People with a passion for photography can be difficult to shop for. The market is flooded with gear made by different brands; making it hard to pick something of value out of the proverbial haystack. I'm here to help with ten photography holiday gift ideas for under $100, plus a few bonus recommendations to consider. Let's dive in...
Kodak Ektar H35 Camera ($50)
The Kodak Ektar H35 ($50) is a point and click 35mm camera that's fun, light and easy to carry. A nostalgic throwback that offers an inexpensive introduction to the wonderful world of analogue film photography. The Ektar 35 is a real camera (not disposable), so it may be used over and over with any 35mm film. Everything is made of plastic (including the lens), so the image quality isn't stellar, but the images are warm, soft and nostalgic. The kind of look you can only get shooting real film. Best used outdoors with plenty of light.
Peak Design Everyday Case + Mobile Creator Kit ($90)
Peak Design's Mobile Creator Kit provides a stable base for mobile photography and videography. The mount attaches to tripods, GoPro mounts, the Peak Design Capture Clip, or anything with a 1/4"-20 thread. The mount connects to the beautifully designed Peak Design Everyday Case, available for iPhone, Samsung and Pixel phones (so you will need to know what model and version of phone someone is using). The case looks and feels great, is compatible with other Peak Design Mobile accessories, and can be used everyday when not shooting photos and videos. Together at $90, the Everyday Case and Creator Kit are a great combination.
Tip: If you're looking to splurge a little more, also pick up the Peak Design Mobile Tripod. This connects to the same Everyday Case and provides a kickstand that props phones up on the ground, on a table or any flat surface. Great option for stabilizing a phone when using a full tripod isn't convenient.
Apple AirTag ($99 for four)
AirTags ($99 for four) are wonderful because they help secure and keep track of expensive photo and video gear. I have one AirTag hidden in my camera backpack, just in case I accidentally leave the bag somewhere or some unsavory character runs off with it. I travel with another AirTag is inside my checked luggage, and carry one on my keychain whenever I'm outdoors creating landscape images. There are custom AirTag mounts for drones on etsy. For me they're an extra layer of security and protection that are worth every penny.
Outdoor Research Photography Gloves (~$50)
Pretty much every camera these days has an LCD screen on the back for previewing images, changing exposure, and configuring camera settings. These screens function just like smartphones, which means they don't work with normal gloves. And the last thing a landscape or outdoor photographer wants to do is continually take their gloves on and off (especially when it's cold). "Sensor" gloves like these from Outdoor Research have rubberized tips that work with smartphone and camera screens.
Platypod Max Camera Support ($90)
The Platypod Max ($90) is an ingenious metal plate that supports and stabilizes a camera just like a regular tripod, but in much smaller and more portable form factor. Has a 3/8" thread on top for mounting any ball-head, four individually adjustable legs (with options for spikes or rubber feet), and enough mass to hold a camera and lens upright without tipping over. I bought one thinking I might occasionally use it, but ended up using it all the time! Great solution for macro photography, b-roll video, and places where tripods aren't allowed.
Logitech MX Master 3S Wireless Mouse ($99)
Once you start using a Logitech MX Master 3S Wireless Mouse ($99), nothing else will do. It's the perfect mouse for editing photos and videos using a desktop or laptop, with just the right number of customizable buttons. For photo editing, my Logitech is configured to zoom in/out of images, while for video the horizontal scroll wheel (pictured above) scrubs my video editing timeline in Adobe Premiere. For other apps, the Logitech MX 3S can be easily programmed to trigger any keyboard shortcut. Plus it's super comfortable to use. Could never go back to a standard mouse!
SmallRig Folding Tool Set ($21)
This Folding Tool Set from SmallRig ($21) has all the tools a photographer and/or videographer needs in a small, lightweight package that easily fits in any camera bag. Made of durable stainless steel and aluminum, this tool provides seven tools: flat head and Phillips screwdrivers, a Torx T25 driver, and 2.5, 3, 4mm, and 3/16" Allen wrenches. I bring mine along to tighten base plates and other gear while traveling on the road. Super useful and convenient, and it comes with a nice fitted case.
Landmark Project Apparel ($35 per t-shirt)
Show your love for America's state and national parks with beautifully designed apparel from the Landmark Project. Beanies, calendars, posters, hoodies, sweatshirts, and t-shirts featuring original designs inspired by Yellowstone, Grand Canyon, Joshua Tree, and many more. Plus my personal favorite, officially licensed Smokey Bear apparel where 10% of each sale is donated to the US Forest Service for Wildfire Prevention Education. Fantastic design, typography and colors that feel nostalgic yet fresh and new.
"America The Beautiful" Annual Park Pass ($80)
Speaking of national parks, the USGS sells "America the Beautiful" annual passes. For only $80, you get unlimited access to all national parks and 2,000 recreation areas anywhere in the United States for a full year. All proceeds go towards maintenance and facilities at the parks themselves, so you could also consider it a donation to very worthy cause.
Extra Tip: Moment Multi Threaded Mount for MagSafe ($50)
The Moment Multi Threaded Mount for MagSafe ($50) magnetically attaches to the back of an iPhone 12 or newer (with or without a phone case) and provides multiple 3/8" and 1/4" female mounting threads for use with magic arms, camera rigs, tripods, whatever you can think of! I can see it being especially helpful with overhead photos and videos. Mine did not arrive in time for this article (otherwise I would have included it in the video), but the reviews look excellent, and Moment is known for making great mobile gear, so it looks like a great accessory for any iPhone photographer or videographer.
Extra Tip: Vanguard SB-100 Stone Bag ($15)
I know what can happen when the wind blows over a tripod (hint: it's expensive). For better stability and security, the SB-100 Stone Bag from Vanguard ($15) is a no-brainer. Attach it to any three-legged tripod, then load it up with pebbles and small rocks (which weren't hard to find in the image above). The rocks add weight to the tripod which protects it against strong wind and helps keep cameras steadier when capturing long exposures. Best of all, the Vanguard Stone Bag is cheap, weighs next to nothing, and packs flat. (Tip of the hat to David for reminding me this!)
Extra Tip: Personalized leather camera straps (~$30)
Etsy is full of one-of-a-kind photography accessories, including these lovely personalized leather camera straps. I haven't used these, but I love the variety of colors and personalization options. Would definitely look nicer and classier than the cheap, black straps cameras come with today. I think the prices are quite reasonable as well.
Extra Tip: Leica M3 "Blue" Print ($48+)
Beautiful custom print of a Leica M3 dedicated to the legendary Henri Cartier-Bresson (who used an M3 for much of his photography). Love the style of this, especially in blue. Can also be ordered in black and parchment white, both of which also look great. Sharp home decor item for Leica fans and photography enthusiasts!
Extra Tip: AllTrails Mobile App (Annual Subscription $36)
AllTrails is an essential application for outdoor enthusiasts. The app is free and can be used to find hiking trails, browse reviews and ratings from other users, and help orient yourself while hiking using GPS. The "Pro" version (annual subscription of $36) allows maps to be downloaded and used offline, which is huge when hiking areas without cell coverage (common thing in many parks). There are other perks of paying for the app, but the downloadable maps are fantastic. Nice environmentally-friendly gift as well, for there's no boxes, no paper, and nothing to ship.
Extra Tip: B&H Gift Certificate
The cannot fail gift for photographers! Seriously, you can't go wrong with a B&H Gift Certificate. B&H is one of the most popular e-commerce retailers for photo and video gear, with great service and loads of products from all brands small and large. I order stuff from B&H all the time and never have a problem with their service. Guaranteed to love it! (Also, the video embedded above is fun. Check it out).
Extra Tip: REI Gift Card
Landscape and outdoor photographers need more than camera bodies, lenses and bags. They also need jackets, boots, beanies, pants, gloves, and countless other outdoor items to help make creating images more comfortable. And when it comes to outdoor gear and apparel, REI has everything. Get an REI Gift Card is sure to please.