Photographers can be a nightmare to buy for. I should know – I am one.
No one has ever dismissed photography as a cheap pastime. Entry level DSLRs cost hundreds of dollars before you even buy a lens. The gear most photographers covet can cost thousands of dollars. If you’re not careful you’ll end up spending far more than you planned.
This gear guide from MakeUseOf is here to help. I’ve gathered together some of the best gifts you can get a photographer this Christmas. There’s something for almost every price point.
Lens Bracelet ($10 – $15)
If you’re stuck with a photographer for your office’s Secret Santa, or just looking for a stocking filler, some of the latter items on this list are going to be a touch over budget. Instead, consider one of Adam Elmakias’s Lens Bracelets.
They’re made of 100% silicone and are inspired by the base and focus rings of some of Canon and Nikon’s most popular lenses. Lens bracelets are the perfect way for a photographer to wear their allegiance to Canon or Nikon on their sleeve — literally. If you’re just looking for something small that a photographer will love, you won’t go far wrong with a lens bracelet.
Peak Design Capture Clip ($79.95)
National Geographic photographer Jim Richardson has a mantra: “If you want to be a better photographer, stand in front of better stuff”. You can only get so far taking pictures at family gatherings. To truly develop as a photographer you need to get in front of great things.
Going far away from city lights to take photos of the stars is one way. My favourite is to travel somewhere rugged and wild.
If you’re scrambling up a mountain, the last thing you want is your camera dangling around your neck. Not only is it a choking hazard, but it might get damaged. Peak Design’s Capture Clip solves this problem perfectly. The Capture Clip attaches to a rucksack strap — or a belt — and acts as a mounting point for the camera.
If the photographer you’re buying for has butter fingers or likes to head off into the wilderness to shoot wildlife with his Canon, the Capture Clip will help keep their camera safe.
A Printed Photo, $100+
The worst thing digital photography ever did was kill the printed image. Most photographers take thousands of photos without every having one printed and framed. I’m a huge digital junky — I only read eBooks and use Spotify instead of owning CDs — but even I can appreciate a properly printed and framed photograph.
There’s two ways to do this gift. You can either get one of the best photos they’ve ever taken framed, or you can get a print of one of their favourite photographer’s most famous photos to inspire them. Either way, they’ll love it!
I recommend using a local — yes, local — framer if you’re getting one of their photos printed. The framer will be able to advise you on the process in person. If you’re getting them one of their favourite photographer’s prints, contact the lucky artist through their website and they’ll be able to help you out.
Adobe’s Photoshop and Lightroom are the go-to editing applications for most photographers. While you can still buy Lightroom, Photoshop is no longer available for purchase; instead you have to subscribe to Adobe’s Creative Cloud.
Last year, Adobe announced a limited offer of Photoshop and Lightroom for $9.99 a month. It proved so popular that the “limited” was quietly dropped and it’s now part of their product lineup.
If the snap-happy chappy in your life is using an outdated version or has procured Photoshop through questionable channels, a one-year subscription is the perfect gift. Even better, you’re sorted again for next year: just renew the subscription.
Wacom Intuos Tablet ($99 – $499)
Using a mouse — or even worse, a trackpad — to edit photos is… not fun. It’s fine for making global adjustments in Photoshop or Lightroom but if you want to touch up a photo to take it to the next level you need a better way of interfacing with your computer. A Wacom tablet is that way.
With a Wacom, you use a stylus on a pressure sensitive tablet screen to control your cursor. The pressure sensitive area maps to your screen so it’s a far more accurate way to edit photos. In applications that support it — like Photoshop — you can even use the pressure sensitivity to control the size of the tools you’re using. Every professional photographer I know uses a Wacom.
Wacom makes a wide range of tablets from the $99 Intuos Pen and Touch Small to the $499 Intuos Pro Pen and Touch Large. My personal recommendation is the medium Intuos Pro — it’s what I have and I use it almost every day — but any tablet from their line up is an awesome present.
Sigma 18–35 mm F1.8 DC HSM Lens ($799 – $999)
The Sigma 18–35 mm F1.8 is what I want for Christmas. It’s the first wide-angle zoom lens with an aperture of 1.8 throughout its whole range. This makes it absolutely perfect for any night time shooting. If you want to shoot star filled landscapes, zoom out to 18 mm, mount it on a tripod and snap away. If, on the other-hand, you want to shoot some street scenes at night, zoom in to the 35 mm that photojournalists love so much and be amazed at the quality of the images you get.
Amazingly, despite it’s thousand dollar price tag, the Sigma is ridiculously cheap for the quality of glass you’re getting. This one lens can take the place of two or three prime, or wide-angle zoom lenses.
It’s available with Canon, Nikon and Sony mounts so if the photographer you clearly dearly love uses any of the three largest camera brands you’re covered. If you want to blow them away with you’re awesome gift buying skills, the Sigma 18–35 mm F1.8 DC HSM is where it’s at.
Have I missed any awesome gifts? Please share them in the comments and help the unfortunate people tasked with buying a photographer a present.