A small dSLR alternative, one of the best things about the Micro Four Thirds interchangeable-lens cameras is that the lenses are tiny -- you can throw five in your bag and barely feel them.
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The E-M10 Mark II is fast, with solid photo quality and useful features plus Olympus' policy of adding features via firmware upgrades, making this one a long-term choice. The company recently rolled out the Mark III, but most of the changes were in the interface, so performance and photo quality should be identical if you want something newer.
The ZS100 delivers the upgrade in image quality afforded by a one-inch sensor with enough of a zoom lens for a lot of framing flexibility, and it's sufficiently fast to capture life in action. Plus, it supports 4K video for the sharpest capture possible.
The Sony RX100 V makes the list now that its price has been reduced. If you want to gift the most feature-packed compact available today for someone who wants to carry a camera all the time, this is the one.
The Mavic Air goes a step further (several, actually) than the Spark, with more gesture controls, a better camera, improved obstacle avoidance and greater range, all in a compact, foldable design that easily fits in a backpack.
For the student who looks more toward fun and immediacy in their photography, the Instax SQ10, with its ability to print on square instant film, makes a neat choice. It combines a digital camera with an instant film camera so you can only print the shots you want. Fujifilm also a full analog version, the Square SQ6, for those who are a fan of living in the moment.
Available for the iPhone 7, 8, Plus and X, the ShiftCam case allows you to easily slide between a set of wide, telephoto, fish-eye and macro travel lenses so you can switch up your shots in a flash. The multilens unit can also be swapped out entirely for larger, higher-quality telephoto, wide and macro lenses. The travel lens set and case start at $70 with single ProLens add-on lenses priced from $80 to $100.
Along with letting you attach a number of pro-quality lenses to your iPhone's camera, this case from Moment adds a discrete shutter release, so you don't have to touch the screen to start and stop video or capture pictures, as well as a battery pack that supports Qi-compatible wireless charging.
The dual-lens PanoClip iPhone accessory lets you easily take 360-degree photos and "Tiny Planet" shots instantly by combining images taken with the front and rear phone cameras. The free app used with the lens system even lets you turn shots into cool sharable video clips.
If your favorite student likes to go on adventures, but also likes to capture all the action with their iPhone, consider getting them the Hitcase Pro 2.0. The case itself protects your iPhone from water and falls -- it's waterproof down to 10 meters (33 ft) -- and includes a rail attachment that lets you mount your phone like an action camera. HItcase also sells a variety of lenses that screw into the case.
It may look like the Hero 5, but GoPro's Hero 6 Black update to the most popular action camera has a new processor that enables better image quality and stabilization, plus another level of slow-motion, which make it worth getting the newest model.
Any newbie downsizing from a dSLR or upgrading from a compact will find this a great interchangeable-lens model. With the image quality and performance of a dSLR, the A6000 is a few generations old, but that just means it's inexpensive enough to make an affordable yet terrific gift. If you can spend more, the latest successor A6500 is better, but it's also a budget-buster with a basic kit lens.