CNET logo Why You Can Trust CNET

Our expert, award-winning staff selects the products we cover and rigorously researches and tests our top picks. If you buy through our links, we may get a commission. Reviews ethics statement

Cameras to gift your favorite grad

Start them on their journey with a step up in photo and video quality from a phone.

Lori Grunin
1 of 16 Sarah Tew/CNET

Fujifilm X100F

One of the more expensive cameras on my list, the X100F is the best model yet of the popular series of fixed-lens cameras with APS-C-size sensors. It's got a wide-angle lens and a relatively compact design, and if you need a gift for a grad who likes physical manual controls -- and who you're willing to spend the bucks on -- this is a great choice.

DJI Spark
2 of 16 César Salza/CNET

DJI Spark

Help the new graduate break into drone photography with this tiny and light drone that shoots 1080p video, can fly up to 31mph, can be controlled by hand gestures and weighs under a pound.

3 of 16 Lori Grunin/CNET

Sony RX100 V

The Sony RX100 V makes my 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.

4 of 16 Fujifilm

Fujifilm Instax SQ10

For a grad 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.

5 of 16 Sarah Tew/CNET

Panasonic Lumix ZS100

One of my perennial general-purpose go-to recommendations, 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. And it's cheaper than the RX100 V. There's a newer model with a longer zoom lens, the ZS200, but it's more expensive and the lens has a more limited aperture range.

6 of 16 Sarah Tew/CNET

Panasonic Lumix LX100

This older compact, with a large-ish Four Thirds size sensor, is still one of the best you can get without breaking the bank.

7 of 16 Lori Grunin/CNET

Sony A6000

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.

8 of 16 Sarah Tew/CNET

Panasonic Lumix FZ1000

The FZ1000 is a good fit for people who want the look and feel of a dSLR, better image quality than a point-and-shoot, and a long zoom lens they don't need to worry about changing whether they're shooting landscapes, portraits, birds or sports. 

9 of 16 Sarah Tew/CNET

Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark II

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. The E-M10 Mark II is fast, with solid photo quality and a useful feature set, plus Olympus' policy of adding features via firmware upgrades makes 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. 

Nikon D5600
10 of 16 Sarah Tew/CNET

Nikon D5600

This model might be a little old on the inside -- it's 99 percent the same camera as the D5500 -- but that just means you can gift a great general-purpose camera, with lens, for a great price. 

11 of 16 Sarah Tew/CNET

Canon EOS Rebel T7i

A nice general-purpose camera that's a step up from a phone or compact -- not to mention much improved over its predecessor for the same price -- the T7i is sure to please the dSLR newbie.

12 of 16 Joshua Goldman/CNET

DJI Mavic Pro

For the outdoorsy type who wants to do drone photography but needs it to fit in a backpack, the foldable Mavic Pro is the most travel-friendly of the more advanced bunch. It's not a cheap gift but it will surely be appreciated.

13 of 16 Dave Cheng/CNET

DJI Phantom 4 Pro

This is on the high side for our gift recommendations, but if you know someone serious about drone photography, this is the de facto standard -- and easier to fly than ever. 

14 of 16 Sarah Tew/CNET

Canon EOS 80D

You can find this excellent general-purpose dSLR reasonably priced for the body, which makes it a nice gift for anyone who's done with their cheap dSLR and looking for faster focus and continuous shooting.

15 of 16 Joshua Goldman/CNET

GoPro Hero 6 Black

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 gifting the newest model. 

16 of 16 GoPro

GoPro Hero 2018

The new entry-level model strips out some of the frills from its upscale sibling, providing all the basics for a more palatable price.

See more of CNET's gifts for grads.

More Galleries

Yamaha motorcycle and instrument designers trade jobs (pictures)

Yamaha motorcycle and instrument designers trade jobs (pictures)

16 Photos
CNET's 'Day of the Dead Devices' altar (pictures)

CNET's 'Day of the Dead Devices' altar (pictures)

9 Photos
2007 Los Angeles Auto Show: concept cars

2007 Los Angeles Auto Show: concept cars

14 Photos
Best sound bars under $300

Best sound bars under $300

18 Photos
2018 Ford F-150 Power Stroke reports for diesel duty
2018 Ford F-150 diesel

2018 Ford F-150 Power Stroke reports for diesel duty

22 Photos
Cosplay at Comic-Con 2016: From Stormtroopers to Sansa Stark

Cosplay at Comic-Con 2016: From Stormtroopers to Sansa Stark

34 Photos
Music-friendly cell phone accessories

Music-friendly cell phone accessories

11 Photos