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Mostly Lisa’s Last Minute Holiday Shopping Guide for Photographers

For those of you procrastinate on holiday shopping until the last minute, I understand your pain. We are indeed kindred spirits.. :P Here is a quick list to hopefully help you find some excellent photography gifts.

1. The Canon S95 ($369)

This little compact camera will knock your socks off. Excellent low light capabilities and great sharpness and vibrancy. The price fluctuates a lot on Amazon, so check it on B&H and Adorama as well.

2. Blackrapid RS-W1 Camera Strap for Girls or the RS-7 for Boys ($58)

I have used Black Rapid straps for the past two years and my neck personally thanks me on a daily basis. I couldn’t live with out this strap. Plus, the new girlie model looks much better with evening wear :P

3. Canon 50mm f/1.4

My first lens and one of my favourites. Great for portraits and food shots. A lot of new parents love this lens for baby photos. Tack sharp and super light to carry. If the $400 price tag is too much, get the 50mm f/1.8. At $100 it is a steal for a f/1.8 lens. If you shoot Nikon try their 50mm f/1.4.

4. Canon 100mm f/2.8L $879

If you have the $$, this lens says “I love you” on so many levels. This lens is one of the most beautiful lenses I’ve worked with. A must for photographers that love macros. It also works as an amazing portrait lens.

5. Moo Postcards ($19.99 for 10)

An excellent sentimental gift from one photographer to another or someone special. I just made postcards of my Disneyland trip and they turned out sensational. You won’t be able to get these before Xmas, so make an IOU for the New Year.

6. Wescott Collapsible Umbrella Flash Kit ($69)

For $69 this is an excellent off-camera flash kit. It’s $50 off right now, so it’s a great time to buy it. I’ve been really happy with my new lighting set-up from Wescott, so I highly recommend their stuff.  :)

Lisa's new Manfrotto 055CXPRO3 tripod!

7. Manfrotto 055CXPRO3 Carbon Fiber 3 Section Tripod $400

This tripod has changed my life. I have nearly dunked my dSLR into a river several times because of a crappy tripod. It really is an investment for keeping your camera safe. This tripod is so secure, even for bigger lenses and light to carry for a massive tripod. If $400 seems too steep for a tripod, then try the Manfrotto 190CXPRO3 ($259). It’s a bit more weighty, but still a great tripod.

8. Manfrotto 498RC2 Ball Head with Quick Release $129

Again, another recent purchase I couldn’t be happier with. It’s not a super expensive ball head, but it works excellently and the quick release is a game changer. You can mount your camera in seconds and release it even quicker.

5dMKII video set up

9. Rode VideoMic Directional Video Condenser Microphone ($149)

This is the best lightweight directional mic out there. Great for shooting videos with the 7D or 5DMKIIs. Improves sound quality 10 fold. I’ve had mine for over 3 years, throughout the 2010 Olympics, and it’s still one of my most used pieces of gear.

10. Canon 430EX II Flash ($265) or the Nikon SB-600 ($219)

If you are thinking of doing portrait work or shooting events, you need a flash. The 430 is smaller and lighter than the 580EX and works well as an on-camera flash and as a second flash for off-camera strobist stuff. I have used it as a main strobe for portraits as well. I can’t speak for the Nikon version but David Hobby likes the Nikon SB-600 so I guess it’s good. There is a newer model, the SB-700 ($259) that’s worth a look as well.

11. Lumiquest LQ-119 The Softbox III ($38) AND the Sto-Fen Omni-bounce ($13)

Both are essential for an event photographer! I’ve been using an Omni-bounce for events and personal photos — like my trip to Disneyland. The Omni works great for shots of one or two people, but isn’t great for big groups, which you get a lot of at conferences and weddings. This is why you need something a bit beefier like the Lumiquest Softbox to direct nice soft, diffused light on your subjects!

12. Rosco’s Strobist Collection, 55 Piece Gel Filter Kit ($10)

Flash light generally makes people look like the undead, so slap on a nice orange gel and everyone will look like they just got back from a week in Hawaii. As well as being corrective filters, you can also use these gels to create fun and cool experimental photos.

Wescott TD5 Spiderlite

13. Spiderlite TD5 Head ($363)

I just got one and I love it. Continuous light is perfect for video and great for stills. If you are a photographer that does both video and stills, this is an excellent lighting head. The daylight balanced fluorescents stay cool even when they’ve been on for hours. And I know because my boyfriend is currently using one as a lamp :| Not impressed.

14. Adobe Lightroom 3 ($299)

In all honesty, this is one of the best gifts you can give a photographer. My pictures would not look nearly as good without Lightroom. It’s noise reduction software alone is worth the price. I do almost all my RAW processing in Lightroom before I work on my shots in Photoshop. You can do almost everything in Lightroom, including dodging & burning and painting and trust me once you learn how to unlock the power of Lighroom — photographic glory will be yours!

15. Photojojo’s Bokeh Kit for dSLRs ($25)

Seriously fun and very addictive for bokeh nuts especially with a tree full of sparkly lights nearby…

16. Oh Snap! Camera Necklace ($18)

Cute little gift for the female photographer in your life.

Those are my recommendations without any affiliations or freebees :P, so these are all things I use and love. I hope my list helps ease your holiday shopping whoas a little or maybe gives you some ideas to put on your wish list for 2011!

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    Tweets that mention Mostly Lisa’s Last Minute Holiday Shopping Guide for Photographers | MostlyLisa.com | Photography tips & tricks -- Topsy.com
    December 19, 2010 at 4:15 AM

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Kurt Stofferis and Norm Zarr. Norm Zarr said: Mostly Lisa's Last Minute Holiday Shopping Guide for Photographers …: Mostly Lisa's Guide to Photographing Mo… http://bit.ly/hFG2y8 […]

  • Reply
    Danijel Šivinjski
    December 19, 2010 at 4:24 AM

    Nice, thanks for sharing this (;

  • Reply
    Marco Markovich
    December 19, 2010 at 5:24 AM

    Cool! Thanks, Lisa.

  • Reply
    Joe Ford
    December 19, 2010 at 8:15 AM

    Lots of great ideas. One thing the SB-600 was discontinued and replace with SB-700. Both are great flashes.

  • Reply
    December 19, 2010 at 10:05 AM

    For Canadians, if you want to examine prices you may want to check out the following site:


    It lists various Canadian stores, as well as a few American stores (taking into account shipping, exchange rate, etc.).

  • Reply
    December 19, 2010 at 6:03 PM

    Thanks Lisa! Looking forward to seeing what I can add to my 550D when I get it later this month :) Keep up the good work!

  • Reply
    December 20, 2010 at 5:57 AM

    Great list with truly nice and mostly useful suggestions! Thanks for sharing:)

    And… isn’t that camera necklace just too cute?!

  • Reply
    Dawn R
    December 20, 2010 at 3:30 PM

    I see you’re another loyal Amazon shopper! Finding the lowest price can be a pain, but I’ve been using this (free) tool from http://www.freepricealerts.com – which lets you know the lowest price seller for any Amazon item! You can also get an upgraded version for a few bucks that gives you a chart of the price fluctuations on a particular camera for the entire year and offers projections to help you get the best deal. Love it!

  • Reply
    Tom Ansley
    December 21, 2010 at 12:10 AM

    Thanks for the smart suggestions!

  • Reply
    December 21, 2010 at 9:14 AM

    I can’t speak to the S95, but I own the S90 (the older brother to the S95) and it’s amazing. Truly a “photographer’s point-and-shoot”, as I’ve heard it described.

    @Lisa – might I request some way of (easily) accessing older content on your site? I’m a new reader and am learning a ton. But without Google or your embedded content links to other good content, it’s nearly impossible to dig into the wealth of info you have on the site. I’ve seen lots of references to content series’ or other interesting follow-on articles, but if I can’t find it by googling, it effectively doesn’t exist.


  • Reply
    s h e r r y
    December 21, 2010 at 4:20 PM

    :):) Thanks for compiling this list. Haha. I want most of these now ;D

  • Reply
    December 22, 2010 at 8:51 PM

    You should replace that Lumiquest soft box with the Westcott Micro Apollo. A much better on camera speedlite soft box.

  • Reply
    December 23, 2010 at 4:50 AM

    Oh and I ordered that Westcott umbrella setup. Portraiture has never been my thing but I need to get some use out of my 580 EX II and learn how to do the off camera lighting thing.

  • Reply
    Leslie Uhl
    December 28, 2010 at 9:29 PM

    Awesome site, Lisa!
    I just found your site and love it and your great suggestions, thanks for sharing them.

  • Reply
    January 24, 2011 at 9:03 PM

    Got me that Black Rapid RS-7 based on your suggestion, love that thing! Makes dragging around my 70-200 f/2.8L on photo walks much more manageable, thanks again!

  • Reply
    March 19, 2011 at 2:20 PM

    Great blog! Love the photo’s and wisdom you share! I also couldn’t agree more with you “last minute shopping guide”. All great advice/wisdom. I have a Canon S95 and its far and away the best camera (pound for pound) that I have ever owned.
    Keep it coming and continued success to you always!
    Jeff Borden

  • Reply
    John Ha
    September 6, 2011 at 8:44 PM

    Lisa, great recommendations. It’s been a few months, do you still like your tripod and head combination? Thx!

  • Reply
    Over Exposed » 10 Christmas gifts for your photographer under $100
    November 25, 2011 at 1:46 PM

    […] if your looking for some more photography Christmas ideas you can check out Mostly Lisa’s blog list1/list2, where I got some of my ideas from such as the Westcott […]

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