Buying gifts for the lens-lover in your life can be a daunting (and often expensive) task. With so many variants of just about every photographic accessory you can think of on the market, choosing the best one to suit the recipient’s needs – and your budget – can be a bit of a minefield.
With this in mind, we’ve done the hard work for you, cherry-picking a selection of the best photographic products and accessories around, with a range of options to suit just about anyone.
So, whether you’re after a few extra photo-themed stocking fillers or a slightly pricier sleigh-stuffer for your loved one (or just a little treat for yourself) you should find plenty of inspiration here.
Christmas gift ideas: top Christmas gifts for 2013
Our buying guide for all your non-photographic Christmas gadget needs
ioShutterSLR from Enlight Photo is a handy accessory for DSLR owners looking to trigger their camera remotely: ideal for capturing sensitive subjects such as wildlife, or – for social snappers – group shots or the increasingly popular ‘selfie’.
Unlike the mechanical plunger-style remote cable releases of old, this remote trigger uses a free app (downloaded from the iTunes Store) in conjunction with a release cable (purchased separately) to allow users to control their camera from their iPhone, iPad or iPod touch.
The latest version of the app (ioShutterSLR) features programmable and upgradable timers, time-lapse functionality, bulb setting for long exposures, ClapToSnap sound trigger, ShakeToTake movement trigger, and more besides. Check out Enlight Photo’s website for full details of the product package, including camera and iOS device compatibility.
Xrite ColorMunki Display
Guide price: £132/US$144
This little beauty from Xrite makes light work of ensuring a perfect colour match between your display and your printer, so your printed projects turn out exactly how you envisaged, every time.
The new ColorMunki Display unit features a range of freshly developed advanced filter and optical systems that enable it to take quick, accurate measurements from your display.
It promises ‘unrivalled colour accuracy’ for all modern displays, including LED and Wide Gamut LCDs, and is spectrally calibrated, which means it will support future upgrades as display technology continues to evolve.
The compact device itself performs three functions – ambient light measurement, monitor profiling, and projector profiling – while the accompanying software offers Easy and Advanced modes to suit your individual level of expertise.
The intuitive wizard-driven interface takes care of everything, with the Advanced options providing scope for fine-tuning if desired. ‘Before’ and ‘after’ images show the changes being made for easy comparison and a profile reminder tells you when it’s time to re-calibrate your devices.
All-in-all, we can think of no better tool for prolific printers that demand the utmost in precision in their projects.
Guide price: from £25.99/US$34.95
Practical and portable, this light-shaping tool will please avid strobists looking to make the most of their flashgun’s creative potential.
With the rise in popularity of flash-lit photography, a wealth of accessories has evolved to help overcome some of the limitations imposed by the technology on offer and ultimately yield more professional-looking results.
Rogue FlashBenders represent one of the most flexible of these products currently available, due to their unique shapeable design that allows for easy on-the-fly adjustments to the angle, shape and intensity of your flashgun’s output.
The universal Velcro strap for attaching the mini-reflector means you can get a perfect fit on just about any flashgun and its bendable nature makes it easy to direct the light precisely where you want it to fall.
There are a range of sizes available and all of the FlashBender variants pack flat for easy storage.
Lastolite Ezybox Speed-lite Softbox
Guide price: £45/US$74.99
Another great gift idea for Strobists, this nifty product from Lastolite is designed to fit onto your flashgun – whether it’s on- or off-camera – and turn it into a mini-softbox.
Flash-lit photos can often be plagued by harsh highlights and/or unflattering shadows; this collapsible, portable softbox helps to overcome these issues, enabling the photographer to achieve more even, diffuse lighting with greater ease.
Made from rip-stop fabric, the durable Ezybox Speed-lite measures 22cm x 22cm and features removable inner and outer diffusers which – when used in combination – produce a two-stop light loss: perfect for softly illuminating everything from people to products.
Lastolite Trigrip Reflector (Gold/White)
Guide price: £65/US$69.99
The unique design of the Lastolite Trigrip Reflector offers a greater level of stability than that provided by a regular circular version.
The triangular shape allows the user to employ it one-handed as it retains its shape without the need for any added support.
The 75cm version of the Trigrip range features a moulded handle and a strap to wrap around the operator’s hand for extra security and accuracy when it comes to positioning it. The result is a lightweight, easy-to-use reflector that allows light to be directed with precision, without the need for a separate stand support system.
The reversible nature of the Trigrip Reflector adds to its versatility, allowing for neutral white or warmer gold light to be reflected onto your subject (other colour combinations are available).
The whole thing collapses down into a neat, portable package, complete with its own bag for easy storage and transport.
A prime example of a simple, versatile product that will enhance any photographer’s light-shaping tool kit.
Light Craft Workshop Fader ND Mk II
Guide price: from £57 (for 37mm filter)
The second generation of the Light Craft Workshop Neutral Density (ND) Fader filters build on the success of the original version, which helped put the manufacturer on the map.
A popular choice among filmmakers to accurately fine-tune exposure while shooting, the filter also has its appeal for use with stills photography.
Its innovative design allows the density of the filter – and the subsequent amount of light it allows to pass through it – to be adjusted to suit the situation, from anything between ND4 to ND400; around two to eight stops.
ND filters are handy tools for creative photographers looking to add special effects to their images, allowing the user to employ slower shutter speeds to capture movement, for example, or to allow a larger aperture to be used under bright light.
Vignetting is avoided with the ND Fader’s incorporation of a larger front glass element than that at the rear: a design feature that also allows for stacking of filters of different sizes without the need for an additional step-up ring.
Available in a range of sizes, landscape shooters and all-round creatives would be happy to find one of these in their stocking this Christmas.
Cokin Graduated ND starter kit
Guide price: £40/US$49.63
The Cokin P-Series ND Graduated Filter Kit is a great choice for outdoor enthusiasts and pros alike.
The kit contains everything you to get shooting: a P-Series filter holder, P121L NDx2 Filter (gradual grey light), P121M NDx4 Filter (gradual grey medium) and the P121S NDx8 Filter (gradual grey soft).
Having the full set allows the user to precisely control the amount of light allowed to enter the lens, with the option of using single filters or stacking them in the holder for a more intense effect.
As the P-Series filters are designed to accommodate larger diameter lenses up to 82mm, with a recommended starting focal length of 28mm (35mm equivalent) they’re versatile enough to be used in a wide range photographic situations – just choose the correct adapter ring to fit your lens(es) (purchased separately) and you can start getting creative right away.
Western Digital My Cloud
Guide price: £150/US$219.99
Aside from the novelty of being able to say you own your own cloud, this piece of kit gives you some serious security when it comes to storing and accessing your files – wherever you roam.
For your cash you get a Network Attached Storage (NAS) device on which to store all of your (and your family’s) multimedia files and – using Western Digital (WD)’s free apps – access them from anywhere via your Mac, PC, Smartphone or tablet.
There are no subscription fees to pay and you can upload new material from any of your devices instantly, leaving you free to create more space on your mobile gadgets as you go.
There’s Automatic Backup support (including Time Machine for Mac users) for all of your devices for added peace of mind, and you can transfer content between your personal WD Cloud and any public online accounts (such as a Dropbox) too.
The My Cloud drive (available in 2TB, 3TB and 4TB capacities) can be expanded to suit your growing needs by attaching additional external storage via its USB port or use it to bypass your computer and connect your camera for direct transfer of your images.
A great gift for any tech-savvy photographer.
Samsung SD cards
Guide price: from £4/US$5.50 (2GB SD – Class 4)
To get the very best performance out of your digital camera, you need a set of memory cards that can keep up with the pace.
With the rise in popularity of HD movie-making and ever-faster high-frame-rate continuous shooting modes, the demand for memory that not only delivers the necessary capacity to store these images – but the efficiency needed to avoid slowing you down – has never been greater.
Samsung’s own range of SD cards sits alongside the full spectrum of high capacity, ‘Plus’ and ‘Micro’ variants compatible with a wide range of devices, providing a good balance between cost and performance.
Photographers wanting to capture really high-speed action might want to look towards some of the pricier ‘HC Plus’ alternatives, however, everyday shooters who want secure, reliable storage will be satisfied with the performance of the less-expensive SD cards at the lower end of the range.
It’s worth noting that globetrotters and thrill-seekers would particularly benefit from some of the added extras offered by the whole range, which are all waterproof, shock-proof and magnet proof, providing protection from airport X-Ray machines.
Hands-on photographers with a penchant for DIY projects will be bowled over by this little beauty.
Inquisitive minds can satisfy their thirst for knowledge and experience precisely how analogue photography works for themselves by building their very own 35mm SLR camera from scratch!
A ‘world first’ of its kind, the Lomography Konstruktor is off the scale when it comes to coolness, providing everything required to build a camera, discovering the mechanics behind analogue image capture as you go, before going on to take photographs with your finished product.
The whole process should take around 1-2 hours to complete, and the end result is a fully functional SLR, equipped with ‘N’ and ‘B’ modes for long exposures and an integrated tripod thread to keep the camera steady while shooting.
Coordinate Gear PIONEER
This stylish, practical camera bag from Coordinate Gear has it all: it’s small and lightweight enough for everyday casual use but provides enough capacity and robustness to cope with airplane travel and extended shoots in more demanding environmental conditions too.
The ergonomically designed PIONEER is equally at home as a commuter bag, with purpose-built, padded space for laptop and another to accommodate a tablet.
The main compartment can be fully opened to allow easy access to all of your camera gear, with an array of compartments and pockets to stash your lenses, camera(s) and accessories securely.
Constructed from Coorditech 1000 Denier polyurethane-coated waterproof nylon (military-grade) and equipped with a built-in rain cover, the PIONEER forms the core of the Coordinate Gear carry system, meaning that its overall capacity can be expanded by attaching other bags from the range as your needs change.
A compact, lightweight tripod designed for jet-set photographers, the Manfrotto BeFree has plenty of features that help it to live up to its name.
With a closed length of just 40cm, the aluminium BeFree can be securely packed inside carry-on luggage and backpacks. It achieves this remarkable level of compactness thanks to its unique design that allows the legs to fold neatly around the tripod head and quick release plate.
It may be small, but it’s still sturdy, with a maximum load of up to 4kg and new patented leg angle selectors for greater versatility when positioning your camera on uneven ground and – weighing in at just 1.4kg itself – owners will barely notice it’s in their kit bag until they need it.
Not to leave out the CSC (Compact System Camera) owners out there, Manfrotto has developed a pint-sized tripod to pair with the equally petite cameras that so many photographers are opting for these days.
The Pixi has a maximum load capacity of 1kg, making it ideal for use with devices ranging from the iPhone (with KLYP) and CSCs, right up to some entry-level DSLRs.
Made from stainless steel and Adapto for a tactile, lightweight finish, the Pixi includes a ball head with a new push-button mechanism that allows for quick adjustments of its position, automatically locking once the button is released.
Ease of use, compatibility with a wide range of devices (via its ¼" screw thread) and its miniscule closed length of 18.5cm make the Pixi a great choice for owners of smaller photographic devices that want to keep their kit bag as light as possible, without sacrificing stability.
Just Pro Cleaning Kit
Although built-in sensor cleaning technology generally does a decent job of keeping the worst of the muck off modern cameras’ sensor modules, they are by no means fool-proof.
Over time, it’s not unusual to find the odd stubborn speck appearing in the same place in your photos, signalling the need for a bit of manual maintenance.
Just’s Pro Cleaning kits include everything you need for the job, as well as a range of additional tools and cleaning solutions to keep your cameras and lenses spick and span too.
Inside the neat zipped pouch there’s a set of 10 Photographic Solutions Sensor Swabs, a bottle of Photographic Solutions Eclipse Cleaning Fluid, 25 Photographic Solutions PEC*PADS lens wipes, a Kinetronics Speckgrabber in a Storage Tube, Kinetronics StaticWISK Anti-Static Brush in a Storage Case, a large Micro fibre Cleaning Cloth, a Just Super Anti-Static Cleaning Cloth and a Silicone Jumbo Blower.
The kit is available with differently sized swabs to fit your camera’s individual sensor size, so check compatibility before purchasing.
Verbatim MediaShare Wireless
This wireless portable streaming device from Verbatim promises ‘infinite storage capacity’ and support for live streaming of video and audio to your tablet or smartphone directly from portable storage media such as SD cards, USB drives or portable HDDs.
It does so via a secure wireless connection, regardless of your location, with the impressive added ability to allow up to five users to access and share content at the same time.
With plenty of appeal for tablet/smartphone owners, tech-savvy families and solo travellers alike, the MediaShare Wireless is powered by a built-in rechargeable battery that claims to keep you going for up to nine hours, with recharging achieved via USB.
Due to its compatibility with removable storage media, space is unlimited, plus the MediaShare can deal with simultaneous upload, download and streaming, ensuring uninterrupted sharing and playback of your multimedia files.