Welcome to TechCrunch’s 2019 Holiday Gift Guide! Need help with gift ideas? We’re here to help! We’ll be rolling out gift guides from now through the end of December. You can find our other guides right here.
Looking for some gift ideas for the photographer in your life? Look no further. Though shooters amateur and professional tend to take care of their own needs pretty well, there are plenty of things you can given them that they’ll appreciate. But you might have to be ready to spend a bit — people don’t pick up this hobby because it’s so cheap.
USB-C Hub – $40-$60
A lot of the latest laptops are eschewing a variety of ports for more or only USB-C. Some like this trend, and some hate it, but one way or another you’ve got to deal with it. Photographers especially. This Vava hub has pretty much everything your average shooter needs, including old-type USB ports for legacy gear, an SD card reader, and a headphone jack for reviewing video. This one is $60 but there are bigger and smaller ones if you happen to know they use Ethernet, microSD, and so on. Just stay away from the bargain bin ones — you don’t want to mess around when it comes to carrying lots of power.
Hand strap – $10-$40
Everyone has a neck strap for their camera because they always come with one. But not everyone wants to use them — the included ones are cheap and even good ones can be annoying. A hand strap is a good alternative that adds a lot of security very simply. For a smaller camera like a mirrorless, a simple, high quality strap like Gordy’s is a good option. And for heavier bodies like DSLRs with big lenses, Peak Design’s Clutch is a solid one that works across many brands. Many camera manufacturers make their own as well, but we’ve found that Peak often makes meaningful improvements on suchstandard models.
Extra SD cards and a carry case – $30-40
A photographer can never have too many cards, and a good case never goes amiss, either. You can’t go wrong with Pelican when it comes to cases, even if $30 seems a lot to spend on a little plastic clamshell with foam inside. As for SD cards, 32 gigabytes is a nice safe number. Just make sure you stick to known brands like Sandisk and Kingston, and make sure it’s a “Class 10” card — lower numbers mean slower transfer speeds.
A year of Adobe – $120
This is a tough one. Lots of photographers use Lightroom and Photoshop, and it would be nice to be able to gift them a few months or a year’s worth of subscription to Adobe’s platform. But Adobe makes this so hard to do that we can’t actually figure out a good way to do it. Nevertheless, if you can figure out a creative way to go about this, your photographer friend will appreciate it. Adobe, if you’re reading this, make this work!
Microfiber wipes – $10-15
One thing you can never have too many of as a photographer is lens wipes. Some prefer the disposable type and/or a little air puff, but a pack of small microfiber ones will also be welcome, as they can be used for glasses, laptop screens, and everything else as well. They’re all pretty much the same and you can get a dozen small ones for less than ten bucks.
A decent bag – $100-400
It’s amazing how often a photographer will spend a thousand bucks on a lens but have their gear sloshing around in some old backpack. A good bag helps keep your gear safe but also makes you a better shooter by making you organize, inventory, and keep things accessible. There are a lot of great bags to choose from out there, which is why we have Bag Week, but I’m partial to Ona for waxed and vintage style camera bags and Peak Design for a more modern, synthetic style.
Soft shutter release – $25
A soft shutter release is definitely a niche gift, but if you have someone on the list who shoots one of Fujifilm’s rangefinder-style cameras, or a Leica if they’re really fancy, a soft shutter release is an awesome, inexpensive stocking stuffer. The Match Technical Boop-O pictured above on an X-T3 camera adds a very nice, easy-to-squeeze ergonomic shutter control to the existing flat button. It screws into a hole that’s already built in to Fuji cameras that support this, including the X100-series and the X-T series cameras, to name just a few popular options. Stick-on soft shutter releases are also available for cameras that don’t have this mount built-in.
Portable lighting – $70-$500
If you think photographic lighting is just about on-camera flash, then you probably haven’t done enough experimenting with the variety of smart lightening accessories out there. Two great options are the Lume Cube line of products (Lume Cube Air pictured, left above) and the Profoto C1 and C1+. These serve different needs, but can both be used to help you do really fun stuff with both smartphone and dedicated camera-based photography. The price ranges vary, but Profoto’s offering is aimed more at pros who want portable lighting that approaches what you can get out of much more expensive studio setups, while Lume Cube is better suited to the action and drone photography set.
Gnarbox – $500-$900
This is definitely a gift reserved only for the people who merit big ticket purchases on your list, given its price. It’s also designed specifically to suit the needs of creative professionals, so it’s probably too much gear for most people. That said, if there is a pro photographer or videographer in your life who you really care deeply about, this is likely to be a gift that they’ll value – even if they already have one, since it’s the kind of gear where more = better. The Gnarbox provides easy SD backup and file management for photos and videos, so that you can keep shooting longer in the field and work with the files on the go. The 2.0 version is finally shipping, which offers SSD-based storage for much faster transfer and working speeds.
Mini tripod – $12 – $35
A mini tripod is a great addition to any photography kit, and there are a range of options available to suit different sizes and types of cameras, from smartphones all the way up to big DSLRs. The best value for money just might be the Manfrotto PIXI lineup, however, which itself comes in a range of options. The basic PIXI Mini Tripod is probably plenty enough for most, and can really help make sure that you get great travel shots and selfies while keeping your pack light. The PIXI EVO gives you a bit more flexibility with extendable legs for a bit more money.