Trying to pick the best gift for photographers can often feel like a daunting task to an outsider. After all, photographers can be extremely particular about the gear they use, so the pressure to not get it wrong is on. I’ve been writing about photography and technology for the past 20 years, and have come up with a selection of tools that will help photographers of varying skillsets up their pictorial game.
I’ve focused on the latest innovations that provide practicality, convenience and moreover speed, streamlining the creative process and workflow. Gadgets and gizmos for photographers invariably come in many shapes and sizes, and various price points, so I’ve gone for a ‘something for everyone’ approach here. Whether your photographer pal in need of an accessory for their best DSLR camera, or even their latest GoPro, we’ve got something in this guide for them.
Dissatisfied with a credit card-sized print from instant cameras? This portable clutch bag sized Fuji printer – there’s no camera with it this time, so you’ll need your own smartphone or dedicated camera to actually supply the pictures – allows for wider format postcard-sized prints. It follows on from the same manufacturer’s Instax mini Link printer from pre-pandemic times. The new model works in conjunction with a free Instax Link WIDE App, which is required to access its full functionality, with our smartphone connecting with the printer via Bluetooth.
It is also compatible with Fuji’s standalone X-S10 mirrorless camera. Promising 100 prints per battery charge, it supports continuous printing, so we don’t need to laboriously send through one image to print at a time. The device comes in a choice of two snazzy colours too: Ash White and Mocha Gray. If you can’t afford to gift this printer itself, then packs of 10 prints are around a tenner.
The ideal tripod needs to not only be practical, lightweight, versatile and – of course, strong and stable – if we’re looking to take it out and about with us, it should also fold down to conveniently compact proportions. Ticking all of those boxes is the RoadTrip Pro tripod, which also happens to be one of the most stylish travel tripod examples we’ve seen in ages, particularly in its ‘Pacific Blue’ choice of livery, shown here.
Its versatility extends to the fact that this is, uniquely, a ‘six in one’ device. It can be used as a regular tripod, or instead quickly converted to a single column monopod, selfie stick, ground-level or tabletop tripod, plus a full height stand. Phew! As well as being suitable for mounting cameras, it’s also smartphone compatible and features a top plate that allows photographers to deftly switch from using their camera to using their phone, or vice versa. We get a choice of carbon fibre construction at 1.37Kg, or a marginally more affordable aluminium version at 1.64Kg. The maximum payload capacity is 8Kg, making this jack-of-all-trades tripod suitable for any camera up to the size and weight of a DSLR with a telephoto lens.
One of the most important things for a photographer is the ability to back up images – enter the SanDisk Extreme Portable SSD V2. It's rugged case helps keep your images protected no matter the environment, so perfect for that rather wet boxing day adventure. There is no issue storing files, with 500GB, 1TB, 2TB or 4TB of space contained in a surprisingly small design.
The SanDisk Extreme is compatible with both PC and Mac computers, plus USB Type C and Type-A connectors. The storage device is ideal to be used with high-end DSLR, GoPro and VR cameras.
Taking lights on location is normally awkward and cumbersome. Coming to the rescue is Chinese lighting specialist Nanlite. This is a brand that has excited the photography and video production markets for the past few years with its portable and effective tube light products, available at a range of prices. Three years on, the second generation PavoTube II X is here and designed for those looking to get creative with lights, anywhere and everywhere.
The new ‘X’ series of tube lights has adopted an enhanced battery that allows for up to 29 hours of use – albeit if used at 1% – and has a recharging time of between three hours and three and a half hours. We get a choice of 2ft or 4ft tubes with the latest iteration, the promise of greater colour accuracy and a broader colour range with it, plus 15 lighting effects and compatibility with a Nanlink app for Android and iOS devices. Thus equipped, these lights can be remotely controlled via wireless connectivity. Slow our camera’s shutter speed right down, twirl them behind our subjects, and we can even achieve some effective ‘light painting’.
Bags hand made in Britain by a family firm? That’s what we’re promised by Billingham. While its products command a slight price premium because of this, in return we are getting attention to detail, use of quality hard-wearing materials and classic looks alongside modern practicality. Billingham’s latest ‘Mini Eventer’ bag will accommodate mirrorless cameras and even medium-sized DSLRs, while also offering room to insert an iPad or tablet-sized up to 11-inches.
Photographers are always buying more kit, so luckily there’s a removable padded insert and a padded divider set provided. Material wise when buying, those gifting the photographer in their life get to choose from either canvas and leather or FibreNyte and leather combinations, plus an eye-catching range of posh bag colours.
Sticking with Canon for a moment, here’s an opportunity for reinvention for the traditional photo brands that have lost real estate to the rise of the smartphone. Yes, this pepper pot-shaped contraption is described as its brand’s first ‘smart camera’. Primarily aimed at families, the aim is to transform picture taking in the home – in the sense that we can leave the PowerShot PX to do the job of taking photos for us to commemorate family events and parties, while we just snaffle sausage rolls and enjoy ourselves.
Its specs are no slouch: it can automatically capture 11.7-megapixel images and Full HD videos at a cinematic 60 frames per second. With capabilities to pan, tilt and zoom, we also get a 19-57mm equivalent lens, built-in face recognition technology and Wi-Fi and Bluetooth so it can communicate with smartphones and tablets. Should users want to exert manual control, a Connect app for Mini PTZ Cam is available to allow them to do so, as well as manage images. This one has gifting potential written all over it.
With the caveat that every manufacturer-branded lens is particular to its own camera mount and system, owners of Nikon’s popular full-frame sensor ‘Z’ series will want to focus attention on this compact catch-all 28mm lens, which alternatively provides the equivalent of 42mm when affixed to one of Nikon’s smaller APS-C sensor Z cameras, such as the entry-level Z 50.
Thanks to focus breathing – the lens visibly adjusting focus – being dramatically reduced, this lens is as suitable for recording video as it is stills. This makes it a good first option for content creators shooting on Nikon’s evolving system. The lens’ construction is also weather-sealed, to prevent rain from stopping play.
Storage cards for those pixel heavy videos and stills we’re all shooting may not be the most exciting of products, but with cameras themselves rarely featuring any internal storage to speak of, they’re an essential requirement for any digital photographer. Keeping pace with market requirements for speed as well as ever-higher capacities is the re-emergent Lexar brand.
Its new ‘Gold’ standard card offers speeds of up to 270MB/sec to help power through the data and accelerate workflow. It’s not all about speed and capacity, however, as the 1800x cards are helpfully waterproof, temperature proof, shockproof, vibration proof and X-Ray proof, as well as being backwards compatible with UHS-I devices. Affordable capacities of 64GB, 128GB and 256GB are currently available.
Most photographers are smartphone photographers these days, so it makes sense that accessories to get better photos and videos from our handsets are growing ever more abundant. Enter the new ‘Mobile’ branded range from US-based photo accessory experts Peak Design, which comprises various camera phone mounts, accessories, charging solutions and portable cases, sold primarily with a view to aid content creators in getting blur-free results whether shooting stills or videos on their handset. Peak has devised a low profile aesthetically pleasing connection system for this line up in ‘SlimLink’.
The promise is that it doesn’t add bulk to a smartphone case yet allows for ultra-strong one-handed attachment, using, variously, mechanical or magnetic attachment. Attach a Mobile Everyday Case to your phone, available with or without a finger loop like the one pictured, and via SlimLink your case can immediately connect to all of Peak Design’s Mobile mounts, chargers and accessories for added grip and security. A one-stop-shop solution.
Photo stickers are big business with Japanese youth. Canon is a Japanese company, thus it follows on perfectly that we have the Canon Zoemini S2, a pocket-sized camera and instant printer in one. The handy device is capable of outputting credit card-sized prints and stickers in a jiffy, with its gifting potential bolstered by three available colours to choose from: dark teal, pearl white and rose gold.
Now in its second iteration, this jack-of-all trades’ device allows photographers to add borders and colour filters to their prints, output in black and white as well as colour, switch between shooting modes and even save favourite snapshots to print later. What we don’t get is a screen on the camera/printer itself – though we can hook up our smartphone via Canon’s downloadable app and use our handset screen. Less impressive is that the camera battery only lasts sufficiently long to output 25 prints, but in fairness, users will probably have gotten over the initial novelty by that stage.
This intelligent little charger allows you to wirelessly charge your phone and keep precious photos and data backed up at the same time. It supports fast wireless charging for Qi-compatible smartphones while automatically backing up photos and videos in full resolution onto the internal storage in the charger.
There are two models, one with 128GB of storage and one with 256GB, both deliver up to 10W of power.