I get it. I really do. Before I was a photographer, I had the same issue myself: photographers are hard to buy gifts for. (Well, they are if you are simply choosing a gift based on this specific hobby – I'm actually pretty easy to buy for, if you broaden the categories to include Schwarzenegger movies, pro wrestling and videogames.)
There are many reasons why photographers are hard to buy gifts for, the most obvious being that photography is pretty impenetrable if you don't know anything about it. Remember buying your first camera and lens? The alphabet soup of model names, all the confusing numbers on lenses, the fact that stuff from one brand doesn't usually work on another…
There's also the fact that photography is a ridiculously expensive pastime. Once you move past lens cloths, just about any other accessory starts getting pretty pricey.
All of this means that things are surprisingly challenging for your partner, your parents, your kids, your colleagues or any other poor soul who wants to get you a photography related gift. Which leads us, inevitably, to one thing…
THE LENS MUG.
You already know the lens mug. I dare say that you already know because you already have one. For my sins, I have two. Both of them are designed to look like Canon lenses, with the signature red ring and the EF-S mount designation.
This is the first problem with these lens mugs: they all rip off the design of Canon lenses. Which makes them extra infuriating to receive if you don't actually use a Canon camera.
No matter which gift company is making them (the one here is apparently from Twitfish), they all rip off the look of an L-lens thanks to its recognizable design cues. And, in fairness, they do look fairly authentic. For whatever that's worth.
Being that they're designed to look like lenses, though, they don't feature a handle. Something that isn't very helpful, especially if you're drinking a hot drink – which you would be inclined to do, given the Thermos-like heat retaining nature of the mugs.
At this point, I will concede that Canon Japan made some actually quite nice lens mugs a couple of years ago – which were more palatable because they were tasteful official replicas of lenses (not crap with "Twitfish" written on the side) and one of them also came with a handle.
I feel kinda bad, because two very lovely people bought me these mugs in the past. And they were very gratefully received. But I simply do not use them. Moreover, nobody who comes to the house wants to use them, either.
They're as bad as those awful t-shirts that say "I SHOOT PEOPLE" on them. They will sadly, inevitably, spend the rest of their lives at the back of whatever cupboard they are immediately shoved into, never to return again.
So please, just as you shouldn't give a puppy for Christmas, you shouldn't give a photographer a lens mug for Christmas. Or ever, for that matter.