Before you run away, let me explain. I am well aware the average cost of decent lenses are about $500, but I have some options that will save your wallet from feeling empty inside. The best way to expand a lens collection is to buy old. Vintage lenses go for dirt cheap on websites like Amazon and eBay. In some cases these lenses are BETTER than the fancy schmancy ones that can break the bank. I recently bought an old telephoto lens for my Canon for $12. The modern day equivalent is over $300. Do your research to find out what kind of lenses works with what camera and whether or not you’ll need to purchase an adapter to mount your new, old lens to a camera. Here’s a great resource for you.
Every photographer needs a decent collection of filters. There’s tons of them out there and they typically range in price from $15–$100. Some personal favorites are the ND filter, Circular Polarizer filter and a warming filter. Those filters provide the most use and best yet, you can find them cheap at Best Buy. Don’t let them talk you into buying the expensive ones, they do basically the same thing. For a guide to purchasing camera filters start here.
3) Artistic photos for less money
Photographers are always looking for different ways to capture an interesting picture. Buying a toy camera or toy lens is the easiest and cheapest way to do this. Toy cameras are a throwback to the analog days of photography. These cameras attempt to capture the feeling of the past through old methods in a movement called lomography. Instead of focusing on razor sharp images, lomography tries to get back to the roots of film photography – focusing on the simple joy of not knowing what sort of image you can create through minimal resources. Toy cameras range from $10-$75 and they vary in purpose and style. I have played around with these cameras and it’s really fun to see what you can get. This is an especially good gift idea if the person you are shopping for is a hipster. For a more detailed guide to lomography and the cameras check this out.
With any hobby, there’s always something extra you can pick up to add to the ever-growing repertoire. Photography can get expensive, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find awesome gifts at amazing prices. Happy shopping! Let us know if you have any other cool ideas for photography gifts or a local spot that has great finds.
—By Andrew Scholz