Small accessories that will get the photographer trying out a new technique (though you should expect they might replace your gift if they really get into the technique), some examples:
- A GorillaPod mini tripod (if they have no tripod or only a huge one)
- A cheap tripod (assuming they don't have a Pro camera/lenses)
- A shutter release cable
- A shutter release cable with inbuilt timers (for time-lapse or timed long exposure)
- ND (neutral density) filter (or a set of a few they can combine)
Any of these will allow/encourage some long exposure experimentation.
Filters or flash accessories:
- Circular polarizing filter
- Graduated ND filter
- tinted or coloured filters
- tinted/coloured gels for a flash unit
- flash diffuser (maybe a simple one, maybe a nice Gary Fong or equivalent)
Some filters are more useful, others are just novelty, but they can be fun to play around with. Flash accessories are also quite useful or maybe just a bit of fun. Either way it can encourage a bit of artistic messing around, outside the box of their usual photographic style.
Cheap prime lens:
I know Canon & Nikon have pretty cheap 50mm lenses (around $100 or a bit over). They're very nice lenses if they don't already have a prime around 50mm.
A camera bag
- First camera bag (how do they not have one?!)
- A smaller, one-camera-with-lens bag (snout?)
- A larger backpack style (might break $100 though)
They might have a bag already, but perhaps they need a smaller bag for when they're just taking the SLR with attached lens or a bigger bag that fits their expanding collection (the latter is probably getting past $100 though).
Specialist photog software, for example...
- HDR software (Photomatix?)
- Noise reduction (Noise Ninja?)
- Anything by Nik (there's a variety of apps)
- Panorama stitching program
It's not photoshop, but there's some good software around that'll do one specific technique very well. HDR is pretty fun and accessible and Photomatix is about the right price.
Second hand gear off eBay or from your own collection
- An old Film SLR + 50mm prime + some B&W film
- A DIY reverse-lens macro made from an old second hand manual focus & aperture prime lens, a body cap from their brand of camera, some glue/tubes/...
Whether its old gear (you can get some very good stuff for $50-100) or modded gear if you've got the skills, you could give them something fun to play with and learn from. There's a lot to be said for learning from prime lenses and B&W film photography.
Note For most of these suggestions, you'll need to know at least what sort of camera(s) the gift receiver owns, and probably also what lens(es) they own as well. If you can't find out, you might want to make sure there's a good returns policy and give the salesperson as much info as you can.
- For shutter release cables, you'll need to know the camera brand and model.
- Filter sizes, you need to know the lens brand/model or its filter diameter (often written on the front).
- Flash gels and diffusers, probably best to know the flash brand/model, or at least be able to identify a similarly sized unit in the shop.
- Tripods generally fit any camera (or a small cheap adaptor can allow it to). If uncertain, know the brand/model of the camera.
- The cheap 50mm f/1.8 lenses are specific to their brand (Nikon/Canon). In general, you'd need to know the camera body model / brand to be sure of a purchase.
And remember, these are things that'll inspire them to try a new technique. If they really enjoy it, they'll probably go and spend 10x what you spent on an upgrade to what you got them, so don't be too offended if a few months later they've replaced your gift (my mum was a bit miffed when I bought a carbon fibre tripod a few months after she gave me a GorillaPod).