Universal Mentors Association

Best Gifts for Serious Photographers in 2023

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$180 at Amazon

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ProGrade CFexpress Cobalt card

Best memory card for video shooters

$99 at Amazon

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Zhiyun Fiveray M40

Best handheld LED light for photo and video

$47 at Amazon

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SanDisk Extreme Pro 256GB

Best SD card for stills photographers

$230 at Target

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LowePro ProTactic 450 AW II

Best all-round photography backpack

$600 at PolarPro

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PolarPro Summit Landscape Filter System

Best photography filters for landscape lovers

If there’s one thing I know it’s that photographers are always happy to get more gear. From the best cameras from Canon, Sony or Nikon to new lenses, bags or tripods, there’s no shortage of things a photographer would love. That makes it easy to buy gifts for them. If you need a little help finding the right thing, here are the best gifts for serious photographers in 2023.

But with so much choice of items from a huge number of brands to sift through, finding just the right gift to suit them isn’t always straightforward. To help you find the ideal gift for the photographer in your life (or yourself), we’ve rounded up our top picks of the best cameras, tripods, drones, action cameras and photography accessories. Whether they’re a keen landscape photographer or a budding YouTuber, we’ve got gift ideas to fit all budgets. 

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Nikon’s Z50 packs a smaller APS-C sized image sensor into a small and lightweight body, which makes it excellent for chucking into a little backpack and heading out on your travels. Its 20.9-megapixel sensor takes good-looking images, with excellent detail and enough dynamic range in the raw files to pull back highlights or lift shadows. 

There’s no in-body image stabilization (you’ll need to splash more cash for that) but its 11 frames per second burst shooting rate should help you score a sharp image. It shoots 4K video at up to 30 frames per second and its tilting rear LCD will help get shots in more awkward angles. 

Nikon currently offers only three lenses designed for its APS-C DX-format camera which isn’t a wide selection — although the wide zoom ranges available will likely suit beginners well. It does use the same Z-mount for its lenses as Nikon’s FX-format cameras like the Z7 II, however, so you can always use those professional-standard lenses on this camera. That said, the higher prices of those lenses will somewhat negate the affordability of the Z50 itself. 

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Canon’s EOS R5 has a slew of great features, including its amazing image stabilization, lightning-fast autofocus and quick burst shooting. But the R5’s standout feature is its ability to shoot video in 8K resolution. While not everyone will need that many pixels, 8K can give a lot more scope for cropping and creative editing, making it a great choice for the dedicated videographer who’s looking for the best camera gear.

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Sony’s vlogging-focused ZV-1 is small enough to fit into a pocket, packs a flip-out screen so you can see if you’re in the frame when you’re talking to your audience and can be bought with a handy grip that lets you easily start and stop recordings. The 4K video quality is great and while battery life could certainly be improved, we think keen YouTubers everywhere will appreciate adding this little thing to their production lineup.

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With cameras like the Canon R5 capable of shooting incredibly detailed 8K video footage, you need a storage card that can keep up. Even shooting lots of bursts of still images can be taxing on your card. 

ProGrade’s Cobalt CFexpress card provides write speeds up to 1,500MB/s, which will keep up easily with your video shooting needs and far outstrips the speeds offered by older SD cards. And with capacities up to 650GB in size, you don’t need to worry about running out space when you’re out in the field.

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Although not the latest model, GoPro’s Hero 10 Black still offers up 120 frames per second footage at 4K resolution, which is great for slowing down the action. Its stabilization is superb and the overall video quality looks glorious. But as it’s a previous-generation model you can typically pick it up for a good deal less than the current Hero 11. 

Read our GoPro Hero 10 Black hands on.

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The Zhiyun Fiveray M40 LED light might be small, but it packs a punch. It puts out a huge 40 watts of light, which can be dimmed or changed in color temperature with the two dials on the side. It’s easy to hand hold and put that light exactly where you want it, and it’s small enough to mount on your camera as a top light for those of you wanting to shoot video. 

It also comes with its own kickstand, which can be handy for propping it up. It recharges via USB C and its solid construction means it won’t shy away from being chucked around in a kit bag on your way to your photo shoot.

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If you prefer working with flash lighting rather than continuous LEDs, Godox’s AD100 Pro is a solid light to consider. It’s a tiny unit, easily handheld, but it puts out more light power than most typical on-camera flashguns. It’s off-camera only, requiring Godox’s X-Pro wireless controller (sold separately) to sit on your camera, but this makes the AD100 Pro a versatile lighting tool for portraits or weddings. 

I’ve used Godox’s off-camera flashes for wedding and event photography for years, as well as for macro and still life photography, and having so much power in such a small size is ideal if you don’t want to be weighed down with gear. 

DJI’s smallest drone can be squeezed comfortably into a jacket pocket, but its camera is capable of taking beautiful videos and photos thanks to its 4K resolution and ability to shoot still images in raw format. It’s very easy to fly too, making it a great option for beginners, or more enthusiastic aerial photographers who want to travel as light possible. We’re linking to the Fly More Combo below, which includes extra batteries and other niceties, but you can save by buying the .

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Better known for its drones, DJI’s Mic setup is a superb wireless audio recording solution in a really neat package. The kit comes with a receiver that sits on your camera and two separate wireless mics — one for you, one for your friend, perhaps. In our experience, the connection is strong and stable and the audio quality is superb, even in high wind thanks to the supplied wind shields. 

The mics are stored conveniently in a case that charges them, providing up to 15 hours of total recording time. The output can plug directly into your camera’s mic socket or you can even use it with your iPhone or Android phone using a 3.5mm adapter. 

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With cameras shooting stills and videos at ever-increasing resolutions, it’s easier than ever to run out of storage when you’re out in the field. Thankfully, storage doesn’t have to break the bank and this 256GB SD card from SanDisk packs a huge amount of space for your files and comes with a very reasonable price tag attached. It’s an ideal option for beginners wanting one card they never need to worry about filling up, while being cheap enough for enthusiasts to buy several to make sure they can always keep on shooting. Just make sure the camera it’s going in supports SD cards up to 256GB in size.

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LowePro has been a staple of the photography bag world for years and with the ProTactic 450 it’s easy to see why. This rugged backpack opens fully from the back, although there are side and top quick-access points too. It provides a wealth of storage slots for a DSLR, multiple lenses, filters, batteries and other accessories — I even stuffed a small drone in amongst my gear. 

If you can’t quite fit everything inside, you can get additional accessory pouches that attach to the outside of the case, where you can also attach your tripod. It’s comfortable to carry thanks to both chest and hip straps, it’s made of durable materials and it has a zipped compartment for laptops up to 15 inches.

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Peak Design’s Travel Tripod, as it’s known, is best for exactly what its name suggests: traveling. It’s one of the best camera gear choices for those who want to travel light. The carbon fiber version weighs only 2.8 lbs (1.27kg) and packs down to only 15.4 inches (39.1cm) long, making it easy to chuck in a backpack or camera bag. The aluminum tripod model weighs 3.4 lbs (1.5kg).

Its ball head is quick and easy to use, it’s sturdy enough to hold a professional DSLR and it comes with its own grip so you can mount your phone on the tripod that tucks away inside the central column. It’s all extremely well thought-out and feels reassuringly sturdy.

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Photography filters come in all shapes and sizes, but few are as well thought-out or as high quality as Polar Pro’s. With aluminum frames, each filter is sturdy, easy to hold and convenient to slot into the filter holder. The landscape set comes with a circular polarizer, two neutral density filters and a graduated neutral density filter to help balance bright skies in your landscape photos. It’s an essential set for the keen landscape photographer in your life. 

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The iPhone 14 Pro, Pixel 7 Pro and other top phones can shoot superb, professional-quality video, but if you want to take it to the next level, consider using a gimbal. Gimbals stabilize your hand shakes or other movements to provide smooth-looking footage without any of the wobbliness that you might expect from amateur videos. 

DJI’s OM 5 has a built-in selfie stick so you can get smooth videos of yourself or you can use it to get more creative low-down angles without having to bend over. It folds down to a compact size, too, so it’s no trouble to chuck in a backpack. 

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The 3 Legged Thing Bucky is a super tripod for almost any photography situation. Its carbon fiber construction means it’s light enough to comfortably strap to a backpack, it packs down small but its maximum height of over 6.2 feet (191cm) makes it extremely tall too. I’ve found it brilliant for landscape photography as it’s no trouble to carry out into the hills, but I can still shoot at eye level. 

Its ball head is secure enough to hold even the weightiest DSLRs with a big zoom lens attached, its legs can be detached to use as monopods, and its solid construction means you don’t need to worry about it taking a few knocks on the road. It doesn’t come cheap, but photography enthusiasts in any genre are well catered for here.



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