Choosing gifts for photographers can be tricky if you aren’t a photographer yourself so I wanted to put together a list of awesome gift ideas that are guaranteed to satisfy any shutterbug. Now unlike most of the other websites out there that just pick any old thing they can find in the right price bracket, I’ve picked things I either own already or are hoping to get from Santa myself! In fact I own more than 3/4 of the things on this list already so this is a genuine list of awesome photography gift ideas.
Now it’s also quite likely that some of you are just looking for cool things to buy yourself! We don’t discriminate here at Shutter Muse… you’re all welcome as well 🙂 I’m sure you’ll find something awesome in whatever price bracket you’re looking in.
The Quick List Of Gifts For Photographers
I know there’s some of you out there who are short on time and would prefer a simple, quick list of ideas with no commentary so I offer you guys this list. For everyone else, please keep scrolling for more in-depth commentary on my choices and who these gifts would be good for.
1. RODE VideoMic GO – $99
2. Datacolor Spyder Cube – $49
3. Think Tank Retrospective – $129+ – BONUS – Get a free gift when you click through our link.
4. Really Right Stuff MTX Tool – $50
5. Profoto Collapsible Reflector – $79+
6. MindShift Gear Contact Sheet – $39
7. Gerber Steady Tool – $35
8. LensBaby – $89+
9. Gura Gear Sabi Sack – $42
10. Wacom Intuous Tablet – $72
11. Luxi iPhone Light Meter – $35
12. Trigger Trap Mobile- $30
13. Eye-Fi Card – $30+
14. Lens Mug – $8+
15. GoPro Hero 4 – $300+
16. 50mm Lens – $98+
17. Really Right Stuff Table Tripod – $98
The Longer Photography Gift List
1. RODE VideoMic GO – $99 – BUY – Amazon, B&H, Adorama
Since every camera these days also has the ability to shoot gorgeous looking HD video, most photographers are experimenting with cinematography. The huge downside of these cameras though is their weak internal microphones. Good audio makes or breaks a video! RODE have just launched a brand new mic called the VideoMic GO and I predict big things for this little gadget since they’ve hit an amazing price point with it. It doesn’t even need batteries! Just plug it into your camera’s microphone port and you’ll instantly take your audio up to the next level. No scratch that…. you’ll take it up three levels because without it camera audio is so bad. It’s also small and light enough that anyone can find a place for it in their bag and have it ready just in case. They are so new that they aren’t in stock yet but B&H will be shipping them at the end of next week. I’ve ordered one for myself so that’s always a great test!
2. Datacolor Spyder Cube – $49 – BUY – Amazon, B&H, Adorama
The Spyder Cube from Datacolor is a cool little gizmo that helps you get the perfect color from your shoot. It’s easy to think that shooting in RAW allows us to play with white balance later in post processing but it’s tough to get it spot on and I’d warrant 90% of you never change white balance later anyway. Stick the Cube in your shooting scene, grab a shot of it and save it for later. When it comes time to process your shots you have areas on the cube that help you set black point, white point and an 18% grey for setting your color temperature. For things like portrait shoots in controlled lighting situations it’s perfect. You only need to do your settings once and then you can copy and paste them to all your shots from that session. It’s not something you’re going to use for on-the-fly photojournalism or wildlife photography though so if’ you’re buying as a gift, make sure you know what type of photography your recipient is fond of.
Think Tank Photo have a mind-boggling array of awesome camera bags, everything from backpacks to pro rollers. I have a few of their bags and related accessories but the one that sees the most usage is my Retrospective shoulder bag. It’s available in many different sizes and three different colors. I use the Retro 10 and it’s big enough for a camera and three of four lenses, plus my iPad, a flash and spare batteries. They have larger ones and much smaller ones for mirrorless systems and they’re also just released a new line of Retrospective Laptop bags as well. They’re made from an incredibly durable thick nylon that just looks better and better as it begins to wear. It’s got a sort of stone washed look as you can see in the photo above. The result is that it really doesn’t look like a camera bag, and that’s what makes it the perfect walk-around city bag when I’m shooting on the street or exploring a new metropolis somewhere. It packs pretty flat as well so it’s easy to travel with or store in your closet.
NOTE: If you click though THIS link to get yourself to the Think Tank website, you’ll get a free gift for being a friend of this site, when you spend more than $100. You’ll get to choose from several different accessories when it comes to checkout time to make your gift even more awesome.
Really Right Stuff make the best camera support gear on the planet. The MTX Tool is a pocket multi-tool designed to give photographers everything they need to fix their cameras, tripods and other support gear in the field. The top of the screwdriver is even threaded to you can put a camera on it, or use it to extend the reach of a small tripod or stand. It comes with 21 different tool bits and a holder slots inside the handle to store all the ones you need safely. It’s not a large or bulky tool so you can always find a discreet place in your pack to stash this. I’ve got a couple of them myself, one in my gear closet with all my support gear, and one that lives in my camera bag. They’ve save my ass a couple of times when things have worked themselves loose on various photo trips. Perfect gift for someone who is always using a tripod, even if they aren’t using an RRS tripod there’s such a range of tool tips, there’s something useful for everyone.
A couple of years ago I’d have told you that you’re mad if you think I’ll ever have any Profoto products on my ‘affordable’ gifts for photographers list. Profoto is a Swedish company that’s famous for the high quality and resulting high price of their photo lighting equipment. This year though they started to offer products for MUCH more reasonable prices, prices that compete with everyone else on the market for certain lighting accessories. One area where they really came out swinging is with their new collapsible reflectors. Now they might be a few bucks more expensive than some of the other ones on the market but importantly they’re still sub-$100! I’d love to be there when the recipient sees that you got them something from Profoto! What’s cool about these reflectors is that they have decent handles on them so they’re easy for you to hold, or for an assistant to hold. It also gives a convenient place for you to attach them to lightstands and brackets using something like a Manfrotto super-clamp.
This Contact Sheet the perfect gift for a landscape or nature photographer. A waterproof, ultralight sheet that will fit into almost any pocket and provide you a dry spot to sit yourself and your gear down when it’s time to wait for the light. When that perfect moment does strike, you’ve got yourself a nice dry place to open up your pack and spread your gear out for maximum efficiency in the changing light. Elasticated loops in the corners allow you to peg it down in windy weather, or tie it up as an emergency shelter in a downpour. You can read a full review and see some more images here.
7. Gerber Steady Tool – $35 – BUY – Amazon
This is a neat little gadget that outdoor photographers might be interested in. I tend to carry a small pocketknife around with me when I’m hiking/biking/skiing anyway, so why not make it one that also has a tripod mount on it. You never know when that might come in handy. I’m sure it’s not as solid as the RRS TFA-01 that’s listed further down this list, but in an emergency it might do the trick and it’d also work pretty well with my iPhone as it has a method to support phones. I’ll hold my hand up and say this is the one thing on this list that I neither own or have used, but for $35 I’d like to find one in my Christmas stocking so I figured it worth adding to the list.
8. LensBaby – $89+ – BUY – Amazon, B&H, Adorama
Sometimes you just need to change things up with your lenses and it’s fun to play around with something that doesn’t break the bank. The LensBaby range of lenses can do all kinds of funky things but they’re best known for their selective focus. By manipulating the flexible barrel of the lens you can control the plane of focus and get a look that is something like (though technically different) that which a tilt-shift lens gives you. Not something you use every day, but super fun to play with nonetheless. Try putting it on your camera for a whole day and only shooting with that one lens; challenge yourself.
9. Gura Gear Sabi Sack – $42 – BUY – Gura Gear, Amazon, B&H
Sabi Sack is a simple yet versatile camera support. It’s not always possible to get the tripod out and Sabi Sack gives you a steady, durable platform for your camera whether you’re lying on the ground or shooting out of a car window. The larger version works very well with lenses of 300mm and upwards whereas the smaller one works great for wide angles and standard zoom lengths. The bags come empty, which means they are easy to ship and great to travel with. When you get to your destination, or when the gift gets to its recipient, you simply fill it with cheap rice, dried peas or buckwheat husks. This gives the sacks enough mold-ability to fit any form of camera. They’re designed with safaris in mind, but I have both sizes myself and find them to be equally useful just to keep in the car.
10. Wacom Intuous Tablet – $72 – BUY – Amazon, B&H, Adorama
Where would I be without my Wacom?! Ok so I do have the larger one in my office, but recently Wacom revamped their old smaller Bamboo lineup and came out with these awesome new mini Intuous tablets. They’re perfect for throwing into your laptop back or just getting introduced to editing with a tablet. Trust me, once you’ve tried it, you never go back. They’re not just for Photoshop, Lightroom and other creative editing programs either; they work with everything! Everything is faster with a tablet, even writing and browsing the internet. It also helps to prevent RSI which is an added bonus. They connect via USB, so as long as you have a computer and not a tablet then you’re good to go. There’s a bit of a learning curve when you first get it, it feels a bit alien for a couple of days but after that you’ll be kicking your old mouse out of the house!
11. Luxi iPhone Light Meter – $35 – BUY – Amazon, B&H
Turn an iPhone 4/4s or iPhone 5 into a digital light meter! This great little accessorysimply slides over the top of your iPhone and covers up the camera. Using the free app that’s available from the App Store you’ve then got yourself a perfect and highly portable light meter. This would be a particularly awesome gift if you know someone who is shooting film and not digital, or someone who’s just starting out in photography and keen to understand all the basic concepts. Even though we have light meter built into our cameras, the Luxi is so small you can take it with you all the time and always be investigating light.
Trigger Trap is an interface between your cell phone and your camera. Download the app, connect the cables and you can set up self-timers and timelapses. Something that sets this apart from regular cable timers though is the inclusion of a sound trigger using the microphone on your iPhone or Android phone. The app is pretty detailed in its functionality and even includes bulb-ramping functionality which will help you achieve the timelapse holy grail night-day transition. The fact that you can get all these options for only $30 is amazing.
13. Eye-Fi Card – $30+ – BUY – Amazon, B&H, Adorama
You can never have enough memory cards and if you’re buying for someone whose camera takes SD cards (that bit’s super important!) then the Eye-Fi cards have a trick up their sleeve. Not only do they do everything a normal card would do, but they also have a built-in Wi-Fi hotspot. Don’t ask me how! It’s some kind of wizardry. You can connect to the memory card with your cell phone, tablet or computer while the card is still in the camera. This means that you review images on your tablet just seconds after you’ve pressed the shutter button. There’s all sorts of interesting ways you can use the cards professionally as well. You could set up laptop at a wedding reception to display incoming images in real-time, then project them onto a wall. The options are endless.
14. Lens Mug – $8+ – BUY – Amazon
Lens mugs have been around for a few years now but they’re starting to show up in many more shapes and sizes. Whether your looking for Canon, Nikon, Pentax, Sony….. there’s many options out there that start from only $8! I’m not sure the novelty of these will ever ware off. Someone is going to have to start making a cooler in the shape of a camera bag for people that have a whole ‘lens’ collection.
15. GoPro Hero 3+ – $300+ – NOTE: Now replaced by Hero 4 – BUY – B&H, Amazon, Adorama
Whilst the GoPro is technically speaking a video camera, I don’t know a single photographer who wouldn’t love to receive this is a present. The new 3+ version is even sharper, and they are actually reasonably competent stills cameras as well. They’re perfect for recording your behind-the-scenes footage from your latest shoot, or rolling a timelapse throughout your day. There’s so much you can do with them that they just inspire creativity. The Black edition comes with the wi-fi remote pictured above where the silver version saves a little money and forgoes this. Both of them feature beyond-HD video recording and extreme slow motion. It’s an incredibly powerful creative tool to have in your pocket.
16. 50mm Lens – $98+ – BUY – Amazon, B&H, Adorama
One of the things I always recommend to photographers is to get a 50mm f/1.8 lens when they buy their first DSLR which inevitably comes with a kit zoom lens. Kit lenses are slow, in aperture terms, and that means that it’s tough to get a really shallow depth of field. The 50mm f/1.8 is a lens opens up a whole new world of photography when people first try it out. I’ve seen it time and time again. The look on people’s faces when they open that aperture as wide as it’ll go and…… well mostly take photos of their cats….. BUT they’re learning and enjoying photography and that’s what’s important! Not only can a 50mm f/1.8 teach you about depth of field and aperture, but it also helps to teach you about composition because it’s a prime lens and not a zoom. Zooming happens with your feet, the old-fashioned way, so you’re forced to thing things though a little more. Nothing improves people’s photography, and love for photography, faster than when they get their first 50mm f/1.8. The best part is that it’s also the cheapest focal length you can buy. The Canon ‘Nifty Fifty‘ as it’s called, can be had for under $100 and it’s a lens that I still use today for my professional work. The Nikon and Sony versions are a little more but still very reasonable compared to everything else. Get someone this lens and you’ll make their day.
17. Really Right Stuff Table Tripod – $98 – BUY – RRS
I know I’ve already got a couple of ideas for support on this list but this RRS tripod is just too cool to leave out. I also think that photographers can underestimate the usefulness of these mini tripods, particularly those who have ‘pro’ cameras. Well I’m here to tell you that once again, this is a product that I own and use with my pro camera setup, a Canon 5D Mk3. I used this just recently in Thailand to take 30 second exposures of ancient temples at nighttime. I’ve tried all the crappy little tripods from other companies and I’ve returned every one of them. RRS are the only people who’ve set out to make something sturdy enough for heavyweight cameras. It’s still small enough to fit in a jacket pocket though and it makes a great emergency tripod to carry on to the plane with you when you can’t take your big one. That way you know that if disaster strikes and the airline looses your main tripod, at least you have something. Perfect stocking stuffer size as well!