This story is part ofour year-round collection of the best gift ideas.
Now that most smartphones are equipped with a decent camera, photography is becoming a bit of a misunderstood art form. Sure, anyone can take a nice shot of a sunset and post it on their social media, but nothing compares to the work of a serious photographer who knows what they’re doing. Therefore, there will always be a need for professional photographers to capture important events such as weddings and graduations. But with the huge ecosystem of gear out there, shopping for the photographer in your life can be quite intimidating.
There are a variety of camera options, from compact mirrorless to DSLRs, with an endless selection of accessories, tripods and bags. To help you find the perfect gift for the photographer in your life (or yourself), we’ve rounded up our picks for the best cameras, tripods, drones, action cameras and photography accessories. Whether you’re an avid landscape photographer or budding vlogger, we’ve got gift ideas for all budgets.
The Canon EOS R5 has a lot of great features, including amazing image stabilization, lightning-fast autofocus and fast continuous shooting. But the R5’s standout feature is its ability to record 8K video. While not everyone will need that many pixels, 8K can provide much more room for cropping and creative editing, making it a great choice for the dedicated videographer looking for the best camera equipment.
With a 24.1 megapixel sensor, pop-up flash and relatively compact size, the Canon Rebel T7 (also known as the 2000D) is a great DSLR for those looking to take their first steps into photography. This kit comes with a great all-rounder 18-55mm lens, a 75-300mm zoom lens and a carrying case, making it the ultimate entry-level camera for everything from stunning landscapes to detailed wildlife shots.
Focused on vlogging, the Sony ZV-1 is small enough to fit in your pocket, includes a tilting screen so you can see if you’re in the shot while you’re talking to your audience, and can be purchased with a handy handle that makes it easy to start and stop recording. The 4K video quality is great, and while the battery life could definitely be improved, we think enthusiastic YouTubers everywhere will appreciate the addition of this little thing to their production line.
This is one of the best camera equipment options for the experienced photographer who wants the quality of photos and video that only a full frame camera can produce. It’s a generation old, but it’s relatively small, packs an amazing 24.2-megapixel sensor, five-axis image stabilization, and comes at a price that shouldn’t be too out of reach for photography enthusiasts.
Read our Sony A7 III preview.
The Canon EOS RP entry-level camera packs a superb 26.2-megapixel full-frame image sensor into an extremely compact body, making it excellent for beginners and keen travelers alike. It’s also easy to use thanks to the flip-up screen and convenient buttons, while Canon’s ever-expanding range of RF-mount lenses means it’s easy to find the right lens for your needs.
Read our Canon EOS RP preview.
With its 24.3-megapixel image sensor, 4K video recording and 5-axis in-camera image stabilization, the Nikon Z5 packs some impressive specs into a very compact and lightweight body. And it does this at a price that makes it a great choice for photographers who want to move away from basic point and shoot and take photography a little more seriously.
When you’re moving at high speed, nothing beats an action camera for sharing the most exciting moments. The latest version of this excellent little action camera can record video at up to 5.2K at 50fps or up to 120fps at 4K for silky slow motion action. It has incredible stabilization and the overall video quality is great.
Read our GoPro Hero 10 Black hands on.
DJI’s smallest drone can easily be squeezed into a jacket pocket, but its camera is capable of taking beautiful videos and photos thanks to its 4K resolution and the ability to capture still images in raw format. It’s also very easy to fly, making it a great choice for beginners or more enthusiastic aerial photographers who want to travel as light as possible. Below we link to the Fly More Combo, which includes extra batteries and other goodies, but you can save by buying the basic drone kit.
The Lumix G9 can take great photos thanks to its 20.3-megapixel image sensor, but it’s also capable of shooting smooth 4K video thanks to in-body stabilization. This makes it great for photographers who want to get great photos on their next outdoor adventure, but also want to put together a beautiful video for their Instagram reels or TikTok.
Read our Panasonic Lumix G9 review.
Amazon/Screenshot from CNET
The Rode VideoMicro may be small, but it’s capable of capturing professional-level audio from the top of your camera without the need for batteries or an external power source, making it ideal for vlogging. In fact, it’s one of the best camera gear options for vloggers. It plugs directly into the microphone port on your camera (like the one on the EOS M50 above) and can be purchased with a smartphone-compatible cable if that’s more your thing. It comes with a robust muffler as well as a large, fluffy windscreen to help you get crystal clear sound, even in difficult or windy conditions.
Amazon/Screenshot from CNET
With cameras taking photos and videos at ever-increasing resolutions, it’s easier than ever to run out of storage when you’re out and about. Fortunately, storage doesn’t have to make money, and this 256GB SD card from SanDisk offers a huge amount of space for your files and comes with a very reasonable price tag. It’s the perfect choice for beginners who want one card that they’ll never have to worry about refilling, yet it’s cheap enough for enthusiasts to buy several to ensure they can always keep shooting. Just make sure the camera it goes in supports SD cards up to 256GB.
LowePro has been a staple of the camera bag world for years, and with the ProTactic 450 it’s easy to see why. This durable backpack opens fully from the back, although there are side and top quick access points as well. It provides plenty of storage slots for a DSLR, multiple lenses, filters, batteries and other accessories – I even stuffed a small drone among my gear.
If you can’t fit everything inside, you can get additional accessory pockets that attach to the outside of the case where you can also attach your tripod. It is comfortable to wear thanks to chest and waist straps, is made of durable materials and has a zippered compartment for laptops up to 15 inches.
The compact size makes this backpack comfortable and light to take around the city when you’re looking for the best coffee and street food, but its interior offers plenty of room for cameras, lenses and even compact drones. Two side-access pockets make it easy to reach your camera when creativity strikes, while the weather-resistant material keeps your precious gear safe when the rain starts.
The Peak Design Travel Tripod, as it’s known, is best for exactly what its name suggests: travel. It’s one of the best camera gear options for those who want to travel light. The carbon fiber version weighs only 2.8 lbs (1.27 kg) and packs down to just 15.4 inches (39.1 cm) long, so it can easily be stored in a backpack or camera bag. The aluminum tripod model weighs 3.4 lb (1.5 kg).
Its ball head is quick and easy to use, strong enough to hold a professional DSLR, and has a custom grip so you can mount your phone on a tripod that slides into the center post. All this is very well thought out and has a calming effect.
Photo filters come in all shapes and sizes, but few are as well thought out or as high quality as the Polar Pro. Thanks to the aluminum frames, each filter is robust, easy to hold and conveniently slides into the filter holder. The landscape kit comes with a circular polarizer, two neutral filters and a graduated neutral filter to help balance out the bright skies in your landscape photos. It’s a must-have kit for the avid landscape photographer in your life.
The 3Legged Thing Bucky is a great tripod for almost any photography situation. Its carbon fiber construction means it’s light enough to easily clip onto a backpack, it’s small, but its maximum height of over 6.2ft (191cm) makes it also extremely tall. I find it’s great for landscape photography as it’s not a problem to take it up into the hills but I can still shoot at eye level.
Its ball head is secure enough to hold even the heaviest DSLR with a large zoom lens attached, its legs can be detached and used as monopods, and its solid construction means you don’t have to worry about it taking a few knocks on the road. . It’s not cheap, but photography enthusiasts of any genre will find something to do here.
I’ve never shot film before, but even I was excited to get my hands on the Goodman Zone DIY kit. This medium format film camera comes in many 3D printed pieces with instructions on how to build, modify and use your own camera. It’s a fairly straightforward process – and the feeling of going out to shoot with a camera you literally put together yourself is something quite special.
You’ll need to get your own lens and film (Dora Goodman’s website has plenty of advice on this), but at $105 it’s a very affordable way to dip your toe into the world of medium format film photography with one of the best cameras out there. that’s budget friendly. Unfortunately, it’s not currently available for purchase, but if you happen to have access to a 3D printer, you can download the open source files and print your own for free.
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