Photo by franckreporter via iStock
I'm writing this the first week of August, so as you can imagine, it's a little weird talking about holiday gifts.
However, the first seven months of 2020 have flown by - despite the challenging circumstances - so I figured the next four months would be equally as fast. I might as well start naming my top gifts for photographers now, that way you have time to pick up the items you want for yourself or for the photographer on your holiday shopping list.
While $250 might not seem like a big budget for photography-related gear, you might be surprised at what you can find for less than that price point.
Below are ten of my favorite photography gifts for $250 or less.
Gifts for Photographers Under $250: CanvasHQ Print
One of my favorite gifts to give (and to get, while we're at it) is a big, beautiful print.
Personally, I like canvas because of the texture the canvas gives to the print. Besides, a canvas print is something that will continue to give joy to the person that receives it for years and years to come!
Now, I know what you're thinking...canvas is so old-school.
But if you order your canvases from the right printers, you can get something that is beautiful, well-made and looks modern, even if the substrate is perhaps a bit old-school.
I have tons of canvases in my home, the vast majority of which are from CanvasHQ.
These are some of the best canvas prints I've ever purchased. The sharpness of detail, the color accuracy, and the overall build quality of these prints is next-level good.
Part of the reason for this is the materials CanvasHQ uses. 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.
But CanvasHQ isn't just tops in the quality department...
They have excellent customer service that makes you feel heard and as though you're the only customer they have to worry about at that moment.
These guys are committed to getting it right, so if something doesn’t go as planned, you won’t be hung out to dry.
If you have questions, they’ll answer them. If you have a problem, they’ll fix it. If you need assistance with uploading your photo or even picking the best finishes for your canvas, they’ve got your back.
In the video above, you can see how one of my CanvasHQ prints stacks up against similar prints from other printing companies. I think you'll see why I'm so loyal to CanvasHQ!
Start shopping for your favorite photographer today on CanvasHQ.
Gifts for Photographers Under $250: ViewSonic VG1655 Portable Monitor
Sometimes you need a bright, portable monitor, and for those occasions, the ViewSonic VG1655 is a great option.
This monitor has a frameless IPS 15.6-inch screen and weighs a mere two pounds. It has two-way power, dual USB-C ports, a stand cover, and a screen protector. It can be used in portrait or landscape orientation.
To help reduce eye strain, the monitor has a blue light filter. The flicker-free technology gives you a beautiful picture to view as well.
You can use this monitor with laptops, PCs, and Macs and comes with a three-year warranty. There are even dual built-in speakers!
Gifts for Photographers Under $250: Haida NanoPro MC Variable ND Filter
One of the best things about having a variable ND filter in your camera bag is that you can replace multiple ND filters with a single one.
That might not sound like a big deal, but for me (and many other photographers), it's nice to be able to streamline your camera bag and your photography workflow while you're at it.
What's so nice about the Haida NanoPro MC variable ND filter is that you get 4-stops to 9-stops of variability. This allows you to attack all sorts of long exposures in different lighting situations. Additionally, you can increase the aperture to control depth of field for beautiful background blur in your images.
This particular variable ND filter has nano multi-coatings on both sides of the glass that improves beading when the surface comes in contact with oil or water. So not only does it protect the filter glass, but this coating also results in a much more efficient cleaning process.
Speaking of efficiency, Haida included visual cues on the front filter ring that represent the different density values. This helps you dial in the desired density settings both easier and faster, and allows you to repeat the process more easily as well.
Where some variable ND filters reduce the overall clarity and color accuracy of the images you take, Haida has protected against both of these problems by using optical glass. Each surface also includes 10 layers of anti-reflection coatings to minimize internal ghosting and reflections.
You can also use this filter with other filters thanks to the front filter threads. Add in a side lever for easy rotation, a plastic case to protect the filter during transport, and a price WELL below the $250 mark, and you have the makings for one heck of a holiday gift idea for the photographer on your list!
Gifts for Photographers Under $250: A Pre-Owned Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 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/1.4 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!
Gifts for Photographers Under $250: Holdfast MoneyMaker Solo
Photo by Brandon Burk
Designed specifically for single camera shooters, the Holdfast MoneyMaker Solo is a perfect choice for the photographer on your holiday shopping list.
The MoneyMaker Solo features impeccable designs and a commitment to quality for shooters that don’t need two or three cameras on their person as the original MoneyMaker provides.
Worn as a sling strap, the MoneyMaker Solo has a big, soft, contoured shoulder strap that ensures that you’ll have a comfortable carrying experience whether you’re only out shooting for a couple of hours or if you’re out shooting for an entire day.
With an integrated stabilizer strap, the MoneyMaker Solo will stay put on your shoulder so you don’t have to worry about it slipping off.
What’s more, you can use the Holdfast Belt Anchor to give the Solo even more stability, it locks the camera to your belt, no more flopping around as you maneuver and bend over while working. Then a quick pull on the release tab as you grab your camera and you’re ready to take the shot!
Just like the original MoneyMaker, the MoneyMaker Solo gives you unparalleled freedom of movement so you can get the shots you want without having your gear in the way.
In that regard, the MoneyMaker Solo ticks all the boxes - it’s highly functional, incredibly comfortable, works without getting in your way, and it looks like a million buck!
Gifts for Photographers Under $250: Insta360 GO
Photographers these days are almost as much about video as they are about still images. And for that reason, a camera that captures video is a must.
But not everyone wants a traditional video camera. That's where the Insta360 GO comes in...
This tiny stabilized camera shoots 30-second or 60-second clips with the press of a button. From those clips, you can find the best still frames if you wish, all with the help of artificial intelligence.
In addition to being stabilized, the Insta360 GO features Hyperlapse, automatic editing, timelapse, and slow-motion capabilities.
Using the Barrel Roll feature, you can adjust the rotation of the shot with a simple swipe. It's also water-resistant and can even withstand a quick dunk in the water.
Transferring files is as simple as plugging the camera into your phone. And with a battery that can handle about 200 shots on a charge, you can amass a lot of images and videos!
Gifts for Photographers Under $250: PolarPro Apex Minimalist Tripod
While PolarPro might be better known for their impeccable lens filters, they've expanded their product line to include many other useful tools, like the Apex Minimalist Tripod.
But don't let this tripod's small stature fool you...
It is every bit a PolarPro product with robust construction, superb design, and top-notch functionality.
The smaller form factor of this tripod not only makes it a perfect companion for mirrorless or smartphone photography, but it's also a perfect addition to any photographer's travel bag.
The tripod can be completely locked into place by using PolarPro's excellent TiltLocks.
These locks allow you to lock the tripod down in many different orientations, that way you can get the precise shot you envision.
Additionally, this tripod comes with PolarPro's Apex ball head, removable rubber feet with aluminum spikes inside, and a 35-degree angled plate release know, which enables you to hot-swap other tripods and mounts.
And since this tripod is 95 percent aluminum, it's lightweight and durable at the same time.
If the you or the photographer on your holiday shopping list have been itching for a robust, yet small tripod, the PolarPro Apex should be something you take a long, hard look at.
Gifts for Photographers Under $250: H&Y K-Series Filter Holder
Another top pick for your favorite photographer is a rock-solid lens filter holder.
For my money, it doesn't get any better than the filter holder shown above - the H&Y K-Series.
What sets this filter holder apart from the rest is the quality of construction. Where many filter holders are made of plastic, this one is crafted of aluminum to give you the durability you need without adding unnecessary weight.
This particular holder also comes with a drop-in 95mm circular polarizer that features SCHOTT glass. The glass gets an HD polishing technique that improves light transmission so your images have even more reason to shine.
This circular polarizer also has multiple nano coatings that make it scratch-resistant, oil-repellant, and water-repellant.
Of course, a high-quality filter holder needs to minimize light leaks, and the K-Series is more than up to the task.
There are foam seals that prevent light from leaking in, that way the results you get with your images fulfill your precise vision.
Plus, this is a magnetic holder, so you can use any of H&Y's magnetic rectangular filters (like this one).
This is a filter holder system that's well designed, well built, and worth every single penny. The photographer on your list will love having this bad boy in their kit!
Gifts for Photographers Under $250: HEX Ranger Clamshell DSLR Backpack
The folks at HEX have a passion for what they do, and it shows in the products they design and create.
I actually have a HEX Ranger DSLR Sling Bag. 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: 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: Artbeat Studios HD Metal Print
Looking for a gift with a ton of visual appeal without it having a huge impact on your bank account? Look no further than an HD Metal Print from Artbeat Studios!
The great thing about an HD metal print is that it can be put just about anywhere in a home or office and immediately draw the attention of anyone that sees it. That’s due to the high-quality materials that Artbeat Studios uses to craft their prints.
For example, you can choose between a glossy or matte finish, where a glossy treatment adds depth to the image and creates a lot of drama and a matte finish eliminates glare and offers a more subtle viewing experience.
What’s more, you can choose from natural or black wood wall mounts, or if you prefer, silver or black aluminum wall mounts to further customize how the print looks. The mounts can be recessed from the edge of the print to give it the appearance that it’s floating on the wall, or you can opt to have the mount flush with the edges of the print to give it a little more depth and heft.
No matter how you choose to customize the print, it’ll be well worth the money!
Gifts for Photographers Under $250: Pre-Owned Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark II
Whether the photographer on your list is just starting out and needs a solid first camera or is more experienced and wants a second camera body that's easy to handle and travel with, the E-M10 Mark II is a great option.
This camera is super small and lightweight, making it an easy addition to any camera bag.
But despite its small size, it's loaded with features that your favorite photographer will appreciate.
It has a 16.1-megapixel micro four thirds sensor paired with an 81-point autofocus system.
This camera has five-axis in-body image stabilization, a native ISO range from 100-25600, and 8fps burst shooting capabilities.
Additionally, this little Olympus offers 1080p HD video at up to 60fps, a beautiful electronic viewfinder, and a 3-inch LCD screen.
This camera is several years old, but still has many top-notch features that photographers today will enjoy. You'll enjoy the small price tag just as much!
Gifts for Photographers Under $250: Amazon Gift Card
Totally stumped regarding gift ideas for photographers on your list?
Why not go the easy route and get them an Amazon gift card?
Though a gift card isn't exactly the sexiest gift, when the photographer in your family sees that you have given them carte blanche to get what they want, they'll be stoked!
With an Amazon gift card, they can put the card amount towards whatever they want - a new lens, a second camera body, lighting gear, a laptop - you name it!
As far as flexibility goes, there's nothing better to give a photographer than a gift card.