This year, our family restarted movie night (or day/evening): One person chooses a movie and we all sit together to watch it — even if one of us has watched it before or even doesn’t necessarily like it. The goal is to share that moment together and build some pleasant family togetherness memories that will hopefully last a lifetime.
If you think back in your own life at what you remember most fondly in your family, chances are it’s all the time you spent with loved ones around a special meal, watching a movie, swimming in the pool, or belting out your favourite songs while stuck in a car during a long trip.
Of course, as photographers, we may want to immortalize some of these special moments in pictures and videos. We are going to keep our camera recommendations simple and, as always, we never recommend based on price. You want to always buy the camera that is best for you — not one that you can afford but is not right for your needs. It does not mean that you should ignore the price; if you cannot afford it, don’t buy it… yet. First, find what is the best camera for your needs; then, figure out how to afford it if it is above your budget. You can combine two or more gifts together, or save for it.
Then, once you have decided and obtained the camera, never ever regret your purchase. In these days of technological advances, there is rarely a camera that is not good. You need to learn all about it — and the best way is to go out and use it. Read some tutorials, and practice until you know your camera inside out, and how to get the best from it.
Our philosophy at Photoxels since we first started publishing this blog has been to recommend cameras that meet the following criteria: They are compact, light, and shoot great pictures indoors. Why indoors? Because that is where most family pictures are taken. A good indoors camera has to be able to quickly and accurately lock focus in low light situations, and take pictures with low noise. It is surprising how it’s only recently that camera manufacturers are starting to seriously address this need, and so it is not surprising that most of our recommendations are for cameras that meet these criteria.
Keep reading to see our recommendations.
Sony is currently the top brand in mirrorless cameras, and we recommend any of its latest mirrorless cameras. The reason is that not only does Sony feature the latest and best imaging sensor and technologies in its cameras, but its AF (autofocus) is hands down the best in the industry. Sony’s lightning-fast, sticky and accurate AF in its mirrorless cameras is its hallmark and has convinced many pros to switch from their DSLRs. When top photo and news agencies (1, 2, 3) choose Sony as their preferred camera provider, this sends a loud and clear message as to how much they trust the Sony mirrorless camera brand.
The Sony Alpha 1 is hands down the best full-frame camera right now that meet our criteria. It’s not only fast, takes great photos, focuses accurately, but it’s also relatively compact. Sure, there may be other competitors that edge it out in features here and there, but they are humongous. The time for big, heavy and cumbersome cameras are over — no matter how good they are. No one is impressed anymore that you carry a big camera; in fact, it’s the other way around now. Photographers, even professional photographers, increasingly prefer something compact, light and handy.
The Sony A1 features a 50MP full-frame image sensor, a large and bright 9.44M-dot EVF (electronic viewfinder) with 0.9X magnification, a 3.0-inch 1.44M-dot resolution Tilt Touch Panel LCD with Touch Focus and Touch Tracking, 5-axis 5.5 stops IBIS (In-Body Image Stabilization), Continuous Shooting at 30fps with no screen blackout, and 8K/30P video.
The Sony A1 is the flagship camera and expensive, but you are getting the best. You may also want to consider the relatively cheaper Sony A9 II. They may, however, both be more camera than what most amateur photographers need, so check out the other models below.
SONY A7 IV
When the Sony A7 first came out, photographers were still relying on DSLRs. But the A7 attracted lots of attention and quickly gained converts. When pro photographers started switching, Sony knew it had a winner. Now in its fourth iteration, the A7 IV is even better, shooting stills and movies effortlessly.
The Sony A7 IV features a 33MP full-frame image sensor, a 3.68M-dot EVF with 0.78X magnification, a 3.0-inch 1.04M-dot resolution fully articulating vari-angle Touch Panel LCD, 5-axis 5.5 stops IBIS, Continuous Shooting at 10fps, and 4K/60P video.
The A7 IV is considered a “basic” model (which easily beats other competitors), while the A7S III features better low noise capability and the A7R IV features higher resolution for landscape photography.
If you prefer an even more compact camera, the Sony A7C may fit the bill. Sony has taken the A7 III and basically cram it into the compact and lighter A7C. It is billed as “the world’s smallest and lightest full-frame body” offered together with a new and “world’s smallest and lightest FE 28-60mm F4-5.6 standard zoom lens.” It’s a great choice for vlogging (and large group shots) and general photography.
The Sony A7C features a 24MP full-frame image sensor, a 2.36M-dot EVF with 0.59X magnification, a 3.0-inch 921K-dot resolution Tilt Touch Panel LCD, 5 stops IBIS, Continuous Shooting at 10fps, and 4K/30P video.
For the vlogger and content creator in your family, the Sony ZV-E10 features “Background Defocus” mode that helps make your subject pop from the background, and the “Product Showcase Setting” mode that automatically shifts focus from your face to the object that you bring up to the camera, then shifts focus back to your face when you set down the object.
The ZV-E10 has a 3″ fully-articulated Vari-Angle LCD Display that faces forward for easy selfies and vlogging. It shoots 4K/24P/30P video and Slow Motion at FHD/120P. Electronic image stabilization with Active Mode delivers stable video recording (with a crop) even while walking and shooting hand-held. The ZV-E10 is also out of the box ready for live streaming using a single USB cable and no extra hardware/software is needed.
Fujifilm APS-C mirrorless cameras, with their dedicated analog-styled shutter speed dial, exposure compensation dial, ISO dial and an aperture ring on most of their lenses are my favourite cameras. The tactile feedback these controls provide has reignited a feeling of joy and pleasure for many photographers who have not touched a camera for years. These beautiful retro-inspired mirrorless cameras are head-turners and shoot great pictures and videos.
The Fujifilm X-T4 is probably the best hybrid stills/video mirrorless camera out there for family shooting. It’s a favourite of enthusiast photographers. It’s weather resistant, features Silent Mode, up to 6.5 stops of in-body image stabilization (IBIS) and Fujifilm’s unique Film Simulations. The AF low-light performance is -3.0EV using Contrast Detection or -6.0EV using Phase Detection, meaning you can lock focus in almost near darkness (one of the best low light performance).
FUJIFILM X-T30 / X-T30 II
The Fujifilm X-T30 can be considered as the ‘lite’ version of the X-T3/X-T4. It lacks IBIS and the AF low-light performance is -3.0EV. It is very affordable and otherwise delivers great pictures and videos. It’s a great choice for someone who wants to learn about photography.
The Fujifilm X-T30 II improves slightly on the X-T30 with a higher-resolution LCD (1.68M-dot compared to 1.04M-dot on the X-T30) and additional internal memory.
The Fujifilm X-S10 departs from Fujifilm’s analog-styled retro design, and provides a more traditional Mode Dial for those who grew up with the Mode Dial. Its low-light performance fares slightly better than that of the X-T4, being able to lock focus at -7.0EV.
If you are looking for a compact rangefinder-style design, the Fujifilm X-E4 is the most compact X Series camera. The X-E4 features a 2.36M-dot EVF, a flip-up-180°-to-face-forward LCD, 4K/30P video, Full-HD video at 240fps for 10x slow motion playback, and 18 film simulations.
The Fujifilm X100V is a premium compact fixed lens camera. It is beautifully designed with retro analog-style dedicated controls (for selecting shutter speed, ISO, exposure compensation and aperture). Underneath that vintage exterior lies a sophisticated camera bristling with many of the latest technologies found in Fujifilm’s X-T3 and X-Pro3.
OM SYSTEM / OLYMPUS CAMERAS
Olympus sold its imaging business to Japan Industrial Partners Inc. (“JIP”) in January, and a new company called OM Digital Solutions was set up to sell its mirrorless cameras under the OM System brand. Since they use a smaller Micro-Four Thirds image sensor, OM System mirrorless cameras can design smaller and lighter telephoto lenses, and nature and wildlife photographers love the fact that they can handhold a long telephoto lens thanks to the very effective IBIS in the OM mirrorless cameras. Practical features such as Pro Capture, Live ND, Live Composite, and Focus Stacking make capturing great macro and night images easy.
OLYMPUS OM-D E-M1 Mark III (OM-1 III)
The OM-1 III is beautifully designed and is fully featured with many professional-grade features, accessories and lenses. For those who shoot landscape, it has an option to shoot high-res 50MP images handheld (without the use of a tripod) or high-res 80MP images with the camera on a tripod. It offers in-body image stabilization (IBIS) and the body is weather-sealed against dust and moisture (IPX1 rating), and is freeze-proof down to -10°C (14°F). Many pros use it as their main camera, preferring its compact and lightweight body and (especially) lenses over bigger and heavier mirrorless competitors.
OLYMPUS OM-D E-M5 Mark III (OM-5 III)
The OM-5 III is compact and light, and also has an option to shoot high-res 50MP images (with the camera on a tripod). It offers in-body image stabilization (IBIS), is weather-sealed against dust and moisture (IPX1 rating), and is freeze-proof down to -10°C (14°F). It can be considered to be the ‘lite’ version of the E-M1 Mark II.
OM System PEN E-P7
The PEN E-P7 compact Micro Four-Thirds mirrorless camera is the first camera under the OM System brand. It features a 20MP Live MOS sensor, 5-Axis Image Stabilization for 4.5 stops of compensation, 4K/30P video, a LCD display that tilts up 90° and all the way down to face forward for selfies, Multiple Exposure, Live Composite, and a Color/Monochrome Picture Profile.
(The EOS R3 and the flagship EOS R1 will vie with Sony and Nikon for the top spots, but they are both big and heavy cameras.)
Nikon has now thrown its hat into the mirrorless arena and has just released its flagship, the full-frame Nikon Z 9. The Z 9 is probably the best full-frame mirrorless camera yet, but it is a big and heavy camera.
(If you are a Nikon fan, I guess there should soon be a Z 8, a more compact version of the Z 9, minus built-in handgrip. However, I am only guessing here.)
There are other very good mirrorless camera brands available and we encourage you to explore them all in our Mirrorless Camera Buyer’s Guide.
Besides cameras that you use to capture family memories, you’ve got to view them somehow. Here are four suggestions that we found from Epson that can help you start bringing (and keeping) your family together this holiday season and beyond.
Stream HBO, YouTube and Android TV With the Epson EpiqVision Mini EF12 Smart Streaming Laser Projector Up To 150″
The holiday season is all about spending quality time with loved ones and taking part in family traditions. For many families, this includes nestling up next to a fire, a cup of hot chocolate in hand and binge-watching your favourite holiday movies or reviewing photos of past family events. Bring family movie nights to the next level with the Epson EpiqVision Mini EF12 Smart Streaming Laser Projector (MSRP: $ 1,299.99 CAD).
It features built-in Android TV, sound by Yamaha and wireless connectivity, and give you seamless access to popular streaming services including HBO and YouTube™, right out of the box (of course, subscription to these streaming sites not included). Simply power on the projector and start streaming your favourite content up to an epic 150″ – no screen required.
Epson EcoTank ET-2850 Wireless Colour All-in-One Cartridge-Free Supertank Printer Prints 1000s of Pages Between Refills
The EcoTank ET-2850 Wireless Colour All-in-One Cartridge-Free Supertank Printer (MSRP: $379.99 CAD) is one of Epson’s newest members to join the EcoTank supertank family. It delivers high quality, reliable colour prints and photos with razor-sharp text, low running costs and big ink tanks that let you print thousands of pages between refills. It comes with 2 years’ worth of ink right out of the box. You can save up to 90% with replacement ink bottles vs. ink cartridges while still receiving top-quality prints.
Download Epson’s new Smart Panel app to easily monitor, print and scan right from your smart phone.
Epson EcoTank Photo ET-8550 Supertank Printer Prints Large, Lab-Quality Photos
How do you show off all the great pictures you are going to take with your new camera? By printing them, of course, large, borderless and framed.
Also part of Epson’s EcoTank supertank family, the EcoTank Photo ET-8550 Supertank Printer (MSRP: $999.99 CAD) is perfect for any photo hobbyist, enthusiast photographer or anyone who wants high-quality, professional-looking family photos to display in their house. It prints borderless 13” x 19” photos on a variety of media using six colour inks instead of the usual three, and comes with 2 years’ worth of ink right out of the box.
Epson FastFoto FF680W High-speed Photo Scanner Scans BOTH Sides of Photos… Wirelessly
If you have lots of old film negatives and/or prints, the Epson FastFoto FF680W High-speed Photo Scanner (MSRP: $799.99 CAD) is perfect for the family memory maker or that someone who never gets around to cleaning out storage bins of old photos. As you scan old favourite photos and negatives with other family members, you can take a meaningful trip down memory lane together and further strengthen the bond that binds a family together.
The FF-680W is billed as the world’s fastest personal photo scanner, with the ability to scan as quickly as one photo per second. You can scan everything wirelessly. Download Epson’s free FastFoto app that lets you add voiceover and text to your scanned photos to create virtual slideshows.
A unique feature is the variety of media it can scan. Along with old photos of varying sizes, the FastFoto can scan postcards, panoramas and documents. And, because it scans both sides of photos, you’ll be sure to preserve any sentimental notes or messages on the back. You can also save digital versions of old Christmas cards or document your holiday travels by saving the postcards you’ve collected on your computer.
Well, that’s it for our 2021 Holidays Gift Guide. We hope you find something that will help preserve and share precious family moments and memories.
Where to Purchase the Products Mentioned in This Article
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Epson EpiqVision Mini EF12 Smart Streaming Laser Projector
Epson EcoTank ET-2850 Wireless Colour All-in-One Cartridge-Free Supertank Printer
Epson EcoTank Photo ET-8550 Supertank Printer
Epson FastFoto FF680W High-speed Photo Scanner