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Published Nov 10, 2022 9:23 AM

Let’s be honest, photographers can be difficult people to shop for. Photography equipment can be quite pricey, making it challenging to find something that won’t leave you broke. On the other hand, many affordable options can be sort of boring. Plus, photographers can be picky folks with very particular thoughts on gear. And with so many genres of photography and the rise of video, it would be easy to get something that won’t actually be applicable. 

But with some creative thinking, you’ll find there are lots of reasonably priced items that can still make for fun, unexpected, or exciting presents. We’ve found 21 of the best gifts under $100 to keep your budget happy while still pleasing the photographer in your life.

Best filter for landscape photographers: Hoya 77mm PROND 16 Neutral Density 4 Stop (1.2) Filter

Hoya

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Neutral density (ND) filters are an essential part of a landscape photographer’s toolkit. ND filters are colorless filters that block light coming into the lens. You can think of it like adding a pair of sunglasses (though not polarized) to the camera. The most common use of ND filters in landscape photography is to create motion blur. Because it blocks light, a slow shutter speed is possible even in brighter situations. That allows for blurred motion of subjects like water or blowing grasses. Having that smooth, blurred motion can take a rather boring image and make it dramatic and more professional looking. It’s an easy way to take landscape photos to the next level. Hoya filters are some of the best available, and this particular option offers four stops of light blocking. It also features a durable metal frame, so it will stand up to the rugged conditions landscape photographers tend to get caught in.

Best way to instantly print photos: HP Sprocket Portable 2×3″ Instant Photo Printer

Most of us are guilty of having our photos only live on our photos, hard drives, or memory cards. In this digital age, it’s easy to forget how nice it is to have physical prints of your photos. Many photo printers can be expensive to purchase and maintain, but the HP Sprocket Portable printer is an affordable alternative. Of course, it’s not going to print professional-level images. But it’s small enough to keep on hand and allows you to instantly print photos from your phone. It makes the printing process much more approachable and, dare I say, fun. The other benefit is that it utilizes ZINK Zero Ink technology. As a result, there is no need to purchase expensive ink cartridges. It only prints two-by-three-inch photos, but it does so on sticky-backed paper. They’ll be able to cover water bottles, notebooks, or anything else with stickers featuring their photos.

Best CFexpress memory card: ProGrade CFexpress Type B 128 GB Gold Series

ProGrade

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CFexpress is the new kid on the block in terms of memory cards. These cards offer much faster read and write speeds than SD, QXD, or CompactFlash. They also come in much larger capacities than alternative formats, which is why many new, high-resolution cameras use them. They are perfect for data-hungry cameras like the Canon R5, Nikon Z9, or Sony a1. CFexpress is also the ideal choice for video shooters, thanks to its high speeds and storage capacities. These cards come in two types, Type A and B, with Type B being the most common and widely used. This particular card by ProGrade is a Type B that provides 128 gigabytes of storage, up to 1700 MB/s read speed, and up to 1500 MB/s write speed, which will keep up with even 6K video.

Best cheap 35mm film camera: Ilford Sprite 35-II Reusable 35mm Film Camera

Ilford

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Digital cameras have become so sharp and packed with advanced technology that sometimes it’s fun to go back to the basics of photography. Kodak’s Sprite 35-II is a new take on the original Sprite 35, which was a playful and easy-to-use film camera available in the 1960s. The Sprite 35-II keeps the plastic design and fuss-free use of the original. There is only one shutter speed (1/120s), a fixed aperture (f/9), and its focus is fixed from one meter to infinity. It does provide a flash for low-light conditions, should you need it. Other than the flash, there’s no fiddling with settings. It is an easy way to try out film for the first time. And it comes with one roll of Ilford XP2 400 35mm B&W Film, so the giftee can get shooting right away.

Best cheap 120mm film camera: Holga 120N Medium Format Film Camera

Holga

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The Holga 120N is another classic plastic camera for fun film shooting, though in medium format instead of 35mm. I picked up a Holga during an extremely technical photography class as an outlet, and it was a very refreshing change of pace. Like the Sprite 35-II, there are basically no settings. It has a plastic 60mm lens and fixed 1/100s shutter speed. You do have the option of changing the aperture on this toy camera. You can select either f/8 or f/11 (sunny or cloudy, as depicted on the camera). It includes three different zones of focus distance, so you can alter that a bit. These things are known for their light leaks and funky results, so don’t expect crisp, perfect images. But, when you embrace the unpredictability, it serves as a great way to play around and have fun with photography again. This Holga comes with one roll of the classic Ilford HP5 Plus 400-speed film black-and-white film.

Best color 35mm film: Kodak Portra 400 Color Print 35mm Film

Kodak

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If your photographer already has a 35mm film camera and you want to keep them shooting (or you’re also buying them the Sprite 35-II), Kodak Portra 400 is one of the most classic color films available. It’s especially known for its pleasing skin tones, making it a preferred choice by portrait photographers who shoot film. It offers beautiful color saturation overall, so it’s also great for landscape photography. And the 400 speed means it’s usable in less than extremely bright sunlight, making it a versatile option.

Best 120mm film: Fujichrome Velvia 120mm 100 Color Slide Film ISO 100 – 5 Roll Pro Pack

Fujifilm

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If you know someone who shoots medium format, you can’t go wrong with Fujifilm Velvia 100. Like the Kodak Portra mentioned above, this film stock is one of the classics. It’s also best known for its accurate skin tones and vibrant colors. What makes this film different is that it is a slide (also called reversal) film. That means that it actually produces a positive image on the film instead of a negative. Velvia 100 is a classic film, and Fujifilm has slowed down film production and raised the cost of its film, so getting this for a photographer will be a special treat.

Best for videographers: Rode VideoMic GO

Rode

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Though the microphones on cameras have certainly improved in recent years, they still don’t reach the quality possible with an external mic. That’s especially true if there is much background noise, such as wind. The Rode VideoMic Go is a simple solution that sits on the hot shoe of a camera. It receives power from the camera, so there’s no need for an additional power source. It does a great job of filtering out background noise.. And it features an integrated Rycote Lyre shock mount to prevent any noise associated with vibrations or bumps while moving around. It’s our recommended mic for vloggers because of the compact, lightweight form factor and the quality of audio it puts out.

Best for sharing files with clients: SanDisk iXpand Flash Drive Luxe [Sponsored]

SanDisk

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Though there are plenty of cloud-based solutions for sending photos to clients, there’s something nice about giving a physical product after a shoot. This SanDisk flash drive is an excellent solution, as it comes in three different capacities (64, 128, or 256GB). You can pick what is best based on the type and size of the shoot. This flash drive also makes for a great way to back up phone photos or move images to a phone for social media sharing, as it has two connectors. You can plug it into an iPhone and then transfer files to a USB-C device or vice versa. Plus, it automatically backs up photos and videos on an iPhone when plugged in, saving the headache of manually copying things over.

Best comfortable camera strap: Blackrapid Curve Breathe Camera Sling

Blackrapid

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Though a camera strap makes carrying a camera around easier, many are extremely uncomfortable. And they can, at times, get in the way more than help, which is quite frustrating. The Blackrapid Curve Breathe Camera Sling is a clever solution to both of those problems. It provides a wide bit of padded strap over the shoulder for better comfort but is made of breathable material to keep you cooler on hot shoots. The sling design makes it even quicker and more convenient to access your camera. Plus, the way the camera attaches allows it to hang more comfortably on your side. Finally, the underarm strap keeps the should strap in place even while moving around a lot. Keep in mind, though, this strap is specifically designed to be worn on the left shoulder. So only get this gift for right-handed shooters.

Best for adding light: Lume Cube Bicolor Panel Mini LED Light

Lume Cube

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Unfortunately, photographers can’t control lighting conditions, but they can adapt with clever tools like the Lume Cube. This LED light panel features fully adjustable brightness and adjustable color temperature from warm 3200K to neutral 5600K. It even has a tiny LCD Screen for easily seeing battery life and settings. As a constant light, it is best as a gift for video shooters, though it can absolutely be useful for still photos as well. It provides 14 hours of battery life but can also be used when plugged in for even longer life. It comes with a ball head shoe mount for on-camera use, perfect for vloggers. And it’s a tiny device–about the size of a credit card–making it easy to toss in a camera bag or even a pocket.

Best history of photography coffee table book: American Century of Photography

Amazon

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If you know a photographer who loves history, An American Century of Photography would make a fantastic gift. I received this book at a photography conference, and it is one of my favorites on my bookshelf. It’s a seriously thick tome, covering everything from dry-plate photography to the early days of digital. It provides lots of interesting information on photography throughout history and no shortage of image examples. It’s a great resource to have on hand.

Best book for conceptual photography nerds: Camera Lucida: Reflections on Photography

Amazon

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Another one of the best books for photographers, specifically those interested in conceptual photography and art theory, is Camera Lucida. It’s a dense (though short) read, but makes you think in depth about the medium and its possibilities (or limitations). I had to read this book in school, but it’s one I’ve reread since then to learn more and as a way to reflect on my own work. This book definitely isn’t for everyone, but for those who want to really delve into the nerdy theory side of photography, it’s a must-read.

Best minimal picture frames: Haus and Hues 11″x14″ Beige Oak Wood Frames Set of 4

Haus and Hues

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A nice print is nothing without an equally nice frame. Keeping the frame simple allows the focus to stay on the photo, which is why we are partial to modern wooden or metal frames. These Haus and Hues 11×14-inch frames come as a pack of four (or other sets, as well), so the photographer in your life can either set up a gallery wall or scatter prints around their home. They are made from white oak sourced from the northeastern United States and come with shatterproof plexiglass and a backing board with hanging hardware attached.

Best for quality prints: Artifact Uprising gift card

Artifact Uprising

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Photographers often put off printing their own work, so give them a kick in the proverbial pants. Artifact Uprising offers extremely high-quality prints in a variety of sizes and paper types, from small Everyday Print Sets to large format prints and even canvas prints. The company also offers lots of display products, including some that bundle the print and frame. Though gift cards aren’t the most exciting present, they will allow the photographer in your life to choose which photos they want to print and what size and finish best suits their space.

Best cloth for keeping lenses clean: Microdear Microfiber Deluxe

Microdear

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Lens cleaning cloths aren’t flashy gifts, but having a good one (or some) is absolutely essential. A spot on the lens can ruin an otherwise perfect shot, and while it can be tempting to use the bottom of a t-shirt, the coatings on lenses are best babied to preserve their integrity. The Microdear Microfiber Deluxe Cleaning Cloth is an incredibly soft cloth, so it is sure to keep your optics in top shape. It’s a large cloth–14.5×17.7 inches–so it’ll provide lots of cleaning real estate. It’s not cheap when it comes to cloths, but it will last a long time and provide high-level protection that’s worth a little extra investment.

Best for keeping memory cards safe: Think Tank Pixel Pocket Rocket Memory Card Wallet

Think Tank

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Photographers need to have lots of memory cards in their arsenal, but because of their small size, they can get lost quite easily. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to frantically look around for a card before a shoot before I finally bought a memory card wallet for myself. This Think Tank memory card wallet holds 6 CF, 6 XQD, 12 SD, or multiple micro SD memory cards, so even if you don’t know the type of card the photographer you plan on gifting this to uses, they’ll be able to use it. The three pockets zip close, which keeps the cards secure even if it gets thrown around. It can be belt-mounted, attached to a bag with the included lanyard, or simply tossed in a backpack or even pocket.

Best for better portrait photos: Neewar 43-inch reflector

Neewar

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If we were to suggest one tool for improving photos without spending much money, it would likely be a reflector. Reflectors, as the name implies, bounce light, helping to fill shadows or just add in more light when needed. This Neewar five-in-one set and includes silver, gold, white for reflecting different temperatures of light, but also translucent and black. A translucent reflector helps soften a light source by diffusing light, while the black acts like a flag to block unwanted illumination. They are highly versatile and can be used with artificial or natural light. It is shocking how much of a difference they can make, especially in high-contrast situations like back or side lighting.

Best for fixing literally anything: Gaffer’s tape

Lockport

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Gaffer’s tape is the photographer’s version of duct tape. It’s useful for just about everything, from marking positioning for models to fixing all sorts of broken gear and even holding up backdrops. The beauty of Gaffer’s tape is that it doesn’t leave any residue and comes up easily despite its incredible strength. You can even stick it on your camera with confidence should you need to. And it’s water-resistant, so it will stay stuck even in the rain. It’s one of those tools that you should always have on hand as a photographer, and most photographers would probably be very appreciative to receive a four-pack.

Best for high-end instant film photography: Fujifilm Instax Mini 40

Fujifilm

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There’s no getting around it, instant photography is just plain fun. Getting a physical and one-of-a-kind photograph instantaneously is exciting, no matter how many times you press the shutter. Instax makes some of the best and most affordable instant cameras available these days, including the Instax Mini. It pops out small, two-by-three-inch photographs that are fun to give away or even create a wall of prints. Plus, the Instax Mini 40 features an attractive, retro design, so it’s one you won’t mind busting out at gatherings or on trips.

Best notebook for adventurous photographers: Rite in the Rain Weatherproof Side Spiral Kit

Rite in the Rain

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Notebooks are underappreciated tools for photographers, but they are helpful for a long list of reasons. For starters, they can help with staying organized, notes on shoots or particular images can help with reflection and thus improvement, and they are useful for planning purposes and for jotting down ideas. Every photographer should have a notebook in their kit, but if you know a photographer who frequently finds themselves in poor weather conditions or wet environments, a standard notebook may not hold up. The Rite in the Rain notebook is comprised of waterproof paper that will keep notes intact even if it gets dunked in a lake. This kit comes with a fabric cover for storing pens, as well as the All-Weather pen that writes on the paper even when it’s wet, muddy, or greasy.