientation. Users can twist the lens rings to zoom and shoot and see what’s in view with the tiltable 2.8-inch touchscreen. It’s capable of shooting 1080p full-HD video and super slow motion while a ‘behind the scenes’ function will merge four-second clips from every shot taken to create a video diary. And sharing all of that is easy with Wi-Fi connectivity.

The PowerShot N is available in white or black, and has an RRP of €349.

Mirrorless magic

We’ve already highlighted the prowess of the Lumix GM1 in an earlier gift guide, but another mirrorless interchangeable lens camera from Panasonic worthy of Christmas wrapping is the Lumix DMC-GX7.

A pricey offering at €1,080 with a 14-42mm lens (or €980 for the body only), the GX7 packs Panasonic’s latest tech into a retro body. Built for people who like to capture interesting angles, the live view-finder (LVF) on this camera can tilt 90 degrees while the three-inch 1040k-dot high resolution touchscreen can also tilt up and down.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX7

A sensor in the LVF recognises when you look through and starts auto-focusing immediately. There’s also Light Speed auto-focus and touch-based auto-focus using the rear screen even in video recording.

Video can record up to full-HD (1,920 x 1,080) at 50fps with sound recorded via Dolby Digital There’s a Stop Motion Animation mode to play with plus 22 creative filters, Wi-Fi connectivity and an NFC chip. All packed into a magnesium alloy full diecast frame, available in black or silver.

Video star

I firmly believe that my dad’s favourite toy of all time was our family camcorder, and home movies are a tradition worth keeping up this Christmas. At €329, the Canon Legria Mini is a super-compact solution that won’t break the bank, either.

Canon Legria Mini

Available in black, white and silver, the Legria Mini features an ultra-wide-angle lens, multifunctional vari-angle LCD and built-in stand so you don’t even need a camera operator – just set it up and easily get yourself in the picture.

The pocket-friendly camcorder shoots full-HD (1080p) and comes equipped with a 12MP sensor for still images and powerful Digic processing. There’s also built-in Wi-Fi for easy file transfer.

The Legria Mini is available at Camera Centre, Conns Cameras, PC World and Currys stores.

Elaine Burke is the host of For Tech’s Sake, a co-production from Silicon Republic and The HeadStuff Podcast Network. She was previously the editor of Silicon Republic.