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Thursday, December 5, 2013

Top 10 gifts for photographers

Krista at Life on a Gravely Road asked on the Q&A
          I'm still pretty new to using my DSLR that I got this spring and my parents asked if there was any camera "stuff" I wanted for Christmas. Besides your Manual 'n More class (which I hope to take) is there any other camera accessories that I should consider for my wish list? Thanks in advance.  ~Krista

Oh are such a wise woman!
Papa and I have long given up trying to guess what the other wants for Christmas.
Or birthday.
Or anniversary.
Or Valentine's Day.
I distinctly remember the day that I discovered that the ESP that married couples are suppose to use to know what the other is thinking, (and thus wanting for a gift) was a total sham.  Blew me out of the water!  What?  You mean he doesn't love me so much that he just knows what I want?  Ummmmm... no.  Forgive me.  I was once so young.  And had no idea what "11's" were.  But now I'm old.  And I know better.  Now I just tell him what I want.  Sometimes I even send him a link to what I have already ordered and used his credit card to pay for I'm hoping to get.  And the funny thing is he likes it that way too!

And if Papa can't figure it out, then of course my parents wouldn't know.  Long gone are the days I thought I wasn't suppose to speak up what I want!  You're must smarter than me, Krista!

So for the photographers out there, I thought I'd share my top 10 gifts for photographers.  Some of the things on this list I already have and love love love.  Others are things I'm still hoping for.  Papa, are you reading this?  No worry, dear.  I'll send you a link with the order form already filled out.  But all of this is kinda a moot point for me since we're not doing the whole gift thing this Christmas.  Oh well... Mother's Day is 5 short months away.

50mm (or 35mm) Prime Lens

If you don't have a fixed 50mm (or 35mm) lens in your bag yet, I can not recommend getting one enough.   These prime lenses do not have "zoom."  If you want to take "those" pics that you're seeing and just can't seem to do it with the lens that came on your camera, this may be why.  Simply put, a 50mm lens (or 35mm) will help you get better pics more easily.  And I'm not the only one to say so either.  These lenses are moderately priced, (Canon's 50mm 1.8 starts at about $100) and it will be a lens that you use during the course of the photography journey.  Here is Canon's cheapest model.  If you can spend a bit more go here, and if you recently won the lottery and money is no object click here.  Nikon has equivalent versions that are also awesome but a bit more expensive.

A Great Looking Camera Bag

Long gone are the days that all camera bags were black and looked like... well... camera bags.  My favorite brand is Kelly Moore because they are fabulous quality, come in fun colors, and look GREAT!  I have 2 camera bags, one for smaller trips (it's the one I hauled  through Disneyland) and holds my camera, 1 extra lens, and some other necessities, like lip gloss... And I also have a big daddy camera bag that carries much much more.  If I could have one, I'd probably opt for one of the medium sizes.

Color Calibration (by Spyder)

If you're getting into this whole photography thing and are editing and want the colors of your pics to match what your print, then color calibration is something you've likely area heard about.  Honestly, if you have no clue what I'm talking about here and the colors of your prints seem fine, skip it.  But if you've been thinking of calibrating your computer monitor, this is the brand I use and recommend.  Again, here is the more moderately priced version, and if you can spend a bit more then try this one.  I am sure there are other wonderful brands, but this is the only one I have experience with and can recommend.

An Extra Memory Card

Memory cards don't last forever.  They eventually wear out.  And when they do, it will surely happen at the most inopportune time.  So having an extra memory card on hand or replacing them every so often is a great idea.  Splurge and spend a little extra to get a big one, like 32GB or 64GB.

A Camera Strap (as pretty as you!)

I'll admit that when I got my camera strap I was a bit giddy!  I'm pretty sure that makes me a photography geek, but so be it.  My strap is comfortable, super pretty, and it has a little pocket to carry that extra memory card I mentioned above!  My absolute favorite brand hands down is Abie Straps.  I won't lie, they're a bit spendy.  But knowing that ALL the profits from Abie Straps are donated to charity makes it go down more easily!   It was probably my favorite gift that I received last year!   
I have no experience with this company, MOD, but my friend has one of these, and she recommends it.  I don't think it has the little pocket for the extra memory card though, but it is more affordable and cute too.


I have several books about photography.   Some I like more than others.  Like I actually have time to read or stuff like that!  So I'll share one my favorite books, and one that I really really hope to get.  Both have been out a while and therefore are available used.  I am a huge fan of used.
Understanding Exposure by Bryan Peterson  was the first book that I read that really made sense to me and gives some great practical applications to get those pics that I had been craving.  It's still my go-to recommended book for photo enthusiasts.
Photographically Speaking: A Deeper Look at Creating Stronger Images is a book I have wanted for a while now.  I've heard wonderful things about it, and it comes in paperback so that knocks the price down a bit.

Cellphone lenses

So let's face it.  I don't always have my big-girl camera with me.  But because I have teenagers, I DO always have my cell phone, and I like taking pics with it!  If you happen to have an iPhone, the Olloclip is super duper fun!  Cellphone photography loves loves loves light, so it you have some bright conditions you're likely to get some great images.  But even under less than ideal lighting, it is amazing what cell phone cameras can capture now-a-days.  I have no experience with this company, Photojojo, but I've heard good things about it, and it's available for Android phones too.  I had the Olloclip several years ago, but when I upgraded my phone, I didn't upgrade the little lenses.  I'm really hoping for one of these soon!

Personalized Camera Necklace


Totally not necessary, but sometimes a girl just has to have a bit of totally not-practical bling!  There are lots of camera necklaces out there, but I liked this one for it's moderate price and because it can be personalized with your initial and birthstone.

Shooting Gloves  

This one's just for you.  Those of you who live somewhere in colder climates unlike us desert rats.  I mean how cute are these finger-less gloves and totally practical!  If I lived somewhere cold I could totally convince myself that these are necessary.  I found these and these that I now have to have... well if it was colder that is.


If by some wonderful chance you are looking for the mac daddy of all photography gifts, you think now is the time for a whole new camera and you're ready to invest some time and practice learning how to use it, then 1) get ready to have photography rock your world!  And 2) here are my DSLR recommendations.  (Please understand that I'm a Canon gal.  Nikon has wonderful versions of these cameras too.  I just don't speak Nikon.)
Notice that I'm recommending only the camera body without a lens.  If you're the kind of person that thinks you're going to really get into photography, you'll quickly realize that the kit lens that comes with the camera won't take those pics that you're craving.  So I recommend the camera body without a lens to save some money and then purchase a 50mm lens, (See my comments about the 50mm lens above.)
The T5i is the latest in Canon's rebel line.  Costco usually has this camera in a bundle with a kit lens, but again, the kit lens is something you might quickly outgrow.  So the link above is to Amazon with just the body.
If you already have a DSLR and want to upgrade, look into this sweet baby, Canon's new 6D.  It's full frame, great in low light, and has most all of the bells and whistles of the pro cameras without the price tag.  Don't get me wrong, it's still gonna cost a pretty penny.  But it's the one I would most want if I were in the market for a non-pro camera.  

Well those are my top 10 gifts for photographers!  Thank you, Krista, for the question!  I'm loving the questions on the Q&A and am planning on using several for future posts.  If you have something you've just been dying to know (like my favorite flavor of Chapstick or why I named my rat Loretta Swit or about the crazy household in general) go here.  I'd love to hear from you!

I'd also like to invite you to comment here with your favorite photography gear so we can keep growing the list.  Leave a link to the item if you can to make it easy peasy for others to "shop."  There are lots more amazing and fun items, but I wanted to limit my list to just my top 10.
What is on your photography wish list this year?
What is the thing you can't do without and would most recommend to others?


  1. Great post and lots of good ideas! A fun read, and hope that your loved ones are reading....

  2. Thank you, thank you for putting this post together. What great ideas. I actually already have fingerless gloves for a completely different reason -- so my hands don't freeze while fumbling with child seat latches. It is bitterly cold here this week, hoping for some relief soon. I love snow and winter but -20 degree wind chill is something I could live without!

    1. I'm thinking I need to move somewhere cold just so I can justify those gloves. Well maybe not.

  3. thanks so much for linking to my fingerless mitts! glad you like them :)

  4. Nancy, I love when you put your photography lists together ~ beauty & brains :o). I'll add in something I just stumbled upon, and already can't do without! Almost 2 years ago I had a snow sledding accident that has me long-term rehabbing a serious case of whiplash. Camera straps around my neck aren't an option...even my camera bag aggravates it after a while. Enter.... Peak Design's Capture Camera Clip. I can carry my camera on my belt (where I easily handle the weight), a backpack strap, even a bag strap. When one location gets uncomfortable, I quickly switch it to another. It's kinda pricey, yet less than the cost of one additional massage therapy appointment, so well worth it! My favorite part ~ the pain free freedom to bring my camera with me more regularly!

  5. Great options. I have a dear friend who is a photographer, and I am always looking for a good gift for her gift of photography.

  6. I've never even heard of those iphone lenses! What a cool gift!

  7. I've never even heard of those iPhone lenses before- so cool! That would make a great gift!

  8. I like my 3 Kelly Moore bags a lot. I have Libby and Hobo, and most recently 2 Sues. My first lens was the 35mm f2.0. It was a perfect first lens. A new camera is always a gift no photographer can complain about. I want a 1DX. From what I hear, the low light capability knocks the socks off my mark 3.
    Since Christmas is around the corner, can you write another post like this, but targeted for serious hobbiests/ pros?


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