Cool Stuff: Your 2007 Holiday Gift Guide

More than 50 amazing gifts for the technology lovers in your life

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Digital Photography

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For the shutterbug in your life, how about a high-end digital SLR or a subcompact point-and-shoot? If he or she already has a great camera, our on-the-go storage pick may do the trick. Digital SLR camera: Canon EOS 5D

It's not the newest digital SLR (single lens reflex) camera on the market and it's not the most expensive -- you can spend $8,000 or more for a high-end professional model -- but if you're looking for a great camera to take beautiful photos and inspire confidence, take a good look at the Canon EOS 5D.

Around since late 2005, the 5D is a 12.8-megapixel camera with a full-frame CMOS sensor, meaning that every part of the original image received by the camera is taken into account for the best-possible exposure and reproduction.

EOS 5D, courtesy of Canon.

EOS 5D, courtesy of Canon.

The camera starts up quickly and has an ultralow shutter lag, giving users the ability to take photos faster instead of waiting for the camera to catch up. It also has a nine-point electronic autofocusing system and a manual override. The camera body also supports the use of earlier Canon EF, TS-E and MP-E film camera lenses.

Another great option is to buy a kit that includes a more useful 24mm-105mm zoom lens, rather than the 18mm-55mm lens typically packaged with a low-end digital SLR. The longer lens gives you more flexibility and creativity right out of the box.

Money-saving tip: This camera was originally priced at $3,299 when it was introduced in August 2005, but Canon just cut the price to $2,499 (for the body only), so be sure you're getting the right price when you buy.

If you don't want to spend this much, there are several good alternatives, including Canon's new-for-2007 10.1-megapixel EOS 40D (at $1,499 with a 28mm-135mm zoom lens) or the very competent 6.1-megapixel Nikon D40 (at $550). Both offer excellent photo quality and feature sets at a lower price without substantially sacrificing performance.

—Todd R. Weiss  

Canon EOS 5D from Canon USA Inc.

Price: $2,050-$3,000 (body only); $2,800-$3,200 (body with 24-105mm lens kit)

Tech specs | Store locator

Phone: (800) 385-2155

Summary: The latest model? No. Amazing image quality and performance? Yes. That's the reason for buying the Canon EOS 5D digital SLR.

Subcompact digital camera: Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ3

Lumix DMC-TZ3, courtesy of Panasonic.

Lumix DMC-TZ3, courtesy of Panasonic. There are lots of choices out there for affordable, thin, compact digital cameras that take nice photos. But if you're looking for a stellar lens, 10x optical zoom and great picture quality, look no further than the $300 Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ3.

What sets this camera apart from the others is its marvelous lens, a Leica DC Vario-Elmarit zoom unit that provides great optics and a widely accommodating 4.6mm to 46mm focal length, which is equivalent to 28mm to 280mm on a 35mm camera. The lens -- backed with Panasonic's Mega optical image stabilization feature, which helps keep the images in clear focus -- produces photos with great clarity, colors and vibrancy.

One drawback, though not everyone will mind, is that it has no viewfinder to look through, leaving only a 3-in. LCD screen to compose photos, which can be tricky in bright sunlight. The Lumix DMC-TZ3 is a bit larger than some of the other subcompact cameras, but it's still small enough for easy storage.

Stylus 790W, courtesy of Olympus.

Stylus 790W, courtesy of Olympus. It's even versatile enough to accept any of three styles of memory cards: SecureDigital, SDHC or MultiMedia Cards. Powered by a 1,000 mAh lithium-ion battery pack, the camera is good for 270 photos per charge (with a two-hour recharge time), according to Panasonic. It comes in silver, black or blue.

Honorable mention: Need a sturdier, more indestructible model that still takes nice photos? Then check out the Olympus Stylus 790SW, a $300, 7.1-megapixel subcompact digital camera that's shockproof (withstands drops from five feet), dustproof, waterproof to 10 feet and freezeproof to 14 degrees Fahrenheit.

It comes in five fun colors and takes nice photos, but Olympus' press release highlights the really cool part: "When the camera gets dirty, just rinse it off in the sink!"

—Todd R. Weiss  

Lumix DMC-TZ3 from Panasonic Corp.

Price: $230-$350 | Tech specs | Store locator | Phone: 800-405-0652 (free shipping through Dec. 24)

Summary: With its great lens, a powerful 10x optical zoom and small size, the Panasonic DMC-TZ3 is a great all-around subcompact digital camera choice.
Stylus 790SW from Olympus America Inc.

Price: $245-$299 | Tech specs | Store locator | Phone: (888) 553-4448

Summary: Waterproof, shockproof and freezeproof, the Olympus Stylus 790SW is just the camera to toss in your backpack for your next outdoor adventure.

Camera for taking YouTube videos: Casio Exilim EX-Z77

For videographers, last year was all about hard drives and high-definition video. This year is all about convenience and instant gratification. Specifically, it's about quick-and-dirty shooting and simple, instant uploading to YouTube. A handful of companies have introduced cameras that let you shoot in the format best suited for YouTube and then use supplied software to simplify the posting process.

Exilim EX-Z77, courtesy of Casio.

Exilim EX-Z77, courtesy of Casio. This new category of digital still/video cameras is being pushed primarily by Pure Digital, Casio and Sony. And because it's all about simplicity, Casio's Exilim EX-Z77 takes the prize as the gift of choice, mostly because Casio has an exclusive agreement -- at least through the holiday shopping season -- to market the "YouTube Capture Mode" in its cameras and to include bundled software that connects directly to YouTube. You don't even have to access the YouTube Web site with a browser.

The EX-Z77 is basically a 7.2-megapixel still digicam with enhanced video features. It features a 0.5-in. square pixel color CCD (charge-coupled device), 2.6-in. LCD and 3x optical zoom -- pretty much standard fare. But it's the "get it on the Web" features that make it stand out. Besides the YouTube optimization, it also caters to eBay sellers with an eBay Best Shot setting -- basically a setting preset tailored for optimum eBay presentation of still photos.

The EX-Z77 stores up to 10 minutes of video in the MPEG-4 H.264 format -- ideal for the Web -- at 30 frames per second and 640- by 480-pixel resolution. It also offers 848- by 480-pixel resolution for video to display on 16:9 aspect ratio widescreen TVs. The camera has about 11MB of internal storage, but it also accepts several different kinds of memory cards. For less than $200, it puts the YouToo into YouTube.

—David Ramel  

Exilim EX-Z77 from Casio Computer Co. Ltd.

Price: $161-$200 | Tech specs | Store locator

Summary: Casio's Exilim EX-Z77 is a digital still/video camera that simplifies shooting Web-optimized video and posting it on YouTube.

Handheld storage device: Epson P-3000 Multimedia Storage Viewer

If you've got a digital photography enthusiast on your list, chances are he's looking for better backup, or should be. Serious photographers shouldn't wait until after they trek down the mountainside -- or return from a wedding -- before copying those I'll-never-get-to-shoot-that-again images.

That's where the Epson P-3000 comes in. Yes, you've got lots of other no-laptop-needed backup choices. However, there are good reasons the Epson series is a favorite of professional photographers.

P-3000 Multimedia Storage Viewer, courtesy of Epson.

P-3000 Multimedia Storage Viewer, courtesy of Epson.

The P-3000 has a sleek form factor for a backup device, as well as a gorgeous 4-in. LCD viewing screen. It zooms in on images so you can check details and displays raw as well as JPEG formats. You can pop a Compact Flash or SD card into the device, or connect a camera directly to the USB slot just as you would to a computer.

With 40GB of storage, the P-3000 retails for $369 after an $80 rebate, and the 80GB P-5000 goes for around $650 at various online outlets. That may sound like a lot if you've already got, say, an iPod. But an iPod wasn't designed to be an in-the-field backup device (as I discovered in Iceland last year when mine choked on a large file download).

Show a P-3000 to photography buffs and they'll want one, even if they're not paranoid about backups. It's also a fun way to show off your pictures soon after you've shot them.

—Sharon Machlis  

P-3000 Multimedia Storage Viewer from Epson America Inc.

Price: $369 after $50 rebate and $30 instant rebate (when purchased from Epson)

Tech specs | Phone: (800) 873-7766

Summary: This in-the-field digital photo backup device offers 40GB of storage to keep those once-in-a-lifetime shots safe.

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