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Published Nov 17, 2022 8:00 AM
Chances are you know someone who is a photo or video creator. More and more people are at least dabbling in content creation. Unfortunately, this medium can require a lot of gear, especially when you start getting into video. Between microphones, external recorders, memory cards, stabilizers, lighting, and not to mention cameras and lenses, it can seem endless. It’s easy to get overwhelmed if you are looking to buy gear to help someone get started or get more serious about their content-creating.
To help you out, we’ve picked 20 of the best gifts for photo and video creatives. And while photography and videography gear can be expensive, we’ve identified worthwhile presents at a range of different price points. So no matter the experience level of the creative, their area of focus, or your budget, there’s something on this list that will make an excellent gift.
Best on-camera shotgun mic: Rode VideoMic GO Lightweight On-Camera Microphone
If you know a vlogger or content creator, good audio in their videos can set them apart and take them from okay to great content. This Rode VideoMic GO on-camera microphone is an affordable way to improve audio. It is lightweight and simply attaches to the camera via a hot shoe mount. And it receives power from the camera, so there’s no need for a battery pack or additional hookups.
The tight pickup area picks up sound directly in front of the mic, so it won’t work well if they are talking from behind the camera. But the benefit is that it filters out lots of background noise to make the audio they want to capture clearer. And the Rycote lyre shock mount reduces vibrations, which is perfect for vloggers who move a lot while filming.
Best wireless mic set: Rode Wireless GO II Dual Channel Wireless Microphone System
While a shotgun mic like the one above is convenient, it doesn’t work the best in all situations. A wireless mic is the way to go if the person speaking isn’t directly in front of the camera, moving around a lot, or there are multiple people speaking. The Rode Wireless GO II includes two transmitters along with the receiver. The transmitters feature quality built-in microphones, and all devices contain rechargeable batteries that provide up to seven hours of battery life. The 3.5mm TRS analog output connects to cameras or other audio recorders; for digital audio output, USB-C connects to smartphones, tablets, or computers. This is the ideal setup for someone who records lots of interviews or even just moves a lot while vlogging.
Best for recording audio in the studio: Shure MV7 USB Microphone
Sometimes audio is best recorded in a studio (or makeshift office) setting. That’s where the Shure MV7 comes in handy. This mic features an adjustable yoke that can be attached to stands or boom arms, which is ideal for podcasting, live streaming, or recording voiceovers. It features dual USB and XLR output for either digital or analog recording and a touch panel for controlling and monitoring settings. And there is a headphone output so you can monitor sound while recording. It’s a versatile yet easy-to-use mic that will provide high-quality sound.
Aerial photos and videos are a fantastic way to make dramatic content. DJI has long been the leader in quality, user-friendly drones, and the newly released Mavic 3 Classic is no different. It contains a 4/3 CMOS Hasselblad camera with a 24mm lens with an adjustable aperture of f/2.8 to f/11. For epic videos, it can record up to 5.1K/50 fps or 4K/60fps. Or for slow-motion footage, it’s capable of 4K/120fps and 1080p/200fps. The drone is no slouch for photos, either. It produces 20MP 12-bit RAW files (DNG), which will provide plenty of data for editing. And as with other DJI drones, it has a whole host of easy-to-use flight modes and preset flight paths, making it easy to get awesome videos.
Best for smooth video: DJI RS 3 – 3-Axis Gimbal Stabilizer
One of the easiest ways to make video footage look dramatically more professional is to use a gimbal. This DJI gimbal can support up to 6.6 pounds, so even if the creative you are shopping for has a bigger camera system, this will be able to support it. It features a touch screen with intuitive menus, making it easy and quick to change settings. And it supports wireless shutter control so they can wirelessly control the gimbal when needed. The 12-hour battery life will keep them shooting longer without worrying about running out of juice halfway through a shoot. And most importantly, this stabilizer works incredibly well, providing smooth footage even while moving quite a bit.
Best camera for hybrid shooters: Sony a7 IV
If the creator you know is needing to upgrade their camera or you want the best for them as they get started, the Sony a7 IV is one of the best you can get. Sony has some of the most accurate and reliable autofocus capabilities of all cameras available right now. They’ll be able to get sharp shots consistently, even if taking videos of moving subjects. The camera is built around a 33-megapixel back-side illuminated sensor. It’s capable of 4K video up to 60 fps and even has some built-in stabilization for smoother video if they don’t have a gimbal. Photos and videos from this camera are high-quality, making it the ideal choice for someone who does both.
Best for on-the-go storage: SanDisk Professional PRO-G40 SSD [Sponsored]
Plenty of storage is a must for photographers and videographers to back up their work for safekeeping. A compact drive for those creating content on the go is crucial, as it keeps computers from getting bogged down while keeping files safe. Solid-state drives, or SSDs, are the best portable option because they are much more stable, durable, and faster. This SanDisk drive offers speeds up to 2700MB/s read and 1900MB/s write via Thunderbolt 3, and 1050MB/s read & 1000MB/s write via USB 3.2 Gen 2. That’s fast enough to act as a scratch disk, allowing photographers to edit files directly from the drive. It’s even fast enough for editing video. And it features IP68 dust and water resistance, three-meter drop protection, and 4000-pound crush resistance. It’ll be able to survive even the most rugged adventures.
Best for recording video with a phone: Zhiyun Smooth 5S Gimbal Stabilizer
Phones have become impressively capable when it comes to high-level photo and video. As a result, for some creators, a dedicated and bulky camera setup isn’t a necessity as their phone will do. And while many phones have impressive built-in stabilization, that usually results in a crop or loss of quality. That’s where the Zhiyun Smooth 5S Gimbal comes in. It allows for incredibly smooth video at the highest quality their phone is capable of. It also makes maneuvering the phone around for active shots easier. Plus, this phone gimbal features built-in modes for creative shots and even comes with lights for when natural light isn’t enough.
Best mobile phone videographer kit: Moment Beginner Filmmaker Kit
If the creative in your life prefers creating mobile phone content, a filmmaking kit specific to their device will help take their videos to the next level without spending a fortune. It’s compatible with a wide range of phones. The kit comes with Moment’s Beastcage, which supports various accessories, including a grip, filters, and lenses. You can choose between six different lenses when building the kit, so you can ensure you get something that the giftee will like best. For dramatic and unique video, we’d suggest the anamorphic lenses. They’ll also get a lens cleaning pen to keep footage clear and a rear lens cap to protect the lens when it’s not in use.
Best camera for recording action: GoPro Hero 11
For epic action or first-person footage, the GoPro is where it’s at. And the newly released Hero 11 Black provides the latest technology for even higher-quality video and photos. It is built around the largest sensor in a GoPro yet and is capable of 10-bit color 5.3K/60fps videos and 27-megapixel stills. It provides an 8:7 aspect ratio, a larger vertical field of view than previous GoPros, which allows for vertical video compatible with TikTok or Instagram Reels. Perhaps the best feature of GoPros is the HyperSmooth 5.0 technology for incredibly smooth footage without a gimbal, even during rugged movement.
Best neutral density filter: Moment Variable Neutral Density Filters
Neutral density (ND) filters are a videographer’s best friend. Or they should be, at least. These filters cut the amount of light entering the camera, like sunglasses, to allow for better exposure and a more ideal shutter speed for video applications. It’s also a fantastic tool for landscape photographers, as it allows for slow shutter speeds to blur motion even in bright conditions. This Moment Variable ND is available as a 2-5 stop or 6-9 stop, providing more versatility. And the edge features flared geometry, so the videographer can quickly see what they have it set to from behind the camera. Plus, they are made from aerospace-grade metal for excellent durability.
Best diffusion filter: Tiffen Black Pro-Mist 1/4 Diffusion Camera Filter
Another useful filter for creatives is a diffusion filter. These filters provide more of a film-like look by softening contrast and lowering highlights. And they soften wrinkles and blemishes, making them perfect for portrait work. But the primary draw is the blooming effect they have on highlights. Light sources will be diffused outward, creating a nice, soft glow. This can resut in more cinematic-looking footage and help to create moody content. Tiffen’s Pro-Mist filters are some of the best diffusion filters you can buy. This particular one offers subtle diffusion, which is ideal for a wider range of creators.
Best external recorder: Atomos Shogun 7
External recorders are frequently an afterthought for those new to videography, but they are helpful for a few reasons. First, it simply makes it easier to see your footage, thus resulting in better content. Screens on cameras are quite small, so having a larger display will allow you to get better compositions and better focus. Second, most provide access to false color, which is sort of like a more advanced histogram directly overlayed on the image. This allows for more precise exposure control. And lastly, external recorders provide higher-quality recording than what cameras can do internally. For high-end footage, an external recorder is a must.
The Atomos Shogun 7 is a fantastic choice for an external recorder, monitor, and switcher. The large, 7-inch display provides a 1,000,000:1 contrast ratio and brightness of 3,000 nits, making it easily viewable even in sunlight. And it can record in ProRes RAW up to 4Kp60 and 2K 240p, offering much more flexibility in editing.
Best tripod for videographers: Manfrotto Photo Video Hybrid Kit with 502 Series Head
A quality tripod is an absolute must for every photographer and videographer. This particular tripod is ideal for hybrid shooters (those who take both photos and videos) thanks to the photo legs and fluid head. It will allow for smooth but precise pan and tilt movements during video recording. The legs extend quickly with the Quick Power Lock levers, making setup easy. It supports up to 15.43 pounds, so even heavy cameras and large lenses will work well.
Best vlogging kit for new vloggers: JOBY GorillaPod 5K Tripod Kit with Rig Vlogging Bundle
If you know someone who is completely new to vlogging, this kit by Joby is an excellent way to help them get started. It comes with most of the tools that are needed for vlogging except the camera. It comes with a bendable, foldable tripod, plus two arms that allow for additional accessories. The entire setup can support up to 11 pounds, so even if they have an older DSLR, this should work. The ball head allows for 360 degrees of rotation and 90 degrees of tilt with a numbered scale so angles can be accurately reproduced. In addition, the kit comes with a microphone with a deadcat (the fuzzy thing) for cutting out wind noise, a light, and a quick-release strap for easier carrying.
Best LED ring light: Rotolight Neo 2
Natural light alone doesn’t always cut it. A light is a necessity at times, especially for creators who film content inside. The Rotolight Neo 2 is a high-quality LED light that provides constant, appealing light. It provides the ability to adjust brightness and color (from 3150 to 6300K) for full control over the look and quality of the light added. The light uses six AA batteries and has a run time of two hours. It comes with a stand, 360-degree ball head, and a four-piece filter set for even more control. Because it’s a constant light source, it’s geared toward video use but can work well for still photos, such as product photography, as well.
Best film for a cinema look in still photos: Cinestill 400D film
If you know someone who loves the classic cinema look but shoots still photos, this Cinestill film can make for a fun surprise. Cinestill released this 400 ISO, daylight-balanced film earlier this year, and it offers a versatile range. In fact, Cinestill says it can be pulled to ISO 200 or pushed all the way up to ISO 3200. In terms of style, the film offers soft and naturally saturated color with warm skin tones. It is an attractive yet subdued choice for all sorts of scenarios. And the film is now available in 35mm or 120mm, so if you know someone who shoots with a medium format camera, they don’t need to be left out.
Best beginner studio setup: NEEWER Photography Lighting kit with Backdrops
Having a full studio setup can be very useful for both photographers and videographers. This kit comes with everything someone may need to start a studio. It includes green, black, and white muslin backdrops, backdrop clamps, and backdrop stand to provide a distraction-free background and green screen possibilities. It also contains four 7-foot light stands, two single-head light holders, and four 45W CFL daylight bulbs. Because it’s constant light, it will work for both photo and video and is easier to learn how to use. There are also two 32-inch umbrellas and two 24×24-inch soft boxes for diffusing light and creating a softer setting. The entire kit works well for portraiture, product photography, or as a background and lighting for vlogging.
Best backpack for traveling creatives: WANDRD PRVKE 31L Photography Travel Backpack
A good backpack for carrying and protecting gear is a must. This WANDRD PRVKE pack is one of our favorites for creatives who travel or commute, as it is very versatile and modular. The bag relies on a removable camera cube for camera storage, which securely separates your camera gear from other things that you may need to pack. The roll-top design means the storage is quite expandable or can be folded down when not needed. It also features a laptop and tablet sleeve and plenty of other pockets for organization. There’s a secret passport pocket and a luggage handle pass-through for easier airport maneuvering. And the entire bag is made of durable, weather-resistant material, so you can worry less about getting caught in the rain.
Best suite of editing tools: Adobe Creative Cloud 12 Month Subscription
Taking photos and videos is only half (or sometimes less) the process for most creatives. After the initial creation, there’s typically lots of editing that has to happen. That’s even more true with videos, which require cutting and splicing together different clips, adjusting of audio levels, adding music, and so on. Adobe is one of the industry leaders in post-production programs. A 12-month subscription to all of Adobe Creative Cloud would be a very welcome gift for any creator. It gives them access to everything they may need to create, from photo and video editing software to design and animation programs.