aputure Photography Articles

2019 Best Lights for Photographers

2019 best lights for photographers

Since photography is all about good light, one of the most important things you can have in your camera bag is a top-notch light.

Now, I know what you’re thinking - using artificial lights is expensive and time-consuming and difficult to learn.

And maybe that was true back in the day when you had to invest in big, heavy lighting gear to get the job done.

But these days, there are all kinds of small, portable, and affordable lights for photographers that make it far simpler to get just the right light for your photos.

That being the case, let’s check out the best lights for photographers that we’ve tested in 2019.

Hakutatz Pocket Size RGB+AW LED Light

hakutatz best lights for photographers 1

As its name indicates, this little light fits in your pocket, but don’t let its small size fool you…

With amber, white, and RGB LEDs, you can come up with virtually any kind of light you need for your photos.

Add visual interest and drama with any color of the spectrum using the RGB lights or get the perfect white balance using the amber or white lights.

Editor's Note: The Hakutatz Kickstarter campaign was a huge success! Their Amazon store will be open and ready for orders in early December.

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Whatever the case, you can fine-tune the settings using the companion app. That means that with a simple touch or swipe of your finger, you can adjust the RGB color, the color temperature, special effects, and even control multiple lights at the same time. 

You can adjust saturation and brightness, too, so you don’t need to invest in other lighting gear like diffusers or softboxes. All you need is in this one little portable light!

Learn more about the Hakutatz Pocket Size RGB+AW LED Light

PilotFly AtomCube RX1 RGBCW LED Video Light

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When considering what lights made this list of the best lights of 2019, one of the first to come to mind is the little guy shown above.

The AtomCube RX1 from PilotFly is another excellent example of how far lighting for photography and videography has come in the last few years.

Not only is this a key light in your pocket, but it’s also packed with features that will help you achieve your creative vision.

For example, it has nine common lighting scenarios built right in, that way you can quickly and easily implement a lighting scheme. Likewise, it offers tons of adjustments, from the color temperature to the brightness to the color saturation.

This light is also fully dimmable from 0-100 percent, so you can truly get the precise level of light you need for the shot or video sequence you’re working on.

For example, it has nine common lighting scenarios built right in, that way you can quickly and easily implement a lighting scheme. Likewise, it offers tons of adjustments, from the color temperature to the brightness to the color saturation.

This light is also fully dimmable from 0-100 percent, so you can truly get the precise level of light you need for the shot or video sequence you’re working on.

If you need to create a more elaborate lighting setup, PilotFly has you covered because you can link up to 255 AtomCubes together via Bluetooth. And don’t worry about the light not being consistent - these lights are calibrated so you get color tone and brightness that looks the same across multiple lights, especially when they’re mounted together using Magic Cubes.

You can then control all those lights using the AtomCube smartphone app. Literally with just a few taps of your phone, you can adjust brightness, change the color temperature, and create an unlimited number of groups of lights, all in real-time. It doesn’t get much more convenient than that when you’re multitasking at a photo shoot!

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The high-strength, all-aluminum frame makes this light super lightweight, yet incredibly durable, so it’ll be a solid companion and workhorse for you for years to come.

Add in a three-hour battery life on full power, a CRI of 95+, a TLCI of 97, and a variety of lighting accessories to expand your creative possibilities even further, and you begin to see just what a high-quality, reliable light this thing is!

Learn more about the AtomCube RX1 RGBCW LED Video Light 

Litra Studio

Weighing in at just 33.5 ounces and measuring 5.5" x 3.9" x 2.9", this light is ultra-compact for easy transport, yet is capable of producing up to 3,000 lumens of continuous light and up to 6,00 lumens of flash. Nice!

Better still, the light is fully dimmable, tunable, and offers CCT, HSI, RGBWW, gel presets, flash modes, and effects as well.

It CCT mode, the light gives you 2,000-10,000K adjustable bi-color lighting with a green and magenta color shift control to allow for tunable blue and green screen optimization.

 It also offers flicker-free lighting at all shutter angles and features a 97 CRI and TLCI color accuracy.

With a rugged, waterproof design, efficient passive thermal management, and up to 20 hours of battery life on the lowest setting, this light is one of the best lights for photographers this year, hands down. 

Learn more about the Litra Studio

Andycine Boling P1 RGB Pocket LED Light

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Designed for video use, the Andycine Boling P1 is pocket-sized for easy transport and has a 360-degree mount to make manipulating the direction of light a quick and simple task.

In RGB mode, the light gives you 360 unique colors so you can get just the right light for each situation.

Color temperature is adjustable - from 2500-8500K - giving you the ability to match any ambient light sources. There are also nine built-in special effects, including candles, car lights, and lightning.

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The rechargeable battery will give you over two hours of continuous use and has a built-in feature that prevents overheating.

This light is fully dimmable, has a CRI of 96 and a TLCI of 97, and has a ¼-20” shoe mount for easy mounting.

Learn more about the Andycine Boling P1 RGB Pocket LED Light

iLED 144 Bi-Color Flood Light

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Another option for an affordable light for your photography work is the iLED 144 Bi-Color Flood Light.

This unit is just over 5 x 3 inches in size, so it offers excellent portability while also offering high-quality LED lighting.

Its solid construction means you get a light that's durable and reliable, and that will offer professional-grade performance for the long-term.

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It utilizes energy-efficient bi-color LEDs and a 60-degree angle that gives you the reliable, consistent lighting you need to elevate the quality of your photos.

You can quickly and easily adjust the dimmer as well as the color temperature (from 3200-5600K) so you can dial in just the right lighting too!

This stackable on-camera light is also an affordable option that won't break the bank. What's not to like about that?!

Learn more about the iLED 144 Bi-Color Flood Light

Litra Torch LitraPro

As I noted in my LitraPro review, this little light is one of the smallest you can buy at just 6 ounces and measuring 2.75 x 2 x 1.2 inches. 

But Litra has packed 60 LEDs into this light, which gets you 1200 lumens of light for your photos.

The light is flicker-free, crisp, even, and very clean, which is just what the doctor ordered when it comes to getting high-quality light for your photos and videos!

The LitraPro offers bi-color light and has an adjustable color temperature of 3,000-6,000K so you can customize the lighting for each specific shot. 

It has a 70-degree beam angle, is waterproof up to 90 feet, and has a 10-hour battery life on low output. 

Add to that MIL-SPEC 810 durability, a bright OLED display, and Bluetooth control, and you have the makings of one of the best small photography lights you can get your hands on!

Learn more about the Litra Torch LitraPro

Aputure 120D II

If it’s a powerful studio light that you’re after, the Aputure 120d II performed very well in our review.

With a 1000-watt tungsten equivalent, fully dimmable light, and a CRI & TLCI of 97+, this light gives you beautifully clean output.

It comes with many different built-in lighting effects that enable you to create a more custom and interesting look in your images.

It has an integrated power and control box, which helps minimize clutter in your studio, and with an 18dB quiet fan, you won’t have to listen to a loud fan as you try to work with your clients.

I had the original 120d and while it was an excellent light, this one takes its spot on this list of the best lights for photographers because it’s 25 percent brighter than the original. It’s color temperature is also slightly warmer (5500K rather than 6000K) which I particularly like. 

Add in a wireless remote, DMX controls, and good portability, and you have a light that ticks all the boxes for a quality addition to your studio.

Learn more about the Aputure 120d II

LitraTorch 2.0 

This is yet another light I’ve reviewed this year that left me really impressed.

Not to be outdone in the smallness department, the LitraTorch 2.0 is by far the smallest light on this list, measuring 1.5 x 1.5 x 1.65 inches and weighing just 3.17 ounces. 

In terms of portability, that’s hard to beat!

This light has 16 LEDs that offer 100, 450, or 800 lumens depending on what you need for the shot.

Regardless of the lumen output, you’ll get clean, crisp, flicker-free light with a 70-degree beam angle. As you’d expect from one of the best lights for photographers in 2019, this one offers a CRI of 90+ and a TLCI of 92.

You can use the light on its low setting for up to four hours or get about 35 minutes of output on the maximum brightness.

It’s also waterproof to 60 feet in case you need to do a little scuba diving, has a magnet for easily attaching to metal surfaces, and two ¼-20 mounts too.

Like the other lights on this list, the LitraTorch 2.0 is simply a versatile, do-anything light!

Learn more about the LitraTorch 2.0

Aputure Amaran AL-M9

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Rounding out my list of the best lights for photographers in 2019 is this little guy, the Aputure Amaran AL-M9.

This daylight-balanced LED light offers surprising brightness for such a small fixture.

It has a color temperature of 5500K and comes with a removable diffuser, CTO, and CTB filter. There are 9 steps of dimming as well.

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The integrated battery gives you about two hours of runtime on full brightness when fully charged, and it can be charged quickly using the optional USB charger.

There are multiple mounting options as well, including as a cold shoe accessory or on a ¼-20 mounting point.

And at $45.00, it’s the cheapest light on this list!

Learn more about the Aputure Amaran AL-M9

 



We Recommend


Best On-Camera Video Lights

best on camera video lights

Photo by insung yoon on Unsplash

I try my best to be a bargain shopper, but oftentimes my friends are shooting with extremely advanced on-camera lights that make me feel behind. 

I don't want to go broke over something as simple as on-camera video lights, but I also don't want to be shooting bad videos because I'm cheap.

I've looked long and hard for DSLR video lights that are both inexpensive and excellent at what they do. Here is my top 5 list of them. 

Table of Contents

Litra Torch LitraPro

top on camera video lights

I covered the LitraPro more deeply in a review a few months back, but allow me to recap.

The LitraPro is mid-range in terms of price, ringing in at $220, but top-shelf in terms of its capabilities.

Litra Torch LitraPro Specs

Each LitraPro is comprised of 60 individual LED lights, which is pretty impressive considering the overall size of 2.75 x 2 x 1.2 inches. 

You can also adjust the color temperature between 3000K and 6000K. 

Altogether, the light has 1200 lumens of output.

One of my favorite qualities on the LitraPro is that it's waterproof up to 90 feet. It also has dual industry-standard 1/4 20 mounts.

If you run the LitraPro for an hour at max output, the battery will last you one hour. But, if you run it at min output, that extends to 10 hours.

Finally, the LitraPro comes with full dimming capabilities and Bluetooth connectivity. 

Litra Torch LitraPro Capabilities

Litra products are built like you're heading into a warzone, which I really appreciate. The LitraPro is no different. This on-camera video light has been MIL-SPEC 810 tested, and for those of you who don't know, this test is used by the U.S. military to determine whether a product is ready to be shocked, thrown, dropped and put into extreme temperatures.

The 1200 lumens on this light extend up to 9.5 feet. It also features a 70-degree beam angle, which means it provides flicker-free light at any angle. 

Learn More About Litra Torch LitraPro

Litra Torch 2.0

I'm on a Litra kick lately. I also recently reviewed the Litra Torch 2.0 a few weeks ago, which you can read in full here. 

The Litra Torch 2.0 is a good alternative to the LitraPro because of its $90 price tag.

Litra Torch 2.0 Specs

The 2.0 is tinier than the LitraPro, at just 1.5 x 1.5 x 1.65 inches. It uses 16 LEDs and offers three lumen settings at 800, 450 and 100.

It features a color temperature of 5700K with a CRI of 90+ and TLCI of 92. 

Litra Torch 2.0 Capabilities

The Litra Torch 2.0, like the LitraPro, offers a 70-degree beam angle. It's also waterproof, but to "only" until 60 feet. 

The best capability of the 2.0, in my opinion, is that it has a built-in magnet so you can stick it to any metal surface, which means no more messing around with implementing lights.

The 2.0 produces its max output for 35 minutes on one battery charge or up to 4 hours of min output. 

Learn More About Litra Torch 2.0

Yongnuo YN-14EX TTL Macro Ring Light

best led lights for video

You can't discuss the best on-camera video lights and not discuss Yongnuo. Yongnuo is known for building the cheapest professional quality video equipment, and the YN-14EX TTL Macro Ring Light is no different.

This macro ring light is currently on sale for $104 on Adorama. It, like the Litra Torch, features a color temperature of 5700K. 

Yongnuo YN-14EX TTL Macro Ring Light Specs

This macro ring is compatible with 52, 58, 67 and 72mm lenses. Each side of the macro ring can be independently adjusted, which could be helpful to create more depth, particularly in macro photography.

It's charge recycle time is also just 3 to 5 seconds. 

This macro ring light also talks to you, so you know exactly what your light readings are despite the fact that you're not looking at them at all. 

Finally, you just need AA batteries to power it!

Learn More About Yongnuo YN-14EX TTL Macro Ring Light

Viltrox L132T On-Camera Bi-Color LED Light

on camera video lights in 2019

Viltrox is a relatively new company in the top on-camera video lights field.

The company was founded in 2007 and primarily focuses on LED lights and HDMI equipment.

Viltrox L132T On-Camera Bi-Color LED Light Specs

The Viltrox on-camera bi-color LED light features LEDs with CE, EMC, FCC, and RoHS certifications. Rest assured, these LED lights are top of the line.

The LED also features a honeycomb design, which is popular amongst designers.

The light is amongst the biggest of the DSLR video lights I've highlighted here at 10 x 3.9 x 1.2 inches. 

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It features color temperatures ranging from 3300K to 5600K. The brightness is almost fully adjustable, ranging from 20%-100%.

Its LCD screen is easier to read than any of the other best LED lights for video featured here.

It has a 120-degree light angle, thanks in great part to its extra size and weight.

Finally, it also features 95+ RCI. 

Learn More About VILTViltrox L132T On-Camera Bi-Color LED Light

Aputure Amaran HR672W CRI95+ On-Camera Video LED Light

on camera video lights

The search for on-camera video lights in 2019 is especially stressful considering just how much you can spend on one.

I love Aputure because, while their products are considered an investment, they are still reasonable.

This on-camera video light is for sale for $278, but I guarantee you won't need to buy another DSLR video light for many years to come.

Aputure Amaran HR672W CRI95+ On-Camera Video Light Specs

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This light is about the size of an iPad, with a thickness of 32mm. It produces a natural light at a 5500K color temperature. 

Like the Viltrox, this video LED light features an RCI 95+. Like the Litra, it features a 75-degree light angle. 

The most fun quality about the Aputure Amaran is that you can remotely control it from up to 100 meters.

It can be used for 2 hours on max output, and the light actually charges the batteries when in use if you are using the power cord to charge the light, which can indefinitely extend your shooting time.

Finally, you can control 4 different groups of this light to create more depth in your shots. Not bad, right?

Learn More About Aputure Amaran HR672W CRI95+ Bi-Color LED Light



We Recommend


Photography Lighting Equipment Worth Checking Out

Photography Lighting Equipment Worth Checking Out

Photo by insung yoon on Unsplash

In the market for new photography lighting equipment?

You’ve come to the right place…

Whether you need lighting for photoshoots, video work, or both, the gear outlined below is some of the best photography lighting equipment on the market today.

With a range of products with varying capabilities, functionalities, and prices, you’ll be able to find the ideal light for your needs and your budget in the list below.

Let’s get to it! 

Table of Contents

Best Photography Lighting Equipment: Aputure 120d II

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A few weeks back, I wrote an Aputure 120d II review in which I proclaimed that after just a month of using it in my home studio that it had already proven itself one of the best lights I’ve ever used.

That still holds true about seven weeks into my ownership of this light. It is simply incredible, which is why I’ve placed it at the top of this list of the best photography lighting gear. 

This light is deserving of the top spot for a multitude of reasons:

  • 1000-watt Tungsten equivalent
  • Dimmable from 100 percent down to just 1 percent
  • CRI & TLCI 97+
  • Built-in lighting effects
  • Integrated power and control box
  • 18 dB quiet fan

And that’s just the start…

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The 120d II is also 25 percent brighter than its predecessor and has a slightly warmer color temperature (5500K as compared to 6000K in the original 120d).

It has a wireless remote that works up to 328 feet, DMX controls, and is extremely portable as well. The yoke has been redesigned to make it more functional, and the handbrake offers a secure lock to prevent the light from moving.

Truly, from its design and construction to its features and specs to its ease of use, this light has proven to be top of the class. Aputure has clearly put a lot of thought and effort into this refresh of their 120d. It isn’t a cheap light, that’s for sure, but when the quality of the light you use matters, it’s a smart investment to opt for a top-quality light like the Aputure 120d II.

Learn more about the Aputure 120d II

Best Photography Lighting Equipment: Geekoto GT-200

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If it’s a flash speedlite you’re after, the Geekoto GT-200 is a very solid choice.

This little guy is highly portable - it fits in your pocket - and yet still offers flash power up to 200W.

You’ll appreciate the 2.4G wireless control and the 3.5mm sync jack that allows you to choose from a variety of synchronous triggering methods from as much as 200 feet away.

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Speaking of triggers, this unit is compatible with both Geekoto triggers and Godox XPro triggers as well. Either way, you get wide power adjustment and color temperature selections.

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This light comes as part of a kit as well, so you get the flash, a light stand, a quick-folding softbox, a filter magnet soft cover, and a carrying case as well. Talk about value!

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This unit also offers wide power adjustment range from 1/1 to 1/128 with 22 levels of fine-tuning to get the precise light output you need.

Add to that battery power for more than 500 full-power flashes, support for 1/8000-second high-speed synchronization, and an included set of color filters, and you have the makings of a high-quality, functional flash that you can literally carry in your pocket. Not bad!

Learn more about the Geekoto GT-200

Best Photography Lighting Equipment: LitraTorch LitraPro

Best Photography Lighting Equipment LitraTorch LitraPro 1 

Where other lights are portable, the LitraTorch Pro is ultra portable.

As I note in my full LitraPro review, this thing weighs just 6 ounces and measures 2.75 x 2 x 1.2 inches. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a smaller light than that!

But don’t think that because it’s a tiny light that it doesn’t have the power to illuminate your photos or videos.

To the contrary, the LitraPro has 60 LEDs that put out an amazing amount of light - 1200 lumens of clear, crisp, flicker-free light.

Best Photography Lighting Equipment LitraTorch LitraPro 2 

But perhaps the best feature of this light isn’t its output, but the fact that it’s bi-color and adjustable from 3000K to 6000K. Add in a 70-degree beam angle, and you have a light that gives you excellent, customizable light coverage.

You can get about 10 hours of operating time out of its batteries, and with MIL-SPEC 810 construction, you can really put it through its paces without worry of damaging the light.

In other words, the LitraPro offers the functionality, performance, and durability that action photographers and videographers demand. 

Learn more about the LitraTorch LitraPro

Best Photography Lighting Equipment: Aputure AL-MW

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When it comes to lights that are bright, rugged, and waterproof, the Aputure AL-MW certainly delivers. 

This unit provides you with an astounding 6000 lux output - twice that of its predecessor - yet it is small enough to fit in your pocket. That’s because this little light uses the same COB technology found in the impeccable Aputure 300d, which means you get the best of both worlds - superb brightness and unparalleled portability.

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More than that, the folks at Aputure made sure that this little light offers perfect color fidelity. As you’d expect from an Aputure light, the AL-MW has a CRI and TLCI rating of 95+.

Additionally, Aputure has stuffed the AL-MW with all kinds of features, including five pre-programmed lighting effects, a battery that runs for 24 hours on minimum power, a waterproof and dustproof housing, and a gel holder with a variety of CTO and CTB filters.

All things considered, the Aputure AL-MW is certainly worthy of consideration as the ideal mini light for your photography and videography kit!

Learn more about the Aputure AL-MW

Best Photography Lighting Equipment: LitraTorch 2.0

Best Photography Lighting Equipment LitraTorch 2.0 1

By far the smallest light on this list, the LitraTorch 2.0 comes in at a scant 3.17 ounces and measuring 1.5 x 1.5 x 1.65 inches. That’s a small light! 

But, again, Litra has figured out how to cram a ton of lighting into a small package, as the LitraTorch 2.0 has 16 LEDs that offer 100, 450, or 800 lumens depending on your needs.

Like the LitraPro, this unit puts out crisp, clean, and flicker-free light with a 70-degree beam angle. Its color temperature is 5700K and has a CRI of 90+ and a TLCI of 92.

Best Photography Lighting Equipment LitraTorch 2.0 2

Litra also worked to ensure that this second-generation LitraTorch works harder and longer. It has a 10-percent longer battery life that gives you 35 minutes of illumination on maximum output and more than four hours of output on the low setting.

It’s waterproof up to 60 feet, has two ¼-20 mounts, and has a magnet for attaching it to metal surfaces as well.

This is simply a versatile, go-anywhere, do-anything light!

Learn more about the LitraTorch 2.0

Best Photography Lighting Equipment: CLAR Maxin MX-B15 

Best Photography Lighting Equipment CLAR Maxin MX B15 1

Available in 12 x 12 and 12 x 24 sizes, the CLAR Maxin MX-B15 is a perfect light for your studio.

This light has bi-color LED fixtures that offer 3200-5600K color temperatures and the ability to dim from 100 percent to 0 percent at the touch of a button. This unit employs SMD LED technology that has excellent color accuracy and 95+ CRI. 

You’ll love the fact that this light has a companion app so you can control the light with your smartphone. The app allows you to fine-tune everything from the light’s power status to its light intensity values to its color temperature. You can even control DMX channeling via the app.

Best Photography Lighting Equipment CLAR Maxin MX B15 2

You’ll get 120-degrees of cool, flicker-free light, and with an aluminum housing and vents, the light itself stays cool despite its incredible light output.

The solid frame has incorporated barn doors as well as a tilting yoke stand adaptor so you can customize the breadth and height of the light.

The 12 x 12 model utilizes a single Sony BP V series battery while the 12 x 24 model utilizes two. In either case, you get long-lasting power for your photo and video projects!

Learn more about the CLAR Maxin MX-B15

Best Photography Lighting Equipment: ANDYCINE Portable Boling P1 RGB Video Light

Best Photography Lighting Equipment ANDYCINE Portable Boling P1 RGB Video Light

If you’re after a dedicated video light, this rig from ANDYCINE should be at the top of your list.

With a 360-degree arm support and an adjustable bracket arm, you can position this light precisely where you want it to illuminate your video sequences.

It’s svelte size - it’s barely more than .5 pounds and ½-inches thick - makes it super portable and easily mountable on a tripod. Its durable construction means you don’t have to worry about it getting damaged under normal working conditions either.

This lightoffers full color output from 2500K-8500K, nine built-in lighting simulations, and a battery that will get you more than two hours of shooting time on full power as well.

It’s simply a feature-packed, highly-portable light that’s perfect for video work in the field.

Learn more about the ANDYCINE Portable Boling P1 RGB Video Light

 



We Recommend


Top 10 Gifts for Photographers Under $1,000 - 2019 Edition

Top 10 Gifts for Photographers Under 1000

 photo bykrystiannawrocki via iStock

The holidays are getting ever closer. That means we all need to get on our game and start making shopping lists for our loved ones.

But if you ask me, photographers are one of the toughest groups of people to satisfy. Many of us are picky and if you aren’t a photographer yourself, you might not know what the best gifts for photographers might be.

So before all the Black Friday sales begin to crop up, consult our list of the top gifts for photographers so you know what to keep your eye out for when holiday shopping really begins to get underway.

Gifts for Photographers Under $1,000: CanvasHQ Prints

canvashq 2019 gift guide 1 image

If you’re like me, sometimes finding the perfect gift for certain loved ones is a long, drawn-out process that causes tons of stress, and often you still don’t get something that totally blows them away.

I think a lot of photographers fall into this category. We have specific likes, and many of us already have most of what we want or need gear-wise, and what we don’t have is usually too expensive to put on a Christmas wish-list anyway.

But for all those hard-to-shop-for photographers on your 2019 holiday shopping list, I have the perfect solution - a canvas print.

canvashq gift guide 2019 3 image

Think about it… 

A canvas print is a gift that keeps on giving.

Not only can you immortalize one of your favorite images from your favorite photographer, but you also give them a means to showcase their work in a format that’s drop-dead gorgeous.

I have tons of canvases in my home, the vast majority of which are from CanvasHQ.

canvashq gift guide 2019 2 image

Now, I know what you’re thinking - canvas is old school.

Sure, maybe it is, but I’m telling you that these canvas prints from CanvasHQ are mind-bogglingly beautiful. In fact, they go head-to-head with any metal or acrylic print I have in my home.

The attention to detail is just amazing, and the materials they use are top-of-the-line. We’re talking archival-grade canvas, commercial-grade inks that are water and UV resistant, and kiln-dried pine frames to keep everything straight and true.

I love the personality that the canvas texture gives my images. That’s true whether it’s a portrait of my son or a landscape photo.

canvashq gift guide 2019 4 image

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the customer service you get with CanvasHQ.

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.

In the video above, I explain why I highly recommend a CanvasHQ canvas print as the ideal gift for the photographer on your holiday shopping list.

Start shopping for your favorite photographer today on CanvasHQ!

Gifts for Photographers Under $1,000: Holdfast Roamographer 

holdfast 1

With a $1,000 holiday budget, you can give the photographer on your list a gift that is impeccably designed, highly functional, and way under budget, too. 

The Holdfast Roamographer bag is one of the finest leather camera bags on the market. It offers gorgeous aesthetics with an American Bison leather exterior that’s beautiful and rugged at the same time.

holdfast 2

Not only will this leather stand up to the elements and age with grace, but it’s also weather resistant so you can be sure the contents of the bag remain safe and dry.

It’s a big bag and can carry lots of gear, but carrying it is a breeze with an adjustable shoulder strap with a shearling-lined shoulder pad for comfort.

Or, if you prefer, you can carry the Roamographer using the Holdfast MoneyMaker for even more functionality and comfort, as seen above.

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The inside of the bag must be mentioned as well. 

The removable camera insert means that no matter how much or how little gear your favorite photographer needs to carry, the Roamographer will help them keep it organized.

The padded insert has cubbies specifically for cameras, lenses, flashes, and other accessories, while there’s interior and exterior pockets for other goodies like a phone, car keys, and a tablet.

The insert is removable, too, so on weekends when they’re not on the job, the photographer on your list can use this as a weekend bag, too. 

That makes the Holdfast Roamographer a beautiful, functional, and multi-purpose bag!

Learn more about the Holdfast Roamographer

Gifts for Photographers Under $1,000: iMovR Lander Lite Desk 

lander lite top gifts for photographers 

One of the worst parts of the job as a photographer are the long hours spent sitting at your desk, culling and editing images.

But the photographer on your holiday shopping list needn’t sit in discomfort all day long!

The iMovR Lander Lite Desk is the ideal solution, offering both sit and stand options for workers.

I have the Lander Desk in my office, and I can tell you first-hand that it is one of the best investments I’ve ever made for my work life - it’s that good!

The Lander Lite Desk has all the same crazy-good technology as the Lander Desk, but with “lighter” features and a smaller price tag.

For example, this little beauty has a height control paddle with built-in health coach, just like it’s big brother, the Lander Desk. The paddle syncs with your smartphone so you can even move the desk up and down remotely. 

Likewise, you can choose from hundreds of size and color combinations so the photographer in your life gets the precise desk they need.

lander lite 2

The Lander Lite incorporates whisper-quiet motors, too, with 225 pounds of lifting capacity.

And if you think that standing desks aren’t stable, you’re wrong! The Lander Lite offers the ultimate stable work surface. And since it’s 3-D laminated, the desktop is virtually indestructible.

Best of all, the Lander Lite Desk arrives nearly pre-assembled, so you won’t have to spend your afternoon putting the darn thing together.

Plus, it’s made in the USA, so you know the quality is top-notch!

Learn more about the Lander Lite Desk

Gifts for Photographers Under $1,000: Pre-Owned Sony Alpha a6300 and Sony E 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 OSS Lens

sony a6300

A great holiday gift idea for the photographer on your list is a Sony camera/lens setup.

By opting for a pre-owned camera and lens, you can save a ton of money while still giving an awesome gift this holiday season.

The Sony a6300 offers tons of features, including a 24.2-megapixel Exmor CMOS sensor, a BIONZ X image processor, 4K video at 30p, HD video at 1080p/120, and continuous shooting at 11fps.

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Add to that a spectacular 425-point autofocus system with tracking AF, excellent image quality, and a small, lightweight body, and the a6300 is a perfect gift for a photographer that needs a capable yet highly portable camera.

Pair that with the Sony E 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 OSS lens, and you've got quite the package!

sony 18 135

This lens has an effective focal length of 27-202.5mm to give photographers incredible versatility from wide-angle to telephoto.

It also sports Optical SteadyShot technology, which minimizes camera shake so you can get sharper images when holding the camera in your hand.

With quick and accurate autofocus performance and quiet operation that's ideal for shooting video, this lens is a great choice for still photographers and videographers alike.

All told, this camera and lens combination is under $1,000, so you can give two gifts for the price of one!

Learn more about the Sony a6300 and the Sony E 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 OSS lens

Gifts for Photographers Under $1,000: Ikan Onyx Digital Color LED Panel Light 

ikan onyx 1

Photography requires great light, and while there are many different lighting options out there, few match the creative possibilities that the Ikan Onyx Digital Color Light provides.

It has a RGBWA LED panel that offers five color modes to suit just about any kind of photo shoot.

When in RGBWA mode, the light gives photographers complete control over red, green, and blue LEDs independently. That being the case, the photographer on your list can literally create millions of different colors!

Meanwhile, the amber and white LEDs give photographers the option of recreating daylight or tungsten light with incredible accuracy.

There’s also a CCT Mode that is adjustable from 2800K up to 10,000K. Again, this gives the photographer on your list infinite possibilities for customizing the light for their photos.

Add to that a Hue Shift feature of magenta and green lights, and you’ve got a lighting option that offers supreme matching control when using this light with other LEDs.

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On top of all that, the Onyx Digital Color light has eight built-in special effects (a candle flame and police car lights among them), 33 different gels to choose from, and a built-in ½-stop diffuser.

With a CRI/TLCI rating of 95, this light produces gorgeous, clean light that is sure to knock the socks off the photographer on your holiday shopping list. 

Learn more about the Ikan Onyx Digital Color LED Light Panel 

Gifts for Photographers Under $1,000: Synology DiskStation DS 1019+ 

It's crucial for all photographers to have a solid backup system, that way if catastrophe strikes - a flood or fire, a break-in, a hard drive failure, and so forth - their precious photos and other files will be safe and sound.

For that task, it's tough to beat the Synology DiskStation DS1019+...

I have this exact model on my desk, and it has proven to be the reliable backup I need to ensure my files are duplicated and safe.

It's small enough that it doesn't take up a ton of room on my desk while also being packed with features that make it an easy-to-use and powerful storage option. Read my complete Synology DiskStation DS1019+ review to learn more.

There are five hot-swappable bays, each of which can accommodate a 2.5-inch or a 3.5-inch drive. If the photographer on your list has TONS of files, they can easily expand that capacity to 10 bays with the Synology DX517.

Aside from the expansion capabilities, the DS1019+ is easy to operate thanks to the intuitive Synology operating system. Even if you've never setup or used a network attached storage device before, this one will be a breeze to use.

In fact, I set it up in just a few minutes with no problems or issues at all.

This unit is power-packed with an Intel Celeron J3455 1.5GHz quad-core processor that’s capable of burst speed of 2.3Ghz.

Add to that 8GB of RAM, built-in applications for video transcoding, read/write speeds up to 225MB per second, tool-free installation for 3.5-inch drives, and the Synology reputation for reliability, and you have the makings of a perfect - and practical - holiday gift idea for the photographer in your life!

Learn more about the Synology DiskStation DS1019+

Gifts for Photographers Under $1,000: Syrp Genie II Linear

syrp genie gifts for photographers

If the photographer you’re shopping for is into shooting time-lapse videos (or real-time videos, for that matter), then a perfect gift idea is the Syrp Genie II Linear. 

What’s so great about this product is its size and weight - at little more than 5.5 x 5.5 x 6.33 inches and two pounds, this little guy can be easily added to any photography bag for on-the-go motion control.

syrp genie 2

What’s more, the Genie II Linear can attach to any slider on the market, giving your favorite photographer incredible versatility in how they craft their time-lapse setup. It can also attach to cable cam systems up to 328-feet in length.

This thing is also loaded for bear with features that will enable the photographer on your list to create professional-looking videos.

syrp genie 3

From key-framing to time-lapse video, shooting B-roll to recording interviews, the Genie II Linear can get the job done!  

Throw in live view, camera control for ramping exposures, wireless control via a smartphone, and many other intelligent features, this is simply one of the best motion control devices you can get this holiday season!

Learn more about the Syrp Genie II Linear

Gifts for Photographers Under $1,000: Aputure 120d II

Over the years, Aputure has established itself as one of the top lighting choices of photographers worldwide. That’s because of the incredible features and build quality of products like the 120d II.

I use this light in my home studio (you can read my review of it here), and it is far and away one of the best lights I’ve ever owned.

The light it produces is beautifully clean and bright (25 percent brighter than the 120d). Additionally, it has a pleasing color temperature of 5500K.

You can control the 120d II using a wireless remote from up to 328 feet away, giving photographers the ultimate in flexibility regarding the positioning related to the subject. 

Speaking of flexibility, this light is dimmable from 100 percent down to just 1 percent, so the photographer on your list can dial in the precise level of lighting they need to get the shot. 

Aputure has built in all kinds of lighting effects for further creative lighting. What’s more, the redesigned handbrake offers a super secure lock to prevent the light from moving.

That means that when the light is dialed in and positioned, you don’t have to worry about whether or not it will stay in place. That’s the kind of peace of mind photographers want from their gear!

The integrated power and control box make for easy transport while the 18 dB quiet fan won’t distract photographers while on-location. Add in a CRI and TLCI of 97+, and you have a recipe for one heck of a light for the photographer on your list!

Learn more about the Aputure 120d II

Gifts for Photographers Under $1,000: Zeiss Batis 85mm f/1.8 Lens

Earlier this year, I took the Zeiss Batis 85mm f/1.8 for a test drive with my Sony a6400, and I was blown away by the quality of the images I was able to get.

For me, the best feature of this lens is that it is incredibly sharp. A close second would be its extremely fast and accurate focusing.

As you can see in the sample image below, this lens also produces nice bokeh that’s great for portraits.

Additionally, this lens is super lightweight, so you don’t feel like you’re lugging around a huge kit while you take photos. The photographer on your shopping list will surely appreciate that!

The look of the lens is something else, too - it’s sleek design reminds me of the Zeiss Otus lenses from back in the day. 

And while some would argue that the streamlined design means it’s not comfortable to use, I disagree. 

The big rubber ring offers tons of grip, and the lens feels great in the hand, due in large part to the lightweight design I mentioned above.

zeiss batis 85mm

The angle of view of 29 degrees is perfect for portraits, and the maximum f/1.8 aperture allows for flexibility in low-light shooting situations.

The floating element design of the lens minimizes aberrations, and since it’s dust and weather-sealed, it can be taken out for shoots in adverse weather without worry that it will be damaged.

In other words, if the photographer on your holiday list is after a fantastic portrait lens, this is it!

Learn more about the Zeiss Batis 85mm f/1.8 Lens

Gifts for Photographers Under $1,000: f-stop Sukha Backpack Master Bundle 

sukha 1

A top-of-the-line camera backpack is sure to score you some brownie points with the photographer on your holiday shopping list…

I have an f-stop Sukha, and to say that this thing can hold a lot of gear is a huge understatement… 

In fact, it can accommodate 70 liters of gear, so if your favorite photographer has a ton of stuff or they’ll be hitting the road for a while, this is the bag that they need.

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And I know what you’re thinking...big bags like this make a mess of organizing gear. With all that space, everything gets jumbled up and is hard to find, right? 

Wrong!

The Master Bundle comes with a wide range of ICUs (Internal Camera Units) that maximize the space in the bag while keeping the gear inside safe, secure, and organized. 

From the ultra-small Micro Nano ICU to the big, beefy Pro X-Large ICU, there are six ICU options for a highly customizable interior space.

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The f-stop Sukha Master Bundle also features goodies like a hydration sleeve, a large rain cover, and a packing cell kit that will keep your clothing nice and organized.

There are three accessory pouches, a Mano pouch, and an ICU gate as well. 

And even with all that gear inside the bag, it’s still ultimately comfortable to carry. That’s thanks to the large, cushy should straps that help distribute the weight of the bag over a larger area. The padded waistbelt is a nice touch as well. 

Learn more about the f-stop Sukha Master Bundle

Gifts for Photographers Under $1,000: Pre-Owned Canon EOS 7D Mark II 

If the photographer you’re shopping for is ready to upgrade their APS-C camera to a higher-end model, the Canon EOS 7D Mark II is a great option.

This professional-grade camera is not only budget-friendly, but it offers some great specs, too: 

  • 20.2-megapixel APS-C CMOS sensor
  • Dual DIGIC 6 Image Processors
  • 10 fps burst shooting
  • ISO to 16,000 (expandable to 51,200)
  • 1080/60p video
  • Weather-sealed body

canon 7d mark ii 

On top of that, Canon implemented its Dual Pixel CMOS autofocus system into this camera, which is a big deal because the Dual Pixel system is usually reserved for Canon’s more expensive cameras. 

The autofocus system offers 65 AF points, all of which are cross-type. The camera has six customizable modes for focusing as well, which gives you tracking sensitivity options that improve its performance.

This thing feels like a top-shelf camera too. There's no body flex, the buttons, dials, and switches feel beefy and crisp, and the weather sealing means you can shoot in less-than-ideal conditions without worrying that your camera will be soaked to the core.

In other words, if you want to help your photography loved one step up their game, this camera is an excellent option!

Learn more about the Canon EOS 7D Mark II. 

Gifts for Photographers Under $1,000: ProMediaGear Pro-Stix 34 Series Tripod

 

When it comes to the very best tripods money can buy, one has to look to ProMediaGear.

The Pro-Stix 34 Series tripod is my everyday rig, and has been for about the last year or so. To say that it’s the best tripod I’ve ever owned is a massive understatement.

It’s really no contest, either.

Granted, when I first started in photography, I “bargain-basemented” my way through various cheap tripods that didn’t last more than a few months.

But as I got more experienced and had more money to devote to gear, I began utilizing more well-known brands and highly reviewed tripods.

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It wasn’t until I started using ProMediaGear tripods that I reached the pinnacle of what a tripod can do, though.

For starters, this tripod can accommodate up to 60 pounds of gear. That might seem like overkill for a photographer, but as I move more and more into videography and have more and more gear to put on the tripod, having an abundance of support is definitely a good thing (and since the apex has a 1/4-20 threaded adapter port, I can easily add more gear when I need to).

Despite having a huge load capacity, this tripod is still easily transportable - it’s just over four pounds and folds down to less than 23 inches.

promediagear 3 

The beefy 34mm legs are made of 10-layer carbon fiber, so they are about as rock-solid as you can get.

The legs have three locking leg angle positions, tension-adjustable leg mechanisms, large molded rubber feet, and integrated stainless steel spikes to boot. In other words, this sucker is rugged and will give you durability for years and years to come.

But beyond the awesome specs and incredible reliability, I appreciate that ProMediaGear makes this and their other tripods right here in the U.S. (in Tinley Park, Illinois, to be exact). Not only that, the folks at ProMediaGear are experienced photographers, and their expertise was crucial in designing this tripod.

From a functionality standpoint, a versatility standpoint, a build-quality standpoint, and so forth, the ProMedia Gear Pro-Stix 34 series is simply the cream of the crop when it comes to the best tripods of 2019. 

Learn more about the ProMediaGear Pro-Stix 34 Series tripod

 



We Recommend


Top 10 Gifts for Photographers Under $2,500 - 2019 Edition

Top 10 Gifts for Photographers Under 2500 2019 Edition

photo bykrystiannawrocki via iStock

I think we can all agree that photography gear is expensive, but with a $2,500 budget, you can get some pretty incredible stuff for the photographer on your holiday shopping list.

Whether your favorite photographer needs a new desk, an awesome large-format photo print, a new portrait lighting setup or something in between, we’ve got all kinds of suggestions that will satisfy their needs!

Gifts for Photographers Under $2,500: CanvasHQ Print 

If you’re like me, sometimes finding the perfect gift for certain loved ones is a long, drawn-out process that causes tons of stress, and often you still don’t get something that totally blows them away.

I think a lot of photographers fall into this category. We have specific likes, and many of us already have most of what we want or need gear-wise, and what we don’t have is usually too expensive to put on a Christmas wish-list anyway. 

But for all those hard-to-shop-for photographers on your 2019 holiday shopping list, I have the perfect solution - a canvas print. Or, with a $2,500 budget, you could get them a ton of prints!

Think about it…

A canvas print is a gift that keeps on giving.

Not only can you immortalize one of your favorite images from your favorite photographer, but you also give them a means to showcase their work in a format that’s drop-dead gorgeous. 

I have tons of canvases in my home, the vast majority of which are from CanvasHQ.

Now, I know what you’re thinking - canvas is old school. 

Sure, maybe it is, but I’m telling you that these canvas prints from CanvasHQ are mind-bogglingly beautiful. In fact, they go head-to-head with any metal or acrylic print I have in my home.

The attention to detail is just amazing, and the materials they use are top-of-the-line. We’re talking archival-grade canvas, commercial-grade inks that are water and UV resistant, and kiln-dried pine frames to keep everything straight and true.

I love the personality that the canvas texture gives my images. That’s true whether it’s a portrait of my son or a landscape photo.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the customer service you get with CanvasHQ.

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. 

In the video above, I explain why I highly recommend a CanvasHQ canvas print as the ideal gift for the photographer on your holiday shopping list.

Start shopping for your favorite photographer today on CanvasHQ!

Gifts for Photographers Under $2,500: iMovR Lander Desk 

I can personally attest to the awesomeness of the iMovR Lander Desk as I have one in my home office. In short, it completely changed how I work.

You can read all about it in my iMovR Lander Desk review, but the short version is that this a desk of the highest quality that’s durable, made in the USA, highly customizable, and easy to assemble to boot!

The photographer on your list will appreciate all of these features, but if you’re going to help them assemble their new desk, you’ll both appreciate the fact that it will only take a few minutes. I set mine up by myself in less than 20 minutes, which is a far cry from the entire afternoon I spent years ago putting together my first sit-stand desk.

This sucker is super well made, too. There’s not cheap parts, no corners cut. This is truly a desk that is an investment for the long term.

It’s also worth noting how customizable the Lander desk is. There are literally hundreds of different combinations of sizes, shapes, and finishes, so your favorite photographer can pick and choose precisely what they want for a desk that not only maximizes their workflow but also looks like a million bucks.

This sucker is super well made, too. There’s not cheap parts, no corners cut. This is truly a desk that is an investment for the long term.

It’s also worth noting how customizable the Lander desk is. There are literally hundreds of different combinations of sizes, shapes, and finishes, so your favorite photographer can pick and choose precisely what they want for a desk that not only maximizes their workflow but also looks like a million bucks.

Having a desk that transitions from a sitting to a standing desk will change any photographer’s life - sitting for hours hunched over a desk while editing photos is certainly no way to work in comfort.

And with the iMovR Lander desk, making the move from sitting to standing takes just seconds - the Bluetooth-enabled height-control paddle with high-resolution LCD requires a single double-tap to raise or lower the desk. You can even raise it or lower it by using an app on your phone! 

This is truly the nicest desk I’ve ever owned, and I cannot recommend it highly enough for other professionals in the photography industry!

Learn more about the iMovR Lander desk

Gifts for Photographers Under $2,500: Pre-Owned Canon EOS R  

eos r

The EOS R is Canon's very first mirrorless camera, and if the photographer on your holiday list is a Canon shooter, there are few better gifts to give this holiday season!

The EOS R offers a bevy of features that starts with an ultra-resolute 30.3-megapixel full frame CMOS sensor.

Paired with a DIGIC 8 image processor, this camera is capable of shooting at 8fps and up to a native ISO range of 40000.

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What's more, Canon gave the EOS R excellent video capabilities with UHD 4K video recording at 30fps.

One of this camera's best features, though, is the Dual Pixel CMOS autofocus system.

All told, it has 5,655 selectable autofocus points that allow photographers to quickly and accurately select where the focus of the image will be.

With a small, lightweight body, excellent build quality, great handling, and an increasingly large selection of lenses, the EOS R is definitely a fantastic gift idea this Christmas!

Learn more about the Canon EOS R

Gifts for Photographers Under $2,500: Aputure Light Storm LC 120d II Daylight LED 2-Light Kit With Case 

aputure under 2500 gift guide 1 

I have an Aputure 120d II in my home studio, and as I explain in my review of this light, it is absolutely fantastic.

Each light has pretty incredible specs:

  • 1000-watt Tungsten equivalent
  • Integrated power and control box
  • CRI & TLCI 97+
  • Dimmable from 100 percent to just 1 percent
  • Built-in lighting effects, including fireworks, fire, lightning, paparazzi, and TV flicker
  • 18 dB quiet fan
  • DMX Capability
  • Wireless remote (328-foot range) 

Not bad right?

aputure under 2500 gift guide 2

This kit gives you two of these lights, each of which has a set of four-way barn doors to customize how the light interacts with the subject.

Each light also has a controller with 100-240 VAC power, a wireless remote, and a 7.5-foot light stand. Aputure even throws in a padded SKB case with a custom Think Tank interior so the photographer on your list can easily and safely transport their new lighting kit from Point A to Point B. 

Photography is all about good lighting, and Aputure certainly delivers on that front!

Learn more about the Aputure Light Storm LC 120d II Daylight LED 2-Light Kit With Case

Gifts for Photographers Under $2,500: Nevada Art Printers Acrylic Print 

nevada art printers 1

I was never a huge fan of acrylic prints until I decided to give Nevada Art Printers a try a few months ago.

I had gone to Norway and captured a pretty good shot (shown above) and wanted a print that would really elevate the quality of the shot.

So, I ordered an acrylic print from these guys, and it is honestly one of the most beautiful prints I have ever laid hands on. Truly - they perform magic!

Now, I have to say that the photo above of this print simply does not do it justice. My home studio has tons of lights everywhere and I just couldn't find an angle to take a photo that didn't have a glare.

The big draw of these acrylic prints is the Lumachrome finish (you see people talking about it all the time on Facebook).

In a nutshell, Lumachrome prints are ultra-high resolution with incredible vibrancy and clarity. It honestly gives the photo a 3-dimensional feel. That’s because Nevada Art Printers created custom ICC profiles that use a tweaked tone curve to maximize that 3-dimensional effect.

Honestly, it’s hard to describe, and even more difficult to believe if you can’t see it with your own eyes - like I said, photos online just do not do the quality of these prints justice!

What’s more, the folks at Nevada Art Printers are extremely helpful and work hard to help you get the best possible print. Their customer service is truly A+!

This combination of super-high-quality products and top-notch service before, during, and after the sale makes an acrylic print from Nevada Art Printers an ideal gift for the photographer on your list this holiday season. 

Learn more about Nevada Art Printers and their Lumachrome Acrylic Prints

Gifts for Photographers Under $2,500: Syrp Genie II Pan Tilt 

genie ii pan tilt 1

If the photographer on your list is a video enthusiast as well, the Syrp Genie II Pan Tilt is an ideal gift for them.

Not only is this rig ultra-portable, but it gives you complete pan and tilt motion control that adds smooth, cinematic motion to your videos with 180-degree tilting motion and 360-degree panning motion.

genie ii pan tilt 2

The Genie II Pan Tilt offers options for real-time and timelapse videos, key-framing, panoramas, and much more. And since it has removable batteries, you can easily head off the beaten path with spare batteries in hand to shoot long and beautiful cinematic sequences.

The unit has a built-in screen for checking settings and starting quick motion sequences, but it also has a companion app that allows you to control the unit from your smartphone.

genie ii pan tilt 3

Whether the photographer on your list wants a motion control device for documentary work, interviews, timelapses, panoramas, or something in between, the Genie II Pan Tilt is the device to get. 

Plus, it’s easily combined with Syrp’s Genie II Linear to get three-axis motion control in a super small and portable device. Nice, right?!

Learn more about the Syrp Genie II Pan Tilt

Gifts for Photographers Under $2,500: ProMediaGear Pro-Stix TR424L Carbon Fiber Tripod 

promediagear 1 

ProMediaGear tripods are among the best on the market. And that’s not just lip-service, either.

I’ve used ProMediaGear tripods, including the TR424L, for quite some time, and I can assure you that they are well-made, durable, and extremely functional.

These are professional-grade tripods, without a doubt. It can hold up to 125 pounds of gear thanks to its 42mm-thick carbon tripod legs.

Even when I’m out shooting video and I have a ton of accessories, it still doesn’t come close to that 125-pound mark!

promediagear 2 

From a functionality standpoint, the legs have three-position angle locks so you can adjust the tripod to be perfectly level, no matter how uneven the terrain. The built-in bubble level helps in that regard as well.

Deploying the legs is simple, too - just a quarter-turn locks them in place.

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This tripod also has huge rubber feet, which as a landscape photographer is a favorite feature. The tripod doesn’t sink into soft soil and it doesn’t slip when things are wet or frozen. The metal spikes in the bottoms of each leg offer even more stability for truly rough shooting conditions.

You get all this in a tripod that folds down to just 26.3-inches tall, which can easily fit into a camera bag.

This isn’t a lightweight tripod by any means, but if the photographer on your list needs a go-anywhere, do-anything tripod, this is definitely it! 

Learn more about the ProMediaGear TR424L Carbon Fiber Tripod

Gifts for Photographers Under $2,500: Pre-Owned Nikon Z6

nikon z6

Like the EOS R I mentioned earlier, the Nikon Z6 is a fantastic mirrorless camera.

If your loved one is a Nikon shooter or if they just want to switch to Nikon, this is a great camera to entice them to do so.

The Z6 has a 24.5-megapixel full frame back-illuminated sensor that offers superb image quality with excellent detail, clarity, and sharpness.

The 12fps burst shooting speed is ideal for action photography while the 273-point autofocus system helps you keep track of moving targets.

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On the back is a large 3.2-inch variable-angle touchscreen LCD with 2.1 million dots of resolution, so you can easily see the camera's menu system and take a peek at images you've shot.

The Z6 has Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, shoots 4K video, and has a battery life of 310 shots.

This camera is an excellent option for photographers that want a solid rig that can tackle still photos and videos all in one package!

Learn more about the Nikon Z6

Gifts for Photographers Under $2,500: iMovR Lander L-Desk

Like their traditional sit-stand desk I mentioned earlier, iMovR’s Lander L-Desk is a well-built, feature-rich desk that has the capability of completely changing how the photographer on your list goes about their workday. 

With the same array of options regarding colors and materials, your loved one can fully customize how their desk looks to suit their specific tastes.

In fact, it’s not just the looks of these desks that are a great selling point - it’s their durability. 

iMovR uses 3D laminated desktops that are just about bulletproof. They’re hermetically sealed to protect against damage and they resist moisture, so those pesky sweat rings from your water bottle won’t bother the desktop a bit.

There’s no exposed glue seams, either, so dust, dirt, and bacteria have nowhere to hide!

You can choose to have the side table on the left or right side of the main desk and you can choose between a 24-inch or 30-inch depth side table as well.

There’s even different options for the shapes of the side table, from peninsula-shaped to half-circle. 

These desks offer tons of space, the health benefits of being convertible from sitting to standing, and they are 100 percent custom made to your specifications. Talk about a fantastic gift!

Learn more about the iMovR Lander L-Desk

Zeiss Batis 85mm f/1.8 Lens

zeiss 1

Designed specifically for Sony E-mount cameras, the Zeiss Batis 85mm f/1.8 is a killer portrait lens for Sony shooters. If your favorite photographer has a Sony E-mount camera (i.e., the a6400), this is a must-have lens!

This lens is supremely sharp, super lightweight, and easy to handle.

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I personally like how the lens feels in the hand - it has a nice, big rubber ring that aids in gripping the camera as you move around your subject.

If the photographer on your list is in a situation in which they need to be quiet, like a recital, they'll appreciate the fact that this lens has an ultra-quiet autofocus system that's also incredibly fast and accurate.

The 29-degree angle of view is ideal for portraits, and with a maximum aperture of f/1.8, it can collect tons of light while also minimizing the depth of field. The result is a nice, blurry background for portraits.

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As I mentioned above, this lens is lightweight at just over one pound, and it also has a small form factor - just 3.19 x 3.62 inches.

This lens is also dust and weather-resistant for the adventurous photographer on your holiday shopping list.

Best of all, the price on this lens has dropped - it was once over $1,100, but is now a shade under $900. That's not bad if you have a $2,500 budget!

Learn more about the Zeiss Batis 85mm f/1.8 Lens

 

 



We Recommend


Top 10 Gifts for Photographers Under $250 - 2019 Edition

Top 10 Gifts for Photographers Under 250 2019 Edition

   photo byBaramyou0708 via iStock

When it comes to buying holiday gifts for people, I always try to start early. Like way early, which is why I’m already thinking about gift ideas even though it’s still August as I’m writing this.

Part of the reason why I like to start early is because often you can find deals way ahead of time - like the upcoming Labor Day holiday.

Besides, no one wants to be nervously watching the mail in the days leading up to Christmas, hoping that the last-minute gift you got for a loved one arrives on time.

With all that said, here’s some of my favorite gift ideas for photographers that’ll set you back less than $250.

Gifts for Photographers Under $250: CanvasHQ Print 

If you’re like me, sometimes finding the perfect gift for certain loved ones is a long, drawn-out process that causes tons of stress, and often you still don’t get something that totally blows them away.

I think a lot of photographers fall into this category. We have specific likes, and many of us already have most of what we want or need gear-wise, and what we don’t have is usually too expensive to put on a Christmas wish-list anyway.

But for all those hard-to-shop-for photographers on your 2019 holiday shopping list, I have the perfect solution - a large-format canvas print.

Think about it…

A canvas print is the gift that keeps on giving.

Not only can you immortalize one of your favorite images from your favorite photographer, but you also give them a means to showcase their work in a format that’s drop-dead gorgeous.

I have tons of canvases in my home, the vast majority of which are from CanvasHQ.

Now, I know what you’re thinking - canvas is old school.

Sure, maybe it is, but I’m telling you that these canvas prints from CanvasHQ are mind-bogglingly beautiful. In fact, they go head-to-head with any metal or acrylic print I have in my home.

The attention to detail is just amazing, and the materials they use are top-of-the-line. We’re talking archival-grade canvas, commercial-grade inks that are water and UV resistant, and kiln-dried pine frames to keep everything straight and true.

I love the personality that the canvas texture gives my images. That’s true whether it’s a portrait of my son or a landscape photo.

 I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the customer service you get with CanvasHQ.

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. 

In the video above, I explain why I highly recommend a CanvasHQ canvas print as the ideal gift for the photographer on your holiday shopping list.

Start shopping for your favorite photographer today on CanvasHQ!

Gifts for Photographers Under $250: Marumi 100x150mm Magnetic Graduated ND Filter

marumi hard ND

The benefit a graduated ND filter gives your favorite photographer is that it allows them to control the dynamic range in a scene.

That is, with the darkened area on top of the filter, it tones down the brightness of the sky while leaving the foreground untouched, the result of which is a better-exposed image without any blown-out highlights or deep shadows.

The hard edge on the filter above is perfect for landscapes in which there is a definite horizon, like taking a photo looking out at the ocean.

marumi soft ND

But you can also give a soft-edge filter, which has a much more gradual transition from dark to light. This is a better option for landscapes in which the horizon line isn’t very clear.

marumi reverse

There’s even a reverse graduated ND, which is darkest in the middle - an ideal option for taking breathtaking sunrise or sunset photos.

What makes these Marumi 100x150MM Graduated ND filters so special is that they attach to the Marumi M100 filter holder with magnets.

This quick and easy on and off helps streamline the process of using these filters in the field, that way the photographer on your holiday shopping list spends more time actually taking photos and less time messing with their gear.

These filters are made with high-definition Schott B270 glass and have a double-sided coating to ensure minimal reflections. These filters also have anti-static, anti-scratch, water repellant, and oil repellent features.

Available in 2-stop, 3-stop, and 4-stop versions, as well as hard and soft-edge versions, you can give the gift of improved photos this year by giving a Marumi Magnetic Graduated ND!

Learn more about Marumi Magnetic Graduated ND Filters

Gifts for Photographers Under $250: Holdfast Camera Swagg Camera Harness 

top gifts for photographers under 250 camera swagg 2

I’ve been a Holdfast customer for years and years, and I have one of their impeccable MoneyMaker leather dual camera straps. 

But not everyone wants a leather camera strap, and for those folks, the Camera Swagg is the ideal solution.

Offering the same functionality as the leather version, the Camera Swagg dual camera harness enables photographers to carry two cameras right at their fingertips.

top gifts for photographers under 250 camera swagg 1

Made of 100 percent high-grade cotton canvas, this harness is both durable and comfortable. The wide straps sit nicely on your shoulder without digging in, and the harness feels quite light as well.

You’ll find the same reliable stainless steel hardware on the Camera Swagg as you do on leather MoneyMakers. That includes anchored D-rings and safety straps that connect to the camera’s side lug mount, which together ensure you have a rock-solid system for carrying your gear safely.

Add in supreme functionality and a price well below the $250 mark, and you have the makings of the ideal gift for photographers this holiday season!

Learn more about the Camera Swagg Camera Harness

Gifts for Photographers Under $250: LitraTorch LitraPro

gifts for photographers under 250 litrapro 1

Great photos need great light, and fortunately you don’t have to spend an arm and a leg to give the photographer on your list an excellent light source for their photo and video work.

Sure, the LitraTorch LitraPro is a tiny light that weighs just 6 ounces and is 2.75 x 2 x 1.2 inches in size, but that doesn’t mean it can’t put out a great deal of light.

In fact, this little guy has 60 ultra-bright LEDs that put out up to 1200 lumens of light. That’s a lot!

gifts for photographers under 250 litrapro 2 

And it isn’t just the sheer brightness of the light it produces that impresses.

Instead, this light puts out crisp, clear, flicker-free light that any photographer would appreciate. Users can also adjust the color temperature from 3000K to 6000K to customize the light output to the specific needs of each photoshoot.

Add in a 70-degree beam angle, a maximum of 10 hours of operating time, and MIL-SPEC 810 construction that makes it virtually indestructible, and you have a photography gift that will keep on giving for years and years!

Learn more about the LitraTorch LitraPro

Gifts for Photographers Under $250: Luminar 3, Luminar 4, and Aurora HDR Bundle

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If you’re looking for a gift that will really impress the photographer in your life, look no further than this bundle of awesomeness from the folks at Skylum.

Not only can you give the gift of Luminar 3 - an incredible, multi-award-winning editor that makes processing images a veritable breeze - but you can also give the gift of the upcoming Luminar 4, which is poised to take photo editing to another level later this year. And on top of that, Skylum throws in their award-winning Aurora HDR software for making quick, beautiful, precise edits to HDR images.

Let’s unpack all that in a little more detail…

Luminar 3 offers cutting-edge tools that speed up the process of editing photos whether the photographer on your shopping list uses a Mac or a PC.

You get tools like the AI Sky Enhancer, which uses artificial intelligence to detect the sky in the photo and automatically enhance it based on its colors and texture.

What’s more, the Sky Enhancer does this whether the area of sky is bright, dark, big, or small, and the adjustments made can be easily manipulated by a single slider.

accent ai 2

Luminar 3 also sports the supercharged Accent AI 2.0 filter, which makes about a dozen adjustments to the image instantly.

Again, this filter is manipulated by a single slider, so changing things like the exposure, color, tone, and other basic elements is done quickly and easily.

As you can see above, the Accent AI 2.0 filter can automatically detect people in the shot and apply its changes in a way that renders beautifully realistic results.

Add in dozens of Looks to give your photos artistic flair, many different filters that can do everything from sharpen the image to add sun rays, and an easy-to-use Library where you can view, sort, and rate your photos, and you begin to see why Luminar 3 is so widely regarded.

But if you think those tools sound amazing, Luminar 4 kicks it up a notch with some exciting new features that will expand post-processing abilities even further.

In the video above, you can see two new tools in action - the AI Skin Enhancer and the Portrait Enhancer.

When you think about what makes editing portraits such a long, drawn out process, it’s all the small manipulations you have to make, like removing blemishes and dark circles, enhancing eyebrows and lips, and whitening teeth.

But in Luminar 4, those detail-oriented processes are handled by AI, and you can fine-tune the results with individual sliders for incredible results.

Luminar 4 also introduces AI Structure and AI Sky Replacement.

As shown above, AI Structure boosts details only where needed using content-aware tools, that way people in the photos aren’t overprocessed but objects like clouds and buildings are beautifully detailed. See what I mean in the video above.

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Likewise, AI Sky Replacement gives photographers the power to change the sky in one click. So, if you shot a beautiful landscape, but the sky isn’t all that great, you can easily pick a new sky to give the shot the look and mood you want. Not only that, but Luminar 4 will relight the entire photo to the original image and the new sky match.

The AI Sky Replacement tool also uses intelligent selection algorithms to remove artifacts, hard edges, and halos. And with the ability to fine-tune foreground contrast and brightness, you can create epic landscape shots in short order.

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As if all that isn’t enough, this bundle also includes Aurora HDR.

There’s a reason why the top HDR photographers in the world use Aurora HDR…

Its AI-powered Quantum HDR Engine gives you the highest-quality bracket merging with no artifacts, no halos, and no chromatic aberration.

With more than 20 HDR tools, including color toning, dodge and burn, creative LUT mapping, and more, photographers can create flawless HDR images in seconds.

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Like Luminar 3 and 4, Aurora HDR has a vast selection of Looks that with one click will take your photos from blah to beautiful. With more than 80 professionally-crafted Looks, you have the power to create top-notch images in a matter of seconds.

Aurora HDR also works magic with single photos, enabling you to bring out beautiful details and dynamic range, even when you don’t have bracketed exposures to work with.

Truly, this is the ultimate holiday gift for any photographer - the power to make fast, beautiful, and precise edits whether the images are portraits, landscapes, architecture or something in between!

See all the possibilities your favorite photographer can explore by visiting the Skylum website. Additionally, you can order the Luminar 3, Luminar 4, and Aurora HDR Bundle, or if Luminar 3 and Luminar 4 is more your style, you can order that bundle instead.  

Gifts for Photographers Under $250: PilotFly AtomCube RX1 RGBCW LED Video Light

pilotfly atomcube 1

Having a high-quality light for photography and videography is a must, and the PilotFly AtomCube certainly delivers on multiple fronts.

For starters, this light is small enough to fit in your pocket, yet offers 1800 lux luminance at 0.5 meters. It’s completely dimmable from 0-100 percent, offers 360-degree full color, and has an adjustable color temperature from 2500-8500K so you can tune the light to your specific needs.

Add in cold white and warm white light, and you have the makings of a light that offers you precise colors and high CRI as well.

You can even mount multiple lights together using a Magic Cube to expand the effect. Nice!

The AtomCube comes with Bluetooth mesh technology that allows you to control up to 255 lights all at once. Whether you’re a portrait photographer, a videographer, or something in between, that kind of flexibility is an enormous asset to have.

Speaking of assets, the color tone and brightness between units is highly consistent, especially when mounting multiple units together. Because the lights are calibrated, you don’t have to worry about inconsistent lighting when you use more than one light at a time.

The AtomCube comes with Bluetooth mesh technology that allows you to control up to 255 lights all at once. Whether you’re a portrait photographer, a videographer, or something in between, that kind of flexibility is an enormous asset to have.

Speaking of assets, the color tone and brightness between units is highly consistent, especially when mounting multiple units together. Because the lights are calibrated, you don’t have to worry about inconsistent lighting when you use more than one light at a time.

No matter if you’re using one AtomCube light or dozens, you can control them with the accompanying app. It’s an incredibly convenient way to control your lighting right at your fingertips, especially when you’re multitasking.

The intuitive interface of the app makes it easy to make precise adjustments. Likewise, you can connect lights, create groups of lights, and control brightness and color temperature, all with a few taps of your phone’s screen.

This light is durable, functional, has available accessories to advance the experience even further, and offers a variety of features that make lighting for photos and videos a breeze. It’s a key light in your pocket! That makes it a great gift for the photographer on your holiday shopping list!

Learn more about the PilotFly AtomCube RX1 RGBCW LED Video Light

Gifts for Photographers Under $250: HEX Ranger Clamshell DSLR Backpack 

best gifts for photographers hex 1 

I met the guys behind HEX just last week, and I have to say that not only was I impressed by their operation in downtown Los Angeles, but I was also impressed with them.

They have a passion for what they do, and it shows in the products they design and create. 

I actually brought a HEX Ranger DSLR Sling Bag home after seeing it firsthand. Talk about a camera bag!

But if the photographer on your list needs to carry more gear than I do, the Ranger Clamshell DSLR backpack is a prime choice.

best gifts for photographers hex 2

With a capacity of 21 liters, this bag can hold a ton of gear - a DSLR with lens attached, a couple more lenses, a laptop, a drone, and accessories, in fact! 

The clamshell design makes it easy to see your gear, retrieve it, and put it away. And with fully customizable inserts, you can make the bag work for you no matter what arrangement of gear you need.

best gifts for photographers hex 3

The all-important comfort factor is off the charts, too. It has ergonomic shoulder straps that hug your shoulders and fit perfectly. The air mesh construction will keep your shoulders and back cool as well. 

Additionally, HEX included a custom molded and foam padded back panel, that way even when you’re carrying a heavy load, you’ll still be comfortable. 

With tripod straps on the bottom, side straps for attaching more gear, a hidden rain cover, a water bottle pocket, and tons of other handy features, this is a bag that the photographer on your list will love, without a doubt 

Learn more about the HEX Ranger Clamshell DSLR Backpack

Gifts for Photographers Under $250: A Pre-Owned Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 Lens

50mm f1.4

Ask just about any photographer what their first lens purchase was, and they'll say a Nifty Fifty. That makes it the ideal gift idea for photographers this holiday season!

There's a lot to love about 50mm lenses, too...

For starters, it's a great focal length for learning all kinds of photography, from landscapes to portraits and everything in between.

That also makes it an incredibly versatile lens.

In fact, put a 50mm lens on your camera, and you can shoot all day long without ever needing a different focal length. They're even great for shooting video!

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You can find 50mm lenses with large apertures, too, like the Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM shown above.

At f/1.4, photographers can more readily shoot in low-light conditions without having to push the ISO too high, which helps reduce digital noise.

Having a large aperture like that is also beneficial for gathering tons of light, that way a faster shutter speed can be used. It's also helpful for blurring the background in portraits to get a more professional-looking shot.

Another benefit of a 50mm lens is that they force you to think more creatively about how you frame up your shots.

That is, since 50mm lenses have a constant focal length of 50mm, there's no zoom to rely on for getting close-up or wider shots. 

By using a 50mm lens and "zooming with your feet," becoming a master of composition can be an easier task because you're forced to physically move further away or closer to the subject.

Of course, the biggest benefit of 50mm lenses is the price. These lenses are well-priced so you can bestow a great little lens with tons of functionality and versatility upon your favorite photographer without busting your budget.

That sounds like a win-win deal to me! 

Learn more about the Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 lens

Best Gifts for Photographers Under $250: Wandrd DUO Daypack

wandrd 1 under 250

Not every photography adventure requires a gigantic bag…

Instead, a daypack works for most of us most of the time, and one of the best upcoming daypacks you can get your hands on is the Wandrd DUO Daypack.

This bag is packed with innovative features that will make the photographer on your holiday shopping list smile from ear to ear.

There’s dual side access panels for quickly and easily grabbing gear and a radical “infinite zip” system allows for access to items in the top or side of the bag, or you can simply unfurl the front panel completely for unfettered access.

wandrd 2 under 250

Speaking of in the bag, this thing is an organizational dream with pockets, pouches, and cubbies for days. 

Photographers can keep their camera body in the Pop Camera Cube, slide a flash into one of the many pockets on the inside back of the bag, and have tons of room left for everything from lenses to flash cards to car keys. There’s even a tablet sleeve and a laptop sleeve that can accommodate most 15-inch laptops.

wandrd 3 under 250

On the outside of the bag, you’ll find a water bottle pocket, quick-access pockets, and four attachment points for Wandrd Accessory Straps, which enables you to carry a tripod on the outside of the bag.

Started on Kickstarter where it raised over $650,000, the DUO daypack is the ideal gift for on-the-go photographers that need a single bag that takes them from work to play and points in between.

Wandrd really has thought of everything with this bag, which is why it would make the perfect holiday gift for the photographer in your life!

Learn more about the Wandrd DUO Daypack

Gifts for Photographers Under $250: EF to E-Mount Lens Adapter

ef to e mount

If the photographer you're shopping for used to be a Canon shooter and now has a Sony camera, you can give them this handy adapter that allows them to use their old EF and EF-S lenses on a Sony E-mount camera, like the a6300, a6400, a6500, a9 or a7, among many others.

This adapter has both autofocus function and aperture control, as well as a handy USB port for firmware updates.

You can switch between phase and contrast autofocus modes, and there's EXIF signal transmitting and IS functionality too.

There's simply no easier and more functional way to pair Canon lenses with a Sony E-mount camera!

Learn more about the EF to E-Mount Lens Adapter 

Gifts for Photographers Under $250: Syrp Genie Mini II 

genie mini ii 1 

I’ve used Syrp’s time-lapse gear for years now, and when they released the Genie Mini II, I was skeptical that it could be much better than the original Genie that I’d been using. I was wrong. 

The updates to the Genie Mini II are mostly under the hood, but they are significant. 

genie mini ii 2

For example, Syrp added the functionality to control two Genie Minis at the same time from a new companion app. That enables photographers to create beautiful pan-tilt motion in their videos at the touch of a button.

Syrp also incorporated keyframing functionalities, so you can set up to 10 keyframes all the while panning at different speeds and in different directions. Nice!

genie mini ii 3

There are other goodies too: a time-lapse compiler that allows you to process video directly on your device and share to social networks; autoexposure ramping to create day-to-night time-lapses; and camera control that allows you to control your camera from your phone.

If you’re shopping for someone that’s at all interested in creating epic videos, this is the gift for them!

Learn more about the Syrp Genie Mini II

Gifts for Photographers Under $250: Aputure AL-MW Mini LED

aputure 1 

The beauty of the Aputure AL-MW is that it offers you superb light in a tiny package.

In fact, that tiny package is about as bulletproof as you can get, too. It’s rugged, well-constructed, and waterproof, so it can go just about anywhere the photographer on your holiday shopping list needs it to go!

But don’t let its small size fool you - this thing puts out some serious light…

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With 6000 lux output, this is about all the light you need, and yet it can fit in your pocket. If the photographer you’re shopping for is like me, having highly portable gear is a must.

Beyond that, the Aputure AL-MW has excellent color fidelity and has a rating of 95+ for CRI and TLCI.

Add in a gel holder with CTO and CTB filters, a battery that’ll give you up to 24 hours of runtime, and pre-programmed lighting effects, and you can see why this little light is worth its weight in gold!

Learn more about the Aputure AL-MW

Gifts for Photographers Under $250: Syrp Super Dark Variable ND Filter 

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If the photographer on your list loves to shoot long exposures, then a variable ND filter is a perfect gift idea.

Variable ND filters are like having a complete ND filter kit, but in an all-in-one unit.

The Syrp Super Dark Variable ND filter gives photographers between 5 and 10 stops of filtering power so they can get just the right amount of light for their long exposure creations.

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This filter is available in tons of popular sizes, too, from 52mm to 82mm, so you can find the precise size your favorite photographer needs. 

And since it’s made of high-quality Japanese glass, the results you get are exceptionally good - clear, precise, and color-neutral, just like it should be when using an ND filter!

Learn more about the Syrp Super Dark Variable ND Filter

 



We Recommend


Top 10 Last-Minute Gifts for Photographers - 2019 Edition

last minute gifts for photographersPhoto by evgenyatamanenko via iStock

Even though I'm writing this the last week of October, you and I both know that there will be some scrambling as the holidays draw near to find the perfect gift for the photographer in your life.

A lot of photographers are picky (myself included), so it can be difficult to find just the right gift that will bring a smile to their face and that won't end up shoved in the back of the closet.

With that in mind, I've put together the following list of awesome last-minute gifts for photographers that should give you some inspiration for your gift-buying this holiday season.

Let's get to it!

Camera Canopy

camera canopy 1

Those of you that follow my ramblings here on PhotographyTalk know that I love to shoot landscapes.

But something I definitely do not love is using those clingy camera rain covers that feel like you're reaching into a wet plastic bag.

Granted, I don't have to worry about the rain all that often here in Southern California, but when it does rain, I have my Camera Canopy with me.

As you can see above, the Camera Canopy sits above the camera and extends outward to protect both the camera body and the lens.

It attaches to the hot-shoe mount on your camera, so it's easy to attach when the weather turns sour.

The shield extends and retracts, so it'll protect your gear whether you're using a 50mm lens or a 300mm lens.

What's more, there are versions for DSLRs and mirrorless cameras, so no matter the camera system the photographer in your life uses, there's a Camera Canopy they can use.

Aside from the ease of use and the fact that the Camera Canopy protects the end of the lens from getting wet, I love that it doesn't obstruct the camera's LCD or controls. No more clingy wet plastic bag!!

So, this thing is convenient, functional, and well-designed, and would make an ideal addition to any photographer's kit.

Learn more about Camera Canopy for DSLRs or Camera Canopy for Mirrorless Cameras

A Large Print from AP Solutions & Graphics

gifts for photographers

What photographer wouldn't appreciate a large print or graphic of one of their photos?!

AP Solutions & Graphics makes it easy to give the gift of a beautiful large print thanks to their quick and simple online ordering process.

In fact, you can easily get a quote for your print based on your specifications, including height, width, depth, and media type.

They offer fine art canvases, photographic prints, and signs, banners, and other display medias too.

If you order from AP Solutions & Graphics, you can rest assured that the item you order is made from the finest materials and is constructed right here in the USA.

I appreciate the fact that these guys are dedicated to turning your favorite photos into lasting memories. And the photographer on your holiday shopping list will certainly appreciate it too!

No one wants to get a sub-par print, especially if it's of their own photos. But you don't have to worry about print quality with AP Solutions & Graphics because they use high-quality canvas, fine art photo paper, quality fabrics, top-grade inks, and more.

As a U.S. Navy Veteran, I try to patronize businesses that are owned by fellow veterans, and AP Solutions & Graphics fits the bill.

This veteran-owned, U.S.-based business is ready to make your last-minute holiday gift dreams come true!

Learn more about AP Solutions & Graphics

Hazard 4® Freelance™ Sling-Pack

hazard 4 freelance

Rarely do you encounter camera bags described as “tactical,” but in this case, the rank definitely fits the Hazard 4® Freelance™ Photo Sling-Pack.

Hazard 4® designs exceed military specs, so these are trusted by demanding users in the harshest environments - special forces to expedition reporters. Thoughtful sizes, organization, and ergonomics, with 1000 D Cordura® fabric, YKK zips, and patented hardware protect cameras, accessories and survival gear in a futuristic aesthetic that deflects harsh use.

hazard 4 freelance 2

You can cleverly rotate Freelance™ from back to chest for quick gear access without taking it off. Sized for most mirrorless systems with movable padded dividers to organize lenses and accessories, it’s also made in a Drone Edition with special dividers and “Drone Pilot” patch on its velcro I.D. panel.

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Three exterior pockets fit extra gear. A sweat managing thermo-molded zip back panel cradles 10.5” iPads®. An admin panel organizes pens and SD cards, among other small items. A molded shell fits two Mavic® Pro batteries and has a patented Hard Point® bus for attaching Hazard 4® systems loops and tie-downs or GoPros® via a ¼-20 screw.

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Modular webbing (molle) throughout allows exterior gear expansion. A patented roto-lock buckle prevents drops. Add grab-handles, tripod/compression straps, and more for the makings of one killer last-minute gift for the active photographer on your holiday shopping list!

Learn more about the Hazard 4® Freelance

PolarPro Summit Filters

summit

PolarPro has built a reputation over the years of developing well-built, high-performance products, and their newest filters are no exception.

The Summit series was specifically developed for the rough-and-tumble world of landscape photography.

These filters are built to withstand the rigors of shooting outdoors in harsh conditions while at the same time having a design that makes them incredibly easy to use.

polarpro summit 1

On the one hand, the ND and graduated ND filters have aluminum frames that both protect the filter and help minimize fingerprints getting on the filter glass.

So, not only do you get filters that are more durable, but you also won't spend as much time cleaning the filters to get rid of fingerprints. It's a win-win!

On the other hand, the filters and filter housing feature materials that ratchet up the build quality.

polarpro summit 2

For example, the filters are made of fused Quartz glass with 16 layers of coatings that improve color fidelity and clarity while reducing glare.

As another example, the filter frames are made of lightweight aluminum that helps cut weight in your pack while providing you strong durability for years to come.

Add in a user-friendly design, light-sealed slots, filter locks to lock down the filter position, and the ability to rotate the filter system 360 degrees, and you have the makings of the ideal landscape photography filter kit to give your favorite photographer this holiday season!

Learn more about the PolarPro Summit Filter System

Snaptiles

snap tiles

If you’re cutting it close for the holidays and need a killer photography gift, look no further than Snaptiles. Snaptiles are a new patented Magnetic Photo Tile that is 8”x8”x1” and super lightweight.

This innovative system uses a single wall mount with a built-in level to anchor a central print to the wall. Then you can snap together the other tiles onto the first! The wall mount uses four adhesive strips that don’t damage the wall, yet offer all the support that’s needed to display up to 12 tiles. Just make sure you press down firmly for 10 seconds. You can also push in the 4 included thumb tacks for additional support, then mount up to 30 tiles on the first tile! Not a bad tradeoff for 4 little pin holes in your wall.

The process is simple: just attach the wall mount to the wall, mount the anchor tile to it, and then begin to create an array of mixed tiles by adding additional Snaptiles.

snaptiles how they work

Each tile connects with strong magnets, so there’s no worry of the tiles sagging or slipping.

Best of all, though, this system enables you to swap images out as you get new photo tiles, rearrange them in the display, and create different shapes with an array of images.

It really couldn’t be any easier!

snaptiles how theyre made

The images are printed on a premium SBS Acid Free archival paperboard to give you long-lasting durability. On top of that, the UV protective lamination on the tiles has a beautifully soft touch.

I just ordered 25 of these photo tiles for my son’s room. He loves art and he loves building, and I think he will love putting his Snaptiles together (with my help of course!) on his bedroom wall.

This isn’t just a great last-minute gift, but it’s also a fun project you can share with whomever you give them to. It’s a win-win!

Learn more about Snaptiles

Travel School Membership

best photography giftsPhoto by anyaberkut via iStock

Wouldn’t it be nice to travel the world as you make money, pursuing your dreams without being encumbered by a traditional job?

If that sounds like a dream that’s too good to be true - it isn’t! Even better, it’s a dream you can make a reality for that special person on your last-minute holiday shopping list.

Travel School is a comprehensive training program for starting an independent affiliate marketing business. It will take your loved one step-by-step through the process of building a business that is not only wildly successful in the short-term, but can sustain steady growth for the long-term too.

But Travel School isn’t just a step-by-step training program. Instead, it will change your loved one’s outlook on what it means to work, and at the same time will be a transformational experience that will change their entire life for the better.

With specific, actionable steps, the person on your holiday shopping list will learn how to connect with established brands, develop core marketing skills, and activate multiple income streams to realize their dream of living a life full of travel and freedom.

travel school

Travel School founder Emilian travels the world with his furry friend, Divak, and is eager to share his knowledge and experience with you and help you build a successful affiliate marketing business that will allow you to quit your traditional job and travel the world like you want!

Not only does Travel School aid in leveraging the credibility of amazing companies, but they will also offer weekly private webinars to keep your loved one motivated and on track toward accomplishing their goals.

Additionally, all training sessions are recorded and available at any time, that way if questions come up down the road or a little extra motivation is needed, the lessons can be easily accessed. There are opportunities to learn and collaborate with other students too!

It’s not often that you have the opportunity to give the gift of freedom, but in this case, Travel School is just that!

Learn more about Travel School

Deity D3 Pro Microphone 

best gifts for photographers

More and more photographers are getting into video production, and to do that, they have to expand their arsenal of tools beyond traditional photography gear.

And while having a camera with good video capabilities is a must, so too is having a high-quality microphone to record audio for the videos. After all, a video can have incredible footage, but with poor audio quality, the video will fall flat.

That's where the Deity D3 Pro comes in...

This super cardioid directional condenser shotgun mic has a sensitivity of -50dB to 28dB and uses an on-board microprocessor that digitally talks to the audio input it's connected with.

That means it can work with a tablet, a DSLR, a mirrorless camera, or a smartphone - essentially anything with a 3.5mm microphone jack.

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The internal battery offers a whopping 51 hours of runtime, yet it charges in less than two hours.

A neat feature is that you can adjust the gain by using the stepless analog gain adjustment dial. This is the only microphone in the world that has this feature!

Add in on-board low-cut filters, a rycote shock mount, and broadcast-quality sound, and you have the makings of an ideal gift for a photographer that wants to step up their videography game!

Learn more about the Deity D3 Pro Microphone

Octopus.Camera OctoPad

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If you’re rushing around trying to find that perfect last-minute gift for your favorite photographer, you might consider the Octopus.Camera OctoPad as an excellent choice.

The OctoPad offers what many other stabilization devices don’t - it doesn’t collapse under the weight of gear it’s supporting and it doesn’t slide around, even if it’s placed on a smooth or an uneven surface thanks to its weighted non-slip mat design.

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The OctoPad has a built-in male 1/4-20 inch threaded bolt for attaching accessories and a high-capacity removable ball head that also has an adjustable 1/4-20 inch threaded male bolt.

That means that not only is the OctoPad well-equipped to stay in place, but it can also support a wide range of gear, from a GoPro to a smartphone to a light or microphone.

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There’s even a built-in cable strap to keep cables from getting in your way and a clip grommet for attaching a lanyard to easily carry the OctoPad.

What photographers want in a gift is something that’s versatile and functional, and the OctoPad is definitely both. Best of all, it’s just $26.95, so you can give an awesome gift without busting your budget!

Learn more about the Octopus.Camera OctoPad

Aputure Amaran AL-MX Bi-Color LED Mini Light

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This pocket-sized light might be small, lightweight, and portable, but it packs a mighty punch with 128 LEDs, 3200lux of brightness, and a "boost mode" that increases brightness by 30 percent for bursts of 60 seconds.

Add to all that power the ability to tune the light from 2800-6500K so the photographer on your list can make fine adjustments to how the light looks to suit each and every photograph.

The quality of the light is top-notch, too - it offers a CRI of 95+ and a TLCI or 95+ as well.

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This light has a wide beam angle of 120-degrees, a portable design that's about the width and height of a credit card, and a durable metal body that's crafted of aircraft-grade aluminum.

It has a 1/4 screw and a universal cold-shoe mount so it can be mounted on a camera, a tripod, a light stand, and so forth.

This unit has a built-in battery that offers about an hour of runtime at full power and four hours of runtime at minimum power. The battery is rechargeable via a USB-C cable.

This is simply a well-built, bright, easy-to-use light that any photographer would appreciate in their stocking this holiday season!

Learn more about the Aputure Amaran AL-MX Bi-Color LED Light

Haida M-10 Filter System

haida m10 filter kit first impressions

One of the newest additions to my camera bag is the Haida M-10 Filter System, and I can't sing its praises enough.

The filter holder is super lightweight thanks to its aluminum construction, so it's durable and sturdy, but doesn't add unnecessary weight to your lens.

Inside the holder are slots where you can drop filters in. The slots are even lined with felt to help prevent scratches to the filters!

Another neat feature is that the holder has a quick-release clip for easy on and off. The clip is well-built and has a good amount of tension, so you don't have to worry about accidentally disengaging the clip as you work.

haida cpl

You can use square or circular filters with this holder. In fact, the kit comes with a variety of filters, including a circular polarizer, a variety of graduated ND filters, and solid ND filters as well.

And since the holder has two filter slots, you can mix and match filters as needed.

Both the filters and the holder are very well built - you can tell when you're holding them that they are high-quality products that will last a good, long while.

That being the case, if the photographer on your list has been hinting at needing a new filter system, you've got the perfect gift for them!

Learn more about the Haida M-10 Filter System

Exposure Software

exposure x5 is here

The latest version of Exposure - Exposure X5 - was released just a few weeks ago to much fanfare.

Exposure has a ton of easy-to-use, yet powerful editing tools that any photographer would appreciate. This includes:

  • An extensive library of film presets that you can customize
  • Creative tools like tilt-shift, creative lens focus, and film grain
  • Non-destructive editing with layers
  • Selection and masking tools to apply effects to specific areas
  • An intuitive and easy-to-use workspace

On top of all that, Exposure X5 has 3D color masking functionalities that will give the photographer on your shopping list the ability to have precise control over where an adjustment is made to an image.

These color controls can be defined by very specific features, like saturation, hue, and luminance, which means you can target the sky, skin tones, or other specific color ranges, all with just a few clicks.

This software also has vignette correction, chromatic aberration correction, fringe removal, and custom camera profiles to boot.

You can even test-drive Exposure for free for 30 days to see if it's something you want to give as a gift this holiday season.

Hakutatz Pocket Size RGB+AW LED Light

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If you’re not sure what to get the photographer on your holiday shopping list, an ideal last-minute gift is the gift of light.

Light - good light - is essential for making high-quality photographs, and good light is exactly what you get with the Hakutatz Pocket Size RGB+AW LED Light.

This rechargeable light is ultra-portable and will fit in a photographer’s pocket for easy transport.

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Photographers can utilize both white and amber light and a wide variety of RGB lighting options that allow for precise adjustments to get just the right light for each shot.

With 152 LEDs (40 white, 40 amber, and 72 RGB), adjustable saturation from 1-100%, 1480 lux brightness, and an adjustable color temperature from 3000-6500K, this light offers superb functionality and tons of customizations.

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The light connects to any Android or iOS smartphone, which allows for changing the color temperature, the RGB color, and dialing in special effects. These changes can be made both quickly and easily thanks to the intuitive and user-friendly LCD display.

Use one light on its own or multiple lights to combine effects to get the perfect shot. Either way, photographers have the power to add vibrancy, visual interest, and accents to their photos right at their fingertips!

Learn more about the Hakutatz Pocket Size RGB+AW LED Light

BlueTooth Photo

bluetooth photo last minute gift guide

I don’t know how many BlueTooth speakers I’ve had over the years. Come to think of it, I couldn’t even tell you how many BlueTooth speakers I have in my house right now.

They’re utilitarian. They’re forgettable. Most BlueTooth speakers are nothing special.

But the patent-pending BlueTooth Photo changes all that because it turns your favorite photo or piece of art into a canvas that sings.

All you have to do is upload your image and the fine folks at BlueTooth Photo do the rest. You get a premium-grade, artist-quality canvas that showcases your favorite images all the while being the perfect vessel for fantastic audio quality for your music.

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What better way to enjoy music than by listening to it emanate from your favorite photo? And what better way to appreciate your favorite photo than by having a look at it each and every time you want to listen to your favorite songs?

It’s the best of both worlds!

BlueTooth Photo is a fantastic gift idea for the photographer (or anyone else!) on your holiday shopping list. Get them an 8x12 image in either portrait or landscape orientation this Christmas for just $89.00.

Use the coupon code PT20 to get $20 off your purchase!

Learn more about BlueTooth Photo

Luminar 4

luminar

Yet another top choice for a last-minute gift for the photographer on your list is Luminar 4.

At the time of this writing, Luminar 4 is still a couple of weeks from being released, but I've had a chance to look at it, and WOW is a word that immediately comes to mind.

Luminar makes use of artificial intelligence to allow photographers to make specific and detailed edits to their photos, but without the process being one that's laborious or time-consuming.

For example, Luminar 4 features an AI Sky Replacement tool that allows you to automatically change the sky in any photo. Yes, change the sky - not just edit it to look prettier.

Better still, you can change the sky without creating masks or making selections, and the AI Sky Replacement Tool will relight the entire image, that way the original image and the new sky match in terms of brightness.

luminar 4 portrait enhancement under 100

Luminar 4 also has handy tools for portrait photographers, like the AI Skin Enhancer, which detects blemishes and removes them, all the while preserving details in the skin. This tool will detect skin anywhere in the photo (not just people's faces), and its corrections are made with just one click.

There's also an AI Portrait Enhancer that has 12 tools that enable you to make corrections to the face, eyes, and mouth in a way that maximizes control while maintaining ease of use.

Needless to say, Luminar 4 is packed with features and will make a great addition to any photographer's workflow!

Learn more about Luminar 4

Wiral LITE Cable Cam

I've had the Wiral Lite Cable Cam for a couple of months now, and I can't tell you how much fun I've had using it.

It is incredibly easy to use, too, as it has a simple rope system that allows for quick setup.

And once you have it setup, you can get beautifully smooth, dynamic tracking shots that take your videos to the next level.

This patent-pending rope system is called "Quickreel," and uses an ultra static rope so you get superb performance with excellent safety. The beauty, though, is that this rope doesn't add bulk or weight, so it's easy to carry.

This rope system can be used with a variety of cameras, from a GoPro to your smartphone to a DSLR or mirrorless camera.

If you watch the video above, you can see the kind of long, smooth video sequences that are possible.

It looks like a video that was taken using a big, expensive setup!

But this rig is less than $500...

Quick setup, loads of features, huge functionality, and a great price. What more could you want in a last-minute gift for the photographer on your list?!

Learn more about the Wiral LITE Cable Cam

Holdfast MoneyMaker Solo

One of my favorite pieces of gear is my MoneyMaker Solo camera strap. This thing is gorgeously crafted, easy on the eyes, and super functional, too.

What I like most about this strap is the comfort it offers.

It has a big, contoured shoulder strap that helps keep fatigue at bay. The shoulder strap stays in place on your shoulder too (go figure!), so carrying your camera for extended periods of time doesn't turn into making constant adjustments to how the strap interacts with your body.

Part of what helps the strap stay in place is the stability strap that wraps under your arm.

The other component of that is the ingenious Belt Anchor, which keeps the camera attached to your hip, rather than flopping around as you walk.

Not only does that improve the comfort level, but it makes it a safer endeavor to carry your camera, especially in crowded areas.

The construction of this thing is worth mentioning, too.

It's made of a single piece of full-grain leather, so it's absolutely stunning to look at.

The high-quality leather is paired with stainless steel hardware, so you know that the strap and its components will last the photographer on your list for years and years and years to come!

Check out my Holdfast MoneyMaker Solo Review to get more details on this awesome gift idea for photographers.

Learn more about the Holdfast MoneyMaker Solo

 



We Recommend


Top Software and Gear Updates That Rocked 2019

Top Software and Gear Updates That Rocked 2019

photo byzeljkosantrac via iStock

It was a great year for photography, particularly on the software and gear fronts.

From camera accessories to post-processing software, camera bags to lighting gear, we saw tons of new, updated, and innovative products and services come to market in 2019.

It would be impossible to review everything that rocked the photography world this year, so we’ve done the next best thing and outlined more than a dozen of our favorite updates below. 

Luminar 4

skylum top software ai sky replacement 

I’ve been a big fan of Luminar going back to when it was called Luminar 2018. And when Luminar 3 came out, I got my copy and began enjoying it immediately.

Now Luminar 4 is here, and with a host of improvements and expanded capabilities, it is the best Luminar yet. 

If you’re unfamiliar with Luminar, let me give you a quick overview… 

It’s chock-full of revolutionary tools that help you create better photos, faster.

That’s thanks in large part to artificial intelligence that drives easy-to-use tools that streamline your workflow yet still give you pinpoint control over how your images look.

Joining tools like the Accent AI Filter and the AI Sky Enhancer from Luminar 3 is a suite of new AI-powered tools that take image editing to a whole new level.

skylum top software ai skin enhancer

For portrait enthusiasts, the AI Skin Enhancer and Portrait Enhancer tools will revolutionize the way photo editing is done.

Using human-aware technology, the AI Skin Enhancer detects all the skin in a photo, smooths it out, removes blemishes, and does so while preserving the texture of the skin, pores, and hair.

It takes just one click to apply the Skin Enhancers edits, and then with a single slider you can adjust its strength for a picture-perfect result.

The AI Portrait Enhancer gives you a host of tools to quickly and easily make detailed changes to portraits, like whitening teeth and eyes, removing dark circles under eyes, and removing red eye, just to name a few. 

In all, the Portrait Enhancer includes twelve revolutionary tools that turn editing portraits into a process that takes a minute or less!

Luminar 4 has some goodies for landscape photographers as well. 

Primary among them is the AI Sky Replacement tool. 

As its name suggests, this tool replaces the sky in your photos automatically - there’s no masking or selections to be made on your part. 

The selection algorithms work so well, in fact, that it knows to exclude leaves, grass, and animals from the sky selection.

skylum top software sky replacement

Not only that, but this tool relights the entire image, that way the foreground matches the brightness of the new sky.

It’s advancements like this that make Luminar 4 one of the most powerful, easy-to-use editing programs on the planet today.

Need more convincing? Get Luminar 4 today and see for yourself!

Hakutatz Pocket Size RGB+AW LED Light

Gone are the days when you have to lug around huge lights to get the key light or fill light you need for awesome portraits.

Instead, companies like Hakutatz have developed powerful pocket-sized LED lights that give you the power to customize the type of lighting to your specific needs.

This particular light has RGB, amber, and white LEDs, so you can add accent colors to your photos and videos or dial in the ideal white balance by using the amber or white lights.

This light is completely adjustable, with controls for saturation, brightness, and color temperature. Better still, you can adjust the light’s settings via a well-designed and user-friendly smartphone app.

That means that with a simple touch or a swipe of your finger, you can fine-tune everything from the RGB color to special effects. You can even control multiple lights at the same time right from the app. No wonder their Kickstarter campaign was such a huge success!

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Hakutatz literally puts the power to dial in complex lighting schemes in the palm of your hand, and does so in a way that’s clean, simple, and super functional. That’s by this little light rocked the photography world in 2019!

Be on the lookout for Hakutatz’ online store to have these lights in stock in December!

Learn more about the Hakutatz Pocket Size RGB+AW LED Light

Hazard 4® Cyclone™

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Framing shots with your action cam in direct sun can be frustrating; glare in your eyes and the camera’s tiny, reflective screen are really fatiguing. Blowing sand, water or snow don’t help. But the best action is shot outside - Cyclone™ is the first real solution.

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This patent-pending optic blocks the sun, but it’s lens also magnifies the screen and protects it. You effectively add mirrorless camera style composition and review to your tiny affordable GoPro or DJI action cam that survive where real mirrorless can’t. Better still, the viewfinder mounts to your action cam’s bottom screw in seconds, so there is no fumbling. But you’ll probably choose to keep it on since this little guy doubles as a tiltable handle - keeping fingers out of frame and for extension. With cheap additional hardware you can even head mount it for hands-free composition while biking, paragliding etc, and it tilts out of the way at will. 

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hazard 4 4

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The simple, waterproof, tough, design accordions flat for easy portability and flattened can be a selfie mini tripod. It has diopter focus - even helping out ageing eyes. The high-vis cap self closes to protect the lens. And you get a tether loop action cams don’t include.

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Hazard 4® has a reputation for innovating outdoor photo accessories; the Cyclone™ is no exception. As usual they have gone above and beyond to design a multi-functional, easy to use bombproof solution to a common video shooter problem. Perhaps this may push GoPro® or DJI® to finally up the resolution on their LCD’s under magnification and drive the mirrorless wars into the action cam space. Either way, you don’t have to rely on the wide angle lens for your framing anymore- you can actually compose like a pro.

This device is currently on Kickstarter, with a fund date of January 7, 2020. Head over to Kickstarter now to learn more about this device.

The Camera Pack by Nomatic and Peter McKinnon

nomatic camera pack 1

Billed as a “functional camera pack for all types of travelers,” the Camera Pack by Nomatic and Peter McKinnon is certainly worthy of inclusion on this list. 

The Kickstarter campaign to fund this pack had a goal of $100,000. It raised nearly $2.3 million. That speaks to the reputation of Nomatic and Peter McKinnon! 

This bag is ridiculously well designed and has a functionality level that’s off the charts.

It’s designed to cure the woes of travel photographers who have to have one bag for their gear and another bag for their personal items.

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The Camera Pack solves this problem by having a clothing side and a gear side which are separated by an interior panel. This keeps everything neat and tidy so you aren’t rifling through the entire back when you need something. 

Better still, the bag has a “Cube Pack” inside, which serves as the ideal organizational module within the interior ecosystem. However, as the gif below shows, the Cube Pack converts to a daypack, so if you need to run and gun a little, you don’t have to take the larger Camera Pack with you. Ingenious!

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Overall, the Camera Pack can hold 35 liters of gear, but can be expanded to accommodate up to 42 liters of gear. That’s a lot of stuff! And with a full clamshell opening, you can see all the gear you’ve stowed away with ease. 

And everything is neatly organized thanks to a main camera compartment with moveable interior dividers. There’s a sleeve for your tablet, pockets for your camera accessories, and quick side access for easy retrieval of gear, too.

nomatic camera pack 4 

On the clothing side, there’s compression cubes for your clothes, compression straps to keep everything where it should be, and more pockets for smaller items.

This is just a really well designed and impeccably built backpack. And with the input of a photography expert like Peter McKinnon, you know that it’s been designed with photography needs in mind. 

Learn more about the Camera Pack by Nomatic and Peter McKinnon

GearFocus.com

gearfocus top software and gear updates 1 

If you buy and sell your used photography gear on places like Craigslist, you’re doing it all wrong. 

That’s because there are much better alternatives that take the hassle out of buying and selling used gear. GearFocus.com is certainly one of the best.

One of the top reasons GearFocus makes our list of the Top Software and Gear Updates is because they focused on building a community where people like you and I can buy quality used gear and get fair market value for stuff we sell.

Unlike other used gear sites, GearFocus doesn’t take a giant chunk of your profits when you sell your gear. Instead, they offer the lowest seller fees among B2C and C2C marketplaces, which means more money in your pocket when your item sells.

Additionally, GearFocus ensures each transaction is safe and secure by screening and monitoring every single post and transaction. Gear Focus was made by creatives, for creatives and they’ve been in this business long enough to be able to spot suspicious listings and red flags from a mile away. Without scammers creating fake listings, the buying and selling experience is enhanced so you can get the best deal on used gear and the most money for the items you sell.

Heck, they’ll even intervene on your behalf if something goes wrong! Having that kind of peace of mind alone is enough to land these guys on this list!

It’s not often that you find companies like this that prioritize community building and supporting one another over making a buck. That focus on customer service is just the icing on the cake for patrons of GearFocus. They are here to help FEED YOUR PASSION! 

Learn more about GearFocus.com

Litra Studio 

To say that the Litra Studio is powerful is an understatement. 

Weighing in at just 33.5 ounces and measuring 5.5" x 3.9" x 2.9", the Litra Studio is certainly easily transported without taking up a ton of space in your camera bag.

But don’t let its small size fool you - this light can produce over one million unique colors that will help you light up your portraits and videos.

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The Litra Studio can produce up to 3,000 lumens of continuous light and up to 6,00 lumens of flash. In CCT mode, you get 2,000-10,00K adjustable bi-color lighting with green and magenta color shift controls to allow for tunable blue and green screen optimization.

On top of that, this light is fully tunable and dimmable, and offers CCT, HSI, RGBWW, gel presets, flash modes, and effects, too.

The light it produces is clean and flicker-free at all shutter angles. The CRI and TLCI of 97 speak to its impeccable color accuracy.

Litra even made sure this light is rugged and durable. It’s waterproof, has highly efficient passive thermal management, and offers up to 20 hours of battery life on the low setting.

That makes this a go-anywhere, do-anything light that made huge waves in the photography world this year.

Learn more about the Litra Studio

GoPro HERO 8

While the GoPro HERO 8 doesn’t boast any major updates, it does represent a culmination of a wide range of smaller updates that, taken together, make it the best GoPro thus far.

In fact, I’d say this is the most innovative and user-friendly GoPro yet. 

It has built-in mounting pins so you can directly mount the camera to accessories rather than needing a frame to do so.

There are built-in digital lenses for multiple field of view settings from Narrow and Wide to Linear and Superview. The camera’s physical lens cover is not not removable and it twice as strong as those found in older models.

Also on the ease-of-use front are numerous capture presets that allow you to create and save popular types of videos. SuperPhoto, which is GoPro’s version of HDR, gets a refresh that results in improved image quality as well. 

The GoPro HERO 7 debuted incredible image stabilization with HyperSmooth, and the HERO 8 builds on that with even better results with HyperSmooth 2.0.

The HERO 8 also gets upgraded TimeWarp features, including an auto mode that uses sensor to detect motion and adjust the recording speed accordingly.

The camera also has improved photo-taking capabilities with face detection, smile detection, and blink detection functions, as well as LiveBurst mode for taking 1.5-second-long images before and after the shutter button is depressed. 

Add in built-in GPS, motion sensors, live streaming capabilities at 1080p, 4K video at 60fps, and a host of mod accessories to expand the camera’s capabilities, and it’s no wonder that this rig set the photography world on fire in 2019! 

Learn more about the GoPro HERO 8

Aputure 120D II

As far as studio lights go, it’s tough to beat the quality lights that Aputure puts out. 

And at the top of their lineup is the 120d II, a light I reviewed earlier this year and was very impressed with.

This light is 1000-watt tungsten equivalent, so you get plenty of brightness for your studio work. It’s fully dimmable, too, and has a CRI and TLCI of 97+. That kind of quality light is a must-have for discerning photographers. 

Aputure also included a variety of built-in lighting effects so you can dial in custom looks for your images. With this light, there’s nothing stopping your creativity!

But what’s really impressive about the 120d II is what’s “behind the scenes.”

It has an integrated power and control box, which keeps clutter to a minimum in the studio. Any studio photographer will appreciate that!

What’s more, it has an 18dB quiet fan, which keeps that annoying “whooshing” sound to a minimum so you can concentrate more thoroughly on getting killer shots.

Add in the fact that this light is 25 percent brighter than its predecessor and that it has DMX controls, a wireless remote, and excellent portability, and you have the makings of a top light for your photography studio. 

Learn more about the Aputure 120d II

Exposure X5

Exposure X5 is yet another software update that sent shockwaves through the photography world in 2019.

Its predecessor, Exposure X4, was highly functional, user-friendly, and super powerful, so it was hard to imagine how the folks at Exposure could make X5 better. But they did.

For starters, Exposure X5 has custom camera profiles that allow you to control how the software interprets color from RAW files. These profiles (created by X-Rite, among others) can be applied automatically by matching the serial number of your camera or by using the camera model. Furthermore, these profiles can be matched to a specific lens or ISO range.

You get advanced chromatic aberration correction in X5 too. This allows you to remove unwanted artifacts using lens profiles, or you can remove them by making manual adjustments if you prefer. 

There’s also a new fringe removal tool, so X5 makes getting rid of chromatic aberrations easier than ever before.

There are a host of other new features too.

Exposure X5 includes new complementary color presets, new season-inspired looks, and new light and airy presets that give you expanded creative potential when editing your photos.

There are more black and white film options than ever before, support for grayscale TIFF and JPEG images, and new image flip options too. Exposure X5 also has multiple language options, including English, German, and French. 

But for me, the best new feature in Exposure X5 is 3D color masking.

Basically, you can use this tool to make incredibly precise selections for applying adjustments to your photos. You can see it at work in the video above. 

This fine level of control is made possible by using specific color characteristics (hue, saturation, and luminance) to define the adjustment areas.

What this means is that you can quickly and easily target specific areas for color masking, like the sky in a landscape photo or skin tones in a portrait. This is all done with just a few clicks.

Exposure X5 is powerful, easy to use, and incorporates tons of new features that make it the best Exposure software to date. If you’ve never tried exposure, give it a test-drive for free

Learn more about Exposure X5

Holdfast Tanker Belt

I’ve been a Holdfast customer for a long time, and what initially drew me to them was the absolutely outstanding build quality of their products.

They use only the finest materials - things like full-grain leather and stainless steel - so when you buy a camera strap or harness or bag, you get something that is durable and will last you for years. 

But as the years have gone by, I’ve come to appreciate more and more the sheer innovation that these guys display when developing new products. That being the case, I had to include Holdfast on this list of the best gear updates of the year.

One of Holdfast’s latest products is the Tanker Belt, which changes the way you carry your gear.

It’s actually two belts in one, the first of which cinches around your waist like a normal belt and the second, outer belt, which forms loops for attaching your gear.

This ingenious design means the belt stays put (as do your pants) while maximizing the amount of gear you can carry around your waist.

There are three D-rings on the belt for attaching things like your keys or a wallet, and the D-rings are moveable, so you can customize precisely where your items hang on your waist. 

And, as you’d expect with Holdfast, this belt looks and feels like a million bucks - it's gorgeous handmade leather is something to behold! 

Better still, the Tanker Belt was designed with functionality in mind, so it’s compatible with a wide range of Holdfast products.

You can attach the Ranger Leash to the belt and take Fido for a hands-free walk, or you can add a cell phone pouch and keep your smartphone safe and secure and out of the elements.

Add a lens pouch or two (small, medium, or large) so you have extra glass for your next shoot too!

With sizes from 28-inches up to 44-inches and multiple colors (black, tan, chestnut, and burgandy), you can customize the Tanker Belt to your specific needs and tastes. 

Learn more about the Holdfast Tanker Belt

Panasonic 10-25mm f/1.7 Lens

I picked up a Panasonic GH5 earlier this year, and it quickly won me over with its astonishing video capabilities.

It wasn’t until recently, though, that I got to test out the Panasonic 10-25mm f/1.7 lens, and I have to say, I wish I would’ve gotten my hands on it a lot sooner! This is a fantastic lens, to say the least.

You can get some of my thoughts on this lens in the video above, but I want to expound on its features a little bit more. 

Make no mistake - this is a gigantic lens, especially for a micro four-thirds camera. Fortunately, it’s not hard to handle at all, and despite its footprint, it’s actually not all that heavy.

panasonic 10 25mm 1

But it’s massive size means that Panasonic was able to cram lots of goodies inside to help you get superb images.

This lens is supremely sharp, beautifully responsive, and gets you clean, crisp images each and every time. Its bokeh is buttery smooth and there’s wonderful brightness throughout its aperture range.

It has 17 elements in 12 groups, including three aspherical lenses and four extra-low dispersion elements which work to all but eliminate spherical aberration, distortion, and chromatic aberration. The result is images with impressive quality. 

But where this lens was a game-changer in 2019 was in its video capabilities…

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It’s compatible with up to 240fps high-speed sensor drives and offers silent operation thanks to the inner focus drive system and the de-clicked aperture ring.

The focus clutch is a nice touch as well, as it enables instant switching between autofocus and manual focus as well as improved accuracy when manually focusing.

With next to zero focus breathing, a micro-step drive system that accommodates brightness changes when panning and zooming, and Leica build quality, this lens certainly doesn’t disappoint! 

Learn more about the Panasonic 10-25mm f/1.7 lens

Sony a7R IV

When the Sony a7R IV was announced earlier this year, it set the internet on fire with news of its massive 61-megapixel sensor. And while the sensor is impressive, it’s just the beginning of the impressive specs of this camera.

Paired with a BIONZ X image processor, the a7R IV’s back-illuminated sensor is capable of rendering images that are beautifully crisp.

You get an eyeful of all that beauty with the brand-new UXGA OLED Tru-Finder viewfinder, which has a whopping 5.76-million dots of resolution for a clean, bright, detailed look at what you’ve framed up in the shot.

This camera has a native ISO range of 100-32000 for low-light shooting, and with 15-stops of dynamic range rendering, you’ll have no problem getting tons of details in the shadows and the highlights. 

Of course, the a7R IV carries on the Sony tradition of excellent autofocusing, with an ultra-fast hybrid AF system that has 567 phase-detect AF points to give you quick and accurate autofocus tracking. 

Throw in UHD 4K video at 30p, Real-Time Eye AF tracking, 10fps shooting, and a bevy of other features, and you can see why the Sony a7R IV was one of the best gear updates of 2019.

Learn more about the Sony a7R IV

Haida M10 Filter System

The Haida M10 filter system is something I’ve been testing as of late, and I have to say that I’m impressed with this system.

Like the other products and services on this list, I’ve found numerous innovative and unique features that compelled me to include this product on this list.

Haida is a great value for the money with well-built components that show an attention to quality and detail that many filter companies just can’t match.

I have multiple components in my kit - the M10 filter holder, a circular polarizer, a couple of solid ND filters, and a soft-edge grad (shown above) - but you can also buy complete kits of varying sizes, including their Master Filter Kit, their Professional Kit, and their Enthusiast Kit, if you’d rather go that route. 

Either way, I think you’ll find, as I have, that the Haida system is one that enhances your ability to get quality shots.

The aluminum alloy filter holder can accommodate two 100mm filters, but it can expand to include a third slot if needed. The Haida filters are made of shock-resistant optical glass and features 10 layers of anti-reflective nano coating and 10 layers of scratch and water resistant coatings.

The holder rotates a full 360-degrees, which is enormously helpful for getting just the right positioning when using graduated ND filters.

I also like the fact that Haida incorporated gaskets in the filter slots to help prevent light leaks. They even include a “dummy” filter housing that can be dropped into the filter if you’re shooting without the circular polarizer in place. Again, this helps prevent light leaks so you get a cleaner exposure. 

The pinch and pull system for adding and removing filters make using this system super easy, as do the rounded edges of the rectangular filters - they’re much easier to slide into the filter holder without sharp edges.

This is just a well thought out system for beginners and enthusiasts alike!

Learn more about the Haida M10 filter system

Sony a6600

Though the Sony a7R IV probably got more attention, the Sony a6600 is certainly not something to forget about…

With a much smaller price tag than the a7R IV and more applicability for more photographers, the a6600 rocked our world this year by bringing many flagship features to a mid-range camera.

Its 24.2-megapixel Exmor CMOS sensor is ideal for capturing beautifully resolute images while the native ISO range of 100-32000 gives you excellent low-light shooting capabilities with reduced noise.

As I get more into video creation, I appreciate the fact that this camera sports UHD 4K video capabilities that can be internally recorded in XAVC S format.

The five-axis image stabilization is a dream, giving you five full stops of stabilization, while the weather-sealed construction means you can head out in adverse weather with less worry about what will happen to your camera.

With additional features like a beautiful XGA OLED Tru-Finder viewfinder, a tiltable LCD monitor, 11 fps continuous shooting, and much more, this camera is certainly worthy of the title of gear that rocked 2019!

Learn more about the Sony a6600

RODE Wireless GO 

rode wireless go

A final product I wanted to mention on this list of the top software and gear updates is this handy little guy, the RODE Wireless GO.

This wireless system automatically pairs in just three seconds and transmits via RODE’s new Series III digital transmission system. It’s a 2.4GHz system that’s optimized for short-range operation, particularly in environments in which there is a lot of RF and Wi-Fi interference. It also offers line-of-sight range of up to 70 meters.

You also get broadcast-grade audio thanks to the built-in condenser mic’s superb isolation and transparency. Alternatively, you can use it with a lavalier mic using the 3.5mm TRS input.

Additionally, the Wireless GO system operates up to seven hours on a full charge, and since the unit is so small and compact, it’s super lightweight and portable. 

You can even use up to eight systems in one location if you have the need!

If you’ve ever used a ROD mic before, you know they’re some of the best in the business. The RODE Wireless GO is certainly no exception!

Learn more about the RODE Wireless GO

 



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