As a general rule, photographers can never have enough gear. And there is nothing that pleases us more than receiving practical and useful photography-related gifts. It’s true that most of the items on our “Dear Santa lists” loom in the 1K+ department, but there are plenty of little odds and ends in the under $200 that we all need and would love to receive.
1. Kata Sensitivity V ($90): Is the slimmest, sexiest photo/laptop combo bag out there. It has enough room for your dSLR, two or three small lenses e.g., 35mm, 50mm & 85mm), a 15″ laptop, and a flash. It has lovely little pockets for pens and memory cards as well. It is extremely comfortable and is excellent for travel & everyday use.
2. Crumpler photo bags: Crumpler makes the funkiest, designer photo bags on the market. If you have a teen shutterbug on your list, definitely opt for one of the limited edition”X Million Dollar House” bags. The 3 Million Dollar House $55 is perfect for light travel with just your camera body and one lens. I use the 6 Million Dollar House $119 for camera body + two small lenses. They are well-constructed, as well as being fun and flashy. They also have a pretty neat neck strap for $30 called Industry Disgrace.
3. BlackRapid RS-5 strap: Neck pain is one of the huge downsides of lugging your camera around with you all day. Unfortunately, as a photographer, that’s your job! So give your photo sweetie the gift of a better camera strap. I’ve been using mine for a week and love it. Yes it’s a bit bulky, and may look dorky with evening wear, but hey, we’re not the ones that are supposed to look pretty! Also, camera straps that say “Canon 5DMKII” on them are basically large, flashing signs that say, “Hey thieves, please steal me!” Sacrificing boasting rights > having your baby nicked!
4. Portable 5-in-1 Collapsible Reflector: Every photographer needs reflectors in all sizes, so you can never go wrong with a 5-in-one reflector. For portrait photographers, opt for a 22″ – 38″ multidisc, for fashion/wedding photogs opt for 48″ or bigger. There is no real difference in quality between brands so save your $$s and buy the cheapest one.
5. Memory cards: No photographer will turn their nose up at a high speed 8-16GB CF or SD card. Sandisk Extreme IIIs are ace. Seriously, you can never have enough. Also, some photographers prefer shooting on 2 or 4GB cards, in case something happens to the card, they haven’t lost as many shots. I like shooting on big cards. The more images I can pack in without having to change the card, the better.
6. Spare Camera Batteries: Sounds like a really unromantic gift, but imagine the joy your shutterbug will experience when a battery dies at mid-shoot and they realize they have a spare battery in their bag. I would give that gift giver the biggest hug ever. If you aren’t a technical sort, you’ll need to find out what camera battery your photographer’s camera takes. If you can’t get access to their camera to, ask google. I heard Google knows a lot of crazy things.
7. Fuji Instax from Photojojo: Polaroids are coming back with a vengeance! Teens and hipster 20-somethings, are in love with the immediacy and creative possibilities of shooting Polaroid. I just got mine and I have to say that it is a very fun camera to experiment with. (The Instax is currently out of stock, but they should have it in soonish.) Check out the Photojojo store, they have lots of neat photography-related gifts.
8. 50mm f/1.8 ($100): This is the best gift you could buy a newbie photographer. Shooting on a prime lens forces you to learn framing and good composition techniques, instead of relying on the dreaded zoom on a kit lens. If you are feeling generous, opt for the 50mm f/1.4 ($350). It is one of the most beautiful & crisp lenses out there.
9. Basic Lighting kit: For budding fashion, beauty & portrait photographers, a lighting kit is essential. They can be quite pricy, so if you are only looking to spend less than $100, just buy one light stand, or one shoot-through umbrella. I would be over the moon, if someone bought me a lovely new umbrella to replace the one that turned inside out during a particularly windy shoot. :S
10: Flash ($250-450): Again for the budding portrait photographer, an off-camera flash is essential. They are pricey: The Canon 430EX is about $250. Buy some rechargable AA batteries and a charger as a bonus gift to get extra smiles!
11. Alien Bee’s Cyber Sync Wireless Triggers: ($150) For the Strobists out there, nothing would be more appreciated than some wireless radio transmitters. I’ve been using these strobe triggers for a year now and I can vouch for their unfailing accuracy. They are about 1/3 the price of Pocket Wizards.
12. Camera cleaning kit: Might not get the ladies swooning, but I’d be pleased as punch to receive a new cleaning kit. Again, cleaning fluid is cleaning fluid, so don’t get sucked into buying the expensive name brand stuff.
13. Flickr Pro membership: For $24 you can hook a budding photographer up with a place to share their photos, make unlimited albums of their content, and mingle with other shutterbugs.
14. Gorilla pod: ($50-100) For super creative types, nothing spells F-U-N like a tripod with bendable legs. Think of all the cool shots you can get by hooking your camera up to railings and tree branches? Oh yes. So much fun! I recommend the SLR-zoom with ball head combo ($89) for most dSLRs (Nikon d90, Canon rebels) & the Focus ($100) for pro cameras, like my baby, the 5DMKII.
15. The Moment it Clicks book by Joe McNally ($32) Gorgeous book that will inspire any photographer. It’s less a how-to book and more a behind-the-scenes look at some of Joe’s most amazing work. Check out Joe’s blog too. Lots of good, free advice!
16. Lynda.com subscription: Every photographer needs to have a handle on post-processing in Photoshop. Lynda makes it easy peasy to learn all the essentials and advance techniques for retouching and processing your photos in short instructional tutorials. It’s well worth the subscription fee!
17. Old film camera: If you have an old film camera gathering dust in your closet, consider passing it on to a young, budding photographer in your family. If it is in need of repair, head to your local photography store, and get it tuned up. If there is nothing wrong with it, then it shouldn’t cost you very much at all to buff it up a little. Throw in a few rolls of film and maybe some printing vouchers and you’ve got a very touching, sentimental gift.
18. Photo lesson voucher: If you are a more senior or pro photographer, consider giving a newbie shutterbug an inspiring photo lesson. The gift of knowledge and experience is worth more than all the items on the list above.
Hope this list has helped you with your last minute present buying & Happy Holiday shopping! Remember to bring your iPod and noise-canceling headphones when you head to the mall because you might experience violent head pain after hearing the the latest Miley Cyrus Xmas tune over and over again.
Questions about any of the items above? Or more suggestions? Comment below!