- Holds 35 liters of gear (and expands to hold a whopping 42 liters)
- External straps to carry items like your tripod
- Removable interior dividers for customizing the bag to your needs
- Easy side access for quickly grabbing your camera
- Comfortable straps (including chest strap and waist belt) for a more comfortable carrying experience
- Space for your clothes too!
Photo by Pekic via iStock
With a $500 budget, there are a lot of incredible gifts for photographers you can buy this holiday season.
From used cameras in excellent condition to camera bags to monitors to improve their workflow, you can give gifts to your favorite photographer that just keep on giving.
And while it seems a little early to be talking about holiday shopping, with so many disruptions to our way of life from the pandemic, it certainly doesn't hurt to start your shopping a little early this year. Let this guide help you zero in on the perfect gifts!
Gifts for Photographers Under $500: reMarkable 2
There are plenty of photographers that enjoy writing notes, brainstorming, and otherwise keeping their thoughts organized by using paper notebooks. I'm certainly one of those people.
But at some point, it becomes a little impractical to use paper notebooks, both because of the environmental impact and because of the space you need to store dozens of notebooks in your studio or office.
I, for one, had dozens of Moleskine notebooks floating around my office and it simply became overwhelming trying to keep them organized. So, I switched to paper-like writing on the reMarkable tablet a few years ago. The reMarkable 2 has since been released, and it's even better than the first!
The reMarkable 2 is super thin (the world's thinnest tablet!), lightweight, and has a great feel to it. The marker also feels great in your hands and gives you that tactile experience of writing with an actual pen and paper. I have no doubt that was a difficult thing to achieve, but boy, did the mad scientists at reMarkable figure it out!
The tablet has a 1.2 GHz dual-core ARM processor, 1GB of LPDDR3 SDRAM, 8GH of internal storage (that can accommodate around 100,000 pages of notes), and a marker with tilt-detection capabilities, 4,096 levels of pressure, and a high-friction tip. The marker doesn't require charging, setup, or pairing, either!
Since the tablet has a Linux-based Codex that's optimized for e-paper applications, there is ultra-low latency. You really do get the feeling that you're writing on paper!
You also get 2.4GHz and 5GHz Wi-Fi, USB-C connectivity, and an accessory port, in addition to a 3000mAH battery that is rechargeable via USB-C and will last up to two weeks on a single charge.
It has a beautiful screen, too. The second-generation CANVAS display gives you 10.3-inches of diagonal viewing space with 1872 x 1404 resolution at 226 DPI. Add multi-point capacitive touch, a gorgeous monochrome display, and a writing latency of just 21 milliseconds to the list.
I've had my reMarkable 2 for several months now and have enjoyed it profusely. You can read more about my experience with it in this review.
Gifts for Photographers Under $500: SideTrak Solo 4k 15.6-Inch Touchscreen Freestanding Portable Monitor
One thing that photographers require to get their work done is a high-quality monitor.
Good monitors have clear, sharp displays, beautiful colors, and an immersive viewing experience. And for many photographers, having touchscreen capabilities is a must as well. You get all these things (and more!) with the SideTrak Solo 4K 15.6-inch Touchscreen Freestanding Portable Monitor.
Aside from the features listed above, this monitor offers the benefit of being incredibly compatible with other devices. It will work with both Mac and PC, as well as Chrome. It can even be used with gaming consoles!
The 15.6-inch 4K IPS LED screen offers gorgeous color rendition, thin bezels for a seamless picture, and a matte finish to reduce glare. Add to that 10-point touch G+FF technology that enables users to be more productive and multi-task.
You get adjustable settings for brightness, display settings, volume, and the screen orientation too.
And at 14.5” x 9” x 0.35” and 2.9 pounds, this is a lightweight, ultra-portable monitor that can go from the office to home to the field without issue.
With a budget of $500, you can get a lot of great gifts for the photographer on your list. Speaking from experience, a portable monitor is one of the best additions I’ve made to my kit - the photographer you’re shopping for will think the same when they unbox this monitor!
Gifts for Photographers Under $500: CanvasHQ Print
It's tough to beat a large-format canvas print as a holiday gift...
Canvas prints offer a classic look with an interesting texture that helps bring the image to life.
What's more, when it's a well-made canvas, like those from CanvasHQ, the print can become a family heirloom - something that you cherish for decades to come. What a powerful gift!
I have tons of canvases in my home, the vast majority of which are from CanvasHQ.
What appeals to me about these prints is the impeccable quality. There is a great level of detail and sharpness, beautiful color accuracy, and the frames on which the print is stretched are handmade with kiln-dried wood to ensure the frame stays square and true for years to come.
Additionally, these guys use archival-grade canvas and commercial-grade inks to ensure long-lasting durability.
They also have a new product - a variety of floating frames - that add a touch of elegance and depth to canvas prints.
The floating frames extend along the sides of the print and don't obscure the front of the print, that way you can see 100 percent of the image. It's a clean, dynamic finish that looks great!
But CanvasHQ isn't just tops in the quality department...
They have excellent customer service that makes you feel heard and as though you're the only customer they have to worry about at that moment.
These guys are committed to getting it right, so if something doesn’t go as planned, you won’t be hung out to dry.
If you have questions, they’ll answer them. If you have a problem, they’ll fix it. If you need assistance with uploading your photo or even picking the best finishes for your canvas, they’ve got your back!
Start shopping for your favorite photographer today on CanvasHQ.
Gifts for Photographers Under $500: Canon EOS Rebel T7 with 18-55mm Lens
If you have a photographer on your holiday gift list that wants to upgrade from using their cell phone or an older digital camera, the Canon EOS Rebel T7 is a great option.
The fine folks at Samy’s have the T7 bundled with an 18-55mm kit lens for just $449, so you can help your loved one advance their photography skills while being well under the $500 mark.
The Rebel line of cameras from Canon are aimed at beginner photographers, so they feature easy-to-use controls, yet they also offer features that will allow your loved one to learn new skills, perfect their photographic approach, and take high-quality images.
This camera has a 24.1-megapixel CMOS sensor that generates images that are resolute enough to create large-format prints. If instant sharing is preferable, you can do so easily with built-in WiFi and NFC to share images quickly and easily with family and friends.
Other features include a 3.0-inch LCD display, full HD video recording, up to 3 fps continuous shooting for action shots, and an ISO range of 100-6400. The Canon T7 also comes equipped with a built-in flash, a fast autofocus system, and the camera can be used as a webcam.
And since this bundle includes an 18-55mm zoom lens, your loved one will be able to begin using the camera right off the bat - no need for them to spend their own money on a lens. In other words, this is a perfect gift idea for the photography enthusiast on your list!
Gifts for Photographers Under $500: SideTrak Swivel Portable Monitor
As a photographer that has a laptop as my primary computer, I know the struggles of having enough screen space to get things done.
And my guess is that you have a photographer in your life that struggles with the same thing…
But the SideTrak Swivel Portable Monitor is a great solution to this problem.
You can instantly double the amount of screen space that’s available by attaching the SideTrak Swivel to the back of a laptop. It’s easy, too!
The Swivel attaches securely to the laptop screen using a device-safe metal plate and is compatible with any laptop size or operating system.
Once attached, the photographer on your holiday list will reap the benefits of having a 12.5-inch full HD screen in addition to the laptop screen. The Swivel can either mirror what’s on the laptop screen or extend it - whatever is needed!
Plus, the Swivel rotates 270-degrees and swivels 360-degrees for greater functionality and ease of use. Speaking of ease of use, it can be used while attached to a laptop or with the built-in kickstand in either landscape or portrait mode.
With features like auto screen rotation, adjustable brightness, and an anti-glare screen, this is a gift that’s loaded up with benefits.
Plus, at just 1.2 pounds, this monitor is something that can slide into a camera bag or briefcase and be taken on the road with ease.
SideTrak offers free standard shipping, a one-year warranty, and a risk-free 30-day program, too. That’s the kind of peace of mind you want when shopping for a gift for a loved one!
Gifts for Photographers Under $500: Sound Shark
The video capabilities of today's cameras have come a long way - I mean, we can record in 8K now!
But where modern cameras still lack high-quality performance is in their audio recording capabilities. That's why something like the Sound Shark from Klover Products is such a great gift idea for the photographer on your list.
The Sound Shark offers incredible clarity at a greater distance than a standard mic. So, if you're recording video, the person speaking doesn't even need to wear a microphone if they're within about six feet of the Sound Shark. The sound is truly amazing - it sounds like you're wearing a lavalier mic even when you aren't!
The parabolic design also helps eliminate background noise, so your video has clear, crisp audio to go with beautiful high-resolution video footage.
On top of that, the Sound Shark is water and weather-resistant, so if you get caught in an afternoon drizzle, you won't have to worry about your microphone getting damaged.
At just 10 ounces and 11” x 9” x 3” in size, this mic is lightweight and easy to use, too. It truly is an incredible gift idea if the photographer you're shopping for has aspirations to be a videographer.
Gifts for Photographers Under $500: f-stop Tilopa 50L DuraDiamond Travel and Adventure Camera Backpack
If the photographer on your holiday shopping list has a lot of gear that they need to carry easily, there's no better solution than this 50L bag from f-stop.
This new-and-improved Tilopa comes with all sorts of features like DuraDiamond 315D HT nylon ripstop material, an internal metal frame, and Contoured BLOOM EVA padded hip belt and shoulder straps for making it a comfortable carrying experience.
The bags by f-stop are always impeccably designed and built, and the new Tilopa is no exception...
It features 700 Nylon Ripstop lining fabric, 500mm Polyurethane coating, and heavy-duty stitching with industrial-bonded thread. There's even weatherproof heavy-gauge zippers that help ensure whatever photography gear is inside the bag stays nice and dry.
With 50 liters of capacity, this bag can accommodate a heck of a lot of gear. And all that gear can be neatly organized in a number of different f-stop ICUs that fit inside the bag.
And as if all those features aren't enough, the bag comes with a 45-day full satisfaction guarantee. If you don't like the bag, you get a full refund!
There's also a 20-year warranty against manufacturer defects for added peace of mind.
This is simply an incredible bag and one that any adventurous photographer would love to call their own!
Blackfire 500W Portable Power Station
I know what you’re thinking...why is there a portable power station on a gift guide for photographers?
Well, it’s simple! When your favorite photographer is out on a photo shoot and needs to charge their phone, tablet, drone batteries, camera batteries, or run their laptop or another small appliance like photography lights, they need a power source to do so. And this 500W Portable Power Station from Blackfire certainly fits the bill.
What’s so nice about this power station is that photographers can charge it up at home before they head out and have hours of clean, silent power for their devices. Better still, this power station can be charged in the car or with an optional solar panel, giving you three different ways of topping off the battery.
Keeping track of battery power and output is simple with the large, easy-to-read display on the front of the unit. There, you’ll find details about the battery like input and output data as well as how much time is needed to charge the battery (or how much time is left until the battery is empty).
In terms of power outputs, this power station packs a punch with a 12V DC port, two 120V AC ports, and four USB ports (two Type-A, one Type-C, and one Type-C PD). In other words, no matter what the photographer on your holiday list needs to charge up, this power station will have them covered.
I also really like the size of this power station. It weighs just 12.1 pounds and measures 11.8'' × 7.5'' × 7.3”, so it’s supremely portable. When you have a ton of camera gear to lug around, you don’t want to add a big, bulky power station to the mix. But since this one is so small and lightweight (and has a nice, big handle), it’s easy to carry from the car to the shoot location.
Whoever you give this to will appreciate the pedigree that’s associated with Blackfire. While Blackfire is new to the power station space, it’s owned by Klein Tools, which have been making high-quality tools for well over 150 years. It’s that kind of experience that you want behind a product you invest your hard-earned money in!
There are plenty of great gift ideas for the photographer in your life, but with a budget of $500, it’s tough to beat the versatility and functionality of this power station!
Gifts for Photographers Under $500: DJI Mini SE
If you live outside the United States you may have already had access to the DJI Mini SE for a while now, but for those of us in the U.S., it only recently became available.
This little drone weighs about as much as a smartphone, yet has a 30-minute flight time, a 2.7K camera, the ability to take 12MP photos, and a 3-axis gimbal. It’s also equipped with DJI’s QuickShot functions, including “circle,” “helix,” “rocket,” and “dronie.”
The Mini SE offers upgraded wind resistance as well. It can resist winds from 18 mph up to 23.6 mph. It can also take off at altitudes of 13,100 feet, so whether you're at the beach on a windy day or high in the mountains, this little drone will service you well.
The best news is that the Mini SE is priced at just $299. That’s a lot of bang for your buck, especially when you have a budget of $500.
Gifts for Photographers Under $500: Holdfast Sightseer Camera and Lens Modular System
One of the things that gets in the way of taking great photos is not being able to carry all the gear that you need in comfort. Additionally, problems arise when you aren’t able to easily access your gear when you need it.
The Holdfast Sightseer solves both of those problems for the photography lover on your shopping list this holiday season.
The Sightseer holds a crazy amount of gear for a small bag. That includes up to a 13-inch laptop, a camera with lens attached, two additional lenses, and all the needed accessories inside the bag.
But because it’s a modular system, you can add even more gear by adding Lens Pouches that attach to the exterior of the bag (or you can carry them on the Holdfast MoneyMaker or even on your own belt). That means that the big zoom lens that won’t fit in the bag can be carried safely in a padded Lens Pouch attached to the outside.
Since the Sightseer is a truly modular system, you can mix and match lens pouches as you need to carry as much or as little gear as the situation calls for. What’s more, this system can grow with you as you get more gear - start out lean and mean with just the Sightseer bag, and as more lenses are accumulated, add Lens Pouches as needed.
Better still, because your gear is easily accessible, you don’t have to worry about missing a shot.
It’s easy to carry, too. Just use the two sets of carrying handles, the shoulder strap, or attach it to the Holdfast MoneyMaker dual camera strap for a super easy way to get your gear from point A to point B.
These bags look amazing, too, with a waxed canvas and American Bison leather exterior and an Aztec flannel fleece interior. In other words, the Sightseer is the complete package!
Gifts for Photographers Under $500: Pre-Owned Canon EOS M50
A pre-owned camera is an ideal gift for a photographer because it saves you money and gives them a like-new gift that serves every purpose and function that the same brand-new camera would provide.
In this case, the Canon EOS M50 is a nice option for a beginner photographer's first camera or a more advanced photographer that needs a second camera body.
The M50 sports a 224.1-megapixel APS-C CMOS sensor that's paired with Canon's DIGIC 8 processor. If the photographer on your list likes to photograph wildlife or action, the 10 fps burst shooting rate will be a nice bonus.
This camera boasts a host of other features, too.
For example, it has a native ISO range of 100-25600 that's expandable to 51200 for shooting in low-light situations. It has a host of video capabilities as well, including UHD 4K video at 24fps, full HD video at 60fps, and 720p video at 120fps for slow-motion video capture.
For still imagery, the M50 has Dual Pixel CMOS AF, which helps generate accurate, sharp images thanks to quick autofocu performance. This feature also works for shooting video.
Add in 5-axis image stabilization to the mix and you have the makings of a well-featured camera for still photography and videography use!
Gifts for Photographers Under $500: f-stop Anja 37L DuraDiamond Travel and Adventure Camera Backpack
If the f-stop Tilopa 50-liter bag is a bit too big for your loved one's needs, the Anja 37-liter bag might just do the trick.
While this bag is smaller than the Tilopa, it offers many of the same upgrades and benefits discussed earlier.
For example, the outer shell is crafted of the same highly-durable DuraDiamond fabric that's also lighter, stronger, and more weather resistant than other materials.
The Anja also features weather-resistant zippers that are woven in for much greater strength.
The structure of the back is a combination of T6 aluminum and plastic that gives the bag loads of strength without adding weight. The aluminum frame shifts the weight of the pack to the hips for improved all-day comfort.
The bag has all kinds of organization and storage features inside, in the pockets, lid, and back panel.
And, like the Tilopa, the Anja can accommodate various ICUs, including the Slope Medium and the Pro Large.
Again, this bag is beautifully designed, impeccably crafted, and offers smart storage and organization for tons of gear. Talk about a great holiday gift idea!
Gifts for Photographers Under $500: Nomatic x Peter McKinnon Camera Pack
What photographer doesn't want or need an awesome camera bag?? As such, a camera bag is a fantastic idea for the photographer on your list.
My primary bag is the Peter McKinnon Nomatic Camera Pack, and I can't say enough about what an incredible bag this thing is.
As I explain in the video above, not only is this a beautiful bag, this is also incredibly versatile and full of features. Just take a look at some of its primary features:
You can tell that this bag was designed by a photographer. It is simply fantastic from the standpoints of size, customization, comfort, and ease of use.
This bag is $400, and while that might seem like a lot, when you consider that this is a bag that you’ll have for YEARS, it’s really a long-term investment. Besides, since there's compartments for camera gear and clothing, it's the perfect weekend bag!
Sure, you can buy a cheap bag, but when you are carrying around gear on your back, don’t you want the most comfortable bag you can get?
Gifts for Photographers Under $500: Colorado Tripod Company Aspen Ballhead
If you've never heard of Colorado Tripod Company, you've been missing out...
I've tested a number of their products, and regardless of whether it was a tripod or a ballhead, these guys have impressed the heck out of me.
If you have a photographer on your list, I strongly urge you to consider the Aspen Ballhead as a great gift idea for under $250. Here's why...
This ballhead has a capacity of 30 pounds, so even photographers with the largest camera and lens combination will be able to use this bad boy.
It's made of aluminum and comes in two different ball designs - standard and hollow - the latter of which weighs just .97 pounds.
The ballhead has an adjustable level clamp on top that's compatible with L-brackets and Arca plates. There's also dedicated friction control and replaceable locking knobs. On top of that, the patent-pending design eliminates panning drift.
I've used this ballhead in all sorts of scenarios taking photos and videos, and it has proven to be a durable, reliable, and easy-to-use ballhead that improves my workflow.
Plus, that hollow ball design is simply genius - it's one of those things that makes you say, "Why didn't someone think of that before?"
The hollow design helps save weight, which for landscape photographers is a BIG deal. Plus, this ballhead has an incredible range of motion that gives photographers all the versatility they need to capture their photos and videos. In fact, you can adjust the Aspen ballhead beyond the 90-degree limit, so you can likely move from vertical to horizontal orientation without having to adjust the tripod's legs. That's a HUGE benefit!