It’s that time of year when we’re all in holiday buying mode. If there is a photographer on your list, you are among the lucky! Because, and I may be a bit biased on this, photographers are a lot of fun to buy for! Just saying…
Here are some great gift ideas if there’s a shutterbug on your list. For convenience, we’ve loosely grouped these gift ideas by skill level, but you’ll want to peruse all the categories because are a lot of fun gift ideas for all photographers.
For The Casual Photographer
The Canon Powershot is a great choice for a beginning photographer because you can use it as a point and shoot—just frame up your picture and press the button—but also allows for some manual control when you’re looking to go beyond ‘Auto”.
This midsize Nikon compact camera gives you all of the convenience of a point-and-shoot, but with a big zoom to let you get up close and personal with distant subjects.
Every photographer needs a couple of extra memory cards. I like SanDisk Flash Memory and I like the card to be big enough to hold jpeg and RAW files (I shoot both), but not too big. A card that’s 32GB or 64 GB works for me.
Photoshop Elements is a great for a beginning photography because it includes lots of powerful tools (taken from it’s big brother, Photoshop) and also features a Photo organizer to help you manage and keep track of your photo and video files.
This Joby tripod is small and flexible. You can use it on a tabletop or with the legs wrapped around a sturdy object to keep your compact camera in stead and in place.
A great camera bag and the perfect size for carrying around a compact camera and a few accessories.
For The Photography Enthusiast
This Sony Cyber-shot is a technically a point-and-shoot, but really a lot more. It features a Carl Zeiss f/1.8 lens with 3.6x zoom for crisp images even in low light situations. It also has Wi-Fi for easy connectivity and the ability to capture HD video. But what I like most about this little camera is its many options for moving your photography to the next level. That includes the RAW image format, exposure bracketing and a multi-use hot shoe for attaching an external flash.
Canon EOS 70D 20.2 MP Digital SLR Camera with Dual Pixel CMOS AF and EF-S 18-135mm F3.5-5.6 IS STM Kit
Or, if you’re looking to make the move to a DSLR, this Canon is a great first step. It features built in Wi-Fi, 3.0-inch touch screen, a19-point auto-focus system, and full HD 1080 video. Nice!
The best way to kick your photography up a notch is to make sure that your images are tack sharp and the best way to do that is to use a tripod. This one from Vanguard is sturdy and flexible and comes with a tripod head already mounted so you’re all ready to go.
GoPro Heros are tiny, lightweight cameras, billed as the most versatile camera made. The GoPros are wearable and mountable, so you can use them to capture images while on the go. And I mean really on the go. These cameras are meant to capture action. You can use a GoPro in all sorts of adventurous settings, from mountain biking to parachute jumping and everything in between. The Hero3+ is the latest in the lineup. It’s lighter weight and has a longer battery life than previous models, sports a new wider-angle lens and can capture 12 megapixel still images at a rate of 30 frames per second.
Let’s face it. When it comes to Photography, you’re not always going to get it exactly the way you want it. That’s where Adobe Lightroom 5 comes it. It’s a step up from Photoshop Elements and features some great tools for working with your images.
If your favorite budding photographer uses a DSLR, you may want to consider the gift of a polarizing filter (usually just called a polarizer). A polarizer can make the colors in your photos really pop! The sky is bluer, the grass is greener, fall foliage is stunning. Circular polarizers are sized based on the diameter of camera lens, so be sure to check out those little numbers on the lens barrel (look for a the digits just before “mm”) before buying.
Diffusers and reflectors can work wonders for improving the lighting on your subject. If the light is too harsh, a diffuser can soften it. You can use a reflector to bounce light into and under your subject to eliminate shadows, brighten dark spots and, if you’re shooting a portrait, create catch lights in your subject’s eyes. The diffusers are usually round and come in different sizes. Reflectors come in different sizes too, but also in different colors to allow you to change the color of the reflected light. I like this set from Fotodiox which includes 1 diffuser and 4 reflectors of various colors, all at 42″.
Lensbaby makes a line of creative effects lenses that allow you to give your photos the selective focus look of a tilt-shift lens. The Spark is an entry version of this type of lens and a fun and affordable way to add some cool artistic touches to your photos.
This Case Logic camera and laptop backpack is my favorite bag when I want to carry a single DSLR, a few lenses and my MacBook Pro.
The ONA Bowery Bag is another great option for carrying your gear when you’re out and about. It isn’t big enough for a laptop like the Case Logic bag above, and , in fact, it’s primarily made for hauling around a smaller camera and gear, but it can fit more and it looks pretty darn stylish at the same time. This model is made of rugged water resistant waxed canvas, which I love, but there’s an all-leather model too.
WD My Passport Ultra 2TB Portable External Hard Drive USB 3.0 with Auto and Cloud Backup – Blue (WDBMWV0020BBL-NESN)
A backup drive give can some peace of mind when it comes to keeping those favorite images safe and sound.
For The Serious Photographer
Nikon 1528 Df 16.2 MP CMOS FX-Format Digital SLR Camera with AF-S NIKKOR 50mm f/1.8G Special Edition Lens SLR Camera with 3.2-Inch LCD (Silver)
The new Nikon Df really is beautiful. It combines modern technology with a classic, vintage look. The camera features a full frame sensor (16.2 MP FX format) and a sharp LCD monitor. And it’s compatible with most Nikon lens, so you can happily use your old standby optics with this baby.
The new lens from the folks at Sigma sports an ultra fast 1.8 aperture throughout it’s entire zoom range. That makes this a wonderfully versatile, all-around useful lens. You can open the aperture wide to give options for low light photography or for portraits to create dreamy, soft, bokeh-filled backgrounds. Remember that the lens mount is brand-dependent, so be sure to buy the right lens for your particular camera.
Move beyond your camera’s onboard flash with the Nikon SB-700 Speedlight. An external flash unit will vastly improve your flash photography by allowing you to angle the light and diffuse it. If the photographer on your list takes a lot of indoor pictures, this gift will be well appreciated.
The Tenba padding wrap lets your store and transport extras lenses, flashes and other fragile equipment safely without the use of a dedicated camera bag. So, wrapped in one of these, you can store your extra camera accessories in a drawer or closet keep it padded and safe. BTW, this wrap also comes in a larger, 22-inch size.
This free standing multimedia storage unit lets you move your digital photos files off of your memory card without a computer. This is handy when you’re out and about and taking lots of pictures. Just move the files to this portable hard drive and you have an empty memory card for more photography.
The PIXMA is a pro-level printer that outputs high quality color prints. If your favorite photographer has an interest in printing their work, they’ll love this gift.
The ExpoDisc is a handy little tool that helps you get the white balance right every time. If you have trouble with white balance and you’ve started shooting RAW for that reason, or if you’ve been spending too much time post-processing to get the white balance right, the ExpoDisc is for you.
For The Cell Phone Photographer
The Instant Lab lets you print the photos on you your iPhone in a style reminiscent of the old analog instant prints.
The Sony Smartphone Attachable Lens-style Camera transforms your smartphone into a high-quality camera. The idea is really pretty ingenious. The Attachable Lens is actually a camera— it houses an optical zoom lens and a camera sensor— that uses your smartphone to store images. So you can snap the lens onto your camera and take high quality images that you can then edit and share just as you would any other photo on your smartphone.
This Joby small and flexible tripod is great for holding a camera phone steady for low light shots and self portraits!
This set snaps easily onto your iPhone and gives you the choice of a fisheye lens, a wide-angle lens and a 10X macro lens. And that means it’s a whole new ballgame of iPhoneography.
The Century lenses are high-end add-on lenses for the iPhone 5. This set includes a wide-angle lens, a 2X Telephoto lens and a Macro lens, along with a mounting case.
Using your smartphone as a camera can quickly drain your battery. That’s where an external power pack comes in. This one from PowerGen ensures that you (and your smartphone) won’t run out of juice!