We’re living in an age where there are all sorts of great gadgets for photographers out there, and these days you don’t have to spend a small fortune to get an accessory with really useful functionality, or even a quality budget lens.
While you won’t be getting any decent full-frame bodies for £100, you would be surprised what photography gear you can get for the price of a cheap suit. And the items on this list will probably last you a bit longer than your H&M special, as well!
Best Christmas gifts for photographers: 01 A budget prime lens
If you have only ever used zoom lenses, a 50mm prime lens, or ‘nifty fifty’, is a valuable addition to your lens arsenal for not much extra cost.
Even a budget model, such as the Canon EF 50 mm f/1.8 II, offers a fixed wide aperture, which lets the light flood in, and offers decent optical quality.
As well as coming in handy in low light, it’s great for getting nice background blur in portraits while keeping the subject sharp.
There is also a school of thought that your photography will improve as a result of using a nifty fifty, as you are forced to get closer to your subject.
“If your photographs aren’t good enough, you’re not close enough” said Robert Capa.
Best Christmas gifts for photographers: 02 Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 6
Yes, the better deal in the long run is probably to subscribe to Adobe’s Photography Plan for less than a tenner a month (£8.99) and get access to all of Adobe’s regular updates, as well as Photoshop CC in addition to Lightroom. But that’s just our opinion.
Many people still prefer the one-off payment for a one-off boxed version of the software and, frankly, if you’re buying a gift for someone, a one-time payment is probably more appealing than handing over your payment details for an ongoing subscription.
And for just under £100, Lightroom is perhaps the best thing on this list you can buy for the photographer in your life.
Adobe Lightroom helps you organise and edit your sprawling photo collection, while offering raw-editing tools that enable you to process a large number of raw files in the shortest possible time.
While a lot of the tools echo those in Adobe Camera Raw, it feels much more unified and coherent, and recent features like the Radial Gradient and Advanced Healing Brush make raw editing a joy.
There is also functionality to make photo books from your images, as well as video slide shows and more. If you or the photographer in your life is struggling with a post-processing workflow, Lightroom is the answer.
Best Christmas gifts for photographers: 03 MeFOTO BackPacker Air Travel Tripod With Bluetooth Selfie Stick
OK, so this is ever-so-slightly over our stated budget of £100, but for the mere £9 difference it’s ever so worth it. There are a lot of tripods out there. There are a lot of great tripods out there. But the fact is, there’s only so much you can do design-wise with a tripod.
Yet MeFOTO has managed to take the design concept of a tripod and turn it on its head, offering an innovative design that is truly compact and lightweight, and fast and easy to set up.
Extending to a maximum height of 151cm and capable of supporting up to 4kg, the BackPacker’s 5-section HyperLock design allows the user to set-up and break-down the tripod by simply turning the rubber foot in one direction to extend the leg and in the opposite direction to lock it at the desired length.
This design also helps to reduce the tripod’s overall weight down to a very portable 900g.
SEE MORE: How to set up a MeFOTO Air tripod
Best Christmas gifts for photographers: 04 XCSOURCE Q-666C Professional Photography Carbon Tripod Monopod Kit & Ball Head
Now that you can get a decent carbon fibre travel tripod for under £100, it seems crazy not to replace your old, heavy aluminium one. I’ve just done it, and couldn’t be happier!
Now, let’s be clear: you won’t get one of the name brand Manfotto or 3 Legged Thing carbon fibre tripods at this price, but there are still a range of options available.
Some at the lower end, like the Amazon Basics range, are indeed quite flimsy, but at this time of year you can often find sturdier versions from a higher price point that drop down to this budget range in the seasonal discounts.
This XSOURCE model normally sells for £179 and gets 4.5 out of 5 star reviews from more than 170 users, and can be currently purchased for just under our budget limit.
And if that’s not good enough, the tripod’s centre column also converts to a monopod and it comes with a ball head.
Best Christmas gifts for photographers: 05 Lee Big Stopper (or similar)
While you can easily blow your £100 on so-so filters that won’t make much real difference to your images, the Lee Big Stopper will have a radical effect. The Big Stopper is the king of all filters, in our opinion, and will make an immediate impact to your images.
Basically it’s long-exposure filter that will reduce the amount of light entering your lens by 10 f/stops. Ten! Since you are greatly prolonging exposure times, anything moving in your image will become blurred – clouds, waterfalls, the sea and so on.
You can get some cool effects with animals, people and traffic too. The Big Stopper fits in the standard Lee 100mm filter holder so it can be used on several different lenses, and also works with neutral density graduated filters. If you want to try a bold new look in your images, this is the filter you need.