Help them 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 -- and still costs under $500.
One of my perennial general-purpose go-to recommendations, the ZS100 delivers the upgrade in image quality afforded by a 1-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.
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 couple of generations old, but that just means it's inexpensive enough to make an affordable yet terrific gift. If you can spend more, its latest successor, the A6500, is best, but it's also a budget-buster at over $1,200.
The FZ1000 is a good fit for students 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.
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.
If you're looking for the best overall GoPro to get your student videographer, the Hero5 Black is what you want. However, the cube-shaped Session is a favorite, too, for its small size, waterproof body and single-button operation. Its $300 price helps as well.
This model is perfect for when they like to show the big picture. With a single button press, the Theta S instantly captures a spherical photo that you can send to your phone and upload to Facebook or Twitter to for the ultimate 360-degree selfie. Oh, and it takes video, too, if you want to really capture your surroundings for people to explore.
If your student likes to spend more time capturing life and sharing it than sitting behind a computer editing, you'll want to get the Bandit. Sensors built into the camera are able to sense when something exciting is recorded and tag those sections of video. You can then wirelessly connect the camera to a smartphone and, simply by shaking your phone, make the camera stitch those moments into a video to share with friends and family instantly.
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 -- $999 is at the top of my usual gift-suggestion price range -- but it will surely be appreciated.