Our 2020 Holiday Gift Guide for Photographers and Filmmakers is filled with quality, bucket list worthy gift ideas that’s perfect for any photographer or videographer you know. Melissa and I spent countless hours sifting through all the products we own and all the products we wish we had to put this guide together.
Above all else we focused on quality products. These aren’t the cheapest gifts, but they’re all products that will last for years to come and are products that most photographers/filmmakers would love to have.
If you have any questions about these gift ideas, just email us at [email protected] or [email protected]. We would be more than happy to help you pick out a gift for your special photographer or filmmaker and we get back to every message we receive!
As a caveat, photographers/filmmakers are a picky bunch especially when it comes to bags so gift at your own discretion. If you know they need a new bag, then one of these below is a safe bet. However, if you’re not sure, another one of the gifts is probably a better choice.
Smart, technical, and durable design in a 20L or 30L version with customizable compartments that will easily be able to carry all your gear + computer. I have used it on trips around the world for the last 4 years and it still looks new.
A minimally designed non-technical camera bag that is perfect for those who might like a daily camera bag that doesn’t look like a camera bag.
Fanny packs are in again! The Baggu Fanny Pack is awesome for those times when you just need to carry a few accessories instead of the entire backpack. Our favorite part about these is the selection of different colors it comes in.
One of the best-looking bags available that has a tough, technical design made specifically for the photographer or filmmaker. If I didn’t have the Peak Design already, this bag would easily be our new favorite.
If you know your photographer/filmmaker has been dreaming of getting a drone, it’s hard to beat the DJI Mini 2. It’s incredibly small and is packed with features such as 4k video at 30 frames per second (FPS), panorama mode, and an impressive 30 minute flight time for each battery.
Travel Friendly Camera
Does your photographer/filmmaker always talk about getting another camera for recording video or would like to start shooting video but don’t know where to start? If that’s the case the DJI Pocket 2 may be the perfect fit. This small video powerhouse features a built-in 3-axis gimbal and a full selection of different frame rates, which will allow them to easily capture smooth cinematic footage. The best part is that it’s all in a form factor that can fit into their shirt pocket.
Don’t let the name fool you. Three Legged Thing, a UK based tripod manufacturer, makes some of the most intuitive to use, stable, and strongest tripods for its size. Out of the Three Legged Thing product line, we think the Leo is the perfect balance for the adventurer as it’s small enough to carry all day and strong enough to hold larger camera set-ups even in windier conditions.
It’s more expensive than the rest of the tripods. However, unlike most other tripod companies that have used the same industry design standards for years, Peak Design has created a completely new design made specifically with travelers in mind. This is perfect for those who value minimalism and want the smallest form factor possible.
Notes From The Field: If you want to see how these two tripods stack up against the competition, I wrote a handy guide on our favorite travel tripods that goes into very deep detail.
These are arguably the best variable ND filters on the market and would make a great gift for any aspiring filmmaker in your life. If you want more information about this filter and how it stacks up to the competition, make sure to check out our Variable ND Filter article too.
Polarizing filters are a must-have, especially for landscape photographers. These German-made polarizing filters are one of the best. They feature multi-resistant coating for easy cleaning and are made with high-quality Schott Glass for accurate color reproduction and sharp photos.
Tiffen Black Pro Mist diffusion filters have been used by professional filmmakers for years, and it’s easy to see why. When using this filter, it allows the filmmaker to be able to easily create a dream-like soft glowy feel to all their video footage.
Notes From The Field: One of the best ways to gift filters is to get the largest size possible (82mm) and include step up rings like this one from Breakthrough Photography if you know the filter thread of the camera they use.
Photographers/filmmakers actually spend most of their time in front of the computer and not their cameras. One of the best ways to increase productivity whether at home or on the go is with a pair of noise-canceling headphones. The Sony MX1000 M4 features a huge range of customizable options and one of the best noise-canceling technologies.
These definitely live up to the hype and are the best pair of headphones Apple has created so far.
Every single photographer/filmmaker will need more storage space at some point. This isn’t the sexiest gift, but it’s a safe bet and very practical.
The best part about this hard drive is that it’s a RAID array made up of two separate 2TB hard drives. Because of this, it can be configured to maximize transfer speed, for data redundancy, or used as two separate hard drives. It’s definitely a more expensive hard disk drive (HDD) option, but the speed boost or data redundancy options are hard to beat.
If your photographer/filmmaker is always complaining about how slow their computer is when editing, a blazing fast SSD might be able to help. The Samsung T7 Touch or SanDisk Extreme Pro Portable are two of the best options. If you’re looking for the coolest option, the Samsung T7 Touch features a fingerprint security feature which you don’t find in any other option.
The Gnarbox is an awesome tool for more professional/aspiring professional photographers that are always on the go and need to back up their photos while traveling. The Gnarbox is a rugged SSD that allows the user to transfer photos directly to the device without the need for a laptop or additional external hard drive. However, because it’s so expensive for its limited storage size, it’s not the best for video backup.
The RAVPower FileHub is a much more budget-friendly option than the Gnarbox that will allow a photographer/filmmaker to transfer files while on the go without the need for a laptop. The big difference is the RAVPower doesn’t have built-in storage so they would need to use their existing hard drives.
Like hard drives, SD cards aren’t the sexiest gift but all photographers/filmmakers will need more SD cards at some point.
For the price, storage size and performance, the SanDisk Extreme Pro is the one to beat.
It’s more expensive than other SD card cases, but we think it’s worth it for its water resistant and shockproof design. The last thing any photographer/videographer would want to happen is for their footage to be lost because the SD cards weren’t protected.
There are a huge variety of different camera accessories available, but these are our favorite ones that we’re constantly using.
Self-explanatory, however, this is one of our favorite camera strap designs. Its camera anchors are easy to clip on and off and above all else it’s comfortable to carry around all day.
We would argue this is a must-have accessory if they do any sort of travel at all. This ingeniously designed clip allows the user to securely and easily attach their camera to a backpack strap or belt. When traveling or hiking this is very useful as it will free up their hands or prevent their camera from swaying if they’re using a camera strap.
There’s a big range of different external microphones at different price ranges, but we particularly like the Rode VideoMicro for its sound quality, very small size, and it’s cheaper price. Another plus is that it’s powered by the camera so you don’t need additional batteries to operate it.
Not the most exciting, but having the right lighting or being able to manipulate a light source, can make a huge difference in photographing or recording certain scenes. These two tiny lights are small in size, but big in light and features.
A tiny little cube that’s easy to carry around and even easier to customize with brightness level adjustments down to a single %.
A slightly larger light than the Lumecube 2.0, but what makes this light special is that it’s RGB so you can change the light to a variety of different colors either through the app or the physical dials on the light.
If you know the person you’re gifting loves film photography, but already has all the camera gear or you don’t know what to get them, these film stocks or accessories might be a good choice. Just remember, film stocks are an extremely personal choice, so it’s always better to err on the side of caution when trying to gift a roll of film.
Versatile, forgiving, and a great general-purpose color film. There is a reason why this is one of the most sought after and popular film stocks of all time.
A great all around classic black and white film stock.
Cinestill film is known for its unique halation effect and is actually made from Kodak Vision Motion Picture film. This daylight ISO 50 film is great for those sunny days and gives a pastel look with lower saturation. It’s a more expensive film stock so is great for those special occasions or trips.
Film Camera and Accessories
Film cameras are awesome as it forces the photographer to slow down, focus on the composition and to learn about how the exposure triangle impacts the photo. Not to mention, there is a certain beautiful aesthetic about the photos captured on film stock which is difficult to replicate with a digital camera. Film cameras would make a thoughtful gift for any photographer especially those who love vintage things.
One of the most popular film cameras ever made that was incredibly innovative when it first came out. What makes this camera stand out is its electronic meter which will help the photographer quickly figure out what settings to use. If you want to learn more about this camera and to see what photos taken with this camera look like, make sure to check out our Canon AE-1 Program review.
Notes From The Field: the camera has a plastic body and its light seals are notorious for deteriorating over time. So, if you plan to buy this camera as a gift, make sure to buy one which has been film tested or at least from a retailer with a good return policy.
The Pentax K1000 is a minimalist film camera that’s built like a tank. Unlike the Canon AE-1 Program, there are no extras on this camera. No automatic settings and no electronic functionality other than its light meter. All it comes with are the only three settings you need to create awesome images, shutter speed, ISO (or ASA in film photography), and aperture. If you want to learn more about this camera and to see what photos taken with this camera look like, make sure to check out our Pentax K1000 review.
Vintage Lens and Lens Mount Adapter
All vintage lenses have a unique look that is hard to replicate with modern-day cameras. These lenses can add a nice characteristic and vibe for both photos and video when used with digital cameras. Some of the most popular vintage lens brands include Nikon and Canon. Just remember that in most cases, a lens mount is also needed to allow the vintage lens to work with a digital camera. Our favorite places to buy vintage lenses include these two shops:
A very well made, durable film case in a selection of fun colors from the good people at Japan Camera Hunter.
Instant Film Cameras
For something more fun and casual, instant film cameras are something that any filmmaker or photographer would enjoy for snapping everyday moments.
This instant camera uses the Instax Mini film for smaller prints and comes with a variety of different automatic shooting settings plus 3 different lens attachments. We chose to go with the plastic lens version to save some money. However, if you want to gift the best quality possible, they also come with glass lens models.
This is the first film camera to use the classic INSTAX SQUARE film which is double the size of the Instax Mini film. It doesn’t have as many automatic features or lens attachments as the Lomography Lomo’Instant, but the size of the print more than makes up for it.
There really is nothing like seeing the photos you captured in a physical print. For the right photographer, a print of their own work could make for a memorable gift. Our favorite places to print out high-quality photos are Canvaspop for their canvas prints and Printique for their photo books and single prints.
The canvas print is Canvaspop’s most popular product and probably what they are best known for. The canvas itself is treated with ultra-protective UV-matt laminate, which means that the print will never crack, flake, fade, or bubble, and it’s guaranteed for life.
Hardcover Books, Leather Books, Fabric Books, Softcover Books, and Mini Books. These are all highly customizable and come in a wide range of sizes, colors, and themes.
If you’d like your photos to have a more artistic and textured look, then Printique’s Giclee fine art prints are a timeless way to display your best pictures. They are made from high-end 100% Hahnemuhle fine art papers and come in 3 different textures.
Flipping through a photobook is one of the best ways to get inspiration for photography or videographer. Each person will have different tastes in photo books, but these are just some of our all-time favorites.
A wonderful collection of black and white images of dogs taken by Elliott Erwitt. He’s a legendary photographer who is known for his funny pictures of people and dogs.
It’s more of a history book, so it’s not the best for those looking for just visuals. However, the book does an incredible job of taking you behind the scenes into the making of some of the most iconic images in history.
A neon-filled wonderland of photographs taken at night in the Soho district of London. Definitely a beautiful gift for any aspiring street photographer or filmmaker.
A masterful book by one of the pioneers of American color photography.
A must read for any aspiring landscape photographer from one of the all time greats.
All photographers and filmmakers have room to grow. Masterclass is an awesome learning platform that gives you access to a wide range of different masters of their respective fields. Some of the photography and filmmaking related Masterclasses include courses taught by Jimmy Chin, Annie Leibovitz, David Lynch, and Werner Herzog. The cool thing is that they’re doing a buy one get one holiday deal right now so you can get a subscription for your loved one and yourself!
Two of the best classic notebooks for jotting down thoughts the old fashioned way.
A practical gift that will come in handy for recharging phones on the go and also some cameras.
Again, most photographers/filmmakers spend most of their time in front of their computer editing. The Logitech MX Master is one of the best wireless mice available with an ergonomic design and various customizable options.
Just For Fun
These aren’t photography or videography related, but they’re some of our favorite items we use on a daily basis.
Tom has a collection of these and wears one on the daily. The hat he’s wearing in this photo is the limited audition The Fauci Cap. It’s not available at the moment, but it shows the thoughtfulness, quality, and craftsmanship which goes into each cap that is hand made in Seattle.