Buying a gift for someone who enjoys shooting photos or video can be a tough task especially for those who aren't familiar with the industry. In the following article, I'll share some of the “hottest” pieces of gear in the photography and video industry this 2016 holiday season and provide general suggestions for those who need to buy a photo/video-related gift this Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa or another celebrated holiday.
The list is in descending order by price, and I’ve included the current sales price (as of the time this guide was written) of each item next to the product name. For those interested in purchasing, I’d recommend clicking through to the product page to see the current pricing as it may fluctuate over time and doing this will ensure the most accurate pricing. Note: New photo/video-related products may be added or removed as the holidays approach so check back often for more gift ideas.
Sony a7RII – $3,198 (Amazon)
The best high-end mirrorless camera body on the market, the a7RII offers excellent stills performance thanks to its 42-megapixel sensor which not only offers plenty of resolution for cropping in post, but its back-illuminated sensor makes for low noise even at high ISOs. It can shoot 4K UHD like the a7SII, but not as well and requires the sensor for the best video performance.
Sony a7SII – $2,998 (Amazon)
The a7SII is arguably the best mirrorless camera for video with incredible sensor performance (full-frame) when shooting in low-light, it can practically see in the dark. Add in the support for 4K UHD and slow motion shooting at 120fps at 1080P, it is tough to beat in this price range.
Canon 80D With 18-135mm Lens – $1,599.95 (Amazon)
The successor to Canon's wildly successful 70D model, the 80D has notable performance improvements with the same stellar Dual-Pixel autofocus support for video shooters. I think the 80D is one of the best entry to mid-ranged DSLR bodies on the market and is packed with enough competitive features to remain relevant for years to come. Popular YouTube vlogger Casey Neistat (who has over 5M subscribers) shoots all his new episodes on an 80D, so that says something.
DJI Ronin-M 3-Axis Gimbal Stabilizer – $1,399 (B&H Photo)
A few years ago, electronic gimbal systems were entering the market at affordable price-points, and these products have been wildly successful. The benefit of an electronic gimbal versus a standard gimbal is that they are easier to use properly as well as easier balance your camera. While there are many gimbals on the market from lots of brands, the Ronin-M is the best in its class and is backed by DJI, who is the most popular drone manufacturer in the world.
Atomos Ninja Flame 7″ 4K Recording Monitor – $1,295 (Amazon)
Atomos is a major player in the high-end field monitor, and recorder market, and their Ninja Flame model is the most affordable in this class. It can record 10-bit 4:2:2 footage ProRes and DNxHR with capable cameras up to 4K UHD by way of an HDMI input. Improvements in this version compared to the original Ninja include a better screen (brighter, 10-bit, HDR support), dual Sony L-Series battery slots and a more robust build quality.
Sony a6300 With 16-50mm Lens – $1,148.95 (Amazon)
When Sony unveiled their a6300, it quickly became regarded as the best entry-level mirrorless camera on the market thanks to its competitive specs and low price point. With a body only price under $1K, the a6300 packs crisp 4K UHD video capabilities and excellent performance when capturing still photos. If you want a solid entry-level camera that is more portable than a conventional DSLR, then the a6300 is going to be hard to beat.
DJI Mavic Pro – $999 (Amazon)
The hottest drone on the market this holiday season is the Mavic Pro by DJI which is a unique take offering a collapsible design that can fold down to the size of a bottle of water. Beyond this, the flying capabilities are more advanced than ever with a longer range, longer battery life, and smarter AI to avoid accidental collisions. At this point in the season, it will be tough to get one through most major retailers in time for Christmas, but estimates expect it to ship in early January.
Sigma 50mm f/1.4 ART Lens – $949 (Amazon)
A good 50mm lens is pretty much a standard to have in a photographer or videographer's gear bag. The 50mm f/1.4 ART lens by Sigma is one of the highest performing lenses we have ever tested and easy on the wallet when compared to the competition. Sigma offers this lens in the following mounts: Canon EF, Nikon F/FX, Sony A-Mount and Sigma SA mount. Those with Sony E-mount cameras can utilize this lens via an adapter.
Devin Graham Signature Glidecam – $799 (Amazon)
While electronic gimbals have been the latest craze in the world of video, the traditional Glidecam is still relevant, and their latest model is designed by YouTube sensation Devin Graham. This model improves upon much of the frustration points with previous generation Glidecam models and is capable of achieving ultra-smooth transitions once you have enough practice to get the technique down.
Canon G7X Mark II – $699 (Amazon)
The G7X Mark II is the successor to the previous generation G7X and improves upon many of its features. For those who follow YouTube vloggers, the G7X and G7X Mark II are among the most popular cameras used thanks to their high performance and portable form-factor since it is truly a “pocket camera.” Beyond its stellar video capabilities (though limited to 1080P), the G7X Mark II can capture exceptional stills for those who like to travel or capture family memories without lugging around a bulky DSLR or mirrorless camera.
Blackmagic Design Video Assist 5-inch Monitor/Recorder – $495 (Amazon)
One of the best entry-level field monitor/recorders, the Video Assist by Blackmagic Design offers a full 1080P display with basic monitoring tools like histogram, focus peaking, and audio levels. For a filmmaker that's on a budget, the Video Assist will be helpful to better judge exposure, focus, and composition.
GoPro Hero 5 Black – $399 (Adorama)
The newest action camera on the market from GoPro, the Hero 5 Black has all the same internal recording capabilities as the Hero 4 Black with a major redesign on the exterior. Included in this is a weatherproof body without the need for an outer case, voice control, and rear touchscreen LCD.
DJI OSMO Mobile Camera Gimbal – $292.87 (Amazon)
Another excellent gimbal solution from DJI, the OSMO Mobile utilizes your existing smartphone's camera to capture footage. Since the newer iPhones and most Android devices shoot 4K or 1080P HD with excellent quality, this approach makes a lot of sense. While the gimbal can provide fluid movement (even in selfie mode), it can be set to capture motion time-lapses and 1-second long exposures without a tripod.
X-Rite i1Display Pro – $224.95 (Amazon)
When editing photos or videos that must be color accurate (usually for print or client work), having your computer monitor properly calibrated is a critical step to consider. The i1Display Pro by X-Rite offers you the ability to test and configure your panel settings to most accurately represent actual color values. When I first used a color calibration tool like this, I was shocked as to how wrong my monitor was interpreting brightness values and color information.
Peak Design Everyday Messenger Bag (13-inch) – $219.95 (Amazon)
One of the best everyday photo bags on the market that is versatile enough to use for as a standard messenger bag (without camera gear). What puts this model ahead is the impressive build quality and appeal matched with the overall execution of its compartments and storage options. The 13-inch model is ideal for most users with plenty of room for smaller mirrorless camera setups and up to a 13″ laptop while the 15-inch model (what I use) is better suited for larger camera bodies/lenses and offers support up to 15-inch laptops.
Pelican 1510 Hard Case – $151.99 (Amazon)
Protecting expensive camera gear especially when traveling is not only stressful but risky as even a small bump or drop can result in irreparable damage if the gear is not stored properly. With the Pelican 1510 hard case, you can store lots of camera equipment safely and securely thanks to its hard shell design that is watertight, crushproof and dust-proof. For those traveling with gear on airplanes, it also fits under the FAA's maximum carry-on size guidelines.
Adobe Elements 15 Suite (Photoshop & Premiere) – $149.95 (Amazon)
Adobe's Elements Suite is geared for the most entry-level crowd with software for both photo and video editing. Both Photoshop Elements 15 and Premiere Elements 15 have modes for someone who has never performed any multimedia editing with guided tutorials as well as an expert mode which offers close to the same experience of their more high-end software found in the Creative Cloud subscription. Unlike the CC membership, this is a one-time fee with no recurring charges necessary.
FancierStudio 300 Watt 3-Piece Lighting Kit – $129.99 (Amazon)
A perfect entry-level lighting kit that can be used for both photo or video in a studio environment. This package includes three individual lighting fixtures that hold six bulbs each and include a softbox and light stand. Don't expect high-quality build materials at this price-point, but they are excellent for the price, and we use these exact ones (coupled with high-end LED panels) from time to time to shoot photos and videos for our product reviews.
Adobe Creative Cloud Photography Plan 12-month Subscription (Lightroom & Photoshop) – $119.99 (Amazon)
Adobe has shifted to a subscription-style business model for their high-end editing software called the Creative Cloud. While the full CC suite subscription costs $50/month, the ‘Photography Plan' includes access to Photoshop CC and Lightroom CC for just $19.99/month. These are the two most commonly used image editing software by professional photographers so access this cheap is a great deal.
Aurora HDR 2017 – $99 (MacPhun)
Marketed as the #1 HDR software for Mac users, Aurora HDR 2017 is a result the collaboration between rockstar photographer, Trey Ratcliff, and the well-known development company, MacPhun. The software is less of a full photo editing suite and more of a focus on HDR (high dynamic range) photography which traditionally works best for real estate or landscape photography. We are in the process of conducting a full review of Aurora HDR 2017, but from my experience using it, it proves to be a top-notch tool for photographers who primarily shoot HDR.
Watson Duo LCD Charger – $79.95 (B&H Photo)
Charging batteries is one of the most annoying things about using digital cameras as many come with basic chargers that provide a poor indication of battery levels and charge slowly with only one battery at a time. I picked up the Watson Duo LCD Charger a few years back, and I swear by it especially for those photographers who utilize a lot of different battery types in their gear bag. With the ability to charge two batteries simultaneously as well as an LCD that clearly states the charge percentage. Better yet, each charger comes with two battery plates (stock plates vary by which model you purchase), but you can buy additional plates and swap them out as needed for only $1.99 each.
X-Rite ColorChecker Passport Photo – $68.99 (Amazon)
A useful tool for photographers looking to capture the most accurate color information. The ColorChecker Passport is a portable chart and software bundle that can analyze and correct known shifts in color or contrast based on your particular camera body and lens combination. You can then save it as a camera profile and activate it in your favorite image editing software Lightroom or Photoshop.
Peak Designs Slide Camera Strap – $59.95 (Amazon)
While most cameras come with a branded strap from the manufacturer, truthfully these straps just aren't all that ideal for extended use. Peak Designs has evolved the traditional camera strap and make it into a customizable and more ergonomic solution with their Slide strap system. It features swappable anchor points that are easy to connect/disconnect from your camera as well the ability resize the length of the strap in seconds.
Aputure Amaran H198C On-Camera LED Light – $59 (B&H Photo)
For someone who often shoots video in dimly lit conditions or at night, an on-camera LED light can make a world of difference in the quality and clarity of your subject. Aputure is a well-known accessory manufacturer who makes all sorts of gear for photographers and videographers that are known for quality without breaking the bank. The H198C offers 198 LEDs that can be dimmed as well as offer the ability to change their color temperature.
1 Year Of Adorama's VIP 360 Membership – $49.99
For someone who shops at Adorama often, their new VIP 360 membership is something to consider as the perks are ideal for frequent customers. Each membership comes with early access to deals, extra entries to monthly giveaways, one year of accidental coverage (including drops and spills) on all products purchased through Adorama as well as free 2-day shipping and 60-day extended returns.
Tony Northrup's ‘How To Create Stunning Digital Photography – $20.23 (Amazon)
A well-known name in the YouTube photography scene, Tony Northrup's book comes with a brief introduction to photography then moves into more sophisticated techniques including posing for portraits, HDR, macro, wedding shooting and high-speed photography. Priced at just over $20, not only do you receive a physical copy to read and reference, but it also includes 12-hours of video training and access to a community of readers through a private Stunning Digital Photography Facebook group.
Ruggard Case (SD/microSD memory cards) – $19.95 (B&H Photo)
A cheap, but worthwhile accessory for keeping memory cards safe and secure. This case made by Ruggard consists of a robust, polycarbonate resin exterior and gentle, molded rubber interior with a snap-on locking system capable of a weather-resistant seal.
Wasabi Third-Party Battery – $14.99+ (Amazon)
Having multiple camera batteries is something all photographers should make sure to invest in. Unfortunately, OEM batteries are often rather costly and just grabbing an additional 2 to 3 spare batteries can sometimes result in hundreds of dollars of added expenses. There are many third-party brands selling batteries on the market, but the Wasabi brand sold on Amazon is one of the most trusted and best alternatives to paying for expensive batteries from native brands like Canon, Nikon, Panasonic or Sony.
LensPen DSLR Cleaning Kit – $14.95 (Amazon)
Keeping a camera lens clean from fingerprints, dust and debris is very important and having the right tools to accomplish this makes it a much easier process. The LenPen DSLR Cleaning Kit is affordable at just $14.95 and includes three different LensPens. One is for cleaning standard photo/video lenses, the second is for cleaning lens filters and lastly one is micro for cleaning small lenses or class elements like a viewfinder or LCD.
The Beginners Guide To Photography, 2nd Edition – $13.28 (Amazon)
The perfect guide for any beginners who are looking to learn how the terms, techniques, and tips to improve their photography skills. Unlike the Tony Northrup book above, this focuses purely on entry-level tactics with a step-by-step approach including helpful checklists to follow when preparing your gear or composing a photo. For someone who knows little to nothing about photography, but wants to change that then this is an ideal resource for speeding up the learning process.
Make it this far into the guide and still not sure what to buy for someone who loves photography or video? Purchase a gift card to a major photo/video retailer and let them put it towards a product that you know they would like.
- Amazon (photo and video retailer)
- B&H Photo (photo and video retailer)
- Adorama (photo and video retailer)
- Borrowlenses (photo and video rental house)
- Best Buy (photo and video retailer)
- Vimeo (video hosting network for professionals)
This concludes up our holiday gift suggestions when shopping for someone interested in photography and video, I hope it has been helpful! If so, we’d appreciate it if you shared this guide with any family or friends who may also benefit.