Gift Guide: 10 great cameras for when a smartphone lens just isn’t enough

Welcome to TechCrunch’s 2021 Holiday Gift Guide! Need help with gift ideas? We’ve got lots of them. Looking for our other guides? Find them here!

As we wade into the second pandemic-era holiday season, there’s no better time to throw yourself headlong into a new hobby. Or that’s what you should tell your loved ones when you gift them one of the cameras on our list of photography gift ideas this year.

Mobile photography is ubiquitous but it still can’t compete with the control and quality afforded by some of the most innovative cameras around, so don’t rule out a serious upgrade for anyone on your gift list who’s looking to get more creative this winter.

GoPro Hero 10 Black

Image Credits: GoPro

For action and sports, GoPro still leads the pack. The tiny cube-like GoPro Hero 10 Black can record any thrill-seeking endeavor you can dream up and pull off, with excellent waterproofing and a wealth of useful accessories to make it happen.

The GoPro Hero 10 Black is the cream of the crop with a faster processor and slightly higher image resolution, but the previous generation Hero 9 Black will save you some cash with little sacrifice. But because the laggy user interface is historically one of the only downsides to shooting with a GoPro, you probably won’t be mad about going for the latest and greatest, though older generations offer a great value.

Price: $449 from Best Buy

Sony A7C

Sony A7C

Image Credits: Sony

Released late last year, Sony’s A7C builds on the company’s solid track record of releasing innovative mirrorless cameras that even pro photographers can love. The Sony A7C is a full-frame mirrorless shooter, which means it’s probably overkill for any brand new photographer just figuring out the ropes, but it’s a perfect upgrade for anyone who’s pushed past the limits of an old DSLR or a newer APS-C camera. The A7C bills itself as an ultra-portable option within an already ultra-portable category, and with in-body image stabilization and an impressive sensor, the A7C doesn’t require any meaningful trade-offs.

Also: For anyone looking to pick up a similarly super-compact full-frame camera at a friendlier price, the Canon EOS RP is worth a look. It lacks the in-body image stabilization of its pricier competition but is a great entry point for someone looking to make the leap to full-frame photography in a tiny package.

Price: Sony A7C, $1,800 from B&H | Canon EOS RP, $999 from B&H

Fujifilm X100V

Image Credits: Fujifilm

There’s no new model this year, but Fujifilm’s X100V is still an amazing option for a pocket-sized pro-level camera. Offering tactile touches that hearken back to a bygone era of photography, it’s no surprise that Fujifilm’s little shooter manages to charm so many people. You don’t get interchangeable lenses for the price, but you do get a very capable camera that fits in a pocket, making all kinds of unobtrusive street and travel photography a breeze.

Price: $1,400 from Adorama

DJI Mini 2

Image Credits: DJI

For the drone-curious giftee, the DJI Mini 2 is a perfect well-rounded entry point. Small enough to be carted around on adventures but feature-rich enough to be worthwhile, the Mini 2 brings DJI’s smaller option closer to parity with the more advanced Mavic line. Notably, the Mini 2’s addition of Ocusync 2.0 makes for a more reliable connection and an improved motor makes things more stable across the board — and the 4K video doesn’t hurt either.

Price: $450 from DJI

Polaroid Go

Polaroid Go

Image Credits: Polaroid

Okay, there are probably more practical instant photography options out there, but have you seen this thing? Possibly the cutest camera (device?) ever made, the Polaroid Go is probably the smallest instant camera ever at 4.1 inches on the widest side. It shoots a miniaturized version of Polaroid’s classic film that’s not much of a size step-down from something like the tried-and-true Instax format, and you can even wear it around your neck.

If you’re looking to get weird in a different way, the Canon Ivy Cliq 2 is a quirky option that blends a ring light-enabled digital camera with a slim, pocket-sized photo printer. If you’re looking to get less weird, Fujifilm’s Instax line offers a slew of great instant camera options with great-looking prints.

Price: Polaroid Go, $100 from Polaroid | Canon Ivy Cliq 2, $130 from Best Buy | Fujifilm Instax, price varies

Logitech StreamCam

Logitech's streamcam on a monitor.

Image Credits: Logitech

Don’t give someone a webcam that just makes their work Zoom meetings look better, that’s depressing. But do give the budding Twitch star in your life a webcam built with content creators in mind. Logitech’s StreamCam can produce pro-level video, complete with face-tracking tech and 1080p video quality 60 frames per second. For anyone just getting started streaming and looking to get up and running quick, the built-in dual webcams mean there’s one less thing to worry about.

Streaming capture card-maker Elgato is out with their own dedicated creator webcam, the Facecam. Elgato’s option is pricier and skips the built-in mic, but if a streamer you know is getting serious about image quality, it’s well worth a look.

Price: Logitech StreamCam, $160 from Logitech | Elgato Facecam, $200 from Best Buy

TechCrunch Gift Guide 2021