Holiday gift guide for photographers

With our bellies fattened up from thanksgiving day… it’s time to start thinking about Christmas and all the joy in gift giving that comes along with it. Christmas really should be a time for giving, the smile on your loved ones faces when they unwrap a gift they had actually wanted is priceless (something you’re not going to see if you get them a tie with matching socks). With this in mind, I thought I’d write up a quick holiday gift guide in case you are having a tough time finding that perfect gift for that hobbyist photographer family member, friend, loved one or gadget geek of yours. Heck, get something for yourself if you want to; just take care of your loved ones first =).

Click through for the list.. a lot of them are very affordable.

  • updated: older TS2 model is discontinuted. TS10 is the newer model. Panasonic Lumix DMC-TS10 ~$192: Waterproof point and shoot digital camera. This camera is compact and looks great, but its best feature is being extra durable. It’s drop resistant (from 6ft), waterproof (up to 30feet), freeze proof (14°f)… but most importantly, it’s practically kid proof! So your little one loves snapping photos, but you cringe every time he runs around with it? This Panasonic Lumix camera is what you’ve been looking for. Let them develop their creativity w/o you having a heart attack. Take it to the beach, take it fishing, take it swimming, take it camping… take it everywhere. And it comes in all sorts of lifestyle colors: orange, blue, silver, and yellow. This camera also has video features, the quality is quite good.. just not great for high framerate, extreme sports stuff (if you care more about video quality, look at the next item). In terms of quality, design and durability, this is probably the best overall P&S cameras out there (wish I had it when I ruined my old P&S camera while white-water rafting down a river). Here are a few test videos: Regular video and underwater video samples.
  • GoPro HD HERO ~$260: Extreme sports video camera. For those who care more about video quality than picture quality… this is the HD video camera to get for that extreme sportster you know. Strap it to your chest, a skateboard, mountain bike, helmet, snow skis, RC car, motorcycle, auto, surf board.. basically strap it onto anything for video footage you’ve never been able to produce before. The high frame rate quality of this video camera will allow you to easily take slow motion footage. It also doubles as a 5Megapixel digital camera. Of course, this video camera is also waterproof (180feet). This video camera actually comes in several kits. All the kits have the same HD Hero camera… only the mounts will differ (helmet,auto, surf). Take a look at this extreme sports footage taken with the HD Hero video camera.
  • Microsoft Lifecam Studio Webcam ~$99 (currently exclusive to BestBuy): So your friend loves uploading make-up tutorial videos to youtube? But her videos are super grainy… and you just don’t have the heart to tell her? Get her this HD webcam so her videos can finally look “professional”. Wide angle, auto focusing, close-up focusing… it’s pretty much the best USB webcam you can get right now. Here’s a quick review I found on youtube. Another one, but more of a makeup tutorial type video using the actual camera.
  • Yeti USB Microphone ~$97: This is the perfect gift for the youtube musician / podcaster who you may know. The Yeti is a professional grade USB microphone at still an affordable price made by Blue Microphones, a respected high quality brand (not your crappy $10 walmart logitech microphone). It has multiple recording modes and is totally plug and play (no need to install extra PC drivers). I’m thinking about getting one of these myself for upcoming PrettyGeeky video reviews =). Here’s a video review of the mic. Here’s an actual clip:sample song recorded with the mic.
  • Black Rapid RS-W1 strap ~$65: customized DSLR camera strap for women. Your wife is always the one taking photos of the kids. You see the heavy camera strapped around her neck all day long and then complain about her raw, sore neck after dinner. Get her this shoulder strap and you’ll never hear about it again. The strap evenly distributes the weight of the camera across your body. It also puts the camera into a more accessible position so you can quickly grab and shoot. They make a strap for guys too.
  • Scott Kelby’s Digital Photography Boxed Set, Volumes 1, 2, and 3 ~$44: The best way to improve your photography skillset is to actually go out and shoot! Practice makes perfect. The second best way? Read, read, read. As with anything else, a little guidance will go along way. This set of 3 books by Scott Kelby will definitely point your new photography enthusiast of a friend in the right direction. Scott explains technical things in plain English… he shows you instead of drowning you in technical jargon.
  • Nikon 35mm f/1.8G AF-S lens ~$192: Ever wonder why your photos never “pop” like those of the pros? If it’s not operator error =p, it could be the technical limitation of the kit lens that came with your camera. Set aside the kit lens that came with your camera and get creative with “real” lenses. Ever wonder why your indoor photos are always blurry? The lens is one of the major reasons why. Lenses with larger apertures (f/2.8 to f/1.4) will allow you to take better, sharper images in dim light conditions. Get this lens and you’ll never touch your kit lens again.
  • Lensbaby Composer ~$270: Allow your photographer friends to really explore their creativity through this “tilt-shift” type creative lens system. Focus on your subject and watch everything else blur away (like this). It’s a manual focus system which forces you to develop your basic skills of creative framing. They make separate kits for different brands: Lensbaby for Canon and Lensbaby for Nikon.

Well, that’s it for now everyone. Hopefully the short list of items and reviews will ease your holiday shopping woes. As Christmas approaches, I will try to update this list with more gadgets… check back often for updates.

Do you have cool gift ideas that should go up alongside these? Share your gift idea in the comment section below…

  • Evelyn said:

    "...perfect gift for that hobbyist photographer family member, friend, loved one or gadget geek of yours" hmmm, sounds like someone might be talking about themself. lol