They say you can never have too many cameras, or too much equipment. Or maybe it's just me who says that. But it really is true. Really.
Most of us, though, don't actually buy all the cool new toys we want because while they look fun and/or useful, we just can't justify the expense. Hey! That's what Christmas is for. So what do you want this year? Let me tell you.
Gifts for $10 and under
If you've never left your lens cap behind, or in your back pocket on laundry day - if you've never dropped it in the sand or off the side of a cliff, then skip ahead because this gift idea is not for you. For the rest of us, the "Nice Clip"a simple little clip that attaches to your lens cap--is a handy way to keep your lens cap on your person at all times, so you don't have to worry about losing or dropping it. And at just under $10, it's an affordable gift for any photographer.
Memory cards are convenient, but there's one small problem - they're small. If you're the sort of guy who loses lens caps, you're probably in danger of losing those little memory cards, too. A memory card case, then, is just what you need. You (or someone who loves you) can pick up one of these little cases for between five and twelve dollars. Each one holds between four and eight cards. There are soft cases and hard cases all in this price range, so shop around until you find one you like. And don't worry, being absent minded is a sign of genius.
Gifts $25 and under
Winter doesn't mean staying indoors in front of a fire, not if you're a serious photographer. Winter is full of opportunities for spectacular photos - if only that didn't have to mean numb fingers. But alas, you can't work all those tiny little buttons with your gloves on, or can you? The answer, of course, is photographer's gloves - gloves that have fingertips that can be flipped back and forth to expose or cover your fingers as necessary. There are many different incarnations of this idea, but what makes Freehands Gloves special is the magnets that keep the finger caps folded out of the way when not in use.
In case the term "bokeh" is a new one for you, it refers to the way your camera renders the out-of-focus parts of a scene. Often, the word is used to describe those out-of-focus points of light, especially those with aesthetically pleasing qualities. You know, cool blobs of light. Now you may or may not know that there's a simple trick you can employ to make those bokeh become identifiable shapes - using the sort of shape punch you can get at a craft store, you can cut lens-sized pieces of cardboard with, say, a Christmas tree punched out of the center, and then you can tape it over your lens, shoot some holiday lights and voila! Christmas tree shaped bokeh. Of course, your friends and family would like to save you the trouble, so instead of getting you a craft punch and some black cardstock they're going to get you one of these $25 bokeh kits, made from plastic and attached with a super high-tech rubber band.
Gifts $50 and under
If you don't already own a Gorilla Pod, you've probably at least seen them. They're those cool little flexible tripods that you can use to mount your camera to almost anything. Have you ever wished you could do the same thing with a light source? Well guess what! Now you can. The Gorilla Torch is the same concept, only it's an ultra-bright floodlight with three adjustable brightness levels, six light modes and three red LEDs that will help you see in the dark.
Do you miss those old retro-cool film cameras? Or maybe you're a bit too young to miss them, but you still understand the coolness factor of an old retro-cool film camera. Now, lomography (that branch of photography where you actually use one of those old retro-cool film cameras to take pictures) is a pretty fun hobby but not for everyone. If you like the look of those old cameras but you mostly shoot with your iPhone and can't be bothered to mess around with film, the Gizmon iPhone case is the best of both worlds. Just slip your phone into it, attach any camera strap and you've got a retro camera that takes digital photos.
Gifts over $50
If you miss those old film cameras you might also miss film. Sure, we love digital, but there's something almost romantic about those tones that you only see in a vintage photograph or in a specially processed roll of film. If you know some tricks, you can probably make your photos look like film photos in Photoshop, but who has the time for all those extra post-processing steps? Instead, buy Litely (works with Photoshop, Lightroom, Aperture, or Adobe Camera Raw) and you'll get 12 presets that will transform your digital images into photos that look like they were shot with film.
If you're like me, it's not the expense of sending your camera away to have the sensor cleaned that gets you. It's the stress. You're trusting your beloved DSLR to a shipping company, for a start. Have you seen those guys throw boxes around? Yikes. Plus, you're living without it for two or three weeks, maybe more. It's really just too much to bear. So, why not just clean that sensor yourself? With this kit, it's easy. It comes with a loupe to help you see what you're doing, plus a lenspen cleaning unit and blower to help you get rid of all those annoying specs.
Is your DSLR getting on a little in age? Not ready to trade it in yet for a WiFi capable camera? Now you can wirelessly send photos from your camera to your smart phone, tablet or computer without upgrading your equipment. Yes! All you need is this little SD card that looks just like any other SD card but is actually capable of beaming your photos directly to your iOS or Android device. The manufacturers claim it takes about 10 seconds to set up, so in no time at all you'll be able to use your DSLR to post photos to Facebook or whatever social network you prefer. (Note: you can get more GB and some advanced features if you're willing to spend a little more money.)
Gifts over $50
So now that you have that cool retro camera case for your iPhone, how about a fun lens for your DSLR. The Dreamy Diana Lens will give your digital photos that lomographic look, and you won't have any of the inconvenience of using actual film. The Dreamy Diana Lens will essentially convert your uber-expensive DSLR into a toy camera - and that's a good thing! This lens produces soft, surreal-looking images with low saturation and odd and unpredictable colors.
If you've ever wanted to print pictures on the fly but aren't really interested in buying a Polaroid camera, here's the answer to that problem: this portable photo printer (also by Polaroid) instantly prints borderless 3x4 inch photos where ever you are, and in under a minute. You don't need to buy ink for this little gadget, either--the paper has everything it needs to create the image. Use this printer with your digital camera or your "select cell phone", which basically means you should check the specs before buying since not all phones are compatible.
Now just use that little "print" icon on your web browser to print out a copy of this list. Then stash it in places where your friends and family will be sure to find it. I promise, they'll be grateful to have some gift ideas for their hard-to-please photographer friend/family member. And you'll get some cool new toys from Santa, too.
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