Black Friday Gift Ideas from Amazon


Some of my Favorite Amazon Gift Ideas for Photographers and Videographers

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- It’s the holiday shopping season and I wanted to take a few minutes to share some gift ideas for the photographer or videographer in your life. There’s a lot of great gear these days and I have some favorites that range from extremely inexpensive to super pricy (but still a bargain). My camera bags are filled with lots of gear that gets used regularly and in this article I’ll share some quick favorites, most of which are on sale for the holidays.I know there are several places to find every gift suggestion I give but so many people use Amazon.com these days I’m including direct links right in the article.

Everything in this gift suggestion article is something I personally own or have tested so I feel extremely confident in making every recommendation I make.

Stocking Stuffers (accessories under $25)

Zeiss Lens Wipes – easily the most awesome gift you can give a photographer/videographer that will be used all the time that won’t break the bank. They’re available for under $15 (for a 200 count package) and I always have a few with me. They’re small and I love knowing I have them handy if needed. 

Oben Table Top tripod -If you travel you NEED a table top tripod. It’s another small accessory that is always with me. If you shoot at night or indoors and want awesome looking shots then you need to keep your camera steady. A full-sized tripod is recommended, but there are lots of places where you can’t bring a big tripod. That’s where a small tripod can be extremely effective. Additionally, they’re super useful when you just don’t want to have the extra weight and size of a big tripod. It’s small enough to stay in your camera bag and totally worth the low price.
Giottos Rocket blower -This is another super useful accessory for the photographer/videographer in your life. If you have a camera that can use different lenses then dust getting inside your camera isn’t just a possibility – it’s an inevitable. That’s where this accessory comes in so handy. With a quick squeeze of the bulb you can make sure there is no dust inside your camera every time you change lenses. This is another small and inexpensive accessory that belongs in every camera bag.
Maglight Mini Pro+ LED Flashlight – If you shoot at night (which I happen to do a LOT) you need to have some form of small flashlight with you. For landscape shooting (you arrive in the dark if you’re shooting sunrises) it’s an absolute necessity. When it’s dark you need a good flashlight to stay safe and for making adjustments to your camera. I have a preference for LED flashlights, lately, because they’re typically smaller and more efficient (a set of batteries usually lasts longer). There are certainly better, more powerful flashlights available, but for under $25 it’s tough to beat a mini maglight.

Secret Santa (accessories between $26 and $100)

My next group of photography/videography gift ideas are a little more money – but not too expensive. For the range of $26-$100 you have a lot of gift giving ability I call the “secret santa” range (meaning you are being given a hard limit on how much you can spend). The accessories in this price range are all super cool and, again, they’re extremely useful. Every item I’m going to recommend in this price range is in my own personal camera bag and I use them all the time. MeFoto Sidekick – My first accessory is for the photographer/videographer who sometimes leaves the big camera at home and uses a smart phone. When the day comes where you are inspired to capture a cool picture and all you have is your smart phone you’ll want to keep it steady (especially when you’re capturing a video). The Mefoto Sidekick is super versatile and it only costs about #35! The Mefoto can rest on it’s own and hold your phone in landscape or portrait orientation and (this is my favorite part) it can fit any Arca/Swiss quick plate commonly found on better tripod heads. I use mine for photography and videography as well as just holding my phone on my desk (it’s awesome for video calls, for example). I love my MeFoto and, if you give one a try, I’m sure you’ll agree. note – I own a blue Sidekick but it comes in several colors to match the color of your tripod. Also, be sure to double check if it will fit your personal phone (it works great with my iPhone 6)
Black Rapid Breath camera straps – This next accessory is a perfect gift for the photographer in your life. The camera strap that comes with your camera is totally uncomfortable and should stay in the box your camera came in. That free camera is designed to let you wear your camera around your neck and they’re typically without any attention paid to basic comfort. A much better solution for carrying your camera is to wear it over your shoulder (across your chest) with the camera resting near your hip. Even with a free strap this is better than the typical “around the neck” way of carrying a camera. If you want to take comfort to the next level you NEED to get a padded camera strap designed to be warn “over the shoulder”. There are a number of great camera straps available but the ones I personally use are made by Black Rapid. I own two (one for larger cameras and one for smaller cameras). Mine are part of a discontinued line called “curve” straps and I love them. The replacement line are now called “breath” straps and they look every bit as comfortable as my older straps. The smaller strap is called the Black Rapid Breath Street and it’s great for comfortably carrying smaller cameras (like a Sony A5000 or A5100 with a kit lens). It costs less than $50 and I love mine.
My second Black Rapid strap larger and includes a cool additional strap to go under your arm. This strap is both more secure from theft and it tends to stay in place much better than the smaller strap. I use mine with my biggest professional cameras as well as my favorite mirrorless cameras (it’s awesome on my A6000 and A6300) and I can’t imagine a full day of carrying a camera without my Black Rapid strap. The larger Black Rapid is called the Breath Sport and it’s a pretty big step up in price. It’s still less than $100 but after owning Black Rapid straps for a long time I know they’re totally worth every penny.
Rode VideoMicro - This next gift suggestion is for video shooters who want to improve their audio. Rode microphones are legendary (I own several) and for basic video use they have an awesome little microphone that is always in my camera bag. The VideoMicro, as the name implies, is tiny but don’t let that fool you. It’s a seriously sweet microphone for well under $100. In the box you’ll find a rycote suspension with a cold shoe mount, a short coiled cable and an extremely effective furry wind protector (both are used on microphones costing considerably more than the VideoMicro costs).
If you shoot a lot of video, and your camera has a microphone input, this little microphone sounds about a billion times better than the little microphones built in to the camera. Seriously – once you use a good microphone you’ll never go back.
Olloclip 5-in-1 – I’ve been a huge fan of Olloclip since I first tried one. Long-story-short an Olloclip accessory lens attaches to your iPhone and it gives you a wide angle option and a super wide fisheye option. With a little wider angle lens on your smart phone you can capture unique images that others just can’t. In the box is a slew of accessories (I love the lanyard for carrying my Olloclip) to make sure your accessory lens is always handy. The Olloclip isn’t cheap, but I think they’re totally worth every penny you pay. Be sure to double check compatibility since Olloclips are made for Apple phones (and they make different accessories for the different models of iPhone).
Aputure Amran AL-H198 – Here’s another gift suggestion for video shooters. The Rode VideoMicro microphone is all about giving you better audio by using something other than the microphone’s built in to the camera. With Video it’s super important to have great light and that means you need a good video light. My personal favorite on-camera video light is made by Aputure and I love mine (I own several). The Aputure Amran Al-H198 is super bright, has lots of power options and the quality of the light is unmatched for what it costs. For well under $100 it’s my favorite run-and-gun video light.

For that Someone Special (Gifts suggestions for $101 – $500)

This next group of gift suggestions is getting pricier so these items require another level of commitment. Before you spend $500 on a gift for someone it’s a good idea to know for sure some of these items are a good fit. Sony DSW-X350 camera – Heres a gift suggestion for a camera that is perfect for anyone looking to move up from a smart phone or just wants a great little camera for those times you don’t want to bring a large interchangeable lens camera along. For well under $300 this is my absolute favorite camera to recommend to people (at the time of writing it’s only $215 on Amazon). This little 18MP camera is perfect for vacations because it has an incredible zoom range, shoots 10 pictures in a second, records HD video, has built in wifi and includes some awesome scene modes (hand held twilight is amazing at helping keep your shots sharp when you don’t have a tripod). It’s small, inexpensive and extremely capable but it does have it’s limitations. You’ll be giving up creative control (there are no real user settings), a viewfinder (I find myself missing this the most) and RAW capture (something pro photographers use all the time). But if you ask me the sacrifices you make are totally worth it since this camera isn’t meant to completely replace a pro camera. The Sony DSW-X350 is a camera I own personally and it’s so small and easy to use that it’s my go to camera whenever I don’t want to bring my big camera along.
Think Tank Shape Shifter 15 V2.0 backpack – Here’s another easy suggestion for me because I love everything Think Tank Photo makes. I use so many of their bags I wonder why they’re not sponsoring me. For me the Think Tank pro belt system is the way to go so I use a the Shape Shifter Naked Shapeshifter 17 (this bag is designed to hold smaller bags inside). But if you’re not using the pro belt system then the Think Tank 15 V2.0 is awesome. The bag has everything a photographer needs in a backpack. It’s comfortable, has lots of storage and, as the name suggests, it can change it’s size depending on what your needs are. This is a killer backpack that I can’t recommend enough. $250 for a camera bag may sound like a lot of money but if you buy the right bag it will actually save you money in the long run.
Sony A5000 mirrorless camera – Here’s another easy recommendation for anyone looking to make the move from a smart phone or point and shoot camera to the next level. For under $400 you can get an incredible camera that has almost everything a pro needs for settings and you can change lenses as your photographic needs grow. The Sony A5000 is a camera with great features like 20MP capture, built in wifi, HD movie recording, RAW file capability and a cool flip up screen. Because it’s so inexpensive you’ll give up some features like a viewfinder and a cold shoe (for your flash, microphone or video light) but it’s a great camera for taking the next step in your photography. I own this camera and I love the small size and how good the picture quality is.
Three Legged Thing Carbon Fiber Tripod – A good tripod is a photography must and if that special someone in your life doesn’t have one this is a perfect tripod. It’s small (under 14″ when folded), light (carbon fiber construction means it only weighs about 3 pounds) and it has an awesome ball head (with an Arca/Swiss compatible flip lock). Normally a carbon fiber travel tripod with a flip lock ball head is expensive (as in over $1000) but the Three Legged Thing gives you professional features at a super reasonable price. $350 may sound like a lot of money, but if you get a good tripod once it’s way cheaper than buying several cheaper ones that just aren’t good enough for your needs.
Sony A6000 – Here’s a camera that is such a bargain right now I had to include it in this group of gift suggestions. The Sony A6000 is an amazing camera that has everything the A5000 has but it adds pro level features like an electronic viewfinder, flash cold shoe, 24MP images and real ergonomics (several buttons and dials to control the camera). Normally this camera sells for about $650 with a kit lens but for the 2017 holiday season you can get them for under $500! It’s available in both black and silver, but I prefer the retro look of the silver model. If you’re going on a once in a lifetime trip and want to make sure you have the best camera you can buy for under $500 than this is the best choice there is.
Aputure Amran HR672C LED Light – Here’s a light I’ve been testing in my studio and I absolutely love everything about it. This is a gift suggestion that is for the person in your life who is making videos and wants to really step up their quality by addressing the lighting. It’s pretty big with 672 LEDs but it’s actually not that big when compared with professional video lights. The “C” version has variable color capability so it offers maximum flexibility. The packaging from Aputure is outstanding with a great case, batteries, a power adapter and even a remote control to let you make changes without going to the back of the light. For under $300 this video light is a real winner and it will definitely help the video maker in your life seriously improve their movies.

Treating Yourself with an Awesome gift (suggestions for over $500)

This is a category that isn’t for typical gift givers. Because of the added cost it’s probably for people looking to treat themselves with an over the top gift. It’s a short list but the items on it are some of the best at what they do. Sony A6500 – Here’s a camera that really does everything in an astounding small size. The Sony A6500 has everything in the A6000 but adds 4K video capability, built in optical stabilization, touch screen control and seriously stepped up image quality (thanks to an improved 24MP sensor). This camera gives you the ultimate step up from other small mirrorless cameras while still being pretty reasonably priced for this kind of camera. Because different photographic needs will require different lens choices I’ll give three recommendations. If you’re looking for the most versatility (good for travel and capturing general video) the A6500 with 16-50mm lens is awesome. Normally this package would cost around $1500 but for the holiday shopping season you can find it for under $1300.
For landscape photographers and travelers looking for super wide angle shots there’s no substitute for the awesome 10mm-18mm Sony lens. It’s always been my favorite and normally the A6500 with the super wide angle lens costs about $2,500. This year the package is on sale for less than $1,950!
If your priority is video then there’s just no substitute for the incredible 18mm-105mm lens. This range gives videographers plenty of capability from wide to zoomed in and does it smoothly with powered zoom. This lens is the perfect video lens without spending several thousand dollars (the incredible Sony PZ 18mm-110mm Cine lens costs about $3,500). Normally this package costs about $2,000 but it’s currently on sale for under $1,750.
Sony A7 II – If you’re looking for the next level in your photography but haven’t used a large sensor camera then the Sony A7 series of cameras is a great first step. The sensors are bigger than what the A6000 or A6500 has so you’ll get much better performance – especially for portraits. The A7 II is an incredible camera with 4K video, built in stabilization and lots of professional features that are hard to beat in this price range. The awesome A7 II with a good lens normally costs about $1,800 but it’s currently on sale for under $1,500!
Nikon D850 – Here’s a serious camera for serious photographers. As much as I love my Sony mirrorless cameras there’s a pretty substantial step up when you move into the Nikon line of cameras and lenses. This isn’t a slam on Sony, it’s just me acknowledging how good the gear Nikon makes is. The latest full-frame masterpiece from Nikon is their glorious D850 SLR camera. It has stunning resolution (over 45MP), 4K video, 8K time lapse capability and just about everything else a serious photographer demands. It’s still super new so it may be hard to find (and won’t be on sale) but if you’re a Nikon shooter looking for an upgrade this camera is incredible.

Wrapping up

I think this is a great place to end my first Amazon gift suggestion article. With gift ideas from under $15 all the way up to several thousand dollars I’m sure there’s something for everyone.

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