Gift Guide: 10 great cameras for when a smartphone lens just isn’t enough

Welcome to TechCrunch’s 2021 Holiday Gift Guide! Need help with gift ideas? We’ve got lots of them. Looking for our other guides? Find them here!

As we wade into the second pandemic-era holiday season, there’s no better time to throw yourself headlong into a new hobby. Or that’s what you should tell your loved ones when you gift them one of the cameras on our list of photography gift ideas this year.

Mobile photography is ubiquitous but it still can’t compete with the control and quality afforded by some of the most innovative cameras around, so don’t rule out a serious upgrade for anyone on your gift list who’s looking to get more creative this winter.

GoPro Hero 10 Black

Image Credits: GoPro

For action and sports, GoPro still leads the pack. The tiny cube-like GoPro Hero 10 Black can record any thrill-seeking endeavor you can dream up and pull off, with excellent waterproofing and a wealth of useful accessories to make it happen.

The GoPro Hero 10 Black is the cream of the crop with a faster processor and slightly higher image resolution, but the previous generation Hero 9 Black will save you some cash with little sacrifice. But because the laggy user interface is historically one of the only downsides to shooting with a GoPro, you probably won’t be mad about going for the latest and greatest, though older generations offer a great value.

Price: $449 from Best Buy

Sony A7C

Sony A7C

Image Credits: Sony

Released late last year, Sony’s A7C builds on the company’s solid track record of releasing innovative mirrorless cameras that even pro photographers can love. The Sony A7C is a full-frame mirrorless shooter, which means it’s probably overkill for any brand new photographer just figuring out the ropes, but it’s a perfect upgrade for anyone who’s pushed past the limits of an old DSLR or a newer APS-C camera. The A7C bills itself as an ultra-portable option within an already ultra-portable category, and with in-body image stabilization and an impressive sensor, the A7C doesn’t require any meaningful trade-offs.

Also: For anyone looking to pick up a similarly super-compact full-frame camera at a friendlier price, the Canon EOS RP is worth a look. It lacks the in-body image stabilization of its pricier competition but is a great entry point for someone looking to make the leap to full-frame photography in a tiny package.

Price: Sony A7C, $1800 from B&H | Canon EOS RP, $999 from B&H

Fujifilm X100V

Image Credits: Fujifilm

There’s no new model this year, but Fujifilm’s X100V is still an amazing option for a pocket-sized pro-level camera. Offering tactile touches that hearken back to a bygone era of photography, it’s no surprise that Fujifilm’s little shooter manages to charm so many people. You don’t get interchangeable lenses for the price, but you do get a very capable camera that fits in a pocket, making all kinds of unobtrusive street and travel photography a breeze.

Price: $1400 from Adorama

DJI Mini 2

Image Credits: DJI

For the drone-curious giftee, the DJI Mini 2 is a perfect well-rounded entry point. Small enough to be carted around on adventures but feature-rich enough to be worthwhile, the Mini 2 brings DJI’s smaller option closer to parity with the more advanced Mavic line. Notably, the Mini 2’s addition of Ocusync 2.0 makes for a more reliable connection and an improved motor makes things more stable across the board — and the 4K video doesn’t hurt either.

Price: $450 from DJI

Polaroid Go

Polaroid Go

Image Credits: Polaroid

Okay, there are probably more practical instant photography options out there, but have you seen this thing? Possibly the cutest camera (device?) ever made, the Polaroid Go is probably the smallest instant camera ever at 4.1 inches on the widest side. It shoots a miniaturized version of Polaroid’s classic film that’s not much of a size step-down from something like the tried-and-true Instax format and you can even wear it around your neck.

If you’re looking to get weird in a different way, the Canon Ivy Cliq 2 is a quirky option that blends a ring light-enabled digital camera with a slim, pocket-sized photo printer. If you’re looking to get less weird, Fujifilm’s Instax line offers a slew of great instant camera options with great looking prints.

Price: Polaroid Go, $100 from Polaroid | Canon Ivy Cliq 2, $130 from Best Buy | Fujifilm Instax, price varies

Logitech StreamCam

Logitech's streamcam on a monitor.

Image Credits: Logitech

Don’t give someone a webcam that just makes their work Zoom meetings look better, that’s depressing. But do give the budding Twitch star in your life a webcam built with content creators in mind. Logitech’s StreamCam can produce pro-level video, complete with face-tracking tech and 1080p video quality 60 frames per second. For anyone just getting started streaming and looking to get up and running quick, the built-in dual webcams mean there’s one less thing to worry about.

Streaming capture card-maker Elgato is out with their own dedicated creator webcam, the Facecam. Elgato’s option is pricier and skips the built-in mic, but if a streamer you know is getting serious about image quality it’s well worth a look.

Price: Logitech Streamcam, $160 from Logitech | Elgato Facecam, $200 from Best Buy

TechCrunch Gift Guide 2021

Gift guide: 11 gift ideas for the friend who is on way, way too many video calls

Welcome to TechCrunch’s 2021 Holiday Gift Guide! Need help with gift ideas? We’ve got lots of them. We’re just starting to roll out this year’s gift guides, so check back from now until the end of December for more!

Everyone’s on video calls all the time these days, and there’s always a way to upgrade your setup with better sound, video or ease of use. Here are some options! Put them on your wish list, or get them for a loved one who always looks and sounds like they’re taking calls from the inside of a tin can.

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The best thing you can do for your setup is get a dedicated webcam — even the cheapest ones out there will generally be better than a laptop’s built-in cam.

You can go wild and wire up a full-blown DSLR for your Zoom calls … but if you don’t happen to have one lying around that can get expensive fast. Fortunately, there are more affordable options, and ones that are a bit easier to gift.

(Note: All of our recommended cameras allow for 60 frames-per-second video. Even though this isn’t always an option with these chat platforms right now, if you’re going to buy a nice webcam these days it really should be a little future-proofed.)

A good starter cam with a built-in light

The Razer Kiyo webcam on a monitor.

Image Credits: Razer

Razer’s entry-level Kiyo is a great way to just step away from the quality of the built-in webcam in your laptop or desktop monitor. It has solid image quality and a basic ring light that will fill in the scene a bit. (That light is still pretty small, so you might want to get a real one, but it’s better than nothing for sure.)

Price: $100 on Amazon (on sale for $70 at the time of publishing)

Logitech goes upscale

Logitech's streamcam on a monitor.

Image Credits: Logitech

Logitech makes a ton of webcams, and they’re all fine, but the StreamCam is clearly their attempt to move the ball beyond the productivity-centric (and looking like it) gadgets they’ve offered for years. It’s attractive, has great 60 fps video and comes with advanced features like automatic framing.

Price: $160 on Amazon

Great quality, YouTube and Twitch ready, but BYO mic

Elgato's Facecam on a monitor.

Image Credits: Elgato

Used by TC staff, the Elgato Facecam provides great image quality with its uncompressed video options and slots right into a variety of streaming and recording services, something Elgato knows a little about. If either you or the recipient are thinking about getting into vlogging, doing how-tos or other popular YouTube things, this is a great way to get a pro look without going to a “real” camera. There’s no built-in mic, though, so be ready to provide one. Speaking of which…

Price: $200 on Amazon


Most webcams have a mic built in, but fundamentally you’ll just get better sound from something closer to your mouth — you know, where your voice comes out. A separate mic is a good option here if you don’t want to use earbuds (which have bad voice quality in general) or a big headset (which can look pretty goofy if you’re not actively in the middle of a deathmatch.)

Budget-friendly and better than nothing

Image Credits: FIFINE

No one is going to use this to record their album or podcast, but I can tell you it’s a lot better than doing it on your laptop or webcam’s built-in one. For $30 FIFINE’s USB mic does exactly what it needs to: catch your voice accurately and adjustably from a position off-camera but near you. I ordered a couple to give to friends as gifts during the great video calling era of 2020 and they’ve been very pleased.

Price: $30 on Amazon

Bee like me

Image Credits: NEAT

I’ve been using NEAT’s Bumblebee mic for calls and recorded interviews for the last year or so and it’s treated me well. It’s a bit bulky but I like the fact that it’s super simple to set up, easily adjustable with a long neck and has controls for sound profiles, gain and headphone levels for the built-in port all right on there. I’ve had nothing but compliments on the sound quality and it’s built like a tank, too. Just don’t try to travel with it.

Price: $90 from Amazon

Sound (and look) like a pro

Image Credits: SHURE

The MV7 is probably more mic than most people need for everyday purposes, but if you’ve ever thought about recording, or your loved one’s up-and-coming podcast is hindered only by the audible whir of laptop fans, perhaps it’s time to invest in a serious piece of kit. A few TC staffers tap this one for their podcasting habits. Get a big tripod or articulating arm to make sure this thing is in frame so people know you bought one … everyone else seems to do it.

Price: $220 from Shure 


A basic ring light so you can stop using your monitor as a beauty light

Image Credits: GVM

A decent size (12″ or larger) ring light helps provide more even illumination and prevent the cold and changing light of your monitor from making you look sickly. There are a billion ring lights out there; you really can’t go wrong as long as you make sure it has a real tripod (among other things, so you can fold it up and file it away) and finely adjustable color temperature and brightness (look for dials with a range of settings, not sliders that limit you to two or three options.)

A lot of us at TC have been using this $90 18″ GVM light for our many virtual events over the last two years, and it gets the job done.

Get fun with it

Image Credits: Phillips

If you’d like to add a bit more color to your look, Philips Hue Play light bar is the easiest gadget to recommend. You can use it as a bias light behind your monitor or a temperature-controlled illumination for yourself, bouncing it off the wall for plenty of natural scattering. Find it useful? Add more. They work well in sets.

Pro tip: you can buy them in 2-packs, but if buying them individually is the same price, do that because the multipacks generally only come with one power brick while the single units each come with their own. More power bricks = more flexibility in how you use them.

Price: $70 on Amazon

Zoom buttons

Stop hunting for the mute button

Image Credits: Linkidea

Wait, am I muted? Now you don’t have to hunt down the mute/unmute icon or wiggle your cursor to make it show up, since it’s a button sitting on your desk — same for flipping video on and off. Linkidea’s little buttons are pretty cheap looking but seem to work pretty well, at least with Zoom. They come in Mac and Windows varieties so be sure before you buy.

Price: $21 on Amazon

The upgrade version of the above

Image Credits: VitalKeys on Etsy

If you’d rather have something neat and at least kind of handmade, consider grabbing this little set of Zoom keys instead. It’s twice the price but looks more than twice as good, so if the recipient is (like me) picky about what sits on their desk, it may be worth upgrading. I like the little LEDs, like tiny “RECORDING IN SESSION” studio signs.

Price: $40 on Etsy

Hang up with a bang

Image Credits: Alan Mond

Sometimes you just wanna smash that big red button. Alan Mond’s “task button” is so called because it can be reprogrammed to do other stuff if you want, but it comes all prepared to kill that Zoom call with style. Mount in frame for best effect! (Note: These seem to be made in small batches.)

Price: $55 from TheTaskButton

Streamlabs changes its name after backlash from Twitch stars and open source software maker

One of the most popular streaming software makers is in hot water after being called out by top Twitch personalities and the open source project that served as a backbone for the company’s success.

Streamlabs, formerly Streamlabs OBS, changed its name Wednesday after backlash spread on Twitter against the company over alleged sketchy business practices. The OBS Project, short for Open Broadcaster Software, provided the open source technical framework for Streamlabs. But in spite of Streamlabs’ decision to include “OBS” in its name, the company and the open source project were apparently never on good terms.

According to a tweet from the OBS Project, the open source group previously asked Streamlabs not to include “OBS” in its name at launch. Streamlabs ignored the request, a choice that likely led many of the software’s users to assume the two products were closely affiliated. To make matters even more confusing, Logitech actually owns Streamlabs, after buying the company for $89 million back in 2019.

On Tuesday, Streamlabs launched a new console Twitch streaming tool called Streamlabs Studio for Xbox. Lightstream, a rival livestreaming software maker, stirred up the current controversy on Twitter when its CEO pointed out the striking similarities between Streamlabs’ webpage for the console streaming tool and its own, right down to the word-for-word identical user testimonials. Capture card maker Elgato also chimed in on Twitter, suggesting that the company had its own experience with Streamlabs copying a product.

A few huge Twitch names quickly jumped into the controversy, including political streamer Hasan Piker and Pokimane, one of the most followed streamers in the world. “Streamlabs better resolve this entire thread of issues or i’ll be asking them to take my face off the platform [and] look to use another donation service,” Pokimane (Imane Anys) tweeted. Less than a day later, Streamlabs announced that it would “[take] immediate action to remove OBS from our name.”

Corsair acquires EpocCam, a webcam app for iPhone

Corsair Gaming today announced that it has acquired EpocCam, the software developer behind the iOS software of the same name. It’s easy to see why the gaming company would be interested in such an acquisition in 2020. The COVID-19 pandemic has lead to a worldwide spike in remote working — and, as a result, more people are teleconferencing than ever.

The EpocCam app is designed specifically to turn iPads and iPhones into a webcam for both macOS and Windows PCs. The software works across a number of popular teleconferencing applications, including Zoom, Skype, Google Meet and Microsoft Teams — which is more than I can say for the beta webcam software I’m currently running.

The deal brings the EpocCam brand under Corsair’s Elgato umbrella. Corsair purchased the company’s gaming brand back in mid-2018. That deal, in turn, found the rest of Elgato rebranding its Eve System — a company expressly focused on smart home and home automation.

While most laptops and desktops are fairly lacking in the built-in webcam department, iPhones have taken great strides. So it makes sense for users to take advantage of that imaging power. Of course, with the company now owned by a gaming brand, it’s clear that video game live-streaming is going to be a big part of the value play here.

The app has already been relaunched under the Elgato brand, including deeper integration with its existing products. The company promises that further updates are “already in development.”