Top 10 Gifts for Photographers Under $500 - 2018 Edition
Image Credit: recep-bg via iStock
I know what you're thinking...
Photography gear is expensive, and $500 isn't going to get you anything that great for the photographers on your holiday shopping list.
Well, that couldn't be further from the truth!
In fact, there are some amazing products out right now that are well under that $500 mark that would make the perfect gift for a photographer.
Here's a few of my favorites...
Let’s face it - photography gear can be expensive. Really expensive.
That’s a problem year-round, but when you’re holiday shopping and have tons of gifts to buy, it’s even more difficult to justify getting your loved one the $1,000 lens that they really want.
Fortunately, Lensfinder can help in more ways than one.
On the one hand, you can find great deals on pre-owned camera lenses at Lensfinder.
That means that you can get a truly top-notch lens for the photographer in your life but do so without busting your budget. It’s a win-win!
On the other hand, if you have some old lenses that you don’t use anymore, you can list them for sale on Lensfinder. When the lens sells, you can use it for holiday spending money for the photographer in your life.
Image Credit: xxmmxx via iStock
The best part? You can list your lenses for sale for free.
There’s only a transaction fee (just 3.99%) when the lens sells (with a maximum fee of $500). If your lens doesn’t sell, there’s no charge at all!
And for peace of mind, the Lensfinder platform has advanced fraud filtering for both buyers and sellers as well as mediation services in the event that there’s a problem.
Payments are made and received via PayPal, so you can rest easy knowing that the transaction is safe and secure.
In other words, Lensfinder is the ideal solution for your holiday shopping needs. Either use it to find a loved one a killer lens or use it to sell old gear to pad your pockets for holiday spending!
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!
Learn more about the Holdfast Sightseer
Atlas Packs Athlete Camera Backpack
If your favorite photographer is an adventurer, traveler, landscape photographer, or otherwise needs a camera bag that can go just about anywhere and do just about anything, then the Atlas Packs Athlete Camera Backpack should definitely be on your radar as a top gift this year.
This thing is, in a word, incredible.
The 40L ripstop shell has a patent-pending origami camera core that makes it an incredibly versatile rig for photography gear.
In it's slimmed down size, the pack will carry 20L worth of gear, even though it measures just 7-inches deep.
But when it's time to hit the road, the Athlete pack can expand to double its storage capacity. Nice!
And as you can see in the graphic above, this pack is loaded for bear with features that make it comfortable to carry, easy to use, and safe for your gear.
Not only can you customize the waistbelt to precisely fit your frame, but the waistbelt is also super padded for comfort, structured to help support the weight of the pack, and it's removable, too!
On top of that, this pack is water resistant so you don't have to worry about your gear getting wet when you're pushing hard through rain, sleet, and snow.
Perhaps best of all, this pack was designed to make it easier for photographers to access their gear. That's why there's a rear-access compartment for a camera that makes it simple to retrieve yet difficult for thieves to steal.
With that combination of features, it's tough to beat this bag for the adventurous photographer on your holiday list. After all, there's a reason why National Geographic named it one of the best camera bags for travelers!
Learn more about the Atlas Packs Athlete Camera Backpack
SIRUI SR-3004 Tripod
If the photographer in your life has been lamenting using their old, beat up tripod, then the SIRUI SR-3004 tripod is a gift to strongly consider giving them.
This 4-section tripod is made of lightweight aluminum that makes it strong and stable without being heavy.
This thing can hold a massive 55 pounds of photography gear but is easy to carry given that it retracts to just 21.4-inches high.
With a maximum height of 59 inches and a minimum height of just 4.7 inches, it gives photographers an incredible array of possibilities for framing up their shots, too.
Something that I really appreciate about this tripod is its twist leg lock system.
With just a 1/2 turn, you can lock the leg sections in place. That means that when time is of the essence, this tripod can be set up in a matter of seconds.
And with a three-position leg angle mechanism, the tripod can be set up to take shots in a fully upright position, down at ground level, and points in between, too.
In other words, the SIRUI SR-3004 tripod is rock-solid, easy to set up, and gives photographers loads of options for improving their photos.
Learn more about the SIRUI SR-3004 tripod
Formatt-Hitech Patrick Di Fruscia Signature Edition Filter Kit
Formatt-Hitech has put together an excellent pro essentials filter kit that any photographer would love to receive this holiday season.
Designed by Patrick Di Fruscia, a renown nature photographer, this kit has an 85 x 85mm Firecrest 1.2 neutral density filter that reduces the amount of light that enters the lens by four stops.
With that kind of light-stopping power, photographers can easily create beautiful long exposure images that blur clouds, water, and other elements in nature photos for a dreamy and ethereal look.
What's more, the kit includes an 85 x100mm Firecrest three-stop graduated neutral density filter. This filter has a soft transition from the filtered to the non-filtered area, making it the perfect tool for evening out the exposure in a landscape in which the sky is bright, the landscape is dark, and there's no definite horizon.
In both cases, these filters have a whopping 15 layers of anti-reflection coating to ensure that ghosting, flare, and other aberrations aren't a problem.
Additionally, Formatt-Hitech filters are known for their durability and longevity, so this is a gift that will keep on giving for years to come.
And perhaps best of all, it's only $250, so you can get a great gift for the photographer on your list and save a ton of money at the same time!
Learn more about the Formatt-Hitech Patrick Di Fruscia Signature Edition Filter Kit
GoPro Hero6 Black
We all have friends and relatives that are adrenaline junkies. Who knows, you might be too! The GoPro Hero6 is the ideal companion for all the adventures that you and your loved ones undertake.
The Hero6 offers gorgeous 4K60 and 1080p240 video that allows you to turn the next trip to the ski slopes or the next adventure at the beach into a cinematic masterpiece. In fact, creating and sharing videos has never been easier with the GoPro App.
Naturally, the Hero6 is a rugged camera that’s waterproof (up to 33 feet), dustproof, and virtually indestructible as well. But under the hood, this thing is even more impressive…
It has a new GP1 chip that offers twice the video frame rates, improved dynamic range and image quality, and excellent low-light performance. The Hero6 also has advanced video stabilization for smooth videos, options for single photos, burst photos, and night photos, as well as video looping, time lapse photography, and time lapse video capabilities.
Additionally, there’s a two-inch touchscreen display for easily changing settings and reviewing your images, HDR and RAW photo capture capabilities, voice control for ten different languages, and Bluetooth and WiFi, too.
In other words, this thing is a power-packed, feature-rich camera that anyone on your holiday list will appreciate. And you’ll appreciate the price that’s under $500!
Learn more about the GoPro Hero6
Pre-Owned Canon EOS Rebel T6i
If you're shopping for a photographer that's looking for an upgrade to their first camera, the Canon EOS Rebel T6i is a great choice.
This camera has a 24.2-megapixel APS-C CMOS sensor that's paired with Canon's DIGIC 6 image processor.
That means that the photographer on your list can take high-resolution photos in a wide range of conditions from sunny to cloudy landscapes to bright or dark interior portraits.
That's thanks in part to the T6i's excellent ISO range that can expand up to 25600.
This is a modern camera, to be sure, with features like NFC for quick and easy transfer of photos and Wi-Fi for connecting to other devices.
Using the Camera Connect Mobile APP, photographers can quickly and effortlessly transfer their images and videos right from the camera to the cloud for safekeeping.
This is an excellent mid-range camera that offers tons of features, superb performance, and that works with Canon's extensive lineup of EF and EF-S lenses. And with MPB's thorough system of inspecting gear, you can rest assured that the pre-owned model you select will be what arrives at your door, in the condition as stated.
That means you get great gear while saving tons of money!
Learn more about the Canon EOS Rebel T7i
The Vest Guy Colorado Vest
If you have a professional photographer on your holiday shopping list, a great option is to give them a Made in the USA photography vest from The Vest Guy.
Ideal for photographers of all kinds - from portrait and sports photography, to wildlife photographers and more, these vests offer the height of comfort and convenience thanks to hundreds of hours of in-field testing. The fact the The Vest Guy has been crafting vests for nearly 30 years speaks volumes about their tried-and-true methods of design and craftsmanship.
The model featured here - the Colorado Vest - is fully loaded with features that will help your loved one’s photography adventures go off without a hitch.
The camera strap keeps the camera mounted and at the shooter’s fingertips with easy adjustability for a custom fit.
The large cargo pockets on the front offer tons of storage - you can carry an extra camera body in one pocket and use the other to stow a 100-400mm lens with the lens hood reversed or use the adjustable pocket divider to carry multiple lenses.
Your favorite photographer won’t have to worry about scratching up lens filters with the Colorado Photo Vest’s dedicated filter pocket. Heck, there’s even the option to add a hydration pack, padded shoulders, an additional camera strap, custom name tags, and more!
One of the best gifts you can give a photographer is gear that enables them to work more efficiently and in greater comfort. The Vest Guy Colorado Vest certainly does that - and more!
Perhaps best of all, it’s way below the $500 threshold, so you can give an awesome gift to the photographer on your list without breaking the bank. It’s a win-win!
Learn more about The Vest Guy Colorado Vest
Petzl DUO S Headlamp
I'm a big fan of Petzl headlamps...
I use one when I'm out adventuring for nighttime photos in the desert, at the beach, and points in between.
And having a handy light that is ultra-powerful is invaluable when hunting for dark skies to take awesome photos of the night sky.
If you have a photographer on your list, you might consider giving them the ultimate headlamp - the Petzl DUO S.
This thing is not just powerful, but it's also waterproof and rechargeable. It can put out an astounding 1100 lumens, too!
Additionally, Petzl has integrated FACE2FACE anti-glare technology into this headlamp, that way if the photographer on your list has a companion with them at the photo shoot, they can look at one another without blinding each other with their headlamps.
If there was ever a headlamp that can handle long nights, poor weather, and tough conditions, this is it!
Learn more about the Petzl DUO S Headlamp
Drone photography is here to stay, and if your favorite photographer has been itching to take to the skies, the DJI Spark is a great drone for doing so.
Though the Spark is quite small, it's packed with features that any photographer will love.
It's got a 12-megapixel camera for still photos and 1080p video.
With intelligent flight control options, it's easy to fly, too, even for novices.
The Spark can fly at a top speed of 31mph and can stay in the air for up to 16 minutes on a fully-charged battery, so there's plenty of options for exploring the skies in search of those special photos and videos.
Its mechanical 2-axis gimbal will make those photos and videos silky smooth, too!
The DJI Spark bundle from Drone World even throws in a free remote, so you get even more value for your dollar.
And since this bundle is well below the $500 mark, you can save a little money, too.
Learn more about the DJI Spark
This holiday season, why not give the photographer on your list the gift of an upgraded camera?
A perfect choice for beginner and enthusiast photographers is the Nikon D3400.
The D3400 is loaded with features that make it an excellent choice for photographers that want a nice mix of performance, modern features, and value.
The 24-megapixel CMOS APS-C sensor has a reputation for capturing clear, crisp, images with excellent color rendition and contrast. Since the D3400 lacks an anti-aliasing filter, its images are even sharper!
With an ISO range of 100-25600, this camera performs well whether it’s being used in broad daylight, a dim interior space, or anywhere in between.
For action shooters, the 11-point autofocus system and 5fps continuous shooting capabilities mean photos of the kids playing soccer won’t be blurry. That’s thanks in part to the D3400’s Face Detection Autofocus feature as well.
Since modern photography is all about sharing the images you take, Nikon integrated Bluetooth into this camera for easy connectivity to other devices.
Speaking of other devices, you can control the camera remotely via a handy smartphone app, making taking great photos even easier.
Best of all, the Nikon D3400 is a newer camera on the market so you can give your favorite photographer a modern camera with all the features they’d need to improve their photography. And you’ll love the fact that this thing is under $500 - with an 18-55mm VR lens included - thanks to Paul’s Photo!
Learn more about the Nikon D3400
ProMediaGear Sputnik Ball Head
One thing that sets excellent ball heads apart from so-so ball heads is ease of use, and this ProMediaGear Sputnik Ball Head is about as easy to use as they come.
With a large lock-down knob, you can easily level your camera or recompose the shot.
Additionally, this ball head offers 90-degrees of tilt in every direction so you can frame up your photos exactly how you want them. The built-in bubble level will help you keep your photos nice and straight, too!
The composite and stainless steel materials used to build this ball head are top-notch as well, and ensures that the ball head will be durable for years and years to come.
Securing a camera to the ball head is a breeze, too.
The included C60 camera clamp knob secures the camera to the ball head, and its panning base allows you to move the camera as you need.
With a load capacity of up to 20 pounds, this thing is a workhorse that any professional photographer will appreciate!
Learn more about the ProMediaGear Sputnik Ball Head