If you have a photographer in your life and you’re looking for a great holiday gift idea, below is your list of items to consider! After all, much of the hobby can be quite pricy… the new digital cameras like the Canon R6 or R5 can run thousands of dollars, and many high end lenses can be just as expensive. But, that shouldn’t discourage you from searching for a gift idea that won’t break the bank and yet still be enjoyed by the photographer recipient in your life!
1. Strap by Peak Design ($50): this strap is one of the best upgrades you can gift a photography enthusiast. The locking mechanism design greatly improves the security of the camera (reducing the likelihood of accidental drops or theft). It also makes it so that mounting the camera on a tripod is much easier, as you can easily take off the strap once secured. I’ve had a strap that was blowing in the wind catch onto something and the entire system went tumbling! Not a great outcome when such expensive gear comes crashing to the ground. This $50 investment would have saved me a heart attack!
2. Spare Battery ($80): Every year, I share that a great gift idea is an extra spare battery for my Canon 5DSR or R5. While certainly not the sexiest gift for a photographer, this is a small expense that could mean the difference between capturing a truly great image or video and seeing a blank LCD screen. Nothing is worse than that perfect moment passing by after working so hard to be in the right place at the right time! Worse yet if it’s in a destination location that will only ever be a once in a lifetime trip. Batteries are essential.
3. Spare 128 GB Memory card ($40): Similar to the unsexiness of a battery or strap, yet where do all those perfect, fleeting moments stored? On that tiny piece of plastic and silicon in the camera body. These can and do eventually wear out, and if the photographer you have in mind is new to the hobby or profession, the smaller storage cards may be all he or she has. The lower storage options are less expensive but can fill up quickly, ultimately leading to the need to delete images or miss opportunities. I’ve mistakenly deleted images to “make room,” only to realize the ones I deleted would have been the best of the trip! Help them not make this mistake.
4. Nifty Fifty ($125) – Canon 50mm f/1.8: This is a tremendous gift for a new photographer that likely only has a kit lens or two. The nifty fifty, shorthand for the 50mm prime offered by most camera manufacturers, is often the least expensive lens offering but still offers tremendous image quality and creative learning potential. On a less expensive APS-C body, this is a great portrait focal length too. And, these small primes have wide apertures, typically f/1.8, which greatly improves images in darker conditions and greatest that nice subject separation and background blur for a fraction of the cost of many high end portrait lenses. This was the single lens that catapulted my love for photography and my pursuit of learning and exploring more. It’s also small enough that it’ll fit in a jacket pocket! See these offerings from Sony & Nikon.
5. Mindshift Backpack ($249): One of the most expensive items on this list, but certainly my favorite gear purchase of the last two years is this backpack. It has a rain cover, compartments for lenses and camera bodies that are rearrangeable, holders for a tripod and water bottle, and even a spot for a small laptop. It’s my favorite carry-on travel accessory for flying, and an indispensable tool for hiking and exploring. I’m able to fit my R5, 5DSR, three to five lenses, a tripod, and a snack for the trail. The back opening design also helps keep dirt off my back and another layer of security (someone can’t open it on public transportation and steal a valuable lens). I researched a ton of bags when looking for the perfect one, and let me tell you… this is it.
6. Camera rain covers ($19): coming in as my cheapest recommendation is this clear plastic cover to keep gear dry when out in the elements. I nearly waterlogged my Canon EOS R once, and the next day spent the few bucks to ensure I don’t go through that again! For a small amount of money, it’s easy to somewhat protect your gear, even those tough weather sealed lenses and bodies. While I did consider using a plastic bag or something similar, these are designed to fit a camera and have ergonomically efficient ways to roll up parts of the covering to see the LCD screen, etc. It’s worth it given the small expense, and a great way to ensure that your adventurous photography friend or family member doesn’t lose hundreds or thousands of dollars of gear when $10 could help protect it! This doesn’t protect against full submersion though… so keep being careful near the beach/lakes/streams :).
Hope this helps, and happy holidays & trails!