I'm a photographer. PLEASE don't give me this for Christmas (again!)

camera lens mug
(Image credit: James Artaius)

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… 


DO NOT BUY SOMEBODY ONE OF THESE. (Image credit: James Artaius)

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. 

If you really have to, buy these instead. But you still should not buy somebody one of these.  (Image credit: Canon)

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. 

Want inspiration for last-minute Xmas shopping?
Best Christmas gifts for photographers
I want these photography books for Christmas
Virtual presents for photographers

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James Artaius

The editor of Digital Camera World, James has 21 years experience as a journalist and started working in the photographic industry in 2014 (as an assistant to Damian McGillicuddy, who succeeded David Bailey as Principal Photographer for Olympus). In this time he shot for clients like Aston Martin Racing, Elinchrom and L'Oréal, in addition to shooting campaigns and product testing for Olympus, and providing training for professionals. This has led him to being a go-to expert for camera and lens reviews, photo and lighting tutorials, as well as industry news, rumors and analysis for publications like Digital Camera MagazinePhotoPlus: The Canon MagazineN-Photo: The Nikon MagazineDigital Photographer and Professional Imagemaker, as well as hosting workshops and talks at The Photography Show. He also serves as a judge for the Red Bull Illume Photo Contest. An Olympus and Canon shooter, he has a wealth of knowledge on cameras of all makes – and a fondness for vintage lenses and instant cameras.