This guide is set up in categories that describe the general type of cameras and accessories – be it a price range or general features. You can scan the headings until you find the right category for you and your special photographer. We’ve got 3-5 top picks for each category.
But first let’s get started with some fun and affordable stocking stuffers…
Stocking Stuffer & Small Gift Ideas for Photographers
2. Memory Cards: No photographer ever really has enough memory cards. The most popular types of cards are CF cards and SD cards. You need to make sure you get the right one for your camera. I recommend using Lexar Professional, Transcend or SanDisk Extreme memory cards. For a better understanding of what to look for in a memory card, see my prior article Demystifying SD Cards.
3. USB 3.0 Memory Card Reader: As we chew through more and more data in our cameras, it takes longer to pull images and video off our cards. A USB 3.0 memory card reader helps get it off there faster thanks to a much faster throughput from USB 3.0. It’s also a pretty cheap thing to upgrade and makes a great stocking stuffer. This Lexar reader is very popular but this Transcend reader is more affordable and the performance is great. If you have a newer MacBook or other computer that’s limited to USB-C connections, consider this Xcellon reader that comes with a USB-C cable.
4. Joby Gorillapod 3K: It’s a great little portable tripod for DSLRs and mirrorless cameras up to 6.6lbs.
5. Pelican SD Card Case or CF Card Case: My above suggestion of more memory cards directly relates to a better organization system. These are tough, polycarbonate memory card cases that are water resistant.
6. Camera Remotes: Every photographer needs a camera remote every now and then. They are available for virtually every enthusiast-grade camera out there.
7. Batteries: Photographers like accessories and accessories use batteries – especially AA batteries, which are used in everything from camera flashes to wireless lav mic packs. Even if you’re just buying bulk disposable batteries, it’s worth ordering these before Christmas morning.
Film Cameras and Accessories
1. Fuji Instax Cameras: One of the most enjoyable photography purchases I’ve made in the past couple years has been a Fuji Instax camera. There a couple kinds: the Instax wide-format are close to the old-school Polaroid instant film size; and the Instax Mini cameras are about half that size prints but the cameras are also much smaller. Did you know that the Fuji Instax Film is the perennial number one seller in the Camera & Photo department during holiday season on Amazon.com? Also, check out my review of the Fuji Instax Mini 8, Instax Mini 9 and my review of the Fuji Instax 210 wide format camera. And the recent Fuji Square models like the Instax SQ6 look great with their square format prints.
2. Fuji Instax Accessories: There are loads of accessories for Instax cameras because of their growing popularity. Along with the official accessories you can buy at major retailers, also take a look at places like Etsy for some really cool albums, stickers and display accessories.
3. Used Film Cameras: You can find some fantastic film cameras for very cheap if you are willing to look at used offerings. Over the past couple years, I’ve bought some great medium format and 35mm film cameras on ebay and at local photography shops and thrift stores. If you are buying from ebay, make sure you do your due diligence to determine that the seller has a history of positive feedback and that you thoroughly read the description and examine the photos.
Action Cameras and Compact Cameras
1. Sony RX 100 Series: Nothing that fits in your pocket looks and works as good as the Sony RX100 series. Sony created the premium compact market with the original RX100 that features a 1″ sensor. It followed up with several more advanced models, all of which are excellent. They are staggered in price, started with the RX100 at the bottom. The latest RX100 VI shoots 4K video with S-Log3 gamma for incredible quality. For more, read my review of the Sony RX100 IV and my review of the original RX100.
2. GoPro HERO7: Really, any of the recent GoPro models over the past few years back to the GoPro HERO5 should be a great gift. The HERO7 Black adds some pretty incredible image stabilization inside the camera. If you want the best, go with the HERO7 Black. Otherwise, pick up what fits your budget back to the HERO5.
3. Sony Cyber-shot HX99: This is brand new but Sony’s reputation and its incredible zoom lens gets it on the list. The HX99 features an 18.2MP sensor and a 24-720mm equivalent zoom lens in a camera that still fits in your pocket. If a big zoom and compact size are things on your wish list, the Sony HX99 delivers the goods like no other camera.
Basic Mirrorless Cameras
1. Sony A6000: It’s an older camera but the price/performance is hard to argue with. Until Sony delivers a true budget-friendly replacement for this camera, it will remain a top seller. Also consider the Sony A6300 and A6500 models with progressively more advanced features and performance.
2. Panasonic Lumix G7: A solid entry-level mirrorless with powerful performance in the Micro Four Thirds system. There are plenty of lenses and accessories available for this system, which leaves plenty of room to grow as a photographer.
3. Fuji X-T100: Like the Sony and Panasonic systems above, Fuji has shown a commitment to its mirrorless camera system. The entry-level X-T100 is the perfect starting point to jump in a robust and well-designed ecosystem.
1. Canon Rebel T7i: The current standard for entry-level DSLRs from Canon. Using Canon’s world-leading EF lens mount system, there will be plenty of room to grow with this camera and beyond. You can also safely step down as your budget requires to cameras like the Rebel T6i or Rebel T6 with the last-generation features but still the same flexible mount.
2. Nikon D5600: Comparable to the Canon Rebel T7i but using Nikons F-mount lens system. Plenty of room for growth with this camera and beyond.
3. Nikon D3500: A more budget-friendly entry into Nikon’s system.
Advanced Mirrorless Cameras
1. Sony A7 III: The A7 series from Sony is the current bar set in the advanced mirrorless camera category. The A7 III delivers an incredible price-to-performance ratio. The entire A7 series has evolved over several generations and established a health eco-system. If budget is a concern, then consider the previous generation Sony A7 II.
2. Sony A7R III or A7S II: Stepping up to more special-purpose models, the A7R III delivers higher resolution with a 42MP full frame sensor, while the A7S II is built around a solid video system and impeccable low-light performance.
3. Canon EOS R: While Canon is the historic leader in advanced digital cameras, the EOS R is brand new and has a limited ecosystem. Thanks to adapters, you can use your existing EF lenses but native RF lenses are currently very limited. It’s also rather pricey compared to what Sony offers.
4. Nikon Z6: Like Canon, Nikon has tried and failed in previous mirrorless camera endeavors. The Nikon Z6 and Z7 look promising but the Z range is yet unproven as a system.
1. Canon 5D Mark IV: It’s Coke and Pepsi between Canon and Nikon here but the 5D Mark IV is the best Canon has to offer.
2. Nikon D850: You could easily swap the Nikon D850 for the 5D Mark IV in terms of levels of recommendation. The cameras are together state-of-the-art in professional photography. While there are higher-end models available, nothing delivers performance to the masses like these two cameras. If you want “almost professional,” consider the Nikon D750 for a budget-friendly full frame DSLR.
3. Nikon D7500: Stepping down from the full frame to the APS-C format, the D7500 delivers professional performance in a more affordable package.
4. Canon 7D Mark II: The APS-C format model in Canon’s professional line.
2. Think Tank Photo: Over the past several years, Think Tank Photo has grown to become a standard for professional photographers. While the bags have typically been blacked-out with a professional look, recent additions offer some more options in the look and target audience.
1. Understanding Exposure by Bryan Peterson: Another great stocking stuffer, no new camera owner should go without reading this book. It’s inexpensive. If you’re buying someone a camera or getting one yourself, make sure this book goes with the camera. It’ll be the best $18 you spend on photography.
2. Photoshop for Digital Photographers series by Scott Kelby: There are several versions of Photoshop out there, so make sure you buy the appropriate corresponding book.
3. The Camera, The Negative, or The Print by Ansel Adams: Classics from Ansel Adams are still full of relevant information for today’s digital photographers. And, it’s nice to have Ansel’s imagery and advice on your bookshelf.
That’s all we’ve got for this year’s installment of the Camera & Photo Gear Gift Guide. I hope this run down gives you a better idea of what to look for when shopping in the camera aisle this Christmas. Also, stay tuned for regular updates from Photography Bay as the holiday season continues. Keep an eye out on our Black Friday and Cyber Monday Camera Deals as we approach that big weekend of deals.
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