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The 2022 holiday season is upon us, and it’s time once again to find gifts for photographers in your life. Here at Popular Photography, we love gift-giving, but even more, we love providing gift ideas for photographers.
What follows are 14 of our favorite photography gift ideas, from new releases to time-tested favorites, chosen by the nerdiest of photo nerds (uh, that’s us). They range in price from less than $10 to just over $1,000. Of course, not all photographers like or want the same stuff. But rest assured, we’ve got something for everyone. So whether you’re looking for a stocking stuffer or a jaw-dropper, we’ve got you more than covered.
- A fun instant film camera: Fujifilm Instax Mini 7+
- Best under $50: Neewar 43-inch 5-in-1 Reflector
- A light for aspiring creatives: Neewer 10-inch LED Ring Light Selfie Ring Light with Tripod Stand
- Photography classes on-demand: Moment video courses
- Superior camera protection for travelers: Pelican 1535 Air Carry-On Case
- A truly point-and-shoot film camera: Kodak Ektar H35 film camera
- A lightweight tripod for every kind of photography: 3 Legged Thing Punks Travis tripod with removable monopod
- A camera sling bag with lots of storage: HEX Ranger DSLR Camera Sling XL Travel Bag
- Portable SSD speed with rugged build quality: SAMSUNG T7 Shield 1TB, Portable SSD
- Best under $100: Peak Design Capture Camera Clip
- A graphics tablet for intense retouching: Wacom Intuos Small Graphics Drawing Tablet
- Best for beginners: LensPen Lens Cleaner
- Simple storage for tons of images: WD 12TB Elements Desktop External Hard Drive
- The best drone for aerial photography enthusiasts: DJI Mini SE drone
A fun instant film camera: Fujifilm Instax Mini 7+
An instant film camera might be the perfect gift for photographers at literally any level. Beginners appreciate a camera like the Mini 7+ for its super-simple operation. Pop in the film, frame up a shot, push the button, and it spits out an adorable little 2.1 x 3.4-inch print. But, despite its ease of use, the powerful flash and high-quality Fujinon lens produce high-quality images that will satisfy veteran photographers. Plus, it’s a nice way to remind die-hard photographers that taking pictures should be fun (at least sometimes).
Best under $50: Neewar 43-inch 5-in-1 Reflector
Lighting conditions don’t always cooperate with what we want. Or we may want something more dramatic, such as a backlit portrait with more light on the subject but don’t want to deal with flash. That’s where reflectors come in. Reflectors are a surprisingly powerful tool for photographers to have in their kit and can have drastic results. As the name implies, they can be used to reflect light into the desired area. Or, some reflectors, such as this one, will come with additional colors, including black, which can reduce light, or a white translucent option, which softens light from a specific light source. It also comes with gold and silver for changing the temperature of the light that you reflect back in, a fun tool for unique portraits. This Neewar reflector is large enough to make an impact but small enough that you won’t have to be a professional wrestler to collapse it back down.
A light for aspiring creatives: Neewer 10-inch LED Ring Light Selfie Ring Light with Tripod Stand
Ring lights are like a gateway drug into real lighting. This 10-inch ring light provides even illumination from every direction. That creates a simple and generally flattering light that works for up-close portraits or typical talking head vlogs. This very affordable kit comes with a tripod, phone mount, and everything else an aspiring creator needs to get going. Even if they upgrade later, this can come in handy as an accent light to compliment a more advanced key light.
Photography classes on-demand: Moment video courses
Few gifts can actually make someone a better photographer, but Moment offers a wide selection of on-demand video tutorials that cover a huge variety of skills. The company offers courses in photography, videography, and even film photography if someone is trying to get into analog. They’re easy to follow and very well-produced. And your giftee can watch them over and over until they’ve mastered whatever technique they’re teaching. Bonus points for you if you act as a subject to let them practice their new photo skill.
Superior camera protection for travelers: Pelican 1535 Air Carry-On Case
Even enthusiast-level cameras cost a pretty penny, which is why it makes sense to invest in a solid case to protect them. This sturdy case comes in five different colors. And it fits in a typical airplane overhead compartment, so you can keep your pricy gear with you during travel instead of rolling the dice by checking a bag. It’s made of Pelican’s HPX polymer, which makes it crush-proof and waterproof while reducing weight up to 40 percent compared to comparable models. Pelican offers standard foam, padded dividers, or its more advanced modular padding system inside to keep gear safe and snug no matter how bumpy the ride gets.
A truly point-and-shoot film camera: Kodak Ektar H35 film camera
Film photography is undeniably fun, especially when you don’t have to take it too seriously. Kodak’s $50 half-frame camera captures images that are half the size of a normal 35mm image. That means a 36-exposure roll will actually get you 72 individual photos. You can treat each image like its own photo or create cool multi-image compositions that you can present in series. The focus-free lens and lack of advanced exposure controls allow photographers to literally point and shoot to create cool, lo-fi images with a unique analog aesthetic. It is a fun gift for photographers who need a little spark of creativity and fun.
A lightweight tripod for every kind of photography: 3 Legged Thing Punks Travis tripod with removable monopod
Beginners tend to underestimate just how valuable a tripod can be for various types of photography. A sturdy set of sticks can provide a nice consistent background for a set of formal portraits. Or it ensures that those epic landscapes are as level and sharp as they deserve to be. This relatively compact tripod extends to 5.4 feet tall and can hold just under 40 pounds of gear. Despite its size and strength, it folds down small enough to easily carry on a bag and weighs just over three pounds. It also comes with an adjustable head, so it’s ready to start shooting right out of the box.
A camera sling bag with lots of storage: HEX Ranger DSLR Camera Sling XL Travel Bag
I’m a big fan of the Hex Ranger sling bag, and the XL version adds even more room to carry camera gear (as well as other important things like snacks). The ranger Sling XL has enough room inside to fit several camera bodies along with extra lenses. I find that it handles one body and three lenses rather nicely. Its cross-body strap makes it more appealing than a typical backpack despite having roughly the same capacity. Plus, it comes in five different colors, including several shades of cool urban camo.
Portable SSD speed with rugged build quality: SAMSUNG T7 Shield 1TB, Portable SSD
You can never have too much storage. This tiny drive is waterproof, weatherproof, and crush-proof, so it’s easy to throw in a bag and forget about until you need it. It connects with a simple USB-C cable and transfers data at up to 1,050MB/s. The rubberized outer coating makes it easy to hold onto. And it ensures that it won’t slide off of an airplane tray table and get itself hopelessly lost under the seat in front of you, which happened to me with one of my portable SSDs a few years ago.
Best under $100: Peak Design Capture Camera Clip
While camera straps are certainly a convenient way to carry around a camera, sometimes the strap gets in the way. They also usually aren’t very comfortable to carry around if you are walking a lot, such as on hikes or long days of travel. And having your camera stashed in your camera bag may mean you can’t get it out in time to get the shot or just don’t want to fuss with it, resulting in missed opportunities. The Peak Design camera clip is a great solution. It makes a great gift for photographers who like to hike or keep a camera handy. The clip connects to the strap of your backpack, and with the base plate on your camera, you can hang the camera right by your shoulder. It makes access to your camera quick and easy for when inspiration strikes but puts less strain on your neck and shoulders.
A graphics tablet for intense retouching: Wacom Intuos Small Graphics Drawing Tablet
A tablet can provide a simple, easy way to upgrade your precision when working on intense retouching work. This tablet doesn’t have a display, it’s simply an input device that works like an external touchpad. It connects to a computer via USB and comes with Wacom’s advanced stylus that recognizes more than 2,000 levels of pressure. It works with all the common software photographers typically rely on, like Photoshop. And it’s even solid for illustrating if your giftee wants to dabble in some other creative pursuits.
Best for beginners: LensPen Lens Cleaner
As basic and simple as it is, cleaning supplies can easily be overlooked when someone is just getting started with photography. And yet, they are essential parts of any photographer’s kit, which is why they make such great gifts for photographers. When you’re in the field, a quick wipe can get the superficial grime off your glass. Every once in a while, however, your lenses deserve a more thorough cleaning. One side of the LensPen has a brush for quickly dislodging dust or other loosely attached grit. The other end lens works similarly to a marker. A cleaning compound inside the body makes its way out through the tip that’s meant to rub across the surface of the lens. The combination of cleaning solution and wiping from the tip help dislodge tough particles instead of scraping them across the delicate coatings. It also gets rid of oil from accidental finger touches or other environmental factors. Even if you can’t afford to buy your person a new lens, you can make their current lenses look like they’re new.
Simple storage for tons of images: WD 12TB Elements Desktop External Hard Drive
Pro photographers typically employ complex, multi-drive backup systems to ensure maximum redundancy for their files. For beginner and mid-level shooters, however, a big, dumb hard drive does a great job storing all those images. With 12TB storage, it will hold literally millions of images (depending on the size of your files). I keep one of the 20TB versions on my desk and have a Backblaze backup running on it just as an emergency backup in case everything goes wrong.
The best drone for aerial photography enthusiasts: DJI Mini SE drone
Whether they know it or not, every pilot flying a drone in the US is supposed to register their craft with the FAA. That is, of course, unless the flying machine weighs less than 250 grams. DJI’s Mini SE comes in at a convenient 249 grams. That means whoever you give it to can take it from the box, to the charger, to the sky with no red tape to sort out. Despite the drone’s tiny size, it’s still very capable from a camera standpoint. Its 2.7K camera relies on a 3-axis gimbal to shoot super-steady, high-res footage you can preview from your smartphone on the ground. With a maximum flight time of 30 minutes, it’s a great tool for occasional aerial photographers or those trying to hone their piloting skills before working up to a more advanced craft.