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Best Gifts for Serious Photographers in 2022

Whether you're buying for a landscape photographer or a budding YouTube vlogger, we've got gift ideas for all budgets.

This story is part of Gift Guide, our year-round collection of the best gift ideas.

With a smartphone in everyone's pocket these days, photography can be a bit misunderstood. While most people can take nice photos and post them on social media, nothing compares to a trained photographer who takes their craft seriously. That's why professional photographers will always be needed, especially for important events like graduations, weddings and the like. But it can be difficult to shop for a serious photographer.

There are various camera options, from compact mirrorless cameras to DSLRs, with endless choices of accessories, tripods and bags. 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 vlogger, we've got gift ideas to fit all budgets. 

Andrew Hoyle/CNET

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.

Canon

With a 24.1-megapixel sensor, a pop-up flash and a fairly compact size, Canon's Rebel T7 (also known as the 2000D) is a great DSLR for those looking to take their first steps in photography. This kit comes with a great all-round 18-55mm lens, as well as a 75-300mm zoom lens, making it the beginner's best camera gear to tackle everything from sweeping landscapes to close-up wildlife images.

Read our Canon EOS Rebel T7 preview.

 

Lori Grunin/CNET

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.

Sarah Tew/CNET

This is among the best camera gear options for an experienced photographer who wants the photo and video quality that only a full frame camera can produce. It's one generation old, but it's relatively small, packs an awesome 24.2-megapixel sensor, five-axis image stabilization and can be picked up for a price that shouldn't be too out of reach for photography enthusiasts.

Read our Sony A7 III preview.

 

Aloysius Low/CNET

Canon's entry-level EOS RP packs an excellent 26.2-megapixel, full-frame image sensor into an extremely compact body that makes it superb for both beginners and enthusiastic travel photographers alike. It's easy to use, too, with a flip-out screen and convenient buttons while the increasingly broad range of Canon's RF-mount lenses means it's easy to find the right lens for your needs.

Read our Canon EOS RP preview.

 

Nikon

With its 24.3-megapixel image sensor, its 4K video recording and its 5-axis in-camera image stabilization, the Nikon Z5 packs some impressive specs into a very compact, lightweight body. And it does it at a price that makes it a great option for the photographer looking to step up from a basic point-and-shoot and take photography a bit more seriously. 

Andrew Hoyle/CNET

I've never shot with film before, but even I was excited to get my hands on the Goodman Zone DIY kit. This medium format film camera arrives in a multitude of 3D-printed pieces, with instructions on how to build, customize and use your own camera. It's a fairly straightforward process -- and the feeling of going out to take images with a camera you've literally put together yourself is something quite special. 

You'll need to source your own lens and film (Dora Goodman's website provides plenty of advice on this) but at $105 it's a very affordable way to dip your toe into the world of medium-format film photography with some of the best camera gear that's budget-friendly. 

Joshua Goldman/CNET

When moving at high speeds, nothing beats an action camera for sharing the most breathless moments. The latest version of this excellent little action cam can shoot video at up to 5.2K resolution at 50 frames per second or up to 120fps at 4K for some silky slow motion action. It has incredible stabilization and the overall video quality is superb.

Read our GoPro Hero 10 Black hands on.

 

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 basic drone kit.

Lori Grunin/CNET

The Lumix G9 can take great still images thanks to its 20.3-megapixel image sensor, but is also able to shoot smooth 4K video with its in-body stabilization. That makes it great for photographers who want to get great stills on their next outdoor adventure, but also want to put lovely video together for their Instagram Reels or TikTok.

Read our Panasonic Lumix G9 preview.

 

Amazon/Screenshot by CNET

Rode's VideoMicro might be small, but it's capable of capture professional-level audio from the top of your camera, without needing any batteries or external power source, making it ideal for vlogging. In fact, it's among the best camera gear options for vloggers. It plugs directly into the microphone port on your camera (such as the one on the EOS M50 above) and can be bought with a cable that's compatible with smartphones, if that's more your thing. It comes with a sturdy shockmount as well as a big, fluffy windshield which will help you get crystal clear audio, even in difficult or windy conditions. 

Amazon/Screenshot by CNET

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.

Andrew Hoyle/CNET

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.

Katie Collins/CNET

LowePro FreeLine BP 350 AW

Best lightweight photography daypack

Its compact size makes this backpack comfortable and light to take around the city as you hunt for the best coffee and street food, but its internal space offers lots of room for cameras, lenses and even compact drones. With dual side-access pockets, it's easy to get to your camera when creativity strikes while the weatherproof material will keep your expensive gear safe if the rain starts to come down.

Andrew Hoyle/CNET

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.

Andrew Hoyle/CNET

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. 

Andrew Hoyle/CNET

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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