10 Gifts Photographers Will Love
With holidays fast approaching, it is time to think about the photographers in your life. Those that make you look good in every memory and those that take you to far places so that they can capture the perfect light falling on an exotic place. They may work for photography or photograph for work but photographers are always attracted by new gear!
In this new guide for 2019, you will find great gift ideas at 3 budgets levels: Up to $50, $50-100 and $100-200 USD. Although cameras and lenses are very costly these days, hundreds of companies make all sorts of gear for photographers. Follow this Gift Guide for Photographers to know what to buy and we even show you where directly online through our affiliate links. We only recommend top-quality product with good value from reputable vendors that sell to the US and to many international locations.
The majority of the gifts shown here are universal and compatible with any digital camera. A few items, as noted below, are available in different models or sizes to match with a specific camera or lens. Check the camera and lens for compatibility before ordering.
Gifts Under $50
A number of usefull photography gadgetscan be found for under $50 USD. These expand creative possibilities on small budget. Camera support is essential to get critical sharpness and work with long exposures. Good tripods cost a good deal of money and are often inconvenient to carry. The alternative is a very light and flexible tripod. None is as well-regarded as Joby's Gorillapod which has been redesigned and improved compared to its original design.
Gorillapod 1K & 3K
Joby makes its Gorillapods in numerous sizes, from those that can hold just a cellphone, to some that can hold a DSLR or large mirrorless. For compact cameras and most mirrorless with APS-C or smaller sensors, the Gorillapod 1K is suitable. This model supports a camera and lens with combined weight of 1kg or 2.2lbs while weight 145g or about 5oz! The Gorillapod 1K - shown above on the left - is available for $20 USD on Amazon. More flexibily with much easier setup is possible with the kit that comes with a Gorillapod 1K and compact ballhead for just $32 USD on Amazon.
A larger and more sturdy version can hold a full-frame DSLR and lens that weigh up to 3kg. The Gorillapod 3K remains lightweight at 195g or roughly 11oz. This one which looks identical to the 1K only scaled up - not shown above - is also available for $35 USD directly from Amazon.
Amazon Canada offers good prices for the Gorillapod 1K alone and Gorillapod 1K plus Ballhead at $37 and $54 CAD, respectively each. These truly compact camera support can be carried much more easily than a traditional tripod for long exposures and taking photos from original angles.
Zeiss Comfort Camera Strap
Give the gift of comfort to a photographer in your life! This ultra-padded camera strap replaces a standard neck-strap with a wide spongy band that makes carrying a camera much more comfortable. It is hard to imagine what different this makes until you try one of these. Additionally, the Zeiss brand name more famous than any fashionable brand for photographers. The Zeiss Comfort Camera Strap is sold by B&H Photo for just $29 USD.
One of the most fun things to do is trigger a camera remotely. This can be used for including the photographer in group shot or placing the camera somewhere and using it for candid or street photography. There are so many ways to remotely take photos but Radio-Frequency offers the most distance and does not require a clear line-of-sight path. Remote-Trigger specialist Vello offers their RF Triggers for the vast majority of camera brands. They are available for up to $45 USD at B&H Photo, just follow this link and remember to select the desired camera brand in the Compatible With drop-down. Price varies by a few dollars depending on compatibility.
3-Axis Hot-Shoe Level
A skewed photo is distracting and appears unpolished. Using a 3-axis bubble level allows the camera to capture level images along any axis. This simple add-on is compatible with any camera that has a standard hot-shoe. While software can tilt images later, the process diminishes image-quality and takes time to get exactly right. The Lens Coat 3-Axis Bubble Level is available for $22 USD.
High-Speed Memory-Card Reader
It is surprising how many photo enthusiasts still plug their camera into the computer via USB. With a memory-card reader, transfers happen much faster without using battery power. Save precious time waiting for images and videos to download by buying a memory-card reader. To take full-advantage of high-speed memory-cards, look for one with a USB 3.0+ interface. Two models truly stand out, the Sony Dual XQD/SDXC UHS-II Reader and the Lexar Pro USB.30 Dual UDMA7/SDXC UHS-II Reader. Both these support SDXC UHS-II memory-cards, the most commonly supported high-bandwidth memory type. The Sony also supports XQD cards with have begun to be used among professional Nikon and Panasonic, while the Lexar can read CompactFlash memory that is still used by a handful of high-end Canon DSLRs. B&H Photo currently lists the Sony reader for $50 USD and the Lexar is normally $40 USD.
Gifts Under $100
The quality and variety of photographic gear increases with a modesly higher budget. There are hundreds of items that can be fun for photographers priced between $50 and $100 USD. Here are 5 that will make most photographers happy!
A Circular Polarizer is the most useful photographic filter and the only one that cannot be similated by software. These filters reduce light scatter which increases saturation, makes the sky clearer and diminishes reflections on vegetation and when shooting through glass. There no better polarizing filters than the Hoya HD-series which now even comes in hardness glass. Their advantage over all other such filters is that they transmit much more light. The exact price of a polarizer depends on its size but the most common ones between 62 and 77mm generally cost below $100 USD.
Amazon sells the original Hoya 77mm HD Circular Polarizer for $66 USD.The 62mm version of the same goes for $39 USD and the Hoya 72mm HD Circular Polarizer sells for $48 USD. Those are 3 of the 5 most used filter-sizes, 82mm ones cost slightly over than $100.
A balllhead offers the optimal balance between control and speed with a quick-release system adding even more convenience. Beginners often buy tripod bundled with a head to save on cost, yet those are rarely of good quality. Switching to a high-quality ballhead improves stability and considerably reduces drift, Manfrotto ballheads are the gold standard when it comes to convenience and speed of setup. These durable ballheads come in various sizes with different types of quick-release mechanisms.
The $80 USD Manfrotto 494 with 200PL PRO Quick-Release can hold 8kg and features one othe quickest Arca-Swiss Quick-Release systems on the market. For $100, the larger Manfrotto 496 Center-Ballhead can support 10kg and has the same plate system.
There is nothing that quite attracts the attention of a photographer is a lens. After all, a new lenses changes what the photographer sees and captures. While the majority of lenses cost hundreds to two thousand dollars, there a number that can be had for $100 or less when on sale. Adorama features 3 lenses under $100 for Black Friday:
- Pentax DA 35mm F/2.4 AL - This compact lens is compatible with K-mount APS-C DSLRs.
- Olympus M.Zuiko 40-150mm F/4-5.6 - Micro Four-Thirds lens with telephoto reach, equivalent to 80-300mm on a Full-Frame. It is comptible with all Micro Four-Thirds mirrorless cameras from Olympus and Panasonic.
- Canon EF-S 24mm F/2.8 STM - Normal lens with a bright aperture for Canon APS-C DSLRs.
Extra-Capacity Memory Card
Avid photography enthusiasts often fill their memory-cards faster than professional phographers. Even when total capacity is not an issue, speed often is. It can slow down a camera and shorten the burst-depth for continuous shooting. Among the SD-famility, those rated UHS-II delivers better performance with speeds up to 300MBs. Be careful though when reading the specifications since permanace is affected by Write-Speed which is nearly always slower than Read-Speed.
The currently most reliable branc of memory-cards is Lexar. Luckly their popular sizes fall right within the section's budget:
- Lexar 2000X 64GB SDXC: $55 USD - This card has the highest speed on the market more estabilished reputation of reliability,
- Prograde claims very high-reliabilty and similar 300MB/s read speed and 250 MB/s write-speed.
- For much more capacity only slightly slowers cards Amazon sells Lexar 64GB SDXC USH-II cards with 250 MB/s reads. These ones come in pack of 3 for $59 USD while being rated as 1633X instead of 2000X.
- Not to forget those on CompactFassh memory-cards, the Lexar CF 64GB 1066X supports a maximum speed for 160MB/s.
Gifts Under $200
Nicer gear can be purchased for $100-200 USD. It is easy to find much higher-end products in this price range, including versions of the ones listed above. Larger and more durable filters are almost all found in under the $200 mark. Hoya prices their HD3 hardened-glass filers from 55mm to 77mm from $105 to $200 USD. Adorama sells the Lexar 128GB SDXC USH-II for $150. Stronger ballheads with more refined controls are also numerous along similar prices.
Photographers are always looking for better ways to carry their gear. The best values in camera bags can be had for $100-200 USD. Bags within this price range tend to be very durable and well-organized. Think Tank Photo is a brand that is nearly synonymous with durability when it comes to camera brands. The Spectral 15 shoulder bag is extremely efficient to use with a unique magnetic claps that automatically locks and can be unlocked instantly.
For multi-taskers, the Think Tank Urban Disguise 40 is a camera bag that can be equally used as a work bag or pass for one. It looks very high-grade with leather finish and packs photography gear and a 15.6" laptop. This bag is currently on sale for $200 USD at Adorama.
Continuous LED Lighting
Artificial lighting is an art in itself. With traditional flash, it is hard to learn and adjust because its efficient can only be seen for a miniscule fraction of a second. With new-generation LED lighting, the entire process changes into a much more direct experience which allows photographers to get more creative. The LitraPro LP1200 is a state-of-the-art array of LED lights in a waterproof housing that is controlled by a cellphone via Bluetooth. This light produces full-spectrum lighting with a CRI of 95 and up to 1200 lumens. It can be adjusted in terms of brightness and color-temperature to taste.
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