It’s that time of year, when we photo geeks buy our loved ones amazing presents only to get nothing good in return. What a drag. Here’s the solution. Send this list to anyone and everyone who might buy you a present, and if you still get nothing but fruit cake and socks, well, it’s time to consider the real possibility that your loved ones might not like you.
Here are a number of fantastic gifts for any budget that will surely please the photographer in your life, especially if that photographer is you!
$5 to $25 budget
The perennial gift that’s perfect for stocking stuffers or bundled into small packages – film. If the photogeek on your list shoots film already, this is a no-brainer. Grab some types of film that the giftee might not ordinarily buy – Cinestill, random stuff from Lomo, maybe some higher end Pro films from Kodak or Fuji. Better yet, try something a little less obvious.
You can also grab some stickers, shirts, and pins from many of the small camera culture suppliers that have sprung up in recent years. These will let your photo geek show their love of shooting in a fun way. Personal favorites? Probably these designs from Shoot Film Co.
A perfect gift for any photographer, but especially for those who haven’t yet tried film, are these single use black-and-white film cameras from Ilford. These present a fantastic way to introduce a digital shooter to the world of film. They’re simple to use, simple to develop, and will also happily serve as a way to instantly and timelessly document your holiday festivities. They come loaded with HP5 or XP2 film, two well-respected films that produce exceptional images.
$25 to $50 budget
Reaching a bit deeper into the pockets, with a fifty dollar budget we’re getting into the realm of buying your photo geek a camera, which is pretty close the best gift a photographer can receive. Our shop sells Polaroid cameras for under $50 fully tested and guaranteed. These classic Polaroids are very nearly the perfect holiday gift for anyone who’s even remotely interested in photography (or just likes having fun with friends). You’ll probably also want some film, which can be bought directly from Polaroid Originals.
So you’ve got a photo geek on your list. Presumably he or she takes photos and occasionally gets those photos printed. But then they sit trapped in a box or locked away in a photo album. Get that shooter a gorgeous glass display box from La Rousse. They’re made in a number of standard photo sizes and a few classy finishes. They hold photos and display whichever one is laid on top. A simple idea, but a gorgeous way to keep those lovely photos out in the open. I have one (my wife gifted it to me last Christmas, in fact), and there’s always a photo of my daughter on the top of the stack.
Squeeking in right under that fifty-dollar budget are the gorgeous film carrying cases from my friend Bellamy at Japan Camera Hunter. These leather cases are hand-made of Italian leather and carry 120 or 35mm film.
$50 to $150 budget
The most exciting holiday gift in photography this year might be the brand new Polaroid Originals OneStep 2, which we reviewed earlier this year. This new Polaroid camera is priced perfectly, at $99, and is one of the best Polaroid cameras we’ve ever tested. It uses the least expensive Polaroid film, I-Type film, has enough features to take excellent photos in any conditions, and looks simply stunning. The OneStep 2 will be on many lists this year, with good reason.
Outside of the instant film class of camera, there are plenty of amazing cameras to be had for less than $100. I even wrote an article about it. For someone trying film for the first time, get something simple – a Pentax SLR or similar. For shooters who already own and shoot a film camera, get something interesting – I recommend the clockwork-like, all-mechanical Zeiss Contina. This fifty year old machine is sure to impress. Whatever camera you choose, just make sure the one you buy is advertised as fully functional and guaranteed. There’s no sense in gifting a paperweight.
The sub-hundred-dollar budget also finds great gifts in the form of quality camera straps. These luxurious affairs from Hawksmill are pretty amazing, if you like leather. If leather isn’t so appealing, there’s always the versatile and gorgeous offerings from Peak.
If your photo geek is constantly fumbling around with gear, tossing lenses into cup-holders and cameras into glove compartments, think about getting a camera bag. The messenger bags from Ona are stylish and effective, and I’ve used one for years, and we just reviewed the backpack style bag from Vinta, which proved to be a keeper as well.
For cerebral photographers who truly love the craft, nothing is as nice as a gorgeous book of photography. Favorites include this book of Fan Ho’s incredible Hong Kong street photography, this lovely retrospective on Winogrand, this definitive collection of Robert Capa’s work, and this excellent book chronicling the life of arguably the most important photo editor in history, John G. Morris.
$300 to $500 budget
An essential tool for landscape and architectural shooters, especially those who love the night, is a decent tripod. Some of the best for travelers and adventure types are made by MeFoto. We reviewed their newest here, and it’s an excellent choice for shooters on the move. For those who want a bit higher build, choose something from Gitzo or Manfrotto, the latter Italian brand being my personal choice.
A good film scanner is hard to come by. Those Pakons and Fuji units are pretty expensive. Enter the Pacific Image Prime Film XA scanner, a small, extremely capable film scanner that’s actually affordable. It scans 35mm film and slides relatively quickly at pretty fantastic resolution. This is a great solution for film shooters who have been paying to have their images processed and scanned because it’ll greatly increase control over the final image, and decrease the financial cost of shooting film.
Woah, big spender. Are you looking to get the photo geek on your list something seriously amazing? Something of heirloom quality that they can keep for the rest of their life? That’s fantastic. Here are some legendary cameras that any photo geek would wet themselves over.
Leica M4. A legend in the camera world, this all-mechanical rangefinder will last generations and take incredible photos.
Rolleiflex. This twin lens reflex camera is as legendary as the Leica, and the ‘Flex has been used by some of the most famous photographers the world has ever known.
Nikon FM3a. This is arguably the perfect camera, and one of the best film cameras ever made. It’s the dream camera of nearly every photographer whose preferred machine is the single lens reflex.
If none of these gift ideas seem to fit, consider a gift card. Our camera shop is offering gift cards to match any budget, and every camera is cleaned, tested, and guaranteed.
And that will do it for this year’s holiday shopping list. Pass it along, and hopefully you’ll get exactly what you’re hoping for this year.
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