Gifts for photos and videos are a great option for anyone who sees their iPhone first as a camera and then as a phone. Many options are equally useful for those who also shoot with a mirrorless camera or DSLR camera.
Here are some gift ideas at all levels of the budget, from stuffing socks to the main gift…
A tripod is the first accessory that every photographer or videographer should buy. It may not be the most exciting stabilization tool available, but it is the most useful. For all the fun and exciting camera gestures we might want to use, you just need to watch any movie or TV show to see how much of it was on the tripod.
Manfrotto Pixi with iPhone holder (39 USD)
For the iPhone, small size and portability are key. The whole point of the iPhone is that it’s the camera you always have with you, so a tripod that is small and light enough to carry relaxed is ideal. This is the one I carry with me. In addition to being suitable for use on any flat surface, it also provides a more stable and comfortable way to record video from your hand, although I recommend holding it with two hands rather than once.
Manfrotto Travel Befree with video head (219 USD / 359 USD)
If you want to buy a full-size tripod instead, Manfrotto Travel Befree is a great option, combining portability with stability and flexibility of use. Different models are available, and if it is for video use, be sure to get one with a video head, as this is needed for smooth scrolling and tilting. The aluminum model is cheaper, while the carbon fiber model is much lighter. You can add a special holder for the iPhone if needed – but you can pay a little more and get a Pixi, upstairs, because this one comes with a quality holder for only about $ 13 more than the holder itself.
The gimbal is quite necessary for video these days, allowing the flexibility of shooting from the hand, but without shaking. Cardans have also become astonishingly affordable in recent years.
Zhiyun Smooth X (30-40 USD)
This was an incredible value when it first came out at almost twice the price, and now it’s absolutely cheap! It is a 2-axis cardan shaft, not a 3-axis one, so there is no vertical stabilization. Anyway, if you are looking for a gift at this price, and the recipient no longer has a compact cardan shaft, this is a winner, with a built-in selfie stick, pocket size and an unbeatable price.
DJI OM 5 ($ 140)
This is the gold standard for gimbals for smartphones. Stabilization with 3 axes, magnetic connector, selfie stick and active tracking (tracking a person, for selfie videos), is still decently compact, and the performance is excellent. The older OM 4 is still worth considering for extended use, as it has a better battery that offers 15 hours of battery life – but is significantly longer.
The slider is a really useful and flexible video recording tool. Introducing slow and smooth movement along one axis in the shot can be a great way to add visual interest without distraction.
Newer slider (55 USD)
Neewer is a brand that offers equipment of decent quality at affordable prices. It offers a number of sliders, and for my money, the 19.7-inch carbon fiber handheld model is the best point. It has a good length and is light enough to carry outside, as well as for studio use. That’s only $ 10 more than a shorter aluminum one that weighs the same.
Moza Slypod Pro motorized slider (589 USD)
At the other end of the enthusiast budget level is the Moza Slypod Pro. It is expensive, but this is a super flexible device that can be used vertically, horizontally or at any angle (a tripod is needed). It can also be used to stamp / draw doll-style shots without the risk of sliders ending up in the shot. See my full review. The company also offers some simpler and cheaper options.
One thing you can guarantee: as soon as someone starts shooting video, they will need a lot of storage space! There are a number of things you can consider as gifts here, from a flash drive for instant backup and storage to complete online storage options.
SanDisk 256GB iXpand flash drive (70-80 USD)
Perfect on-the-go storage for iPhone photographers, it has a Lightning port on one end and a USB-C on the other. Transferring recordings from iPhone to Mac couldn’t be easier, and it also provides a great backup / extra storage option while you’re on your mobile phone. See our complete review.
SanDisk 1TB Portable SSD (140 USD)
You can never have fast enough external memory, and this SanDisk SSD is a great place to start. There are, of course, larger ones available as well, but they are at more attractive prices (2TB and 4TB).
LaCie d2 Professional 10TB external hard drive (320 USD)
When it comes to long-term storage, SSDs are fast becoming insanely expensive, so most of us still rely on swivel metal drives for desktop storage. The good news is that really high capacity drives are now very affordable, and 10TB seems to be the best spot right now. These LaCie Pro drives offer good speed and reliability, combined with a sleek look.
Synology NAS (210 USD to 300 USD +)
A large hard drive is a simple solution, but they cannot be upgraded and are only available locally. A more flexible storage option is the NAS system: networked connected storage. You can then access the content over the Internet and upgrade the discs over time. A popular (and recommended) two-bay starter option is the Synology DS220j. This comes without drives, so you can add internal 3.5-inch SATA drives of your choice. Step on the DS420j you get four bearings for about $ 100 more, and above that, the sky is the limit. Note that you will need to power the discs themselves. A good starting point would be Seagate IronWolf Pro 4TB drives for about $ 140 apiece.
While most photo reviews these days can be done on phones, tablets, and laptops, there’s still room for prints – whether it’s the current ones for fun or serious for gallery-quality prints.
Kodak Dock Plus 4 × 6 ”Portable Instant Photo Printer (140 USD)
Polaroid instant cameras were a hit in their time, and the modern equivalent are mini photo printers designed to create fast prints from a smartphone. There’s a whole bunch of 2 × 3 inches, mostly ranging from $ 50 to $ 100, but if you have a budget, it’s worth switching to 4 × 6 inches to get something more than a sticker or a novelty.
Epson Expression Photo XP-8600 (300-400 USD)
This is a very popular and highly regarded mid-range photo printer, which combines decent quality and affordable labor costs, for sizes ranging from 6 × 4 inches to 11 × 8.5 inches. Although primarily intended for photography, it is affordable enough to be used for occasional general color and black-and-white printing, and has USB and wireless connectivity.
Canon imagePROGRAF PRO-300 (900 USD)
The Pro-300 is close to a thousand dollars, but if you want to spend it on a generous gift for someone who appreciates photo prints, this is undoubtedly the best printer for enthusiasts. It uses pigment, not color-based inks, and produces stunning matte prints thanks to a special matte black ink. It is equally good for mono prints, with real black and gray colors. It can print any size up to A3 or 13 × 19 inches.
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