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25 Cheap and Useful Christmas Gifts for Photographers under $100

This holiday season, buy the camera lover in your life something they will use.

A meme making fun of Nikon users with a photo of arnold schwarzzenager

As the holiday season approaches, finding the perfect gift for the photographer in your life can be daunting. Photographers, take pity on your loved ones. Imagine buying a gift for your friend the car collector–even the smallest parts are costly, and you'll probably buy the wrong things. That's what it is like to buy a gift for a photographer, but fear not–this post will provide you with a list of the best Christmas gifts for photographers under $100 that they will actually use. From practical tools to creative accessories, read on for our top picks for holiday gifts for photographers.

1. ND Filter

An ND (neutral density) filter helps control the amount of light that enters the lens, allowing photographers to shoot with slower shutter speeds or wider apertures. It's an essential tool for landscape or long-exposure photography.

- Who is this gift for: An ND filter is an essential part of any photographer’s kit.

- Tips so you don’t f*** up this gift:

o All of the recommended ND filters are 82mm screw-on type (rather than matte box). Every screw-on filter has a specific thread size to match a specific lens size. If you do not know the lens sizes of the person you are gifting, buy the biggest size possible so that the recipient can use step-up rings to adapt the filter to their lenses.

o All of the recommended ND filters are variable rather than fixed. This provides much more versatility. All variable ND filters will list a range (e.g. “3-stop” or “ND 1-8”).

2. Pro-Mist Filter/Creative Filters

Pro-Mist and creative filters can add a unique and dreamy effect to photographs. These filters are perfect for creating a more artistic and romantic look in portraits or landscapes.

- Who is this gift for: Photographers who like the soft and dreamy look

- Tips so you don’t f*** up this gift:

o The same point about thread sizes for ND filters applies here–make sure you buy the correct thread size.

A side by side comparison showing the effects of a Tiffen Black Pro Mist 1/4 filter

3. Camera Skins

Camera skins protect cameras from scratches, wear, and tear, while also adding a touch of style. They come in various designs and materials, allowing photographers to customize their camera's appearance.

- Who is this gift for: Anyone with a camera, but especially people like me whose camera has suffered a lot of “cosmetic damage”.

- Tips so you don’t f*** up this gift:

o These are semi-permanent stickers that will change how your camera and lens look, so I would get permission and input from the owner before committing.

o These skins wrap around every part of the camera with a custom fit, so make sure you buy skins for the correct camera model

o Don’t try to apply the skin yourself – Have a professional or the owner of the camera do it

Sony 17sII with a black camo camera skin wrap

4. Shotgun Mic

For anyone looking to make the foray into videography, a shotgun mic is a great place to start because of its versatility. A shotgun mic will level up your in-camera audio 10x for anything from interviews to vlogging to events.

- Who is this gift for: Videographers and content creators

- Tips so you don’t f*** up this gift:

o Don’t cheap out! There is some gear for which the cheapest possible option will do the trick, but for some gear going bottom of the barrel will lead to negative results. You may be able to find shotgun mics for $10 on Amazon, but the audio quality that comes straight out of the camera will probably be much better

5. Film

For us film enthusiasts, buying and developing film is one of the biggest recurring costs. Thus, buying film can be a great way to support your favourite photographer. You can also do good for the environment with your film purchase, by supporting innovative companies like CineStill which repurposes old motion picture cinema film.

- Who is this gift for: Somebody with a film camera, obviously.

- Tips so you don’t f*** up this gift:

o Standard 35mm film cameras take 35mm film…duh! However, medium and large-format cameras take different sizes of film so make sure you know what kind of film camera the recipient has.

Every Photographer’s Favourite Film: Kodak Portra 400 35mm – $30.90

A Cheaper Kodak Alternative: Kodak Ultramax 400 35mm (3-pack) – $55.95

6. 35mm Film Camera

Film cameras have recently made a comeback, and they're a great way to get started in analog photography. A beginner film camera is a thoughtful and unique gift that's sure to be appreciated.

- Who is this gift for: I always suggest that anyone getting into photography start with film because it forces you to slow down and learn the process.

- Tips so you don’t f*** up this gift:

o Understand that while polaroids and disposable cameras are technically film cameras, they are not the same and serve very different purposes. If you are buying this gift for someone who wants to learn about film photography, you should buy a reloadable film camera with manual settings and ideally, a removable lens. This will allow them much more room to learn and grow with the camera in the future.

o You will probably have to buy something old and used, so check out your local markets like ebay and kijiji using the search term “manual 35mm film camera”

Good film camera for beginners: Canon AE1

My Current Film Camera: Nikon F5

7. Adobe Suite Subscription

An Adobe Suite subscription provides access to industry-standard software, including Photoshop and Lightroom. It's a must-have for any photographer looking to enhance their editing skills.

- Who is this gift for: Any photographers who edit their photos in post, so all of them.

- Tips so you don’t f*** up this gift:

o To gift an Adobe subscription, you must purchase a redemption code for a given plan. DO NOT PURCHASE A NEW PLAN UNDER A NEW ADOBE ACCOUNT IF THE RECIPIENT IS ALREADY USING ADOBE. You will not be able to transfer the plan if it is purchased for a separate account.

o Adobe offers several subscription packages including an all-apps plan and a photography plan. Since I do photo, video, and graphic design work, I opted for the all-apps plan, but make sure you know which apps the recipient is likely to use.

8. Photography Books

Photography books provide inspiration, education, and motivation for photographers. From classic to modern, there's a vast selection of books that cover different genres, techniques, and perspectives.

- Who is this gift for: Anyone!

- Tips so you don’t f*** up this gift:

o Try to get an idea of where the person you are gifting for is at in their photography journey, and purchase books according to their level. I’m currently reading an advanced posing book that is very helpful to me but would be like reading Chinese for a new photographer.

o Buy books that align with the photographer’s niche. The book below by Peter Lindbergh would be a great gift for a fashion photographer, but a wildlife photographer would probably prefer something else.

My favourite fashion photography book to be inspired: Peter Lindbergh: On Fashion Photography Hardcover – $129.59

The absolute best intro to photography for beginners: The Digital Photography Book by Scott Kelby – $39.95

9. Drawing Pad

Besides my camera, I use my drawing pad more than any other piece of gear I own. A drawing pad is an essential tool for any type of editing and retouching to speed up your workflow and get more realistic results.

- Who is this gift for: Fashion, beauty, and portrait photographers or anyone who does a lot of retouching; digital artists and photo compositors

- Tips so you don’t f*** up this gift:

o If the recipient already has an iPad or tablet, this gift is redundant

o There are a few things to consider when choosing tablet size, but mainly screen size and desk size. The tablet surface is mapped to the size of your screen, so it you have a small surface then everything will be magnified. A good rule of thumb is to buy a tablet that is the same size or slightly smaller than your monitor and fits comfortably on your desk.

My recommendation: (and the one I’m currently using) – Wacom Intuos Pro Medium – $459.99

10. NFT business card

More than skills and gear, relationships may be the single most important resource to cultivate as a new photographer. Nowadays traditional business cards are immediately discarded, but you can still make a great first impression with a NFT card. Just tap to share your contact details, socials, and website. The Mobilo card is fully customizable and includes a NFC smart button and key fob.

- Who is this gift for: Event photographers

My recommendation (and the one I’m currently using): Custom Designed Mobilo Card + Smart Button + Key Fob – $24.50

11. Polaroid Camera

Polaroid cameras bring back the joy of instant prints and the nostalgia of printed memories. For fashion photographers, polaroids were traditionally used at the beginning of a shoot to capture a model’s natural look. Just beware, the recipient of this gift may love and hate you for it, since one pack of film usually costs about as much as the camera itself.

- Who is this gift for: Fashion photographers

- Tips so you don’t f*** up this gift:

o Polaroid cameras have been around for a long time and different models require different films. It may be tempting to buy an older model because they are often cheaper and have a cool vintage look, but you should consider that the film may be more expensive and difficult to find. Some of the old Polaroid film cartridges have a battery in them to operate the camera.

My recommendation – The modern polaroid: Polaroid Now Generation 2 – $99.99

The Polaroid I’m currently using: Polaroid 600 Sun660 ­­­­– $220

12. 5-in-1 reflector

An incredibly easy and versatile way to control and manipulate light. Before a photographer is ready to move into artificial lighting, a reflector is a great way to begin to learn about shaping light. It can assist in diffusing, reflecting, or cutting light. I recommend the 30-inch size to start.

- Who is this gift for: Photographers who are interested in lighting

My recommendation (and the one I’m currently using) – Westcott Basics 30” 5-in-1 Reflector – $41.99

13. White balance card

Achieving accurate colour balance in-camera can save you a ton of time in post and a white balance card makes this super easy. Using a white balance card will ensure that your photos are consistently and accurately white-balanced in any conditions. White balance cards are very small and fit on a key chain, making them a perfect tool to carry to every shoot.

- Who is this gift for: Photographers who work in a studio setting

- Tips so you don’t f*** up this gift: These are very generic and hard to mess up. Any option will do.

My recommendation: Amwenk Grey Card – $9.99

14. Lens baby

Lens Baby is a unique company that builds one-of-a-kind special effects lenses for very reasonable prices. These are great for a range of applications from creative portraits to music videos.

- Who is this gift for: These are not your typical lenses and they can produce some pretty wacky effects so they are best for those who prioritize creativity over perfection.

- Tips so you don’t f*** up this gift: LensBaby lenses are built to fit a wide range of camera bodies but make sure you check the full compatibility list before purchasing.

15. Joby Gorilla pod

A gorilla pod is a unique and versatile alternative to a traditional tripod. It’s flexible legs can grip onto and wrap around various surfaces, enabling stable shots in unconventional locations.

- Who is this gift for: The portability and versatility of the Gorillapod make it ideal for vloggers who often film themselves

- Tips so you don’t f*** up this gift:

o Do not buy off-brand. In my experience, Gorilla Pod is the only brand making flexible tripods that are sturdy enough to hold a full-frame camera reliably.

o Buy the correct Gorilla Pod for the weight of the camera that will be used. I once tried to use the 3k model with my full-frame camera which led my camera to fall out of a tree. Don’t be like me–but the correct model. The 1k model is ONLY FOR COMPACT CAMERAS. The 3k model is ONLY FOR LIGHTWEIGHT MIRRORLESS CAMERAS. The 5k can support FULL FRAME DSLRs.

My Recommendation (for full frame cameras) – GorillaPod 5K Kit – $199.95

Cheaper option (for mirrorless cameras) – GorillaPod 3K Kit – $99.95

16. Memory card wallet

A memory card wallet is essential to keeping cards safe, secure, and organized. Honestly, I don’t know how I managed not to lose all of my cards before I had one of these. Do a kindness and buy a memory card wallet for the unorganized photographer in your life.

- Who is this gift for: Any photographer, but especially those who travel a lot or use many different devices (e.g. camera, phone, GoPro, drone)

- Tips so you don’t f*** up this gift: Different devices use different kinds of memory cards (For example, most drones and action cameras use micro-SD, while most DSLR cameras use CF express cards). Cases are configured differently to offer storage for different types of cards. Make sure the memory card wallet that you buy is optimized for the type of card that the recipient uses most.

My recommendation (and the one I’m currently using): Optex 26 Piece Memory Card Holder – $14.99

17. Lens wraps

Lens wraps are a cost-effective alternative to lens cases which provide the benefit of versatility. Thanks to the innovative design, these wraps can adapt to the shape and size of multiple lenses, and can lay flat when not in use.

- Who is this gift for: Photographers with multiple lenses who shoot on-the-go

- Tips so you don’t f*** up this gift: Lens wraps are very versatile so it is hard to buy the wrong one. If you are concerned about size, go for the bigger option.

18. Camera Sling

Camera slings provide the most convenient way to carry one or two camera bodies during shoots. They keep you gear secure while maintaining ease of access. Not to mention–they look really cool!

- Who is this gift for: Camera slings are primarily used by event and sports photographers who need to carry two cameras at once and have quick access to both.

- Tips so you don’t f*** up this gift: Camera slings come in single and dual body designs. The dual-design sling will sit lopsided if holding only one camera, so make sure you know the intended use before purchasing.

1 Camera design option: Ztowoto Neck Strap Sling – $21.99

19. Peak Design Capture Clip

The peak design clip is another convenient and innovative way to securely carry your camera. It’s a compact clip that can be attached to any belt or strap offering quick and easy access to a camera.

- Who is this gift for: Run and gun shooters who like to be active with their cameras.

Man wearing peak design capture clip

20. Cheat sheet/posing Cards

There is a huge range of cheat sheets and posing cards available to help you in a variety of scenarios. From golden hour lighting hacks to the exposure triangle, these handy cards will help you nail the shot.

- Who is this gift for: Well, it depends on the type of card. I cover a few examples below:

My recommendation (best overall): DSLR Cheat Sheet Cards – $39.27

Best for portrait photographers: Posing Hands by Linsday Adler – $24.50

Posing cards from Isaiah Haber Photography coming soon…

21. Digital assets

Digital assets like presets and overlays can significantly speed up the editing process and help creators experiment with different looks in their work. This is a great gift to pair with an Adobe Subscription (linked above) since many of the assets available are designed to be used in Adobe programs.

- Who is this gift for: Digital assets are a great gift for photographers, videographers, editors, content creators, or anyone who creates digitally.

- Tips so you don’t f*** up this gift: Nowadays everybody is an influencer or a content creator, and many of them discovered selling digital assets as a way to make passive income. That is to say, there are a lot of bad digital assets out there so dive deep into the reviews before you buy, or stick to my recommendations.

22. Magazine subscription

Magazines can offer a continuous source of inspiration and are a great way to keep up with trends in the industry.

- Who is this gift for: Niche-specific magazines are great for photographers with a specific focus (e.g. Fashion magazines for fashion photographers, wildlife magazines for wildlife photographers, etc.)

- Tips so you don’t f*** up this gift: A lot of magazines now offer free or very cheap online versions, but there is nothing quite like holding a printed image in your hands.

My recommendations: For the fashion photographer: Vogue Print + Digital Access – 1 Year for $15

23. LED panel

LED panels have come a long way and now pack a lot of power into a small housing providing versatile lighting options in a range of situations. Many LED panels today also feature fully customizable RGB colour and creative settings like “TV” and “Lighting”.

- Who is this gift for: Content creators, videographers, tabletop photographers, and portrait photographers who like to experiment with creative lighting

- Tips so you don’t f** up this gift: Like most photography gear, there are a lot of cheap off-brand alternatives available, but it is best to stick to the known brand names. Also, avoid LED panels that require separate battery units or power sources.

24. Magic arm

SmallRig is one of those companies that does one thing really well, and that is to make reliable camera rigs. The magic arm is no different, and it provides virtually infinite options for mounting accessories. This is a great gift to pair with the SmallRig LED panel mentioned above.

- Who is this gift for: Content creators, videographers, tabletop photographers, and portrait photographers who like to experiment with creative lighting

- Tips so you don’t f** up this gift: The magic arm is available with a variety of different mounting attachments so be aware of the accessories that you may want to combine it with.

25. Paper shoot camera

An innovative camera which blends the nostalgia of a film camera with the convenience of digital technology. The cameras come in a wide variety of designs to suit every personality.

- Who is this gift for: Lovers of film and digital photography who are always looking for new ways to capture images

These 25 gifts are perfect for both amateur and professional photographers. They're practical, affordable, and unique, making them ideal for any photography enthusiast in your life. This holiday season, don't stress about finding the perfect gift. Use this list as a guide and remember to have fun while shopping for your photographer friend or loved one.

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