Trying to come up with ideas of gifts for the filmmaker or videographer in your life can be extremely difficult. How do you choose a gift for someone who spends much of their time painstakingly watching and reading gear reviews?
If you walk into a Best Buy and grab one of the many photo items they have for sale, there's about a 95% chance your videographer gift recipient will smile and say thank you, and then toss it in the trash or return it.
We photo and video enthusiasts are a picky bunch. And there's a metric ton of gear out there, most of what we either can't or don't care to use with our current gear.
As working video producers ourselves, we've come up with a list of gifts that we really want this year. And also a number of accessories we can always use. So you can be sure you're getting something that your filmmaker friend or loved one will enjoy.
Our hope is that upon opening their gift, they'll turn to you and say, "How did you know I wanted this?"
Ok let's start with the most prized gifts that every filmmaker yearns for: a new camera.
There are hundreds if not thousands of photo and video cameras out there, but if you want to be a good gift giver, you want to surprise your loved one with the cameras that are hot right now.
And the following cameras are super hot. It doesn't matter what camera brand you're loyal to, everyone in the photo/video world wants one of these cameras right now. Manufacturers have finally responded to pro demands and have released the dream cameras many have been waiting for.
Be forewarned, for people who aren't accustomed to buying camera equipment, these prices can seem outrageous. There's more reasonable gift ideas for filmmakers further along in the article.
Canon EOS R
Canon has finally released a mirrorless camera that has everything many of us have desired. In addition to the beautiful Canon color science and Canon's amazing dual pixel autofocus, the R camera features the C-Log picture profile that only their pro cameras have.
Actually, not all their pro cameras have C-log. Our 1DX mkII, a $5500 camera that sits at the top of Canon's pro DSLR line, doesn't even have C-log.
So the EOS R is a beautiful combination of a small, mirrorless camera with pro features. There are also a few new lenses for Canon's new R mount, and adapters will allow the camera to work with any of Canon's lenses.
If your loved one is a Sony, Panasonic, or Nikon shooter, lens adapters will most likely be available for the Canon R. But in the meantime, there are lens bundles.
In the Nikon camp, the Z mirrorless camera is their first mirrorless body and it's come with an unprecedented amount of anticipation. Everybody on the planet, even if you've never shot with a Nikon, wants to try this camera out.
Like the Canon R, the Nikon Z has a full frame sensor, which is the holy grail for photographers. For video shooters, there are also lots of features that make it attractive.
In addition to shooting in 4k like all of the hot cameras right now, the Nikon Z can do a timelapse in 8k. Your loved one may never come home again, as they're out shooting georgeous timelapses all the time. And maybe that's a gift for you?
Fuji cameras have been a growing fascination for photo and video enthusiasts. They're very much like a Leica camera, except they don't cost more than a new car.
Fuji cameras are beautiful to look at it, they're designed in such a way that they become desirable objects for their simplicity and ease of use, and the pictures and colors they create are uniquely Fuji. Simply put, these are wonderful cameras. They're much like Apple products have become objects of fancy themselves, more than simply computers that do things.
The new Fujifilm X-T3 combines all the best features from their X-series cameras and throws everything into one camera body, full of specs that even video nerds have been wanting for years from the big manufacturers, like 4:2:2 and 10-bit in a mirrorless package.
We've had an Fuji X100 Series camera for years and to this day, it's still our favorite camera to use, and we've used and written about many cameras over the years.
The Fuji X-T3 will become a favorite of your loved one's for years to come. And as a bonus, you'll get an upgrade in the quality of photos you pose for. New social media profile pic?
Fujifilm XF 10
Love the idea of giving a Fuji but don't want to spend a fortune? The new Fuji XF 10 has the same beautiful sensor and colors as its higher end siblings, but in a tiny pocket size, with a built-in lens, and easy wireless connectivity to a smartphone for quick social media sharing.
Plus, the XF 10 is conveniently priced at under $500. This is a great camera gift, even for someone who already has other cameras.
Blackmagic Design Pocket Cinema Camera 4K
Everyone knows that Japanese camera manufacturers have a cartel system in place, so no one company will ever release something that totally wipes out the competition. That way, the country can sustain their global dominance in cameras and optics.
But Blackmagic is based out of Australia, so they can do whatever the f they want. And the Pocket Cinema Camera 4K is maybe the hottest thing going for video shooters right now. No, this camera does not shoot photos. It only kicks video's ass.
This camera has one of the most sought after color sciences out there, along with a beautiful LCD screen, and all the specs that video nerds want, like 4K@60fps and RAW. Doesn't that sound cool?
It comes in a Micro 4/3 lens mount, but even if your loved one doesn't have any M43 lenses, most shooters will use this camera with lens adapters.
If you want to be generous though, the Panasonic 12-35mm f/2.8 II lens goes together with this camera like peanut butter and jelly.
The BMPCC4K is having a hard time staying in stock, due to its huge demand. So you'll want to order this bad boy early to arrive in time for your grand reveal.
Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4k - B&H Photo
Insta360 ONE X
If you're not ready to plunk down thousands of dollars on one of the above cameras, then maybe this 360 camera is a better bet. Insta360 wiped out much of the 360 camera market with their original camera, but this new version takes it to a whole new level.
The ONE X basically shoots everything all around you, and then when you edit, you can choose exactly the angle you want to focus on. It's like having 10 cameras shooting at any given time.
Perfect for vloggers, or anyone who enjoys taking family pictures and video, the ONE X has this amazing ability to erase its selfie stick from images. So it really does look like someone else is taking a photo or video of you.
The selfie stick accessory also allows you to mimic the Bullet Time shot first seen in The Matrix. What used to take millions of dollars and months to achieve can now be done in a second with a consumer camera. Crazy times!
GoPro Hero 7 Black
Not many years ago, a GoPro was one of the most popular gifts to give and receive for birthdays and holidays. Then came drones, which was a popular gift because they utilized the GoPro. Then came drones that have their own cameras, and well, that sorta stopped GoPro's momentum.
But fast forward a few iterations later and the new GoPro Hero 7 has a new feature out that makes it very attractive again: HyperSmooth image stabilization.
Bumpy, shaky, jittery footage has been the staple of action cams for years until gimbal stabilizers camera along. But gimbals are still relatively complicated, expensive, and mostly just annoying to use, store, recharge, balance, and all the things that come along with camera gadgets.
Well now GoPro has a built-in image stabilization that claims to make gimbal camera stabilizers obsolete. And based on the footage we've seen from early tests, GoPro is not far off from their claims. It really is that good. Walking, running, biking, boating, snowboarding - any time that you might think of bringing along a GoPro, now you'll have cinema smooth footage to bring back with you.
Sound and Audio Recording Gear
There are two kinds of people in this world: those who have little to no audio equipment, and those who have literally everything.
Either way, it's nearly impossible to get an audio nerd something they actually want, because audio equipment is notoriously difficult to shop for, because there's a ton of equally good gear out there, at highly unequal prices. Essentially, there's no easy choices - check out our article on comparing microphones for more info on this subject.
But luckily, you have this guide to point you in the right direction. Here are a few hot new audio gifts that you can safely give to both newbs as well as sound pros, and we promise they won't be mad at you.
Mikme Wireless Microphone and Recorder
Possibly the simplest, pro-grade microphone/recorder out there today, this thing is handy for anybody, including vloggers, podcasters, filmmakers, musicians, and anybody who appreciates good sound.
For smartphone shooters, the built-in bluetooth feature is able to replace your smartphone's internal audio recording with something much, much better. You simply turn this bad boy on, place it next to whatever you're filming, and then shoot however close or far you'd like, and the sound from the Mikme will replace your phone's audio.
For pro videographers and filmmakers, we've been recommending this microphone simply for easy voice over recordings, collecting ambient sound without the fuss of a big audio rig or a camera, and as a way to collect good sound anywhere you go, at any time.
Mikme Blackgold - B&H Photo
Deity S-Mic 2 Shotgun Microphone
Everyone needs a good shotgun microphone, for any type of video project. But there are hundreds to choose from and at widely varying prices. Can't we have one solid workhorse microphone that is affordable and be done with it?
Yes we can, and that mic is the new Deity S-Mic 2. It's designed and manufactured to sound as good as industry standard microphones that cost 3-4x more. It's dependable and weather proof, and can be used in a wide variety of filmmaking scenarios.
Best of all, the S-Mic 2 Location Kit bundle comes with a microphone shock mount, plus a pistol grip holder, and a furry windscreen aka dead cat. So you don't have to worry about shopping for those accessories too.
Just get an S-Mic 2 and your giftee will be pleased, from the amateur filmmaker to the pro sound recordist in your life. Because both of them can always use a great microphone that doesn't cost more than a month's rent.
Rode Mics under $100
Rode microphones are some of the most popular and widely used mics in the video industry, and they have a vast lineup. But where they truly shine is in their small, lightweight and affordable mics that basically everyone should have in their kit.
Rode VideoMic Go - this is their ultralight on-camera shotgun microphone that is designed for DSLR and mirrorless cameras. It's only 2.6 oz and basically just stays on the camera at all times.
Rode VideoMicro - This tiny mic is even smaller than the GO, but it's become a staple in the filmmaking world for just about any camera. Not just DSLR or Mirrorless cameras but tiny action cams, 360 cams, gimbals, you name it. Oh and it comes with a smartphone/tablet adapter cable to use with most phones out there.
Rode VideoMic Me - This is Rode's smallest mic and it's designed to plug into a smartphone or device directly. It doesn't get any simpler than this for smartphone shooting. There's this headphone jack version as well as an iOS Lightning version.
Video and Photo Lighting
Everyone agrees that proper lighting has more of an effect on photography and videography than all the cameras and lenses in the world, right? And yet, lights seem to be the last thing on people's shopping lists.
That's why you're going to be the most respected gift giver ever if you give one of these lights to your friend or loved one. You're doing people a huge favor, even if they already own a couple lights, because most of us like to spend our free money on much more exciting purchases.
Best of all, it's kind of like a backhanded compliment - like, "I know you won't get one of these yourself, so here, let me help you." And backhanded compliments are the backbone of holidays.
Luxli Cello RGB Light
When we reviewed this little gizmo, we were shocked at how affordable it was for an RGB Light. Color tunable lights are still very expensive, and yet for a few hundred bucks here's one that is small, lightweight, and very useful.
The Luxli Cello is designed and made in Norway, so you are getting a slick product that is dependable, looks great, has good output with accurate colors. But UI is especially noteworthy. It's really easy to select a color, saturation, and output. Like, why can't all lights be this easy?
For the narrative filmmaker, the Cello has a few party effects that mimic filmmaking staples, like police lights, fireworks, a woodfire, and so on. There's also a smartphone app where you can have the light record a video you shoot (or from Youtube) and it will match the light output and colors from that video. Really, this thing should cost a whole lot more than it does.
Luxli Cello - B&H Photo
Westcott Ice Light 2
After using and reviewing lots of lights over the years, the Westcott Ice Light 2 is still one of our all-time favorites. We've used it on hundreds of shoots in all manners, from interviews to B-roll, to lighting subjects for photo portraits.
The Ice Light is just so damn simple to use, it provides a beautiful wrap-around light, and it looks like a light saber, which makes for great conversation. If you want to give a videographer a light they'll fall in love with, even if they already have a few lights, then the Ice Light 2 is the way to go.
Aputure Lights under $100
Aputure makes some of the best lights for the buck today, and there is a huge army of filmmakers who have built their entire business or hobby around Aputure lights. We have a few of them ourselves, and they're fantastic.
But more than just high end lights, Aputure makes a ton of filmmaking gear for the budget conscious shopper. We put together a big list of their products on our dedicated Aputure page. But here are a few of their lights that we think should be in every kit.
Aputure M9 - this credit card sized LED light has an internal battery, rechargeable by USB, and is about the most handiest of video tools. Plus it's less than $50. We have a few of them and use them nearly daily, even if it's just to light some faces up before we take an iPhone pic of kids and family.
Aputure F7 - possibly the most powerful light at under $100, the F7 is bicolor with 256 LED diodes, can dim from 1-100%, output 1500 lux at 1 meter, and be powered by a single Sony battery. And yet it weighs only 9 oz.
Aputure MX - Okay so this is actually more than $100, but the MX is incredible. It sits between the M9 and F7 in terms of power, but it has its own built in battery, it's bicolor, and it's made out of the same aircraft-grade aluminum that Aputure uses on their high end lights.
The MX is a thing of beauty, and it's still small enough to fit into a pocket, or a stocking stuffer.
Ok so apart from new cameras and audio stuff, what are the most common items that filmmakers like to buy (but especially receive as gifts)? Well, lenses probably, but good lenses are really expensive and are very personal decisions. Better to let your loved one buy their own damned lenses.
Accessories, that's the most popular category for videographers and filmmakers. And boy are there a lot of accessories. But here are the ones that are currently hot and highly desirable pieces of gear by the filmmaker community.
Atomos Ninja V - 5-inch external monitor and recorder
Just about every filmmaker can use an external monitor, and there are many to choose from. But Atomos takes it one step further and provides a built-in recorder that can output a better quality video than many cameras record to their internal cards.
So all of the new cameras we recommend above - apart from the 360 cam - can take advantage of the Ninja V. Even if your loved one already has a dozen cameras, the Ninja V adds the ability to record 4k video in a ProRes codec that is instantly ready to edit. That means less time transcoding and more time to spend with you. On second thought, maybe you don't want that?
Anyway, Atomos has been making 7-inch monitor/recorders for years but they've always been a little too big for our tastes. The 5-inch Ninja V, however, is the perfect balance of size, weight, and most of all, cost.
DJI Ronin-S Gimbal
Probably the hottest gimbal on the market today, the Ronin-S solves so many issues that filmmakers have had over the years. Namely, it's an easy to use, dead simple gimbal that works with not just small and lightweight cameras, but large DSLR and cinema cameras as well.
We did a DJI Ronin-S review and have been using it for a while now, and we couldn't be happier. It takes the frustrations of years of gimbals and throws everything out the window. Even if your loved one already has a gimbal, chances are they are salivating over a Ronin-S and are either planning to get one already or wish someone would just go ahead and buy them one, for goodness sake. Like you!
DJI Ronin-S - B&H Photo
If you want a more comprehensive look at gimbals before you decide this is the right one to get, check out our Gimbal Videography Guide.
DJI Spark Drone
We've flown drones for years since the original DJI Phantoms changed the filmmaking game forever.
Now, we fly the Mavic Pro, but at $1000 it's a little too much to give as a gift to someone who may accidentally lose it on the first flight.
Thankfully, DJI has recently come out with the Spark, a tiny drone that has nearly all the features and quality of its bigger brothers, but at a much better gift-giving price.
Drones have been the most popular holiday gifts for a few years now, and there's a reason why. Everybody loves them! (Except the FAA).
X-Rite Color Checker XL
Now that it's affordable to have multiple cameras on any production, it's important to be able to match their colors and picture profiles. X-Rite has become the go-to staple on sets and in the field, with their Color Checkers.
The new Video XL is a larger version of their previous color checkers, so it's easier to use a wide angle camera, a drone, an action cam, or a lens that doesn't have the ability to zoom far to fill the frame with the color checker. It's a very handy tool that every filmmaker should have in their tool belt. And if they don't, well luckily they have you to help them out.
Varavon 815 Tripod Fluid Head
Tripods and fluid heads can end up costing several months mortgage. There's no shortcuts to a good quality tripod and head... or is there?
In the photo and video world, sometimes a Chinese knock off comes along and does 90% of the job for about 10% the cost.
That's the Varavon 815. We've used a lot of fluid heads, some costing four figures, and in our opinion (and others we've worked with), this fluid head is damn impressive for being only about $100.
Gifts for Video Editors
Video editors are just as interested in all of this other stuff as the people who go out and shoot videos, but they also enjoy receiving computery items because that's what they do all day. Even after working all day in a dungeon, they still enjoy spending their free time at a computer. Go figure.
There's never enough of them. Doesn't matter what brand or style your friend or loved one prefers. Keep 'em coming.
We like the colorful Western Digital My Passport Ultra 4TB drives - they're fast, dependable, and relatively inexpensive. We've used WD My Passport drives for all of our video editing projects for 5 years now.
For large media and long term storage, solid state drives are not recommended over plain ol' spinning drives. So if you want to get someone a drive for archival purposes rather than a workhorse daily drive, go with the WD My Book 8 TB drive.
And for pro video editors who need to have a RAID system to prevent loss of data, you can't go wrong with a Lacie 8TB RAID drive.
Our favorite Anker 10 port data hub has 7 USB 3.0 ports, and 3 power-only ports. We couldn't live without this thing. And anyone who is just getting into video editing may not last long without one either. Get them a USB hub before it's too late.
Near Field Monitors
We've done the research so you don't have to. The M-Audio BX5 Carbon monitors are perfect speakers for video editors.
They have excellent clarity, and the near-field output means you won't have to hear the painful editing process from the other room.
Don't forget to get two of the monitors, since they're sold individually, and you need one on either side of your computer.
We also recommend the Audioengine DS2 Desktop Speaker Stands to ensure the M-Audio monitors are angled better. Monitor placement is essential!
Uninterrupted Power Source (UPS)
A regular ol' power strip may work for regular ol' people, but video editors could lose a ton of work if their computer powers off, along with all their hard drives, in the event of a power outage.
The CyberPower UPS System is an essential item, but lots of newbie video editors don't think to get one until their first major data loss. Don't let that happen!
We've had one of these for a few years now, and when there's a power outage, you have a couple hours to safely turn off your computer and all the peripherals.
Color Grading Masterclass
For most filmmakers, it's pretty much expected that you fake it until you make it with color correcting and color grading. You can't gain experience until you start working on lots of your own projects.
But to really "make it" you need to actually go out and learn how professionals do it, rather than continue to get by on assumptions and basic color wheel skills.
To purchase the course it costs $199, but as a better option, you can get both the course and a year-long streaming subscription to MZed's 19 other courses for $399.
This is the kind of gift that can turn the amateur or hobbyist filmmaker in your life into a much more mature, upstanding citizen who makes creative films professionally rather than just obsessively talks about doing it but never does. After all, what good is all that gear if it doesn't get used to make a decent film for goodness sake?
More Affordable Gifts for Filmmakers
Okay so now that we've got the expensive stuff out of the way, here's a big list of cheaper filmmaking accessories that anybody will appreciate getting as a gift.
Domke Wraps - everybody needs a couple dozen of these to wrap around cameras, lenses, and accessories for travel and storage.
Domke pouches - just like the wraps, these pouches are a great way to organize a bunch of accessories into little pouches of accessories. And they make great gifts.
Sony MDR-7506 headphones - the undisputed (ok, heavily disputed by angry audio trolls) industry standard headphones for anyone working in audio and video production and editing. These velour replacement pads turn the 7506 headphones into a heavenly listening experience.
Rode Invisilav - perfectly capable and easy to use lavaliere microphone cases. Simply place the lav in one of these, stick some tape on it, and you've got great audio without rubbing noises or a visible microphone that ruins your shot.
Cinevate Universal Accessory Mount - Possibly our favorite accessory ever. The uses for this is unlimited, and yet it's so damn dependable that we never leave home without a few.
Nite Ize Rubber Twist Ties - We can't get enough of these things. Not just for camera rigging, but packing, organization, cable management, and so on.
1/4-20 adapters - These male to male threaded adapters have so much use for anyone who rigs cameras up, they go quickly.
Gaff tape - Probably the most essential item ever. We like this thin 1" white version for being able to write on and place all over our gear bags and accessories. It's the best gaff tape we've used. Also get a black companion version.
Fidget cube - Forget fidget spinners. This thing is an obsession for anyone who spends a lot of time at a computer, watching videos, and thinking about their next great project.
Nite Ize DoohicKey - Just a super lightweight multitool with bottle opener and a caribener clip. This thing gets a ton of use because a flathead screwdriver is never around when you need one.
Tech Gear and Gadgets
Camera lovers and filmmaking enthusiasts can't escape the lure of consumer tech, and we'll find all sorts of excuses to get the latest gizmo "to help our filmmaking" - although we all know it's just because we love gizmos.
Apple Watch Series 4
There's no doubt, the Apple Watch is a highly desirable gift item. Everyone wants one but can't brace themselves to get one. This new version is a completely revamped design and may end up being one of the best gadgets of the decade.
How do you decide which watch to get, with what strap and size? That's easy. Just pick the one you think your gift recipient will like. If they don't, they can easily send it back to B&H and replace it with the one they really prefer.
Watches can be very personal, and there are lots of wacky watch straps out there, and yet, someone out there likes and buys them. So, who can predict these kinds of things?
For our buck, we think the Series 4 GPS-only 40mm in Space Gray and a Black Sports Loop is the way to go. So take note, whoever is doing our holiday shopping this year.
Apple Watch Series 4 - B&H Photo
Sony Digital Paper DPT-CP1
A greyscale tablet that doesn't do anything except read PDFs and take notes? Yes, it sounds so boring. And yet, it's become our #1 most favorite tool of the year. And everywhere we travel, people go out of their way to come up and ask us what it is.
The DPT-CP1 is the 10-inch version of this incredibly useful tool, and it's the perfect size. The battery lasts for weeks. We find ourselves reading, brainstorming ideas, taking notes during conversations, and generally just being a whole lot more productive than ever before.
It's not cheap, but this is a gift you can be proud to give to any student. It'll actually lead them to become a better person rather than dig further into the status of cyborg media consumer ant. You can read more in our review of the Sony Digital Paper.
Sony Digital Paper DPT-CP1 - B&H Photo
Filmmakers, videographers, and all creatives spend a lot of time between a computer, carrying heavy bags of gear, driving/traveling, and then getting in weird positions to capture moments.
All of that means a strain on muscles, the back especially. The TheraGun G2PRO is a new percussive massager that's relieves muscle pain, soreness, and tightness, in an incredibly satisfying (and quick) way - 2400 percussions per minute.
It's like getting a massage, but without the hassle of having to setup an appointment and go to a clinic. The TheraGun is new but it's definitely here to stay! Not cheap but wildly worth it.
TheraGun G2Pro - Amazon
Apple iPad Pro
Oh iPad. How utterly useless you seem to be in our daily life, and yet we so, so want you every time you come out with a new version.
The newest iPad Pro is desire in its purest form. So much power, more power than over 90% of laptops today. So much beauty in the screen. So much potential to create, draw, write, make music, innovate, do stuff.
And yet so much dust collecting after about a month of use. Still though, there's no better gift on the planet. The iPad Pro exists wholly to be given as a gift. It's the best thing ever to receive, because we all really want one, and yet, we don't really want to buy one ourselves.
We bought the original iPad Pro 12-inch and have really enjoyed it along with the Apple Pencil, to draw and do stuff or whatever. But it doesn't quite have that sting of amazeballs as our first iPad 2, which we received as a gift. It's now a travel screen for our children, and the feels they felt when they received it as a gift must have been up there, too.
11" or 12.9 inch, don't buy more than the base model. Nobody needs the upgraded space. But the 2nd generation Apple Pencil is for sure a necessary addition.
Apple iPad Pro - all models at B&H Photo
Okay if spending $1000 on a loved one for something that will probably end up as a kid's Youtube screen in a year seems a little absurd, then the very least you could do is buy a pair of AirPods as a gift.
Like the iPod, there's not a person on Earth who doesn't sort of want a pair of Apple's wireless bluetooth earbuds that look like earrings. But most of us can't bring us to buy it ourselves.
Thus, the perfect gift.
Apple AirPods - B&H Photo