The holiday season is quickly approaching. This is also the time of year when many people start getting a bit curious about photography and decide to try their hand at it. After all, with two major holidays falling so close to each other this time of year, friends and family are taking the time to make their journeys back home to be together. People who might not see each other but once or twice a year are getting together and making new memories while catching up on all of the events of the past several months. So, if you or someone you’re close to is thinking that this is the year they want to be the one to record those events on their camera, then it’s time for you to start thinking about how to match the photographer to the best camera for the job.
The Mobile Photographer — Is the person in your life always on the go? Do they seem to suffer from ADHD? Are they tech-savvy? Do they know what the world “app” means? If so, then you might be dealing with a mobile photographer. Chances are they already have a smartphone with a built-in camera so, for the holiday season, look into smartphone camera accessories you can get for them that they can clip on to their phone to help enhance their mobile photography.
The Snap-shooter — No longer satisfied to just use their mobile phone for photography but not yet certain that they want to spend a lot of money on the hobby, next in line is the snap-shooter. This kind of photographer can generally be counted on to take fairly decent photos and knows enough to avoid having problems like red-eyes or a photo where someone has their eyes closed in mid-blink. They’re used to working under series file-space and format constraints. They don’t need a lot of options or modes to get the rough look they’re trying to achieve. This kind of photographer generally can benefit greatly from a decent point-and-shoot camera. Point and shoots have several good generalist “modes” and don’t require a lot of fine-tuning for shutter speed, focal length, or aperture mode. They handle light-balancing on their own.
The Aficionado — If every time he brings his camera out, he’s constantly harping on what it can’t do, then chances are you’re dealing with an aficionado. This is the photographer who has memorized every manual setting on his point and shoot and has tricked his camera out to go way above and beyond what it’s supposed to do. But, he’s still not certain about dropping all that money on a DSLR. After all, those things are expensive and fragile. So, make him happy by getting him a compact or hybrid camera. It has much of the power and versatility of a DSLR but without all of the fragility and expense. With a hybrid (aka “compact” aka “four thirds”) camera, the aficionado can begin to experiment with different forms and modes of photography without having to deal with the price-tag for full-fledged DSLR components.
The Pro — If you know a professional level photographer, chances are shopping for him will be a nightmare. You’ll have no idea what kind of lenses to get him (unless he provides you with a list) or what kind of flash or accessories he’s after. Memory cards are always a safe bet with him but then, that’s what all of his friends and relatives get him so he’s probably got enough storage space to back up the full array of images from the Hubble Space Telescope. So, what do you do for this photographer? Simple: ask him what he wants. If that ruins the surprise to much for your taste, then a gift card for his favorite photography shop should suffice.
— da Bird