- A padded laptop sleeve
- Side camera access
- High-quality zippers
- Weather resistant materials
- Removable backpack straps
- Removable camera protection
Photo by RobertBreitpaul via iStock
With a $500 holiday shopping budget, you can really go all-out for a loved one that loves photography.
From huge canvas prints of their favorite photos to a new-to-them camera or lens, there's really an unlimited array of possible gift ideas.
To help narrow things down, I've listed 10 of my favorite gifts for photographers below.
These are personal favorites of mine that I have enjoyed at one time or another, and I think any other photographer would enjoy these as well!
Gifts for Photographers Under $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 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 $500: Holdfast Sightseer Camera and Lens Modular System
There's two problems that this gift idea can solve: discomfort and difficult-to-access gear.
The Holdfast Sightseer is a small bag, yet it holds a ton of gear. The photographer on your list can put their 13-inch laptop in there along with a camera (with a lens attached), two more lenses, and other accessories like spare batteries, memory cards, and a flash.
Since the Sightseer is a truly modular system, you can mix and match lens pouches as you need to carry as much or as little gear as the situation calls for. What’s more, this system can grow with you as you get more gear - start out lean and mean with just the Sightseer bag, and as more lenses are accumulated, add Lens Pouches as needed.
Better still, because your gear is easily accessible, you don’t have to worry about missing a shot! With your gear at your fingertips, there's no waiting around to get ready to press the shutter button.
It’s easy to carry, too. Just use the two sets of carrying handles, the shoulder strap, or attach it to the Holdfast MoneyMaker dual camera strap for a super easy way to get your gear from point A to point B.
These bags look amazing, too, with a waxed canvas and American Bison leather exterior and an Aztec flannel fleece interior. In other words, the Sightseer is the complete package!
Gifts for Photographers Under $500: Synology DS419slim
Every photographer needs a lot of storage capacity, and I can't think of a better network attached storage than the Synology DS419slim.
I've been using this NAS since June, and it's been a great asset for my workflow.
There's four bays for adding 2.5-inch drives, so there's tons of space for image files, yet this little guy is just 4.72 x 4.13 x 5.59-inches in size.
It can literally sit on top of your desk and take care of all your storage needs without getting in the way!
What's more, it weighs less than 1.5 pounds, so if the photographer on your list needs to get up and go, they can easily take this device with them.
As far as specs go, this thing is loaded for bear...
It runs Synology's excellent DiskStation Manager, has RAID protection and easy file-sharing capabilities, as well as a dual-core CPU.
You get a hardware encryption engine, read/write speed of 220 MB/s and 94 MB/s, respectively, and dual Gigabit Link Aggregation with failover support as well.
Add in dual USB 3.0 ports, could syncing with Dropbox, Google Drive, and others, as well as easy access via iOS and Android apps, and you have the makings of a hard-working, functional, and easy-to-use NAS!
Gifts for Photographers Under $500: Wandrd HEXAD Access Duffle
It’s tough to beat a great camera bag as a gift for the photographer on your list.
And if it’s a well-designed, comfortable to carry, functional, good-looking bag you’re after, look no further than this beauty - the Wandrd HEXAD Access Duffle.
The huge clamshell opening on top offers total access to the inside of the bag, so you not only have a great view of the gear that’s inside but you can also easily retrieve and put away your camera or accessories.
Inside, you’ll find three organizational compartments that help you keep your gear nice and tidy. That’s a must for a bag that can hold a whopping 45 liters of gear.
But all that space is wrapped in a carry-on sized bag that’s 9"H X 14"W X 22"L and weighs just 3.9 pounds.
Check out the other features that this bag offers:
There’s even an RFID secure passport pocket for those out-of-country adventures!
On top of all that, this bag looks like a million bucks! I mean, what photographer wouldn’t want to carry this bag around?!
But those good looks aren’t superficial - the bag is made of waterproof Tarpaulin and 1680D Ballistic Nylon with a WR Army coating. Not bad, eh?
You can get your favorite photographer the bag by itself or opt to add one or two medium camera cubes along with it. Whichever route you go, you’ll be well under your $500 budget!
Gifts for Photographers Under $500: Wiral LITE Cable Cam
If creating dynamic videos is on your favorite photographer's agenda, then the Wiral LITE Cable Cam is a perfect gift idea!
This simple rope system allows videographers to get tracking shots quickly and easily. In fact, it takes just a few minutes to set this thing up!
Called "Quickreel," the system's patent-pending rope system makes it super easy to capture awesome videos without tons of time setting up or taking down gear. Better yet, since an ultra static rope is used, you get excellent performance and top-notch safety without bulk or weight.
Once it's set up, you can use your GoPro or another camera to get long, smooth video sequences.
And in looking at the video above, you'd think it was done with a hugely expensive setup, right?
Not so...just a handy Wiral Lite that you can pick up for well under the $500 limit!
This is a functional and fun gift that any photographer that enjoys shooting video would love to have under the tree on Christmas morning!
Gifts for Photographers Under $500: Insta360 One X
If you have an adventurous photographer on your holiday shopping list, why not give them a gift that will blow their minds and help them create unique photos unlike anything they've created before?
The Insta360 One X is a 360-degree camera that makes creating photos and videos a fun and exciting exercise.
But this thing is no gimmick - it has dual f/2 lenses with 200-degree fields of view. The overlap of the lenses results in a true 360-degree image or video.
With a 1/2.3-inch sensor, 14 MB still images, and up to 5.7K video shooting at 30fps, it offers tons of options for getting high-quality content too.
It's small and portable, too, so you can easily hold it in your hand, buy a mount for your bike, strap it to your dog, or put it virtually anywhere to get interesting images and video sequences.
And since it comes with an incredible 6-axis gyroscopic stabilization system, the video footage it records will be buttery smooth.
Insta360 has also packed this thing with software to make using it easier and more productive.
Control the camera via the companion app, which features Live View so you can see what the camera sees.
There's even built-in shooting modes, including HDR, time-lapse, and "Bullet Time" (remember those incredible scenes in The Matrix where the camera rotated around Neo as he dodged bullets?).
I've had this camera for about a month now, and it is SO much fun!
Gifts for Photographers Under $500: E-Image EK610 Tripod
Every photographer needs a reliable tripod in their camera bag, and the E-Image EK610 fits the bill.
Billed as a video tripod, the EK610 provides photographers and videographers alike with exceptional stability thanks to its strong two-stage aluminum legs.
Making adjustments to the tripod is quick and simple thanks to ergonomic leg adjustment knobs and a mid-level spreader that enhances stability.
There's a fixed counterbalance to enhance stability even further, and the included fluid head makes for ultra-smooth panning.
The head can support up to 6.6 pounds, so it's ideal for use with a mirrorless camera, DSLR, or small video camera.
There's even a handy carrying case for the tripod, spreader, and head, so the photographer on your list can easily transport it from one shoot location to the next.
Best of all, this tripod is WAY under the $500 budget mark, so you can give an awesome gift and save some cash at the same time.
Gifts for Photographers Under $500: F-Stop Sukha Backpack
I've had the f-stop Sukha bag for quite a few months now, and it has quickly become my go-to bag for occasions when I need to haul a lot of gear.
It's waterproof, so that's a bonus since I'm often out in the elements taking landscape photos. That's a feature the photographer on your holiday list is sure to like as well!
Additionally, this bag holds a ton of gear - 70 liters worth. I can pack nearly all of my camera gear into this single bag!
As you can see above, even though this is a large bag, it's still super easy to find what you're looking for.
There's pockets and compartments galore, and with f-stop's Internal Camera Unit (ICU), all your gear is kept neat and organized.
The ICU is also heavily padded, so it cradles your gear and protects it from bumps and bruises you might encounter along the way.
I also like the fact that this bag has a huge panel that completely folds down, that way you can clearly see what gear is where.
On top of all that, f-stop has incorporated handy features that make this bag even more functional.
There's expandable zipper pockets should you need a little more room and a reinforced carry strap that's ideal for carrying your tripod.
The internal aluminum frame gives the bag excellent rigidity that makes carrying it an easier task, and with enhanced EVA-padded Jersey laminate shoulder straps, the bag rides nice on your shoulders (and on your hips, too).
It's just a great bag that can carry a ton of gear and lets you do so in total comfort. Talk about the perfect gift idea!
Gifts for Photographers Under $500: Wescott Rapid Box Octa Softbox
If you’re in need of a gift for the photographer on your holiday list, don’t just settle for any old thing. Instead, wow them with a gift that has the ability to help them elevate the quality of their photos.
In photography, light is everything, and if the photographer you’re shopping for takes any portraits at all, they need a high-quality softbox in their collection of gear.
And for me, the best softboxes on the market are those by Westcott.
I particularly like their Rapid Box Octa series because they’re lightweight, easy to set up, and supremely durable.
The all-aluminum frame is strong and helps the octabox keep its shape - a shape, by the way, that has a very shallow depth, so it can still be used even if space is at a premium.
But what will impress your favorite photographer most about the Rapid Box is probably not its durability or construction, but the way it modifies light.
There’s a silver reflector that’s sewn into the back of the box’s diffusion panel, which minimizes the hot spot from the speedlight and results in gorgeously even light from corner to corner.
Speaking of the diffusion panel - it’s made of an all-natural, unbleached nylon fabric, which softens the light without changing its color temperature. Lesser softboxes cannot claim the same!
In the end, you want the gift you give to your loved one to be something that they love, but also something that they can use over and over again. The Westcott Rapid Octa softbox certainly fits the bill, and with various sizes available, including 26-inch, 36-inch, and 48-inch, you can select a softbox that’s just right for the types of portraits your favorite photographer takes.
Gifts for Photographers Under $500: Pre-Owned Panasonic Lumix DMC-G85
If the photographer on your list wants to add a mirrorless camera to their setup as a second camera, or if they're on the hunt for a fast and feature-rich camera to upgrade to, the Panasonic Lumix DMC-G85 is a great choice.
This micro fourth thirds camera offers a 16-megapixel sensor with an ISO sensitivity range of 200-25600 that allows it to be used in all kinds of lighting conditions.
The 10fps continuous shooting speed is great for action shots, but if you want to really speed things up, you can shoot at 40fps when using the electronic shutter.
This camera is capable of recording 4K UHD video and has built-in five-axis sensor-shift image stabilization that allows you to shoot handheld without the worry of blurry photos due to camera shake.
Even better, if you pair this camera with a stabilized lens, you get double the stabilization!
Gifts for PHotographers Under $500: Pre-Owned Canon EOS Rebel T6i
If you're shopping for a photographer that's looking for an upgrade to their first camera, the Canon EOS Rebel T6i is a great choice.
This camera has a 24.2-megapixel APS-C CMOS sensor that's paired with Canon's DIGIC 6 image processor.
That means that the photographer on your list can take high-resolution photos in a wide range of conditions from sunny to cloudy landscapes to bright or dark interior portraits.
That's thanks in part to the T6i's excellent ISO range that can expand up to 25600.
This is a modern camera, to be sure, with features like NFC for quick and easy transfer of photos and Wi-Fi for connecting to other devices.
Using the Camera Connect Mobile APP, photographers can quickly and effortlessly transfer their images and videos right from the camera to the cloud for safekeeping.
This is an excellent mid-range camera that offers tons of features, superb performance, and that works with Canon's extensive lineup of EF and EF-S lenses. And with MPB's thorough system of inspecting gear, you can rest assured that the pre-owned model you select will be what arrives at your door, in the condition as stated.
That means you get great gear while saving tons of money!