There are a lot of practical and inexpensive gifts for photographers. Here is a nice list in order of approximate cost from $4 to $80. All of these items can be found at my photography store (powered by Amazon.com with Amazon’s terrific ordering, shipping, guarantee, and service).
$4 – Portable Camera Pod
This 5 inch bean bag is what you need for those occasions when you can’t or don’t want to use a tripod. Ideal for small cameras or a DSLR with a normal size lens. For a DSLR with a longer lens, get the Pillow Pod (below).
$6 – LensPen
A great little “toss in your camera bag” lens cleaning system. Use it on camera lenses, binoculars, spotting scopes, and other optical devices.
$7 – $17 – Stofen or Opteka Flash Diffuser
The simplest, least expensive way to soften the light from your accessory flash. Just slide one of these diffusers over your flash.
$9 – Pillow Pod Bean Bag
This 6×8 inch bean bag is what you need for those occasions when you can’t or don’t want to use a tripod. Ideal for DSLR with a normal to longer size lens.
$9 – Giottos Rocket Air Blaster
A must-have to go in every camera bag. Blow dust and grit off of the outside or your camera, and most important, a safe way to blow dust out of the inside of the camera. NEVER use compressed air to clean out the mirror box of your camera.
$10 – $13 – Wall Calendars
You can’t have too many beautiful and inspirational calendars around your home and work place! Chosen from dozens of wall calendars here, including the wonderful “Wild and Scenic” series for most of the states.
$10 – $15 – Gray, White, and Black Cards
You can use these cards for metering, to create a histogram, and set the white balance on your digital camera.
$10 – $40 – Photography Books
Choose from a selection of the best photography books in several categories at my photography store.
$15 – Black Cat Exposure Guide
This guide is just what you need for those occasions when the situation is too difficult for your camera to meter reliably. If it also a backup should your meter decide to quit working. It lists a whole series of scenes (like a moonlit landscape or lightning) and the dials give you a range of aperture and shutter speed combinations for that scene. It is simple and effective to use in all kinds of tricky lighting situations.
$15 – $17 – 18% Gray Cards
A gray card can help you come up with a more accurate exposures, teach you subject tonality differences, and you can use it to set the white balance of your camera. In short, it can help you be a better photographer. Read more in the exposure articles at JimDoty.com.
$16 – $71 – Joby Gorillapods
Gorillapods are very handy when you want a small, ultra flexible tripod. Screw the 1/4 x 20 thread of this model into the bottom of your camera (or add a small tripod head, see below) and you are ready to go. Gorillapods come in several sizes.
$31 – $69 – Joby Ballheads
A small ballhead for a Joby Gorillapod. They come in two sizes.
$20 – Opteka 5-in-1 Reflectors
Control the light with this all-in-one set of reflectors. Use the white, silver, and gold reflectors to bounce light back onto your subject. Use the translucent disc to soften sunlight. Hold back some of the light with the black disc.
$20 – White Umbrella (43 Inch)
If you have a tripod, an umbrella is one of the best ways to soften the light from your accessory flash unit. You will need an adapter to mount your umbrella and flash to your tripod (see the next item) and an optical slave to fire your off camera flash (see below).
$20 – Umbrella Adapter
This handy adapter will attach your flash and umbrella to your tripod (with the included adapter) or a light stand.
$20 – My Photography Book
Want to be a better photographer? Would you like to create images that stand out from the crowd? This is my own book on photographic exposure. After covering the scientific and artistic sides of exposures, there are suggestions to get you started in people, landscape, wildlife, flower, sports, closeup, and low light photography. This is a highly rated and recommended book by reviewers at Amazon.com. You can buy it here.
$25 – Ezybalance Card
This functions just like a gray card except it is made of fabric and collapsible. It can help you come up with a more accurate exposures, teach you subject tonality differences, and you can use it to set the white balance of your camera. In short, it can help you be a better photographer. Read more in the exposure articles at JimDoty.com and in my book (above).
$30 – iStabilizer
This is a great combination mini-tripod and smart phone holder and it works with any smart phone and any case.
$33 – Pinhole Body Cap Lens
Pinhole photography without buying a pinhole camera. Just put this pinhole body cap on your camera and have fun.
$35 – Optical Slave
This handy optical slave will fire an off-camera accessory flash when it sees the light from another flash (like the one on your camera). The accessory flash must be used in manual mode. You can use this accessory with a white umbrella and an umbrella adapter (see above).
$35 – Double Bubble Level
Keep your camera straight with a double bubble level, the simplest way to avoid off kilter horizons. More info here.
$35 – $40 – Rogue Flash Bender
Attach this to your accessory flash and use it open to soften the light, or roll it into a snoot to shoot a narrow beam of light at your subject. The attachment strap is included.
$40 – Honl Speed Snoot/Reflector ($30) and Speed Strap ($10)
Soften the light from your flash with a Honl Snoot/Reflector. When used open (as in the photo above), it softens the light. Fold it into a snoot and it shoots a narrow beam of light. It comes in gold to warm the light and in silver for neutral light. Attach it to your flash with a Honl Speed Strap (sold separately).
$50 – Remote Timer
Self timer, long exposure timer, interval timer, and it can be programmed as an intervalometer. Set the self timer for an an extended delay before the shutter fires. Take a series of photos at set intervals of time without having to attend to the camera. This goodie can do a lot for half the price of the typical camera brand timers.
$50 – Photogenic 5-in-1 Reflectors
Control the light with this all-in-one set of reflectors. Use the white, silver, and gold reflectors to bounce light back onto your subject. Use the translucent disc to soften sunlight. Hold back some of the light with the black disc. This is a great, high quality set.
$53 – Canon LIDE 110 Photo Scanner
One of the best photo scanners in it’s price range, and it runs off the USB port of your computer. This is a great deal.
$70 – Color Checker
This is a standard reference for checking color on your digital camera (or the color accuracy of your favorite films). If your camera has several color modes, you can use this chart to see how each mode handles the standard reference colors. Using the information in my book, Digital Photography Exposure for Dummies, you can use this chart to test the color exposure latitude of your digital sensor for over and under exposure.
$70 – Honl Softbox
A mini-softbox for your shoe mounted flash unit. This is a handy way t0o softern the light from you shoe mounted flash unit. Just attach it to your flash with the included Honl Speed Strap.
$80 – Digital Calibration Target
A calibration target can do anything a gray card can do (see the gray card listings prior to this item) and a whole lot more. You can use a calibration target with you digital camera and check the histogram for an ideal exposure that doesn’t burn out the highlights. You can even use a calibration target to set the exposure and white balance for studio lights if you don’t have an incident light meter. Calibration targets come in a variety of sizes and brands.
Don’t miss my series of articles about the best camera equipment, books, software, and online photo labs.