DSLR cameras make for awesome gifts. They’re impressive, practical, and are the gateway into a creative hobby that’s been proven to increase how happy you are — and what other gift can also boast all of these aspects?
There are three potential recipients — those who are photographers, those who have no photography experience, or yourself — and there are reasons against buying a camera for all three types. It’s up to you whether these reasons apply to your situation.
So even though DSLRs make for nice gifts, that doesn’t mean that they should be given as Christmas gifts. If you’re in desperate need of a gift idea, try these useful photographer gifts that aren’t cameras instead.
1. Your Smartphone Is Good Enough
If you want a DSLR for the purpose of getting into photography, then pump your brakes and consider learning on your smartphone first. Of the many ways that a smartphone camera makes your life easier, convenience is paramount.
The problem with DSLRs — especially for newbies — is two-fold:
- There are so many new buttons, functions, and features to learn.
- You have to carry the DSLR around in order to use it.
Every photographer can recall plenty of moments where they’ve exclaimed, “Argh, I wish I had my camera with me!” The beauty of a smartphone is that it’s always on your person anyway, and that alone is reason enough for newbies to learn on one.
But the truth is, smartphone cameras are more than good enough for someone who isn’t a photography expert. In other words, smartphone cameras may not be as advanced or flexible as DSLRs, but they’re more than capable of taking amazing photos.
And in the near future, with all of the advancements in smartphone camera technology, we may even start to see them surpass DSLRs in what they can do.
2. Your Current Camera Is Good Enough
This group of people is the group who should really reconsider buying a new camera — the group who already owns a DSLR but wants to upgrade it because they think a better camera body will result in better images. That’s not how it works!
If what we said above is true, that smartphone cameras are good enough to take amazing photos, you can rest assured that your DSLR — no matter how “entry-level” it might seem — is also capable of taking amazing photos. This also holds true for point-and-shoot and mirrorless cameras.
Of course, higher-tier DSLR bodies do have better specs, like more megapixels, wider ISO range, and faster autofocus. If you want to upgrade because you need a specific feature, then that’s valid, but if you think a newer body is going to make your shots look better, you’re sorely mistaken.
The things that actually matter are photographic experience (which includes practical and theoretical knowledge) and lenses (which impact your photos way more than the body itself ever could). Study, practice, and research lenses instead.
Thinking of treating yourself to a nice, big upgrade this Christmas? Forget the camera body and buy a new lens or two. Here are the most commonly used camera lenses, and if you’re a bit rusty, be sure to know the difference between zoom and prime lenses.
3. You Can Save Money By Waiting
You might think that the holiday season is the perfect time to snatch a deal on DSLRs, but it really isn’t. I mean, if you’ve been eying a particular model for months and you manage to find it on sale for 50% off, then yes, jump on that deal! But in general, you should wait.
The main thing to keep in mind is that you should never buy a new DSLR and always get used if you can. (Unless you run a professional photography service, in which case always buy new.) DSLRs have long lifespans, they hold up well over time, and the price cuts are phenomenal.
But if you’re dead set on buying new, then you should wait until the second quarter of the following year. Every January, new camera models are announced at the Consumer Electronics Show, and that means that most older models end up getting their prices slashed come February when demand drops.
This is just one of many money-saving tips when buying a DSLR. Heed as many of those tips as you can!
4. The DSLR Will Just Collect Dust
If you’re thinking of gifting a surprise DSLR to someone who has never used a camera in their life and has absolutely no photography knowledge, then you may want to reconsider.
As mentioned above, non-enthusiasts don’t actually need a DSLR to dive into photography as a hobby. In fact, if you give a DSLR to someone who doesn’t explicitly want one, it’s just going to end up collecting dust from a lack of use. After all, what kind of non-enthusiast wants to carry around a heavy camera everywhere they go?
There’s also the issue of maintenance. DSLRs need to be cleaned and treated well to prevent malfunctions — something that a non-enthusiast probably won’t care to learn how to do. And that’s not to mention the fact that a lot of beginners quit, which would mean your gift was in vain.
Instead, a better gift would be the gift of education — namely, access to an online photography course that the recipient could use to sharpen and hone their skills. Our favorite photography courses are the ones on Lynda.com, of which there are hundreds for just $25 per month.
Similarly, you shouldn’t gift a DSLR to a hobbyist or professional either. A photographer at that level knows what they want as their next purchase, and there’s a good chance that the camera you buy won’t be the one they want. If you really want to gift them a camera, ask them what they want beforehand.
What Are You Buying This Christmas?
Given these reasons not to buy a DSLR this Christmas, there are valid reasons to go ahead and buy one anyway — for example, someone specifically told you that they want a certain DSLR model and you want to get it for them.
But as a general rule, there are better gifts to give a photographer other than a camera body: lenses, accessories, and photography courses. They’ll get more out of those than an extra camera body that they don’t really need.
So what are you planning on buying? Going ahead with a DSLR? Or did you change your mind to something else? Tell us about it in the comments below!
Image Credits: opening a gift box by Tinatin via Shutterstock, Smartphone Camera by welcomia via Shutterstock, Camera Comparison by Benny Thaibert via Shutterstock, Nikon Camera Set by Vdovichenko Denis via Shutterstock, DSLR On/Off by javitrapero via Shutterstock