It’s that time of the year again! Time to make your photographic gift list in hopes that Santa will bring you everything your camera bag desires. Also, it’s a great time to get your last-minute shopping in before the end of the year so you can deduct the purchases on your taxes!
We decided to ask a handful of our photo-industry colleagues what products they recommend and/or have on their gift list this holiday season. They came back to us with some great recommendations from cameras, lenses, computers, accessories, and subscriptions. Feel free to share some of your gift ideas in the comment section below!
- David Walter Banks is an American born photographer living in Atlanta, Georgia, and a graduate of the University of Georgia Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication. He is a conceptually based documentary and portrait photographer, focusing on long-term projects and fine art with a background in newspaper journalism. In 2007, he co-founded the photographic cooperative LUCEO Images. During his five years with LUCEO, his duties outside of photography included director of marketing and special projects manager, where his efforts helped garner press from The New York Times Lens Blog, Photo District News, The New Yorker, The British Journal of Photography, and Wired Magazine among many other outlets.
This little digital rangefinder has reinvigorated my personal work. If you are a street photographer, travel photographer, or simply wish you could be a little more discreet, this is a great solution in a fun little retro package.
These sweet little hand-made cases would be a perfect coupling to the Fujifilm X100 or for the Leica enthusiast. Order early though to insure on-time arrival. Disclaimer: Not sure about the customer service, but it’s still on my list.
Whether you are a student or a seasoned professional still photographer transitioning into video, this guide is a great condensed aggregate of concepts, tips, and examples to use as a foundation for building great multimedia.
- New York based editorial and commercial photographer David Bergman is best known for his tour photography, portraiture, and sports imagery. A former Miami Herald staff photographer, he is now Bon Jovi’s tour photographer and has worked with celebrity clients including Drew Carey, Avril Lavigne, Gloria Estefan, and Joss Stone. Sports Illustrated is a regular client and he has 12 covers to his credit including the 2010 Super Bowl. His panoramic Gigapan image of President Obama’s inauguration was viewed online over 15 million times, and he has made similar images at the World Series, Super Bowl, and Final Four. Bergman has produced still and video projects for companies including FremantleMedia, Embassy Row, EMI, and SONY Music and has been published in Rolling Stone, Time, Newsweek, People, Entertainment Weekly, Blender, USA Today, and The New York Times.
Think Tank bags are literally made by working photographers for working photographers. They have consistently developed new bags, cases, backpacks, and rain covers that are smartly designed and take abuse year after year. For a shoot where I’m on my feet shooting all day long, I use the modular beltpack system and add on pieces as I need them. For carrying expensive gear onto an airplane, there is no better set of bags then the rolling “Airport” series. And when I’m falling asleep in the terminal after a long shoot, I use the built-in locking system to attach the bag to my seat.
Who can’t use more storage space? With new cameras pumping out bigger and bigger image files, I constantly need more cards. I love the Sandisk cards and the “Extreme” series, while one step below their fastest model, is a good combination of speed and value. It’ll have no problem keeping up with you and 64GB should last you quite a while. If buying this as a gift, make sure you get the correct card since some cameras shoot CF and others are SD.
For the photographer who has everything, the Lensbaby is a fun addition to their camera bag. They have a series of models now, but the general idea is to create cool effects like an expensive tilt-shift lens or cheap plastic camera. Kind of like Instagram, but for real! I like the original “Muse” model, which is the most challenging and unpredictable. Make sure you buy the correct one for your camera brand.
- Kendrick Brinson (b. 1983) is a freelance documentary, commercial, and editorial photographer based out of Atlanta, Georgia. She worked full-time as an staff photographer for newspapers for over three years after receiving a journalism degree from the University of Georgia in 2005. In 2007, she co-founded LUCEO Images, a six-person photographic cooperative. During her five years with LUCEO, she worked on multimedia and photographic projects both alone and as part of a team. Her duties outside of photography included managing press and social media, through which she amassed more than 6,300 fans on LUCEO’s Facebook page and more than 7,000 followers on Twitter. Kendrick has been recognized and interviewed by The New York Times Lens Blog, PhotoShelter and ASMP Bulletin, among others, for her success in engaging the photographic community through social media.
I’ve always enjoyed shooting with instant film, whether it’s expired or new. This camera is a lot of fun to play with and the quality of this film is remarkable. The color and detail is so crisp, it’ll surprise you.
I love shooting with natural light and am not big on using artificial light unless I have to. This small, very portable light, however, isn’t cumbersome and adds a soft light when just a touch is needed for portrait shoots.
I love these cameras bags. They are made by a photographer and there are bags that look like purses or messenger bags and are great if you want to bring along a flash and extra lens or two. I have the Hobo bag and use it when I want to look a little more professional and classy, instead of a photographer that often sits in the dirt or climbs a tree to get the photo.
- Robert Caplin is a full-time freelance editorial, corporate, and portrait photographer based in New York City and is founder and co-editor of Photo Brigade. He’s a regular contributor to the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, and the Wall Street Journal, and his work has been published in National Geographic, Sports Illustrated and Vanity Fair, among others.
I travel a fair amount and whether I’m at a hotel or my parents home, my wife and I are always looking for plugs to power our laptops and phones. I’ve found this to be a great portable power strip that gives 3 outlets as well as two usb ports to charge up to 5 devices. It’s also a surge protector!
I’ve been to big venues that have commercial power strips like this and always thought how much I wanted one. Well, I finally ordered it and it’s really made for a much more organized cable situation behind my desk. If you’re into woodworking and power tools, this is great for the garage!
Handy power inverter for your car so you can charge your phone and a camera battery at the same time….or a even a blender!
Don’t be a great photographer who fails simply because you’re not business savvy. Tips about negotiating contracts, licensing, making the career change from a staff photographer to a freelancer, surviving an IRS audit, and more. A must read!
Listen up… if you’re serious about your photography, you MUST start building your archives through PhotoShelter. Not only is it a wonderfully manageable place to store and make your archives searchable to photo buyers worldwide, but it’s an amazing image delivery tool for your clients whether it be for a corporate gig, a wedding, you name it! PhotoShelter makes it super simple to sell prints and even make a slick portfolio website. My entire business is built around this product. PhotoShelter has been so kind to offer our readers a 30-day trial for FREE… You have no excuse now!
Lensbaby makes some really nice and inexpensive alternative to the expensive tilt/shift lenses made by Nikon and Canon. This kit gives you two multiple lenses, focal lengths, and a nice bag to carry them all in. Check out some of the reviews here.
I’ve had my eye on ONA for a while now because of their stylish designs and hoping they’d make a bag small enough for my Leica kit. Finally they have and it’s definitely on my wish list!
I order nearly everything online…and there’s one place I know I can find EVERYTHING from camera gear to toilet paper: Amazon.com. Amazon Prime is really a great value if you order a lot of items online as it gives you FREE 2nd-day shipping on most items…and often items come next day too. Additionally you get access to thousands of movies and TV shows to stream through the website and additionally 1 free book to “borrow” from the Kindle Lending Library. Also, you can give 5 friends the benefit of free 2nd day shipping with your membership!
- Melissa Golden lives in the DC metro area, but she isn’t really from anywhere in particular. Her nomadic childhood, courtesy of the United States military, has led to a life marked by continuous change, renewal and wanderlust. Her work is influenced by all the places she’s called home at some point- the brazen oddity and beauty of Southern California, the tradition of the Deep South, the storm light of rural Florida, the heady intrigue of the Middle East and the stiff formality of the District of Columbia. She may not know where she’s going next, but her pictures help her to keep track of where she’s been.
This little device looks like a must-have for all the prosumer-camera-toting brothers and sisters-in-law out there. I got one for my own brother to put on top of his Digital Rebel. I can’t vouch for its actual performance, but the design should indicate to anyone with a basic knowledge of how light works that it’s likely to be a vast improvement over direct on-camera pop-up flash for all your kid and pet photography needs.
I’m beyond tired of hauling my beast of a MacBook Pro around with me when I travel. I’ve been eyeing a conversion to the light side for a while now, and the 13” MacBook Air with the storage, processor, and memory maxed out should suit my road needs beautifully.
I bought two of Canon’s new speedlites along with the radio transmitter a few months ago and I want more. As a Canon shooter, it is hands-down the best speedlite system I’ve ever worked with. ILOVEITSOMUCH.
It’s the classiest pan-photo industry magazine. Unlike some of the other trade mags out there, you won’t be ashamed to display the issues on your coffee table- or in your bathroom. That’s where all the best reading gets done, after all.
Yousuf Karsh is the grandmaster of 20th century portrait photography. I will fight anyone who disagrees. This book, which features his portraits of the most important people of the century paired with his behind the scenes stories would be a wonderful present for the thoughtful portraitist in your life. Or me. Buy me one.
- Mike Isler is a Florida native who’s been living in NYC for five years. His photography background is in adventure sports photography, and currently provides consulting services on photo and video productions. Aviation has been a passion of his from an early age, and led him to start pilot training at the age of 15. He is a fixed-wing pilot, and also an aerial coordinator and technician for helicopter-based photo and video projects. Technology is central to Mike’s skillset, and he brings the latest techniques and a fun spirit to his productions. He’s played an integral role on projects for National Geographic, Goldman Sachs, Cosmopolitan, Accenture, Wired, Condé Nast, the band Evanescence, and many others.
With photographers traveling with many power-hungry portable devices, don’t be left with a dead battery out in the field. The Mophie Powerstation can recharge two devices at the same time, and is perfect for topping up your iPhone, iPad, BlackBerry, Bluetooth Speaker, GoPro, mobile WiFi hotspot eor any other USB device. Relatively cheap insurance to keep in the bag at all times.
I rely on Capture One whenever working tethered to Canon or Nikon SLRs, or any number of medium format digi backs. Image quality is outstanding, and it’s a one-stop-shop. Set a look for an image and add a crop, and all subsequent captures will show up with the same adjustments. It can also be used in conjunction with Capture Pilot on an iPad to show images on the tablet just seconds after they’re captured, keeping a client in the loop.
LaCie Rugged USB3 and Thunderbolt
This drive is smoking fast. Make a quick backup of images on the spot after a shoot. Move files quickly. If you’ve got USB3 and/or a Thunderbolt port, you’re in for a treat. It’ll eat your FW800 drive for breakfast. Time is money!
- Josh Lehrer is a Leica Specialist at Dale Photo Digital who works with consumers and professionals alike to make sure that all photographic needs are filled and is also the editor of Red Dot Forum.
For a compact camera with pro-level features I’d recommend the Leica D-Lux 6. With a 24-90mm lens that has a maximum aperture of f/1.4 at the wide end, this camera is perfect for low-light shooting. Featuring RAW capture, full manual control with a real aperture ring, HD video, and a built-in 3 stop neutral density filter this little powerhouse delivers where it counts, but maintains a small, sleek form factor.
A true, made-in-Germany Leica, the X2 has an APS-C sized sensor, with a 1.5x crop factor. In fact, it’s the same sensor featured in the well-loved Nikon D7000. The lens is equivalent to a 36mm f/2.8 and is perfect for the travel or street photographer. The Leica X2 comes in black or silver and is simple, elegant, with a no-frills design that emphasizes quick access to aperture and shutter speed controls.
Every photography enthusiast is familiar with the legendary Leica brand, and this new book chronicles Leica’s cultural impact over the past 99 years. Limited to less than 1500 copies in North America, Ninety Nine Years Leica has a collection of photographs and original artwork and makes a perfect gift for a book shelf or coffee table.
OK I threw this one in just for fun, but it is hard to deny the cool factor of the new Ostrich Edition of Leica’s superb Ultravid 10×25 binoculars. The binoculars come with a matching leather case with the same (simulated) ostrich leather design. They are compact enough to fit in your pockets or the front section of most camera bags. Only 750 of these sets will be made available worldwide!
- C.S. Muncy is a freelance photojournalist based out of New York City with a client list that includes The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Newsday, The New York Daily News and The Village Voice. As a freelancer, he’s covered such subjects as the BP Oil Spill, the fight for same-sex civil rights, the takeover of the state capitol in Madison, Wisconsin and Occupy Wall Street. A graduate of the Defense Information School, he enlisted in the United States Air Force in 2002 and is currently a photographer with the New York Air National Guard.
Last year my fiance bought me the GoPro HD Hero 2 for my birthday, and it turned out to be one of the most useful tools I’ve ever picked up. Whenever I cover a story where’s there’s the possibility of trouble, I wear it with the chest rig; though it feels like I’m wearing a training bra, does make for some pretty awesome videos. For photographers who shoot in extreme environments, the Hero 3 is perfect. Smaller than the previous models, the camera shoots 1080p30 / 960p48 / 720p60fps video, and 11 megapixel stills in 10 frame bursts. It also has built in WiFi, and can be used with the free GoPro iPod app.
Every photographer should have a 50mm prime lens in their kit. I know of several professional news shooters who often carry nothing more than a couple of primes who consistently put out solid work. The focus is fast and tack-sharp, and the build is surprisingly solid. While the 1.4 version might work better in lower light, for beginners and shooters on a budget, you can’t go wrong with this lens.
I picked this item up two years ago, and it’s turned out to be one of the best investments I’ve ever made. Weather resistant and tough as nails, the Chest Vest carries multiple professional lenses and bodies, depending on your setup. I’ve even modified mine to prominently display my press pass. Traditional camera and lens bags tend to get in the way when you shoot with a sling-style strap. Not so with the Chest Vest; and while it may look cumbersome, nothing quite beats having everything you need right in front of you.
Shooting video on the go, even with the small DSLR’s that are now on the market, can be incredibly difficult. Holding even the lightest camera for more than a few minutes can be incredibly tiring, so I always carry a monopod with me for support. The great thing about this particular model, aside from how insanely sturdy it is, are the feet that unfold at the bottom. They provide enough resistance to keep the camera in place while giving just enough slack to allow you to move and pivot it when you need to.
Shooting a news scene is only half the battle when it comes to being a good photojournalist; the other half come from being able to file your images faster than the competition. In comes the Eye-Fi SD card. With this card, you can select and upload your images to your phone and instantly send them to your editors. I still carry my netbook with me whenever I go on assignment, but for every day shooting (or the unexpected spot news scene) nothing beats being able to file on the spot.
I like the idea of being able to essentially carry a studio’s worth of light-modifiers in your camera bag.
it’s modular nature and rigid body makes it more adaptable to multiple applications than say, the Gary Fong-type attachments.
- Dean Neistat was born and raised in CT. After he graduated from the University of South Carolina, he spent 7 years in the USAF flying the C-17. He completed his service in 2012 as a decorated Instructor Pilot with more than 500 combat hours and several deployments. He settled in NYC to pursue a career as a Stuntman, Actor and Photographer. He is represented by Polaris Images.
I’ve tried nearly every variation of pocketknife and multi-tool and this is my favorite. It functions as well as any full-size multitool but adds the convenience of one-handed blade opening and is the size and weight of a normal pocketknife. They were standard issue for C-17 crew members.
In the 8 years since I bought this light, I dropped it 25′ onto concrete, ran it over with an airplane, and dropped it in 10 feet of water for several hours. It has never failed me. It’s rather expensive for a flashlight but the durability and practicality justifies the expense.
DeFeet Duraglove (WOOL, not coolmax)
American made, durable, warm gloves that you can easily shoot with while wearing and use a touchscreen. They are light and tough and offer just enough warmth to keep feeling in your fingers on most days. The palms and fingers have rubber grippers and there are no seams for added comfort. They run large so I recommend buying a size down.
It’s small, light and comes with a super-convenient carrying case. I wouldn’t climb Mt Everest with it but it’s bright enough for most applications. It’s a perfect light to keep in your bag for general use. The multiple options (bright, half bright, flash, red, red-flash) are incredibly useful and the selector is just big enough to operate with gloves on.
- Laia Prats is a freelance graphic and web designer based in New York City. Born and raised in Barcelona, Spain, she moved to New York in 2006 after graduating in Graphic Design & Art Direction. Laia co-founded the Photo Brigade with her husband Robert Caplin and is currently editor and designer of the website.
These camera cufflinks may be a little nerdy, but they’re a fun gift for the male photographer. If you’re a wedding photographer or often have to dress up for formal photo shoots, why not add a geeky touch?
There have been times when I’ve had to deliver files to a client on a USB flash drive and I wish I had thought of something like this. I saw the PhotoFlashDrive/Pexagon booth at Photo Plus Expo and I thought their custom packaging and flash drives were the coolest thing. They offer a wide variety of products, from simple custom metal flash drives to wood boxes for flash drives and prints, and more. Their products are high quality and make for a great presentation.
Looking for a fun t-shirt that’ll make your friends smile? Try one of the Camerahead tees in the Photo Brigade Store. You can get the graphic printed on tees, hoodies & tote bags! Also check out the women’s version here.
- Since the age of 5, when he asked a stunned Santa for a set of stage spotlights and dry ice, Guy Rhodes has had his sights set on the behind-the-scenes craftwork of the visual arts industry. Whether it’s photography, lighting design, video production, or the artful synergy of all three talents, Guy’s attention to detail and true passion for his crafts drive each of the projects he undertakes, no matter how large or small. Employed as a contract photojournalist for The Post-Tribune, part of Chicago’s Sun Times News Group, since 2004, Guy’s highlights include covering the 2008 U.S. presidential election, as well as flying with aerobatic teams during coverage of the annual Gary South Shore Air Show. Guy earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in Theater/Lighting Design at Columbia College in Chicago, and splits his lighting disciplines between shows for live audiences and lighting for the camera. As director of photography, Guy has completed numerous independent short and feature films, as well as music videos and industrials.
I’ve always been a big fan of capturing images with a decidedly unique look. After all, you’re talking about the Guy (see what I did, there?) who drew odd looks at the Indianapolis 500 walking around with a lensless Canon DSLR, complete with a piece of pin-holed Blackwrap taped where the lens should have been. Finally, manufactures are starting to take notice of such home brew creativity, giving us actual products to produce off-beat images with professional gear. The Holga Lens for Canon DSLR cameras (there is a NIkon version as well) is already on my Christmas list, and with its price of $24.99, it’s more than within the price range of non-photographers to surprise their shutterbug friends!
Keeping in line with my lust for images outside of the norm, infrared conversion services for DSLR’s from Life Pixel make my creative palate salivate! I have an old Canon 10D sitting around that I have long considered having modified. After checking out Life Pixel’s process (along with the sample images presented with their thorough explanation of the process), I just might take the plunge and have my old camera converted as a Christmas present to myself! Choose this gift wisely, however, for depending upon which conversion you choose, your camera will be infrared-only for the rest of its life.
There was once a time where I could head over to my local Borders Bookstore and pick up an American Cinematographer Magazine in person. Alas, Borders is no more, and a fantastic resource for lighting insights has started to slip from my reach. Luckily, Filmtools offers various subscriptions (from six months on up to four years) for a great publication that should be required reading for any photographer or filmmaker, student or professional.
For those who assist photographers or do a lot of hands-on lighting work, a tool pouch is essential. I’ve owned a Setwear pouch for the past six years, and in my role as a theater electrician, it has become a part of my day-to-day operations. I can keep my flashlight, C-wrench, tape measurer, Leatherman, and even my iPhone all within easy reach (critical when you’re high in a lift trying to reach a fixture). Photo assistants will appreciate keeping many of the same tools at the ready, and there’s room to be creative with the various pockets! I often use the tape measurer pocket to store extra tapes / cards and batteries when I’m in the field shooting video.
Chalk it up to 17 years of classical piano lessons and my intense love for music, but there aren’t many moments during my workday where music isn’t part of the atmosphere. If you’ve ever seen any of my work (photo or otherwise), chances are I was listening to music during the design or editing process. Music also comes in handy on those long drives to and from distant shoots or shows, making the miles fly by and providing inspiration for creativity.
- Ingrid Spangler
- Ingrid Spangler is a freelance social media consultant living in New York. She’s been snapping pictures since she was a child and involved with social media since before it was called social media. Before going out on her own, she handled the social media for AdoramaPix, the photo lab division of Adorama Camera, for four years. You can find her on Facebook, Twitter, flickr, 500px, Google+ and Pinterest.
We love these metal photo ornaments from our friends at Bay Photo. Your images are infused on to high gloss aluminum, choose from seven different shapes (including two seasonal ones).
Woodsnap (wood panel image presentation)
Saw this booth at PPE and stopped in our tracks. Any of your images printed on wood, really striking presentation. They’re archival and for each one ordered, they plant a tree. Yay!
We love Blurb. super smooth software to put the books together, high quality materials that go into the making of each book, and so many styles and types of books to choose from, you can make something different for each person on your list and still get all the gifts from Blurb.
- Marcus Yam is an Emmy award winning photographer based in New York City. He is a regular contributor to The New York Times, and has worked at half a dozen newspapers before moving to New York. Prior to telling stories with photographs, Marcus learned to tell them with formulas, schematics, flowcharts, illustrations and 3D modeling, as an aerospace engineer. Enter career change. As a photojournalist, Marcus is interested in social issues that shape the American experience: immigration, poverty, citizenship, marginalization, provincialism and faith.
The most common denominator amongst photographers alike, is the lousy battery life in our laptops. (PC and Macs are both to blame). Apple took a step back in terms of design when it made the batteries on the MacBooks non-removable. So why not carry a small to medium external battery pack that will keep your laptop charged while you transmit from the field? The external battery comes in four sizes, so pick one that suits your needs. The best part? It also charges your other apple devices via USB, so if you’re looking to be on the road without access to power over span of hours while transmitting, this is a good solution.
I know of photographers who carry at least 10-20 gigabytes of their select “Life’s Work” or “Most sellable Projects” around with them on their computer. They store them in their computers and clog up the hard drives and that eventually leads to whining about their computers not having enough memory space. OR photographers who carry valuable and critical documents (i.e. bank account numbers, credit card numbers, identifications, money trail, real personal pictures) on their computers who risk the information leaking out IF their laptops are stolen. Well, why not carry it in a secure thumb drive that looks like a key and made durable enough to withstand a photographer’s swashbuckling body movements?There are so many applications for it especially since it comes with an encryption software – that allows ONLY you to access the files and keep your stuff private. AND you could have a few of these on your key chains. Do the right thing, compartmentalize (and keep private) your most important files.
One of my biggest pet peeve is keeping my monitors calibrated. Sometimes a great picture can be had if a slight tinge in the red channel was removed. If you haven’t quite figured it out yet, this is a MUST HAVE purchase this holiday season. X-Rite is a great company and calibrating your monitor is simple process thanks to their included software.
If you live in an old post WWII building in Manhattan like I do, then you would be familiar with power surges and flicks going on and off. From first hand experience, this is what ruins hard-drives and corrupts data. This Backup UPS is highly recommended if you’re running network attached storages (or hard drives) and a server computer. It’s not the most fancy UPS you can get, but for the price, it’s a great price per performance if you’re just trying to protect what’s in your home office. The included software is great for monitoring your UPS battery and setting up a contingency course of action (i.e. shutting your systems down automatically) for when power goes complete out.
Who wants more hotshoe real estate when it comes to shooting video? I do. This 6 inch hotshot extender is a great accessory – for mounting wireless mic receivers, shotgun microphones, an audio recorder, etc, etc…. While 6 inches isn’t much, it does open room for options. Extremely handy considering the low price.
Shooting video in broad daylight and getting that shallow depth of field has always been tricky. Enter the Lightcraft Workshop Fader MKII neutral density filter. Not only does this Variable ND filter have applications in video, it’s great for photo work too. (especially if you use lighting in broad daylight and trying to sync with the lights) There are plenty of more established and EXPENSIVE brands out there, like the Singh Ray and B+W, but at the price point (It’s 1/3 cheaper!) the Lightcraft Workshop Fader MKII ND is a great entry level for those who want to experiment with variable ND without breaking the bank account.
This has to be the most important pouch in the Think Tank Photo modular belt system. It helps me keep everything (i.e. chapsticks, batteries, credentials, gum, leatherman tool, handwarmers, flashlight, memory cards) in there. It even has a separate zippered compartment that allows easy access to a small moleskine notebook and a pen, so that you can be a zealot with the name-taking during assignments. It keeps everything out of the lens pouches and if you’re a forgetful person, at least it’s all centralized in one pouch. The zipper closure system is great for accessing these items because you don’t have to keep opening a flap or making funny noises with velcro. It’s definitely a must have.