Best Gifts for Photographers of 2020
While the Anker PowerCore 20100 mAh power bank might not be the first thing you think of when you imagine buying a gift for a photographer, it is actually the most overall useful product our reviewers came across, and its appeal can't be denied. With a large capacity of 20100 mAh, this slim and portable power bank is there when you need it most to recharge your camera when your last battery reaches critical levels. There is nothing worse than being out shooting photos only to find that your battery is low, but with the Anker PowerCore in your camera bag, you'll never have to worry again.
At an extremely reasonable price point, we are hard-pressed to find anything we don't like about this power bank besides its slightly heavy weight. But its solidity attests to its durability, and it can charge our iPhones up to 7 times and is compatible with any device that charges via a USB port. And since our reviewers use a Sony mirrorless camera system which eats up battery life, we'll never leave home without the Anker again. If there were one gift our photographers would want most out of our lineup, this is the one.
The Indie Camera Lens Mug is a fantastic gift choice for any photographer. It's an inexpensive gift for photographers with a great unique idea behind it — making a perfect replica of a Canon lens into a food-safe, stainless steel travel coffee mug. It is sure to get a chuckle from any photographer who opens it up, is fun and unique while also being practical, and is sure to be a conversation-starter wherever it goes.
The mug is advertised to hold 13.44 ounces of liquid, but our gear testers found it could only really hold 8 to 10 ounces. This misinformation was a bit disappointing, as well as the fact that it is not dishwasher safe. But despite these downsides, this inexpensive novelty gift is great for any photographer.
The Peak Design Everyday Sling 3L is an adjustable camera bag designed to carry a camera with one to two lenses with a handy internal divider and small pockets for accessories. Our testers were able to fit their large mirrorless camera with one lens already attached, and two small prime lenses into the nicely padded interior with ease. With a capacity of 3 liters, this sling makes a great everyday carrying case. You can also purchase their larger model, which at 6 liters makes for a more serious bag. Its sling is designed to be carried as a cross-shoulder bag but can also be adjusted to be worn around the hips. Two external carry straps allow handy accessories like a tripod to be attached to the outside. Peak Design is a desirable brand for any photographer, as they are known to make high-quality camera accessories, and this attractive sling is sure to make the photographer in your life very happy.
Peak Design products come at a high cost, and the Everyday Sling is no different. But this valuable item is practical and attractive with a lifetime guarantee and is sure to be loved by intermediate and pro photographers alike.
The Xenvo Pro Lens Kit clip-on wide-angle and macro lens for your smartphone is a versatile and high-quality product, making a great gift for the person in your life who wants to up their Instagram game. With two lenses in one, a wide-angle and macro, you simply attach a clip, fix it in front of your smartphone's camera lens, and instantly shoot more dynamic, high-quality photos. The wide-angle lens captures 45% more with every photo, making it great for landscapes, travel photography, interior photography, and selfies where you want to capture the great view behind you too. The macro lens performs remarkably well, capturing close-up images with great sharpness and detail with impressive bokeh (blurred background) to boot. Because the lenses screw together, you'll never forget one at home, and the convenient lanyard and carrying case keep all the accessories in a convenient package. With a clip-on LED light for better photos without harsh flash and a microfiber cloth for keeping your lenses clean, this gift is an incredible value for the price.
While there are so many pros to this phone accessory, there are also some cons worth noting. The lens attachment is quite large, and while the clip fits securely, especially over our tester's thin rubber case, it is not something you would want to keep on your phone. However, the makers seem to have thought of this with the included lanyard making it easy enough to take the lens clip on and off for when you'd like to shoot. It is also noticeably hard to focus with the macro lens, and it takes a little trial and error to get what you want in focus by moving the camera closer and further away from your subject. The biggest con with this lens accessory is that it is not compatible with smartphones with more than two camera lenses, such as the latest iPhone models. Maybe the manufacturer will update this in the future, but make sure you know what kind of phone your gift receiver has before purchasing.
The Manfrotto PIXI Mini is a sleek and stylish Italian-designed tripod, small enough to tuck away in your bag without adding much extra weight. It is a useful tool for photographers and videographers alike. With simple legs that fold out and have rubberized bottoms, this compact tripod keeps your camera stable on any flat surface, allowing you to get great still shots or video footage. The legs also fold up to create an ergonomic grip for smoother video shooting, a feature our gear testers appreciated.
The biggest downside to this mini tripod is that it can only handle a max payload of 2.2 pounds and is, therefore, a better gift for photographers who have more compact cameras. Our larger, full-frame Sony A7rii with a large 16-35mm lens weighed down the little tripod too much, threatening to tip forward. But our compact Sony A6000 with its kit lens was the perfect fit. Being compact, it also has no height adjustment. But its small size and light weight make it the perfect sleek accessory to throw into your camera bag to be there when you need it.
At some point or another, anyone growing more serious about photography is going to need something like a LensPen NLP-1. Essentially a glass cleaning device, this handy little pen comes with a carbon-infused cleaning tip to effectively absorb oil and smudges. On the other side, it features a retractable brush for cleaning off dust and other light debris. It is paramount to keep your camera lenses squeaky clean to ensure the best image quality possible, and the LensPen is the tool for the job.
Our reviewers could not find any real downsides to this practical, low-cost gift, other than it might not be the most exciting gift to receive. A good idea would be to pair it with another accessory to make the photographer in your life very happy.
If you're looking for a gift to help inspire creativity, look no further than "Use This if You Want to Take Great Photographs: A Photo Journal". Every artist gets a creative block now and then, and this book uses unique prompts as well as inspiration from great photographers to get the juices flowing again. The book encourages you to print out your photos and paste them directly to the pages so you can create a personal photo book to look back on. The author breaks down famous photographs by great artists and helps the reader understand how composition, lighting, color, or lack thereof, can tell a story.
This is a great gift for photographers who are at a beginner or intermediate level and are looking to learn more about what makes a great photograph and who could use a little inspiration to help them take great photos of their own. It wouldn't be our top choice for a gift for a more seasoned photographer who likely already knows their own photographic style and what inspires them. But if you know someone who has recently picked up a camera and needs some direction, this is an excellent gift choice to help them get inspired.
The Matador Camera Base Layer is an innovative, lightweight cover that is basically a puffy jacket for your camera. Very simple in design, you simply pull the synthetic down cover over your camera and roll and clip the buckle shut. There's space for your camera straps so that you can carry your camera around your neck. There is even a waterproof rainfly attachment that will also help keep your camera protected from the elements.
This base layer is not designed to be a camera case, however, and has no extra pockets for batteries or other accessories. It can only fit a camera with one lens and has no straps itself. Our reviewers were disappointed that the opening for the straps is so large that the sides of our camera are actually exposed and left unprotected. It is also awkward and difficult to put this case on unless your camera is hanging from around your neck. Its simplicity is beneficial for hobbyists who know they don't need any extra gear for the day but would like the assurance of a little extra protection that is stylish and functional. This base layer is also a little on the pricey side but can be a thoughtful gift for the design-conscious hobby photographer.
The Ilford XP2 disposable camera is a fun gift for any photographer. In a world of glossy, colorful digital photos, the black and white film camera is an ode to photography's historical past and is sure to be enjoyed by any photographer. Having a single-use camera that only shoots black and white encourages you to think out of the box of rapid-fire digital photography and get creative. This is a great gift for events or parties and ensures you have fun, tangible photo memories when you get them developed.
Being single-use means that its practicality and versatility are low, but this gift makes up for it with its uniqueness. There is no way to adjust settings for better exposure, and this camera seems to work better in the bright light of the outdoors and produces flatter, less punchy images if shot in the low light of the indoors. Besides these factors, this inexpensive gift is fun and quirky and will inspire creativity in anyone who uses it.
Why You Should Trust Us
Miya Tsudome, the main reviewer on this project, is a professional photographer who has been taking photos for over a decade. They say that the best gift you can give is one you'd like to receive yourself, and Miya made sure that this review covered gifts that actual photographers like herself would love to receive. Miya knows what it's like to be a hobby photographer to a more serious professional, and the gifts in this review are sure to reflect this spectrum, ensuring you'll find something great for the photographer in your life.
We spent over a week with these gifts, using them with our own camera gear, testing them with everything from small point-and-shoot cameras to large, mirrorless ones, and making sure that they each were worthy enough to be given away for birthdays and holidays with a range of prices to fit your individual budget.
Analysis and Test Results
Finding the perfect gift for someone can be challenging. And because there are so many types of photographers these days, from film to phone to digital, there are hundreds of gifts to choose from. The photographers who crafted this review made sure to include various gifts for the amateur, hobbyist, or professional photographer in your life.
Each gift was rated according to a series of metrics designed to help you choose the best gift for your needs. Practicality, fun, versatility, and value were all considered in each review. Below you will find in-depth descriptions of each metric, and which products come out on top in each category. We hope that this will help you narrow down the best gift for your photographer.
It's nice to give a gift that you know someone will use, and if we know one thing about most photographers is that they love practical gifts that will help their craft. While some of the products in our line up are just for fun, some of them will help enhance a photographer's life. We measured each gift's practicality by determining how invaluable each product could become in the hands of a photographer and judging how useful they each were in everyday life.
The Anker PowerCore power bank tops the list in practicality. With 20100 mAh of power capacity, it can recharge any mirrorless or DSLR camera in those desperate moments when you forgot to charge your batteries beforehand. Photographers tend to rely on many electronic devices, and this power bank can recharge most small devices like your phone (up to 7 times), iPad, or anything else that has a USB to micro USB connection. When asked which gift our testers would most like to receive, this one came out on top for its sheer usefulness.
Among our other top-rated useful gifts is the LensPen NLP-1 and the Peak Design Everyday Sling. Every serious photographer needs an effective cleaning device to keep their expensive lenses in mint shape. The LensPen is a great stocking stuffer or small gift that will be sure to be received gratefully. The Peak Design Everyday Sling can be used just as advertised — for everyday use when you only need a lens or two in a stylish and convenient design with interior pockets for accessories and the ability to wear it as a sling or around your hips.
The Indie Camera Lens Mug is practical in its own way, being a fun and functional travel mug for warm beverages, but it is not a gift that will technically help a photographer with their craft. The Ilford disposable camera and the "Use This if you want to Take Great Photographs" book are gifts that go in the "creative inspiration" category rather than the practical one. Lastly, our reviewers were disappointed in the Matador Camera Base Layer, hoping that it would be a great, lightweight, practical camera cover but found it more difficult to use than expected and did not appreciate that it exposed the sides of our expensive camera to potential nicks and dings.
"Fun" is a relative metric, but we thought we'd include it in our analysis because some gifts should be just that: fun. And while it's nice to receive a practical gift, it's also nice to receive something unexpected and unique.
The Indie Camera Lens Mug takes the cake in this category and is certain to bring a smile to any photographer's face. It is an extremely convincing replica of a real Canon camera lens, complete with moving focus switches on the side. Everyone needs a new travel coffee mug from time to time, and this gift will be a conversation starter everywhere it goes.
Also high on the fun list is the Ilford black and white disposable camera. Some will have forgotten what it is like to take a photo and not see it instantly, and this retro find will inspire creativity and create keepsakes. The crafty, "Use This if you Want to Take Great Photographs" is also a unique gift, with its interesting prompts to boost creativity.
What is fun is sometimes not the most practical, and this metric category is basically the opposite of our "practical" one above. The Anker PowerCore is a highly useful battery recharging block, but won't have your gift receiver laughing with surprised delight. The LensPen is low down on the fun list, as it would be hard to describe a lens cleaning pen as anything more than practical.
We measured each gift's versatility by seeing how many uses they provided and whether or not they were a good gift for any photographer — no matter what type of equipment they already have.
The Anker PowerCore again tops the charts being not only a very practical gift but also a very versatile one. Because it can charge multiple devices and has such a large power capacity, this invaluable tool will meet any photographer's needs. The LensPen is another practical yet versatile tool, because it will clean the lens on any camera, film or digital or otherwise (as long as it's glass).
While the quirky gifts of the Ilford disposable camera and the "Use This if you Want to Take Great Photographs" book might not strike you as versatile at first, because they are creative inspiration tools, they can be given to any photographer and help inspire a little out-of-the-box thinking. Our reviewers were very impressed by the quality of the Xenvo smartphone camera lenses. They found this gift to be very versatile as it can fit over most smartphones with up to two camera lenses with an easy clip. Since many smartphones are coming out with more and more built-in camera lenses themselves, we could hope to see an update with this product to reflect this change.
While we would hope that the Manfrotto PIXI Mini tripod would be more versatile since it is a mini tripod, it cannot bear the weight of larger, professional cameras very well and is more so suited for smaller point-and-shoots. That being said, it is a versatile tool for photographers and videographers alike, with its ergonomic handle for smooth video footage and small travel size that will fit easily into most everyday bags. The Indie Camera Lens Mug and Matador Camera Base Layer were a little lower on our versatility list, with the camera case having no strap of its own, no pockets for accessories, and holding only one camera with one lens at a time. The camera lens mug simply being a fun travel coffee mug and little more (we guess you could use it as a pencil-holder if you wanted to, though).
It's nice to know that when you buy a gift for someone, that you get something that has a high value for money spent. In this analysis, we break down which gifts have a high value to price ratio.
The Xenvo smartphone camera lens kit is a complete package including a wide-angle lens, a macro lens, a mini clip-on LED light, a lanyard, and microfiber cloth, all in a convenient carrying case. Our testers were impressed by the quality of the lenses that both create beautiful, sharp imagery with no vignetting or distortion from the wide-angle, and creamy bokeh and great detail from the macro. The clip-on LED light has three brightness settings that allow you to light up your subject without the jarring flash of your smartphone's built-in camera. This complete package is an incredible bang for your buck, and if you know someone who uses their phone camera a lot, this gift will be sure to get anyone excited.
The Anker PowerCore again proves it's the best in the bunch because of its sheer usefulness and versatility making it such a good value gift. The LensPen is another one that can't be beaten because it is such a practical tool that can be bought for such an affordable price and will be appreciated by any serious photographer.
The Matador Camera Base Layer falls short yet again, and this time is too expensive for what it delivers. For a very basic, synthetic down layer that pulls over a camera and does not have its own carrying strap, we would expect a lower price point. And while it does have a stowed rain cover, which can be very useful, this layer does not make up for the fact that this base layer is just subpar overall.
While gifts for photographers come in all shapes and sizes, we hope you are able to find one in our diverse round-up of some of the top gifts on the market in 2020. From camera bags to lens cleaners, there are many things to choose from out there, and after our thorough review of each product, we can guarantee that the photographer in your life is bound to be pleased with their thoughtful gift.
— Miya Tsudome