The best practical gifts for photographers
Practical gifts may not be flashy or exciting, but they are always appreciated.
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Sure, it’s fun to give (and get) flashy gifts over the holidays. But sometimes, it’s even better to give something that you know will be used on a regular basis. Practical gifts may not get all the attention or be as exciting as other types of presents, but they are excellent gifts nonetheless. And honestly, it can be a surprising treat to receive something basic that you’ve been meaning to purchase for yourself, but you just haven’t.
This holiday season, consider getting something practical for photographers. Not only will they actually be able to use the thing, but it stands less of a chance of ending up in the trash, thus producing less waste. Whether you want to spend a little or a lot, we’ve picked out plenty of useful and valuable gifts to give photographers.
- Best SD card: SanDisk 128GB Extreme PRO SDXC UHS-II Memory Card
- Best memory card reader: SanDisk Professional PRO-READER SD and microSD
- Best setup for product photography: NEEWER Photo Studio Light Box, 20” x 20” Shooting Light Tent
- Best light for videographers: Amaran 100d LED Video Light
- Best strobe for beginners: Godox SK400II 400Ws GN65 5600K Studio Strobe Flash
- Best Speedlite: Godox TT600 Camera Flash Speedlite
- Best tripod: Befree advanced Carbon Fiber Travel Tripod twist, ball head
- Best kit for keeping lenses clean: Zeiss Lens Cleaning Kit
- Best sensor cleaning kit: Photographic Solutions Digital Survival Kit
- Best daily camera backpack: Peak Design Everyday Backpack V2
- Best camera backpack for adventures: Shimoda Explore V2 35 Water Resistant Camera Backpack
- Best camera strap accessory: Peak Design Anchor Links
- Best photo editing software: Adobe Creative Cloud Photography Subscription
- Best accessory for astrophotographers: Haida Anti-Fog Belt
- Best tool for photo retouching: Wacom Cintiq 16 Drawing Tablet
- Best notebook for film photographers: ShootFilmCo PhotoMemo Film Photography Notebook
- Best way to digitize notes: Moleskine Writing Set Smart Notebook & New Smart Pen
- Best photo printer: Epson SureColor P700
- Best water bottle to clip onto a pack: Takeya Actives Insulated Water Bottle
- Best way to protect a lens: Urth 62mm UV Lens Filter (Plus+)
Best SD card: SanDisk 128GB Extreme PRO SDXC UHS-II Memory Card
A camera isn’t any good without a quality SD card (or five). With the vastly improving technology in cameras, files for photos can get quite large. And burst rates produce a lot of files fast, eating up lots of storage. Plus, many cameras now offer lots of video-centric features, resulting in data-hungry devices. A large card that provides fast read and write speeds is a must to keep up. This 128GB card provides transfer speeds up to 300MB/s, so you’ll get more quality time with the photographer and spend less time watching them transfer files. And it’s shockproof, temperature-proof, waterproof, and X-ray-proof. As long as they can keep track of it, it will keep working for a long time.
Memory card reader: SanDisk Professional PRO-READER SD and microSD [Sponsored]
Having a stash of memory cards is great, but they’ll also need a way to get files from those cards to their computer or other devices. Fewer computers have built-in SD slots these days, so a dedicated card reader is a must. This SanDisk card reader is compatible with UHS-I SD and microSD. It comes with a USB-C cable, so you can connect directly to a computer, phone, tablet, or even certain hard drives. And it features SanDisk’s QuickFlow technology to make offloading files quick.
Best beginner-friendly setup for product photography: NEEWER Photo Studio Light Box, 20” x 20” Shooting Light Tent
Having the ability to take quality but simple product photographs is extremely useful. Whether the photographer you know is a content creator, beginning their professional photography career, or sells their own art, a lightbox is a very practical gift. This particular lightbox is 20 by 20 inches, so can accommodate some larger objects. Despite the large size, it’s fully collapsable and easy to transport or tuck away when not in use. For lighting, it utilizes 80 LEDs which offer stepless dimming for full control. The light box features a reflective interior and diffusion cloth, which help with photographing reflective objects and producing even light. It comes with black, white, gray, and orange backgrounds so they can choose which best fits the products.
Best light for videographers: Amaran 100d LED Video Light
Many video situations require adding additional lighting, so having access to lighting equipment is important. This Amaran video light provides a TLCI score of 96+, so it won’t cause issues that require color correction. And it offers a 5500k temperature for a natural look. The light can be controlled via Bluetooth or wireless remote control. And you can use it plugged into a power source or via batteries, giving it more versatility.
Best strobe for beginners: Godox SK400II 400Ws GN65 5600K Studio Strobe Flash
On the photography side of lighting, Godox produces some of the best options for beginners. This particular light is nice and compact, so it won’t take up much space in makeshift studios. It features an LCD screen, making it easier to change settings. It can be adjusted from five to 10 percent power for more creative control. And an especially nice feature for beginners, it has a powerful modeling light to get an idea of what the lighting will look like without firing the flash and taking test photos.
Best Speedlite: Godox TT600 Camera Flash Speedlite
Lots of photographers could benefit from having a Speedlite. But this Godox Speedlight would make an especially fantastic gift for wedding or event photographers. Godox lights are compatible with just about every digital camera with a standard hot shoe. You won’t need to figure out what camera your photographer friend has in order to get the right one. It uses the Godox wireless X system with built-in 2.4G wireless transmission, so can be used as an off-camera flash as well. And it provides plenty of power and adjustability for creative control.
No photographer’s kit is complete without a high-quality tripod. Many photographers buy some of the cheapest options available when just getting started but quickly outgrow them. Carbon fiber tripods are stiffer and more durable than aluminum, yet weigh less, making them a top choice. This Manfrotto tripod features twist-lock legs that make it a bit more travel friendly. It includes a ball head for smooth but flexible movement. It offers a 19.8-pound load capacity yet only weighs 2.8 pounds. And it provides a maximum height of 59.1 inches for lots of reach.
Best kit for keeping lenses clean: Zeiss Lens Cleaning Kit
A lens cleaning kit is probably the ultimate practical gift for a photographer. Having a clean lens is critical in getting clear images. Nothing is worse than pulling up images on your computer only to notice large blemishes from water spots or fingerprints on the lens. And while it can be tempting to use glass cleaner or a shirt corner, lenses feature sensitive coatings to improve image quality that require special care. Zeiss is one of the premier lens producers, so you know its lens cleaning kit will be safe for optics. And it comes with everything needed to keep a lens clean, no matter the mess.
Best sensor cleaning kit: Photographic Solutions Digital Survival Kit
Keeping lenses clean is, unfortunately, only half the battle. If the photographer you know swaps lenses out at all, chances are they deal with the dreaded sensor spots–debris on the camera’s sensor. Sensors are even more sensitive than lenses, though, so special equipment is required. And while it can be scary to clean a sensor yourself, sometimes sending it in for professional cleaning just isn’t an option.
This kit from Photographic Solutions comes with multiple sensor swabs and a bottle of sensor cleaning fluid, along with lens cleaning materials. And it all comes in a zippered pouch to keep everything together. Just be sure to get the right size for the sensor they have since the swab is specific to sensor size for better cleaning.
Best daily camera backpack: Peak Design Everyday Backpack V2
Having a durable camera backpack with flexible storage for everyday use is a necessity for most of us photographers. We have loved the Peak Design Everyday Backpack since the first version. V2 has lots of little changes but maintains the qualities that make it such a great pack. The interior compartment is customizable based on the gear you need to put inside. And it’s large enough to provide enough room for things beyond camera equipment. The exterior provides two water bottle pockets and attachment points, and it’s made of durable, weatherproof material. Plus, there’s an adjustable laptop compartment that holds up to a 16-inch laptop along with a tablet.
Best camera backpack for adventures: Shimoda Explore V2 35 Water Resistant Camera Backpack
If you know a photographer who loves adventure and hiking, the Shimoda Explore V2 is one of our favorite options. It is made of extremely durable and weatherproof material, so getting caught in the elements won’t be an issue. And our favorite part is that the pack is riddled with organization and storage. It uses a removable and adjustable “Core Unit” for robust camera protection. Even with the Core Unit, it still offers plenty of room for other hiking essentials like jackets, food, and water. It’s even hydration bladder compatible. And there’s room for a laptop if they need to edit or send files on the go.
Best camera strap accessory: Peak Design Anchor Links
Peak Design’s Anchor Links is a small gift but one that can have a big impact. These simple devices connect to their camera and camera strap to allow fast removal or attachment. There are times a camera strap just gets in the way. Being able to quickly pop it off is super helpful. Or, they may have one camera strap that they swap between cameras, which is much easier with these anchor links. I also love these for attaching keys to my camera bag or any other important accessory I need to keep track of.
Best photo editing software: Adobe Creative Cloud Photography Subscription
Taking photos is only a small part of the process for most photographers. After images are created, they also must be edited. Adobe has long been one of the best and most well-rounded creative suites. Its Photography bundle includes both Photoshop and Lightroom, which are the two essential programs for most photographers. This 12-month subscription also provides 20 GB of storage, so they can share files using that if they need to.
Best accessory for astrophotographers: Haida Anti-Fog Belt
If you need another small gift, perhaps a stocking stuff for a photographer, the Haida Anti-Fog Belt is a unique choice. This product is best for astrophotographers who deal with lenses fogging up. The Anti-Fog Belt quickly and evenly heats up to prevent condensation from forming. There are three heat settings–low (95 to 113°F), medium (113 to 131°F), and high (131 to 149°F)–so they can choose which is best for the current conditions. It is USB-powered but can be plugged into a power bank for juice when out in the field.
Best tool for photo retouching: Wacom Cintiq 16 Drawing Tablet
Photo retouching can be an extremely tedious, time-consuming process. And without the right tools, it may be even more difficult. The Wacom Cintiq is a fantastic gift for those who do extensive, in-depth retouching work. It allows for much more granular yet natural control over brushes and selection tools. The Cintiq 16 has a 15.4-inch LCD display which makes it easier to learn how to use than Wacom tablets without a display. And it comes with the Wacom Pro Pen 2, which features 8192 levels of pressure sensitivity, tilt response, and two programmable buttons.
Best notebook for film photographers: ShootFilmCo PhotoMemo Film Photography Notebook
Taking notes is important for every photographer, but especially for film photographers. There’s no metadata in film photos, so being able to jot down important notes relevant to the roll of film is very useful. It can not only help keep track of what is on what roll but also help them improve their work by catching trends and potential mistakes. The ShootFilmCo notebook features sections specific to film shooters, such as camera and lens info, start date, and film specifics. It also has room for open notes that they can fill with what they photographed or anything else that they want to keep track of.
Best photo printer: Epson SureColor P700
Being able to print your own photographs as a photographer is such a nice treat. While there are plenty of excellent third-party labs out there, having the convenience of printing something when you want it and having it immediately is valuable. Plus, if the photographer in your life sells prints, this will allow them to personalize their packaging and have more control over the print quality. Epson is one of the top manufacturers of photo printers and the P700 is a fantastic option, especially for people somewhat new to printing. It’s easy to use, produces excellent quality, and isn’t massive. It can print up to 13 inches wide, and accepts rolls or sheets of paper.