Top 10 Gifts for Photographers Under $500 - 2020 Edition
- Upgraded TimeWarp features with an auto mode that uses sensors to detect motion and adjust the recording speed
- Digital lenses offer multiple field of view settings (SuperView, Linear, Wide, and Narrow)
- Capture presets for popular types of recording with the ability to create and save your own
- LiveBurst photo mode takes 1.5-second images before and after the shutter button is depressed (think Live Photos on iPhones)
- SuperPhoto, GoPro's version of HDR, gets improved image quality
- Face detection, smile detection, and blink detection
- Built-in GPS and motion sensors
- Livestreaming at 1080p
Photo by Pekic via iStock
With a budget of $500, you can buy some really awesome photography gifts for your loved one this year.
From an awesome large-format canvas print to a drone, a high-quality camera harness to a fantastic tripod, there is no shortage of photography gear you can consider with a $500 budget.
Below, I've listed some of my favorite under-$500 gift ideas for photographers that should be on your list this holiday season!
Gifts for Photographers Under $500: 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 $500: Holdfast Sightseer Camera and Lens Modular System
One of the things that gets in the way of taking great photos is not being able to carry all the gear that you need in comfort. Additionally, problems arise when you aren’t able to easily access your gear when you need it.
The Holdfast Sightseer solves both of those problems for the photography lover on your shopping list this holiday season.
The Sightseer holds a crazy amount of gear for a small bag. That includes up to a 13-inch laptop, a camera with lens attached, two additional lenses, and all the needed accessories inside the bag.
But because it’s a modular system, you can add even more gear by adding Lens Pouches that attach to the exterior of the bag (or you can carry them on the Holdfast MoneyMaker or even on your own belt). That means that the big zoom lens that won’t fit in the bag can be carried safely in a padded Lens Pouch attached to the outside.
Since the Sightseer is a truly modular system, you can mix and match lens pouches as you need to carry as much or as little gear as the situation calls for. What’s more, this system can grow with you as you get more gear - start out lean and mean with just the Sightseer bag, and as more lenses are accumulated, add Lens Pouches as needed.
Better still, because your gear is easily accessible, you don’t have to worry about missing a shot.
It’s easy to carry, too. Just use the two sets of carrying handles, the shoulder strap, or attach it to the Holdfast MoneyMaker dual camera strap for a super easy way to get your gear from point A to point B.
These bags look amazing, too, with a waxed canvas and American Bison leather exterior and an Aztec flannel fleece interior. In other words, the Sightseer is the complete package!
Learn more about the Holdfast Sightseer
Gifts for Photographers Under $500: DJI Mavic Mini
I'll be the first to say that the Mavic Mini can't compete with the Mavic Air 2 or the Mavic 2 Pro. But the Mini wasn't designed to compete with its larger and more capable cousins.
Instead, the Mini is the perfect gift idea for photographers that are just getting into drone photography. It's small, lightweight, and super portable, so it's easy to take on photography trips without taking up a ton of room in a photographer's bag.
Likewise, the Mavic Mini is incredibly easy to fly, and is a superb option for someone that needs to learn how to fly a drone.
For photography purposes, the Mini can take 12-megapixel photos and shoots 2.7K Quad HD videos.
There's a 3-axis gimbal to provide the camera stability while shooting, in-app creator templates that speeds up the process of creating epic videos, and a flight time of 30 minutes as well.
Additionally, your favorite photographer will love the fact that the Mini comes with the DJI Fly app that gives them an easy-to-understand user interface. There's also a feature called Flight Tutorial to help them get started piloting their drone.
Learn more about the DJI Mavic Mini
Gifts for Photographers Under $500: Insta360 ONE R Twin Edition
I just picked one of these things up and have been so impressed with it that I had to include it on this list of gifts for photographers under $500.
Essentially, the Insta360 ONE R Twin Edition is two cameras in one.
First, you have a 360-degree dual-lens camera that enables you to create those immersive 360-degree videos you see on the internet.
And second, you get a more traditional action cam lens that allows you to use the camera to shoot wide-angle photos and videos.
This is possible because the camera is modular.
There's a "brain" on the bottom, and then you add different components to it as you need.
On top of the cool factor that the modularity provides, you also get top-notch performance...
The camera shoots super 5.7K video in 360-degree mode, 4K wide-angle video in action cam mode, offers FlowState image stabilization, and is waterproof up to five meters.
Additionally, this camera offers hyperlapse and slow-motion modes, an invisible selfie stick, and voice control, among many other features.
If the photographer on your list loves adventures and needs a versatile camera to join them, give the Insta360 ONE R strong consideration.
Learn more about the Insta360 ONE R Twin Edition
Gifts for Photographers Under $500: ViewSonic TD1655 Portable Touchscreen Monitor
This 15.6-inch touchscreen monitor is the perfect companion for a photographer that's constantly on the go.
Weighing just two pounds and measuring .6-inches thick, this lightweight monitor can be easily added to a camera bag for quick transport.
The in-cell capacitive touchscreen gives you a smooth and responsive experience whether you're tapping, swiping, or pinching on the screen. The photographer on your list will enjoy the blue light filter to minimize eye strain, as well as the flicker-free full HD viewing experience.
The monitor comes with a stand and a magnetic cover, so it's an all-in-one tool for on-the-go photographers.
The monitor works with laptops, PCs, and Macs, and comes with a three-year warranty as well.
Learn more about the ViewSonic TD1655 Portable Touchscreen Monitor
Gifts for Photographers Under $500: Peak Design Everyday Backpack V2
This under-$500 photography gift list wouldn't be complete without an entry from Peak Design, which seems to find ways to improve on their already incredible lineup of camera bags year in and year out.
Their Everyday Backpack V2 is certainly one of the best camera bags of 2020, with features that make it more usable than ever.
Peak Design incorporated MagLatch hardware on the top of the bag so you can open it up and access your gear in a flash.
To expand access further, this pack has two side access panels that are secured by weatherproof UltraZips.
The shell of the bag is comprised of 100-percent recycled 400D weatherproofing so your gear stays nice and dry. There's also a handy tuck-away strap system that enables you to lash gear to the exterior of the bag to expand its carrying capacity.
As impressive as the outside is, the inside of the bag offers lots of goodies.
There's dedicated sleeves for up to a 15-inch laptop, numerous internal slip pockets for smaller items, and three configurable FlexFold dividers to help keep your gear organized.
Of course, the FlexFold dividers also help protect your gear by keeping it neatly organized and separated from one another.
The Everyday Bag V2 is available in 20-liter and 30-liter sizes so you can select the right fit for your needs. Both are a great option for urban explorations when you want a backpack with a smaller footprint than the Nomatic bag.
Either way, you'll end up with one of the best bags of 2020!
Learn more about the Everyday Backpack V2 20-Liter or 30-Liter versions.
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.
Learn more about the E-Image EK610 Tripod
Gifts for Photographers Under $500: ProGrade Digital 325GB CFexpress Type B Memory Card
One of the best gifts you can buy for yourself or another photographer this year is a high-powered memory card that can accommodate the huge amounts of data that modern cameras record.
For my money, ProGrade Digital CF Express cards are the perfect option. In fact, I have three of these cards for my Canon EOS R5!
CF Express cards are far faster than UHS-II SD cards, so you can capture 4K, 6K, and in the case of the EOS R5, 8K video with ease thanks to the 1500 MB/s write speed. That lightning-fast write speed is also beneficial for fast burst shooting, that way your buffer clears and you don’t miss any shots.
These cards are backward compatible with XQD devices, too, so after a quick firmware update, you can use these cards on your XQD-enabled camera without issue.
Aside from the huge storage capacity and fast write speeds, these ProGrade cards offer security features that you simply don’t find on all memory cards. They come with laser-etched serial numbers to help prevent counterfeiting. What’s more, ProGrade includes advanced recovery pro software that prevents your photos and videos from being lost to corruption.
ProGrade also offers Digital Refresh Pro software (which is available separately) that refreshes and sanitizes your card to help it maintain peak performance. Open the Digital Refresh Pro software, check the health of your cards before your next shoot, and shoot with confidence knowing that your images and videos are safe and secure on your ProGrade card.
Add in read speeds of up to 1700 MB/s, a minimum write speed of 1400 MB/s, and resistance to extreme temperatures, shock, vibration, and X-rays, and you have the makings of one heck of a memory card.
There are few holiday gifts this small that pack this much punch! If you really want to impress the photographer on your list, give them the gift of a ProGrade CF Express card this year!
Learn more about ProGrade Digital CF Express Memory Cards
Gifts for Photographers Under $500: Podium
This is one of my favorite under-$500 gift ideas because it is a gift that not only keeps on giving, but it could help your favorite photographer elevate their business to the next level.
Podium is a platform that helps you streamline communication with clients. So the photographer in your life that laments how much time they have to spend responding to emails, contact requests from their website, Facebook messages, and so forth, can stay up-to-date with all those things (and more!) without leaving their platform.
Rather than haphazardly staying in touch with clients, Podium allows you to text clients and prospective clients and organizes all those messages in a single dashboard, shown above.
Podium is built on the idea that the best way to get leads and turn prospects into customers is timely, genuine communication. You want to make it as easy as possible for people to ask you questions or find what they’re looking for, and Podium will do just that for the photographer on your list.
I use Podium, and it not only saves me a lot of time, but it saves my photography business a lot of money by ensuring I’m always the first one to respond to potential clients.
Podium even has a feature that lets me invoice clients right from the app so I’m also getting paid more quickly. Not bad, right?!
Gifts for Photographers Under $500: GoPro Hero 8 Black
GoPro is synonymous with adventure photography, and their Hero 8 Black is their best action cam to date.
It can shoot 4K video at 60fps or 1080p at at 240fps for some super slow-motion video.
Its HyperSmooth 2.0 image stabilization is absolutely killer, and will allow the photographer on your list to take the most stable videos they've ever shot.
GoPro added a slew of other upgrades as well:
On top of all that, the Hero 8 Black offers many different mods that extend its functionality and flexibility for all sorts of shooting situations.
GoPro also incorporated built-in mounting pins, which negates the need for a frame to connect the camera to accessories.
Plus, the Hero 8 Black is under $350 now, so you can get this for the photographer on your list and not even come close to your $500 budget!
Learn more about the GoPro Hero 8 Black
Gifts for Photographers Under $500: Razer Core X Chroma eGPU
If the photographer on your list already has a laptop that they love but that's lacking in the graphics card department, you might consider giving them the gift of the Razer Core X Chroma eGPU.
This bad boy helps put a supercharge into a laptop's video card, that way you get a true desktop-grade video experience.
It comes with plug-and-play support for a wide range of graphics cards on PCs and Macs.
Though this gadget is intended to give gaming systems a power boost, I've found it to be incredibly helpful for my video editing work. If the photographer you're shopping for does a lot of video work, this eGPU will be a fantastic gift that will help them speed up their video processing workflow.
Learn more about the Razer Core X Chroma eGPU
Gifts for Photographers Under $500: 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.
Learn more about Amazon gift cards