photo by Baramyou0708 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: Holdfast Camera Swagg Camera Harness
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.
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!
Gifts for Photographers Under $250: LitraTorch LitraPro
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!
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!
Gifts for Photographers Under $250: HEX Ranger Clamshell DSLR Backpack
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.
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.
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
Gifts for Photographers Under $250: A Pre-Owned 50mm Lens
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!
You can find 50mm lenses with large apertures, too, like the Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM shown above.
At f/1.8, 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, like the Nikon AF-S 50mm f/1.8G shown above 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. You can find Nifty Fifties for any camera system, like Canon and Nikon as mentioned above, as well as Sony and others.
Regardless of the manufacturer, 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!
Gifts for Photographers Under $250: EF to E-Mount Lens Adapter
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!
Gifts for Photographers Under $250: Pana-Vue Pana-Scan Portable Stand-Alone Combo Scanner
If your parents are like mine, they’ve got an attic full of old family photos that are doing nothing but sitting around decaying.
Instead of letting those family memories vanish, why not give them the gift of an easy-to-use scanner to digitize old photos, negatives, and slides?
Whether it’s photos, 35mm negatives, 110 and 126 Instamatic negatives, or 35mm slides, they can bring their memories into the 21st Century.
What’s great about this scanner is that it’s fast, efficient, and produces great results.
This is too SMALL!! I Cant make it any bigger
In fact, users can scan photos from existing photo albums without removing the prints because this unit has technologically-advanced anti-glare technology. When you’re talking about scanning decades-old photos, the less you have to handle them, the better off they’ll be.
Loose photos are also a breeze to scan. This unit can accommodate up to 4x6 prints, which it turns into 15-megapixel files. And since it’s a standalone machine, there’s no need for a computer to get all this done!
In just moments, the photographer on your list (or mom and dad!) can scan the image, view them on a TV, and share them via email or social media. You can even print them if so desired.
This is just a quick, efficient, and easy-to-use method of preserving old memories!
Gifts for Photographers Under $250: Syrp Genie Mini II
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.
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!
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!
Gifts for Photographers Under $250: Foolography UNLEASHED Camera Remote
I switched to the Nikon Z7 awhile back, and one of the things I quickly realized was that there was not a good option for a camera remote.
This perplexed me, so I did some digging and discovered what is hands-down the best camera remote I’ve ever owned - the Foolography UNLEASHED.
Not only is this remote very small and inconspicuous, but it is loaded with functionalities that make it perhaps the most feature-rich remote on the market.
This little guy (which as you can see above right is about the size of my thumbnail), has a Bluetooth module that plugs into my Z7. You’d scarcely know it was there if you didn’t look real hard!
But don’t let its small size fool you - this thing can do all sorts of fun stuff like allow you to control aperture, shutter speed, and ISO. You can also adjust white balance and exposure compensation.
If the photographer on your shopping list likes long exposures, they’ll love the fact that this remote allows you to hold the shutter open for things like light painting and capturing star trails. Want to do a time-lapse? It can do that as well!
Add to that the power to control six cameras at once, geotagging capabilities, video recording, and you have a recipe for a kickass holiday gift for the photographer in your life.
Gifts for Photographers Under $250: Aputure AL-MW Mini LED
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…
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!
Gifts for Photographers Under $250: Syrp Super Dark Variable ND Filter
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.
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!