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2020 Holiday Gift Guide – 14 Photography Accessories for Less Than $35, $75, and $150

Photography gear is expensive, but these awesome accessories are more affordable and will make the perfect Christmas gift.

By Jason Barnette | Travel writer and photographer with 15+ years of road tripping experience

This post may contain affiliate links. Read my Affiliate Disclosure here.

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Photography is an expensive hobby and an even more expensive profession. But when you’re on vacation, hiking a gorgeous trail through a national park, or watching a dramatic sunset play out across the clouds, you want to capture the best photo possible. What can you buy someone for Christmas that will help them capture better photos without breaking the bank?

Leaving out the camera bodies, lenses, and bags – the most expensive part of photography – there are many accessories that help photographers capture better photos. From amateur point and shooters to professionals, some photography accessories for under $150 will make a pleasant gift this year.

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Less Than $35

LensPen

I still believe the microfiber cloth is the best way to clean a lens – and I keep several in all my camera bags – but the LensPen is also a good way to remove smudges and dust to keep your photos crystal clear. The lens cleaning pen is pretty simple – one end unscrews to reveal a cleaning tip while a push-button lever reveals a fine brush for removing dust.

For the Nikon shooter – like me – you might want to get the branded Nikon Lens Pen. They’re the only camera brand that makes their own lens cleaning pen!

READ MORE: Christmas Holiday Season Travel Guides

Tiffen Circular Polarizer Filter

One of the first filters – and the only essential filter – a photographer should buy is the circular polarizer filter. The CP filter reduces glare from sunlight on reflected surfaces. The result is a reduction in white glare on the surface of water and glass and deeper blue skies to contrast against white puffy clouds.

The Tiffen Circular Polarizer Filter has been in my camera bag since the day I began capturing photography. They’re inexpensive, which is great considering you’ll need to get one for each wide-angle and standard lens.

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SmallRig Multitool

SmallRig has become an authority on rigs for DSLR and mirrorless cameras. With a simple cage, dozens of additional accessories like grips and mounts can be added for endless fun.

The SmallRig Multitool is an essential item for any photographer. There is always a need for a flathead screwdriver to add or remove a mounting plate or one of the other tools for adding or removing an accessory. This would make an excellent stocking stuffer for the photographer in your life!

Arca-Swiss Quick Release

In the 1990s, a camera company called Arca-Swiss developed a quick release system for cinema cameras. Today, arca-compatible systems are a dime a dozen but remain one of the best gifts for the photographer who had not discovered them yet.

The Arca-Swiss Quick Release System has two components: a base plate that attaches to a camera or telephoto lens and a clamp that attaches to a tripod. The system works by connecting the base plate to a camera using the standard tripod mount, attaching the clamp to the tripod, and then with a quick turn of a knob, the camera can be inserted into the clamp and secured. It is the fastest and easiest way to attach a camera to the tripod.

I have been using the Desmond Arca Compatible Clamp and Desmond Arca Compatible Plate for years to attach my camera bodies and telephoto lenses to my tripods. They are durable pieces of metal with a secure connection that has never failed.

Less Than $75

Peak Design Capture Camera Clip

One of the most frustrating moments for a photographer is missing an amazing photo op because the camera was safely tucked away in the backpack. Realizing a camera strap around your neck is more irritable than missing the shot, you have to wonder what other way is there for carrying a camera on a hike?

The Peak Design Capture Camera Clip is a fantastic small device that clips the camera to any strap. The base plate clamps onto any strap – belt, backpack shoulder strap, anything – and firmly stays locked in place. The mounting plate screws onto the bottom of the camera using the tripod mount. When you want to stow the camera, simply slide the mounting plate onto the base plate, and you’re ready to hike with the camera readily accessible!

National Park Week 2024

Learn about the annual celebration of the National Park System and read my travel guides to national park units across the country.

Joby GorillaPod

The Joby GorillaPod is one of the most versatile, portable tripod alternatives on the market. Long, spider-like legs with nearly a dozen joints allow the GorillaPod to be wrapped around objects like posts, rails, and tree limbs, creating a tripod almost anywhere you need it. The attached ball head includes a removable mounting plate, making it easy to connect the camera whenever needed.

The GorillaPod 3K has a weight capacity of 6.6 lbs – good for most DSLRs with up to a 200mm lens, and the GorillaPod 1K has a weight capacity of 2.2 lbs – good for most mirrorless and point and shoot cameras. The GorillaPod Original is the smallest with a weight capacity of just 11.5 oz – good enough for most cellphones.

Joby GripTight Pro 2

My favorite photography accessory I bought in 2020 was the Joby GripTight Pro 2. The GripTight has an adjustable clamp with a tripod screw mount on the bottom, allowing almost any cellphone to be mounted to a tripod – or GorillaPod!

The reason I love the GripTight Pro 2 so much is that it can effortlessly rotate 90 degrees, allowing for an easy change between traditional horizontal video footage and social media vertical footage. The Pro 2 – the latest version of the Joby GripTight – also includes a cold shoe mount for adding a small light or microphone.

READ MORE: 2020 Holiday Gift Guide – 17 Gift Ideas for the Traveling Coffee Lover

Adonit PhotoGrip Qi

My second favorite photography accessory I bought this year was the Adonit PhotoGrip Qi. I used my cellphone – combined with Moment lenses – to capture more photos and video this year for social media. The Adonit PhotoGrip has a spring-loaded clamp to secure a cellphone and a traditional DSLR-like grip with a Bluetooth shutter button.

The PhotoGrip effectively turns your cellphone into a mirrorless camera with a comfortable grip and shutter button. The best part? The Adonit PhotoGrip Qi includes a wireless charging battery to keep your cellphone charged while using it for long periods of time!

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Anker PowerCore Essential Power Bank

The more bells and whistles are added to cellular devices and mirrorless cameras, the faster it drains the batteries. Fortunately, the power bank industry has responded with higher capacity batteries to keep you going on the road. The Anker PowerCore Essential 20,000 PD Power Bank is one of the best I’ve used yet.

The PowerCore Essential Power Bank has a massive capacity of 20,000mAh, enough to keep a cellphone charged almost a dozen times and mirrorless camera batteries two or three times. The power bank has a single USB-A output, so all you need is a charging cable while you’re out and about capturing photography.

Pixel Wireless Shutter Release

Capturing long exposure photography – stars at night, silky smooth waterfalls, and high F-stops for landscapes – requires a steady camera. After mounting the camera to a tripod, a remote shutter release is required to prevent camera shake. I have been using the Pixel Wireless Shutter Release for years and never had a problem.

The wireless shutter release has a transmitter that attaches to the hot shoe and plugs into the shutter release port on the camera. The remote is wireless with a range of about 100’. The digital readouts on the transmitter and remote allow for easy synchronization – especially helpful if you are shooting with more than one camera at a time – and helps you quickly dial in settings on the remote. Beyond just a remote shutter release, the Pixel remote is also an intervalometer for capturing time-lapse videos.

Less Than $150

Tiffen Variable ND Filter

Any photographer who wants to take their creative skills to the next level will probably buy a neutral density filter. ND filters use neutral-tinted glass to reduce the amount of light entering the camera lens, allowing for longer shutter speeds. This is how photographers capture silky smooth waterfalls, blurs of traffic, and general motion blur from moving objects.

The Tiffen Variable ND Filter is a great starter filter for exploring this realm of photography. The filter has a rotating section that ranges from 2 stops of light to 8 stops. At maximum setting, this would allow a photographer to capture about an 8-second exposure in full sunlight.

Note: It is critically important to buy a high-quality ND filter. Cheaper ND filters use cheaper glass in the filter and results in a non-neutral finish. Capturing long exposures with these cheap filters will result in photos being tinted and leading to painstaking correction work on the computer or a ruined image.

READ MORE: 2020 Holiday Gift Guide – 10 Gift Ideas for Anyone Who Loves Road Trips

Platypod Max Flat Tripod

The Platypod Max is one of the most brilliant photography accessories ever invented. The Platypod Max is basically a flat piece of metal with a ball head attachment. The sturdy metal plate includes four adjustment screws for providing about a 2” tilt and leveling adjustment to the plate once it is set on a solid surface.

The appeal of the Platypod Max is the portability. Unlike traditional tripods – even those made from carbon fiber – the Platypod Max packs flat and weighs less. The adjustment screws give it a level of adaptability, although you’ll have to get used to laying on the ground to make camera adjustments!

National Park Week 2024

Learn about the annual celebration of the National Park System and read my travel guides to national park units across the country.

Moment Cellular Lenses

One of my favorite moments of 2020 – silly pun intended – was when I discovered Moment lenses for cellular devices. The lenses – including wide-angle, telephoto, macro, and fisheye – screw into a slot on their custom cellphone cases.

I found myself mostly using the wide-angle and telephoto lenses this year – although I bought the full set and almost every accessory in their store. The 18mm wide-angle provides a nice field of view for landscapes and interior shots. At the same time, the 58mm telephoto gives just enough oomph for capturing mountains or architectural details of buildings. The all-glass lenses are sharp edge-to-edge and provide crystal clear resolution on cellphone camera sensors.

For a stocking stuffer, take a look at the Moment Mobile Lens Carrying Case. The zippered weatherproof case has four small compartments – one for each type of lens – a main compartment, and a mesh pocket.

DJI Osmo Mobile 3

Although DJI premiered the latest version of the cellphone gimbal earlier this year, I still prefer the DJI Osmo Mobile 3. The OM3 is a fantastic gimbal for cellphones that keeps the camera steady while walking and shooting video simultaneously. It easily connects to cellular devices via the DJI Mimo app.

The power of the OM3 comes from the versatility of shooting. A thumbstick controls direction, but the gimbal is powerful than that. Easily switch between vertical and horizontal modes, change between the front and rear-facing cameras, and use the app to continuously follow a specific object in view of the camera. However, my favorite feature is that the gimbal folds into a compact form perfect for slipping into my camera bag.

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Do you have a question about travel or road trips? Are you a CVB or DMO interested in working with me? I typically respond to emails within 24 hours. Quicker if you include a good riddle.
Do you have a question about travel or road trips? Are you a CVB or DMO interested in working with me? I typically respond to emails within 24 hours. Quicker if you include a good riddle.
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