Holiday Gift Guide for the Photo Enthusiast!

Holiday Camera Gift Ideas

Every Holiday Season I’m asked by people about what kind of camera they should get for their significant other, parent, child, etc. Even though I’m a Professional Photographer, I don’t work in Camera sales or Electronics Retail, so what I know about various cameras that are currently on the market is limited; mainly because the product research I do is based on the type of cameras and gear that I need to create images for my clients. Our needs may be different, I’ve put in some leg work to give you ideas for Cameras, Lenses and other Photography Essentials & Accessories that you can buy for your Photography Enthusiast. This post is long and was created with YOU in mind, to help give you ideas and a little bit of help on figuring out what to buy. I’ve provided links to all kinds of products so you can buy directly online; many of the products mentioned below I do not own or have not used myself; if I do, I will let you know. For those products that I don’t currently own, but want, I’ve labelled them as Travis’ Wishlist let you know that this is something I would spend my own money on.

If you’re still confused or have more questions after reading this article; go INTO a camera store (support local businesses) they will gladly help get you set up with an awesome gift!

DSLR Systems

Purchasing a DSLR can be a hefty investment and it can also turn into a very expensive hobby! I’ve been fortunate to be able to turn my creative interest in Photography into a full-time business & career, I’ve invested thousands and thousands of dollars into my gear over the last 8 years. That just comes with the territory of being a professional photographer, however if I was not doing this for a living, I would not see the reason for me to throw down so much money for equipment if I was just using it personally. Often people ask me for affordable DSLR’s, while you can get a system for under $1000, the spending may not stop there. Just be warned. However, you never know what this gift could lead someone to! 🙂

When I purchased my first DSLR system 8 years ago, I knew that I was making an investment in my career. There are consumer-based kits that are packaged into a gift for any photo hobbyist. I’ll be honest and let you know that many kit-bundled DSLR’s will give you a bunch of useless crap that’s poorly made. The memory cards in those kits will fail (boo lost photos), the tripods are not sturdy enough to really hold the camera & lens and the lenses aren’t the best.

If you’re buying someone their first ever camera, this is what you need to get them started: a camera body, a lens and memory cards. The flash, the tripod, the filters, etc, etc are really just fluff. If your person decides to get more involved and invested in photography, gear can be acquired over time.

Digital Point & Shoot

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Image courtesy of

I’m going to start here, because you may think you want to buy your fiancé a “nice digital camera” like you saw your friend’s Wedding Photographer using, but there are other options out there that don’t go into the DSLR world, but still provide a great camera system with limited commitment.

If your photo enthusiast loves taking photos with their smartphone, but isn’t ready for the investment of a DSLR system, I suggest grabbing them a nice digital point and shoot camera. This is a great option for any photo hobbyist to have with them and use a real camera instead of a phone.  The point and shoot cameras often have a built-in flash and a zoom lens that allows you to adjust your focal length within the camera. I was amazed at some of the specs that these cameras have with them which allow you to create high quality images that look way better than your iPhone’s!

Canon PowerShot G9 X – I use Canon cameras professionally, so my first go to is Canon! This is a great little camera that offers 20 megapixels, built-in WiFi and optical zoom!

Nikon Coolpix B500– This compact digital camera has a 16 megapixel digital sensor and provides similar features to the Canon including shooting in HD video, WiFi & NFC compatibility that can connect to select smart phones.

Canon Powershot SX720 – Another great Point & Shoot from Canon – this is another compact point and shoot camera that allows a wide focal range with its optical zoom.

Fujifilm X100T – This 16MP digital camera is someone many of my fellow pro-photographer friends have as a compact, all around camera. It’s ability to have interchangeable lenses gives you lots of options and is a great little camera for travel! This is totally on my wishlist!

For the Film Lovers

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Instant Cameras ROCK and are fun to have around the house and take with you for adventures. These do use FILM, so you are limited to how many photos you can take – so stock up on film too!

Fuji Instax Mini 90 Neo Classic – this is a super popular instant film camera. I would suggest grabbing that and a pack of instant film to go with it!

Trav’s Wishlist: Fuji Instax Wide 300 – I’ve been pining after this instant film camera for some time now, I just haven’t gotten around to buying it for myself. I love how small and cute the Mini 90 prints are, but the wide prints that the Wide series (210 & 300) offer really appeal to me!

Lomo’Instant Reykjavik Edition – With 3 separate lenses and shooting modes the possibilities with this instant film camera are endless! I also love that it comes in this deep marine blue color!

DIY 35mm Camera Kit – Wow how cool is this? A build your own 35mm film camera. This is a really fun activity for your camera loving friends!

Mobile Printers

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Another cool way to get instant film prints is to buy a mobile printer! You can use your phone and print out your favorite selects with your favorite edits for these fun prints! This is a great marriage of the digital age and the timeless idea of printing your photos!

Polaroid ZIP Mobile Printer

Fujifilm Instax Share Smartphone Printer

Entry-Level DSLRs

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The Canon Rebel Series is a camera that takes you over the bridge from Point & Shoot to DSLR. These cameras allow you to shoot both stills & HD video. These are pretty versatile for shooting all sorts of things; it really depends on the lenses you get.

Canon’s most recent version is the T6i and the T6s, the T6i is more affordable, however the T6s offers better features such as a top LCD screen (to view and change your settings), auto focus in Live View mode and a control dial on back. Both cameras produce the same quality images however the T6s model is designed with inspiration features from the high end, professional level Canon cameras. Most of the Rebel series come with an 18-55 kit lens, but you can also buy only the body.

The Nikon D5500 is a comparable camera to the Rebel series made by Nikon. While I don’t shoot with Nikon, they are know for their incredible auto-focus system, beautiful colors and amazing lineup of lenses.

If you’re looking for a camera with more advanced features but not quite pro-level, both Canon and Nikon have a range of cameras to suit that. I would suggest the Canon 80D or the Nikon D7200.


A lens is a great gift to buy for someone who already has a digital camera (maybe that was last year’s gift?) or if they’re receiving the camera from someone else. It’s important to buy the lens that fits the lens mount on your camera. You cannot buy a lens that’s made for Canon and just put it on the Nikon body because their lens mounting system is different. The same goes for other brands like Pentax and Sony.

For first timers, I would suggest grabbing a 50 mm lens – this is a great lens to get started with and is a really versatile focal length to use for portraits, events, landscapes and things. Photographers alike refer to it as the Nifty Fifty because it’s a great lens at a low price. This lens is a good intro lens to get you away from your kit lens. The first few years as a photographer, I pretty much exclusively used my 50 mm lens over any other lenses I owned.

Canon 50 mm 1.8 lens

Nikon AF-S Nikkor 50mm 1.8G Lens

Travis’ Wishlist: Sigma 50mm 1.4 Art for Canon / Nikon

The art lens is a BEAUTIFUL lens; I’ve rented it a couple times from my bud’s at and the images are so sharp with amazing color.

Zoom Lenses: Are great for action shots (sports & school performances). With the lower end “cheaper” lenses, they may not always have an important image stabilization feature in them. Lenses without image stabilization are often harder to control your camera shake (blurry images) when taking photos.

Amazing Photography Accessories

Memory Card Holders – you’ll soon notice that Memory Cards are a hot commodity for any Photographer – it’s great to have a space to hold these memory cards! I love my Pelican CF Card Holder. If you’re buying one of the Entry Level or Point & Shoot Cameras, consider the Pelican SD/Mini SD Card Holder instead!

Travis’s Wishlist: A dual memory card holder for both CF & SD cards like this one from Beeway!

Camera Straps: The camera will come with a camera strap but you may want to pick out a camera strap to show off your loved one’s personal style!

Camera Bags: Of course you want to have something you can store and transport your new camera system in! I have a few different camera bags myself, from shooting bags that allow me to carry lenses on me, to suitcases and camera backpacks. I found this Undfined Waist Shooter bag to be pretty interesting!

Pro Photographer Essentials

Memory Cards are a key essential for ANY photographer! A photographer can never have enough memory cards, which can be a thoughtful gift for any busy photographer in your life. I use Lexar Memory Cards which are reliable and fast! For my cameras I use both CF & SD cards. Many consumer level DSLRs and digital cameras use SD Cards. Each camera requires different types & levels (speed) of memory cards, so be sure to check out the specs of your Photographer’s camera they’re using!

The LaCie Rugged Mobile Hard Drive is my favorite hard drive for working on set and using as a backup when traveling. It has a special shock absorber encasement, which offers extra protection in case there are any oops moments. Mobile hard drives are great for Photographer’s to use as extra storage and as part of a backup system.

The MoneyMaker Multi-Camera Harness by Holdfast. This is an incredible system used by tons of professional Wedding & Event Photographers – I don’t personally use this but all of my Photografriends who do swear by it. (totally wish-listed *cough*cough*).

I hope that this was a help way way to guide you through finding the best gift for your favorite Photo-Enthusiast this Holiday Season! Be sure to comment below if you have any questions!

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