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Monday, December 1, 2014

Top 10 Christmas Gifts for Photographers

I gave you a photography wish list last year, and it was nice and all for the beginning photographer.  There is some really good stuff on there!  But I had a few emails about putting together a list for a professional or more serious hobbyist photographer that was ready to invest some money. So here it is!  Now I'm going to warn you, many of the things on this list aren't cheap.  They are for those who are already knee deep into photography, and those around them likely already know what this means to the pocket book.  But like many other things in life, you get what you pay for.  So... fair warning.  (Feel free to pass on this link with the # of the one you are hinting to get to your significant other.)

#1  Camera Bag
My camera bags have taken the place of my purse.  No more purses for me anymore!  Just really great looking camera bags that double as purses.  And as much as I love my other camera bags, but I was always kinda bummed about how they wore with time cause they aren't genuine leather.  And then I discovered Shutterbags and was pretty sure I went to photographer heaven!  Shutterbags are made out of real leather, and thus maybe is goes without saying that they are not cheap.  They are real leather and wear as such and are the best quality that I've seen of any bag so they shouldn't be.  I have one coming in January and am beyond excited about it!

#2 A Macro Lens
(or any lens but I didn't want to leave you hanging)
A new lens is better than a new outfit for photographers!  And I know it's hard to narrow down.  So this year I'm recommending the Canon 100mm f/2.8L macro or the Nikon's 105mm f/2.8 micro A macro lens is a fun one to play with and maybe one that a photography enthusiast wouldn't have or buy for themselves.  It also opens up a whole new world of macro photography!

#3 Photography Session
Photographers rarely have really great photos of themselves.  Research who is a great photographer in your area and get a photography session for with your photographer in front of the camera rather than behind it!

#4 Gorillapod
This is a tripod with a special purpose. It is not meant as a replacement to a regular tripod, but as an additional accessory to help get your camera in places your otherwise couldn't.  The flexible Gorillapod legs are able to bend and wrap.  The type I'm linking here, the Gorillapod SLR Zoom is a bit heavier for heavier camera and lenses.  See this review for more info. This is also on my short list of things to keep my fingers crossed for this Christmas!

#5 Calibration Software
I mentioned this one last year, but I get lots of questions about it still so I'm putting on the list again this year.  This one isn't for every photographer, because there are some ways to get around it.  But if your photographer is taking pics for other folks then monitor calibration software is a must because color accuracy is so very important!  Only by calibrating your computer monitor, does a photographer know if the colors she is seeing on her monitor are accurate and thus what will be printed.  Which probably doesn't need to be said but it's pretty important to clients!  There are a few well-know reliable brands out there, but I have experience with this one, Spyder4Pro.  If money is not object get the Spyder4Elite.  Be sure to get the one that works with your computer and operating system.

Rumor has it that the next version of Lightroom, version 6, will do just what Photoshop did and go exclusively to Adobe's Creative Cloud requiring a monthly subscription service.  So if subscriptions that require a monthly fee aren't your thing, you may want to consider purchasing a hard copy of Lightroom 5 before they go the way of the great white whale.  Be sure to look into the "Educator Discount" to see if you may qualify.  Lightroom rocked my photography world like no other editing software.

#7 Shoot Sac
If the photographer your buying for is doing professional shoots and changing lenses during this shoot, she may really benefit from a Shoot Sac.  I know it's on my short list of things I really want!  This camera bag is designed to be worn across the chest during a shoot to make extra lenses easily accessible.  The design of this bag makes it easy to swap lenses without running back to wherever the photographer last set it down. It's not a replacement for a standard camera bag, but to be worn during shoots.

#8 B&H gift certificate
If you just can't decide what to get the photographer in your life, then let her do the deciding with a gift certificate from B&H.  They carry Cannon and Nikon gear and almost everything under the sun when it comes to photography!  I've made a few purchases from them and have been very happy with them, as have many many other photographers because they've been around forever and have a wonderful reputation in the business.

#9 Gift certificate to rent a lens 
Speaking of gift certificates, every photographer has another lens that they'd like to buy.  I promise.  So how about a gift certificate for them to rent a lens of their choice and try it out?  Borrow Lenses is on online rental company that does just that, and it's a long standing reputable company too.  The recipient of this gift picks out what they want to rent and for how long, they ship it to you, and when you're done you ship it back with the pre-paid postage.  It's easy and sure to be a fun gift for any photographer!  

#10 Secondary Computer Monitor
A lot of photography enthusiasts started editing their laptop, and while it suits their purposes in the beginning, let's just say that although a lap top is very convenient, it's not an ideal set up for editing and especially for color precision.  So how about getting the photographer you love a second monitor, just for editing.  And while we're at it, let's make it a big one like this 27" one, from Asus. It gets great reviews and has wonderful colors, (but yes you're still gonna want the calibration software mentioned above in #5).  I have to say that I have love editing on a big secondary monitor!  If you want to go a one that is a bit smaller, they also make this 24" version that's a bit more affordable.

#3, #4 and #7... just in case you were wondering.


  1. What is a good $ amount for a B&H gift card for my wife? She is a professional photographer.

    1. What's a good amount to spend on jewelry? It's kinda the same question. As little as $50 would get a Gorillapod or an Expodisc. Or $100. Or $500. Or $5000. Do you have an idea of what she'd like to get herself, Ben?

    2. I asked her friend who is also a photographer. She told me that Sarah would like something called (she wrote it down for me) : "Canon 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II lens". Do you know what that lens is?

    3. Ben yes I know it well! It's a LOVELY lens. And a bit pricey. There is a Nikon and a Canon version. I'm linking the Canon version that I'd recommend, same one you mentioned above.

    4. Sarah cried when she opened it. I asked my teenage daughter to wrap it. Unbeknownst to me, she took the lens out and put it in a WalMart gift box. My sweet wife is out on a shoot with it right now.

    5. It is wonderful to give. And even more wonderful when you give something that you know that they will love. And it does sound like she absolutely loves it!

  2. Thanks so much, Nancy — my husband's Gorillapod arrived yesterday! I'm trying to encourage James to sign up for the 365 challenge. We're in London, but in January he will spend two weeks giving concerts in Brazil, followed by a few days in Malta, so that would be a perfect opportunity for some interesting photos!

  3. By the way, although I'm not a photographer, I'd quite like it if James thought of getting me one of the leather bags — they're absolutely gorgeous!


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