When this time of year rolls around I always like to put together a gift guide that’s full of awesome photography gear I’ve found in the last 12 months. Every year I do this, I monitor which items on the list you guys click on the most, so I’m starting to get a pretty good idea of the kind of things you’re looking for. Sticking to the tried and true format of previous years, I’m going to start by simply listing the items. For those that want to delve a little deeper, scroll past the list and you’ll find more detailed commentary on each item.
A NOTE FOR INTERNATIONAL BUYERS
Where appropriate, I’ve linked to places where these gift ideas can be purchased. In some cases I’m linking to B&H Photo, but even though they are a US-based company, they will ship to almost any country in the world. In many cases, they offer free international shipping, and even the ability to pre-pay tax and duties so that there are no surprises. I don’t live in the US myself, but I use B&H Photo every month and I love the experience of shopping internationally with them.
- Cecilia leather camera straps (read my review here) – $70
- Polaroid OneStep 2 – $99
- The Soul of the Camera – The Photographer’s Place in Picture Making – by David DuChemin – $29
- Peak Design Everyday Sling 5L (read my review here) – $99
- Matador Camera Base Layer – $59
- Peak Design Leash camera strap (read my review here) – $39
- Think Tank Spectral bag – $99
- DJI Spark drone – $399
- Power Lens – Wireless phone changer – $35
- Edelkrone Wing slider – $240+
- RRS TFA-01 Ultra tabletop tripod – $120
- Amazon Basics Circular Polarizer – $16
- Meural Digital Picture Frame – $595
- Canon 70-200 lens mug – $16
- Rode VideoMicro – $59
- Lens shaped alarm clock and projector – $28
- 3LT Universal L Bracket – $49
- Goal Zero Flip 10 Battery – $25
I reviewed these camera straps a few months ago and knew immediately that they were going to make it onto this list. Over the last few years I’ve tried out a huge number of camera straps that offered all kinds of fancy features, but there was something nice about returning to a product like this that was so elegantly simple. Instead of fancy features, Cecilia straps are all about craftsmanship and beautiful materials, with their unique mix of alpaca wool and leather. These are wonderful, and sure to make any photographer smile.
The Soul of the Camera – The Photographer’s Place in Picture Making by David duChemin – $29 – BUY – Amazon
David duChemin’s books have made it onto the gift list in the past, and for very good reason. I always find his writing to be thought-provoking, and the books never concentrate on the technical aspects of photography, but rather the philosophical. The intangible elements of the photography process are a difficult thing to write about, but David has carved out a niche for himself doing just that.
This book would make a great gift because it will be enjoyed by a photographer of any level, and one who is interested in any genre of photography. When buying more specific, technical books as gifts, you always run the risk of getting one that doesn’t match the interest or skill level of the person you’re buying for. The Soul of the Camera is a book that I think is universally enjoyable and beneficial. In a world of digital everything, this is one of the rare hardback books on the shelf in my office.
Polaroid OneStep 2 – $99 – BUY – Polaroid.com
Every year I put an instant camera on the list, and every year it is in the top 3 most clicked items. Previous years have been dominated by the Fuji Instax camera range which sells in enormous volumes around the holidays, but this year they have some competition. Earlier this year, it was announced that Polaroid wold re-launch their famous OneStep camera, along with an entirely new range of instant film. The camera is currently available for pre-order, but Polaroid say it will ship on December 4th, so it’ll arrive in plenty of time for most people’s celebrations.
Peak Design Everyday Sling 5L – $99 – BUY – PeakDesign.com
The Everyday Sling bags from Peak Design were a surprise hit with me when I reviewed both the 5L and 10 L versions this year. Whilst the Everyday Messenger, and Everyday Backpack seemed to be getting most of the fanfare from other people, I far preferred the sling bags for their much more simplistic, no fuss design. The Sling 5L comes in at only $100, which is by far the cheapest way to get into the Peak Design camera bag lineup. Read my full review here if you want more details.
Matador Camera Base Layer – $59 – BUY – B&H Photo
This neat little item is like a protective puffy jacket for your camera, giving you bump and scratch protection for your mirrorless camera or DSLR. If you just want to throw a camera and a lens into a regular shoulder bag, or perhaps a hiking backpack, the Matador Base Layer is a great accessory to keep it protected. Stuffed with 600 fill down, it weighs 2.4oz (68g).
Peak Design Leash camera strap – $39.99 – BUY – PeakDesign.com
I know this is the second camera strap on the list but at about half the price of the Cecilia straps, I thought it would still be a great option for a different budget. I’ve written a detailed review of the Leash strap recently, but the short version is that there’s a lot to like about this ultralight camera strap. Due to its small size, it doesn’t suit someone who carries a camera on their shoulder all day, but it’s perfect for highly active photographers who are often using shoulder bags and backpacks to carry gear. These photographers still need a solid shoulder strap when they take the camera out of the bag to shoot, but don’t need the bulk and weight of something much larger when it’s in their bag.
Think Tank Spectral Series – BUY – ThinkTankPhoto.com
The spectral series is new for Think Tank Photo in 2017, and available in three different sizes. This series of shoulder bags features a flip open top for easy access when you need it, but there’s also a zippered lid beneath that, for security and weather protection. Starting at under $100, this is probably Think Tank’s best value camera bag I think! NOTE: Get a free gift and free shipping from Think Tank Photo when you spend over $50 in their online store. Details here.
Every year DJI’s drones get smaller and smaller! The tiny Spark drone is perfect for photographers that want to get their first taste of flying a drone. The small size of the drone, and the fact that you can simply control it with your cell phone, means the whole package will fit into a photography pack along with all the regular photographic gear.
Power Lens Wireless Phone Charger – $34 – BUY – LightPixLabs.com
Whilst this might look like a pancake lens, this fun item is actually a wireless phone charger. It is Qi enabled, so it’ll work with all the latest phones from major manufacturers such as Apple, Samsung and Google. Just place your phone on top of the “lens” to charge!
- Apple iPhone 8 / 8 Plus, iPhone X
- Samsung Galaxy S8 / S8+, Note 8, S7 / S7 edge , S6 edge+, Note 5
- Google Nexus: 4, 5, 6, 7
Edelkrone Wing camera slider – $265 – BUY – B&H Photo
For this item I’ve included a video because it would be tough to clearly describe this device! It produces results like a typical camera slider, but looks nothing like the standard rod-style sliders that have been around for years. If you’ve looking for a gift to suit someone that like to shoot videos, this is it!
Really Right Stuff TFA-01 Ultra tripod – $120 – BUY – B&H Photo
This is not your average tabletop tripod. The tiny pocket-sized TFA-01 Ultra aluminum tripod can hold up to 15lbs, which is the equivalent of a 600mm lens and a pro body DSLR! There’s also a Basic version of this tripod that doesn’t have the ratcheting leg locks of the Ultra version, but personally I think the Ultra is far superior. I own both of them, so I’m speaking from experience! The TFA-01 makes a great travel companion, or a tiny tripod for ground level macro photography.
AMAZON BASICS CIRCULAR POLARIZER- $16 – BUY – AMAZON
A circular polarizer should be in every photographer’s bag because the effect of this filter simply can’t be recreated with post-processing trickery. Amazon launched the “Amazon Basics” polarizers, and their sub-$20 price-point means that no photographer should ever be without one. If the financial outlay for a good one is what has been holding you back, it’s still better to have a cheaper one, then be without one at all.
Curious to see whether these are actually any good, I purchased one myself and compared it to top-of-the-line Formatt Hitech and Breakthrough Photography polarizers. The results were impressive. I can’t wrap my head around how they make any money from selling these at this price!
Meural Digital Picture Frame – $595 – BUY – Meural.com
Yes, this is a pricey item, but this thing is amazing! A super high quality digital picture frame that does its very best to imitate the look of real printed artwork. Where cheaper digital frames just look like someone put a frame around a small TV, the Meural is hard to distinguish from the real thing. That is, until you stand in front of it and use gestures to advance the display to the next image! Not only can you display your own work in the frame, but you can also buy artist’s work from their online store. If you’re listening Santa, THIS is the thing I want from this list 😉
Canon 70-200 Lens Mug – $15 – BUY – Amazon
These mugs are always fun stocking stuffers and this year I found this super cool looking Canon 70-200 version on Amazon. Use it for your coffee, or simply knock it off a tall table to scare your photography friends!
Adding an external microphone to your camera makes and night and day difference to the audio quality. This tiny little mic from Rode is perfect for photographers that want to shoot occasional videos. It’s small enough to stuff into the pocket of any camera bag, light enough that you’ll forget it’s even there, and it even comes with a windshield for outdoor use. Phenomenal value!
Lens alarm clock and star projector – $28 – BUY – Amazon
Not only is this an alarm clock, but it also projects stars onto the ceiling through the top lens element as a night light. A fun gift for an enthusiastic young photographer.
For landscape photographers who spend a lot of their time with a camera on a tripod, an L bracket makes life a lot easier. This year 3 Legged Thing came out with an excellent universal design, which makes it a great gift if you aren’t quite sure which camera you’re buying for! This will work for everything from a small mirrorless camera, right up to a pro body DSLR. You can read a full review of the QR11-LC bracket here.
This tiny little battery is great for emergency power when your phone runs low, or even your camera if it has a USB power input (Sony, Fuji etc.). They comes in a few different sizes but I keep this small Flip 10 in my bag all the time. I rely on my phone so much these days for photographic apps, weather forecasting and navigation. It could definitely be problematic if my phone ran low, so this is a good insurance policy.