It’s that time of year, and all that, so I thought I’d put together something of a christmas list: What can you get your photography-addicted buddy for the holiday season?
But first, let’s help the readers of this post with a poll. Here’s your chance to tell people what you’d really like!
Finding gifts for a photographer is difficult at the best of times. When you remember that photography gear is really bloody expensive, the truth hits home: What can you get for a photographer who’s got it all, without breaking the bank?
Up to £10 / $20
You cheapskate! Only joking. It’s quite difficult to buy for photographers on a tight budget, but on the other hand, it allows you to get creative. There are some photography books out there that cost less than £10, and there are a series of great magazines on sale. If you are on a limit, you could always buy one magazine now, and add a card saying that you’ll buy them the magazine for the next few months to come. It’s not quite a subscription, but at least you get off without bankrupting yourself!
Of course, there are other things you could do for very little money. If you are buying for a loved one, get a photographer mate to take photos of you, use the £10 to get the prints made, and give them a picture of you to carry around, hang on the wall, or add to an album – always a welcome gift! You could even use PhotoJoJo’s fantastic mailable photo frames. Stroke of genius!
Finally, it is terribly naughty to subscribe someone to a mailing list without asking them, but the best thing you can do is to subscribe your mate to PhotoJoJo. Those guys send out a couple of e-mails a month, and they really know their stuff. Best of all? It’s completely free!
It’s an unusual gift, for sure, but hey – no photographer should be without their own domain! Even if they aren’t interested in building up a website or blog for themselves, you can easily redirect most domains to a specific Flickr page or DeviantArt gallery. Combine the internet domain with some Moocards with the new domain printed on one side, and some of their photos on the other side, and you’re definitely going to get a smile out of them!
£10 also gets you DVDs so you could could consider getting a film which is vaguely photography themed. City of God (Cidade de Deus) is a fantastic film which is about a Brazilian kid who turns into a photographer for a newspaper. Gripping, moving, not too expensive, and photography related – what more could you want? Of course, you get extra bonys point and street cred for buying a foreign arthaus film! (US / UK
Sure, it’s a cop-out, but if you’re really struggling – or if you’d rather contribute to a bigger gift – why not get vouchers for a big on-line store? Amazon, for example, sell most types of photography gear, along with books etc. Shoppers can combine several vouchers towards a big purchase, and they can even add some money themselves as well, if they’re after a bigger item. Get the gift certificates from Amazon US / UK
Up to £20 / $40
In this price group, the definite winner is the Gorilla Pod. Sure, it looks daft as a paintbrush, but it always gets looks. I got one for review from Joby recently, and I had to call them up and ask if I could please keep it – it really is that good. Basically, it’s a fully-fledged tripod that weighs next to nothing. Wrap it around just about anything (so far, I’ve had it around a car seat, around a desk, around a street lamp, and around a pub bar stool), and your camera is rock-solid. It beats the other micro-tripods hands down. Read more about the Gorilla Pod here, and then run off and buy one. The good news? It’s only $21.95 (around £19.99 in the UK), and it’s the best gift you can give to a photographer! Amazon US / Amazon UK
Photography are another brilliant idea – they generally come in two flavours: Coffee-table art books, or how-to guides. The former is great for inspiration, but might I humbly suggest that you consider the latter instead? Inspiration can be had from many sources, but a good, thorough how-to guide is more difficult. You can choose to buy a guide to something that you feel your giftee would like to learn more about, or perhaps something that they know nothing about at all.
Might I humbly suggest you buy a book from the excellent Photograhy Workshop series – My own book, Macro Photography Workshop (Amazon US / Amazon UK), teaches them everything they need to know about macro photography – fantastic both for beginners and intermediate Macro photographers.
Alternatively, you can to be a little bit less specialised about your book choice and consider a few other books from the same series: Composition (US / UK) or Lighting (US / UK). Hell, if you decide to buy one of those, they even do a special deal at the moment, where you get the second one at a massive discount. Strike while the iron’s hot!
You should also know that photographers can never have too many camera bags, in fact, Philip Greenspun wrote something to that effect here, and he’s damn right. If you’re pushed for an idea, a small backpack or similar is perfect! (Lots of different choices available – US / UK
Up to £50 / $100
Perfect for getting creative, a Lensbaby offers a whole new way of looking at photography. Basically, it’s a bendable camera lens, which gives a selective, narrow focus, and is essentially a freely movable tilt-shift lens. Not convinced? You should be – check out the Flickr lensbaby group for inspiration. Buy them from Lensbabies direct, or get them from Amazon (US / UK)
Finally, you should be able to pick up some pretty nice digital photo frames at this price, which never goes amiss.
Up to £100 / $200
Up to £100 / $200, we are in the territory of some mighty fine tripods. It’s the first thing you should have as a photographer –
Look for brands like Velbon (US / UK), Slik (US / UK) or Manfrotto (US / UK) for the best quality!
Around this price, you can also get prime lenses. If your photographer dearest one doesn’t have one, surprise them with a 50mm prime. No photographer should be without a good prime lens: They are nothing short of amazing, and for what they are, they’re complete bargains as well – I wrote about them earlier this year, if you’re curious!
If they don’t have a camera yet, this price group also encompasses the fabulous Nikon Coolpix L11 (US / UK). A bargain-priced heavyweight, if I ever saw one, I mean, just read the review on Steve’s Digicams – sure, it’s basic, but hell, it’s brilliant.
Note that even advanced photographers should have a small pocket camera – a photographer without a camera isn’t a photographer, just a mug without his tools. Since a compact is a lot easier to carry around than a dSLR, you’re likely to shove the small camera in your pocket. Hey, my Digital IXUS (known as ELPH in the US) has gotten me out of more clumsiness than I dare think about.
Up to £200 / $400
For this kind of price, you can buy a lot of tasty photography gear, but why not think out of the box? For £200, you can fly just about anywhere nowadays. Why not buy your favourite photographer an airline ticket to somewhere exciting? You can do a lot of picture-taking in about 3 days, you know.
Alternatively, how about giving them a tent, and a huge ‘petrol voucher’? If this is for a good friend, invite them along on an epic journey by car. Sure, the oil prices are rising, but £200 / $400 still gets you pretty far, and there’s nothing quite as inspiring to photography as a good, solid road trip!
Up to £300 / $600
In this price class, you can also buy some seriously exciting lenses, but you might be best off buying a gift voucher from Amazon (Amazon US / UK), or another photography retailer, because, well, your gift-receiver is likely to know what s/he needs, and it’d be very annoying if you end up buying something that overlaps with their current photography equipment, or if they have decided what they need already!
Up to £500 / $1000
Oh my, now we are suddenly in proper digicam territory. You should be able to get a Canon 400D / Nikon D40 digital SLR camera body, and if the person you are buying for doesn’t have a dSLR, that’s definitely the way to go. The first step into the digital SLR world is definitely the most exciting, and you’ll be loved forever if you help them take that step!
So, I wanna buy someone a camera. What should I get?
Well, based on a poll we ran a while ago:
… In other words, it seems as if most my readers have Canon dSLR cameras, so if you can afford it, get your loved one a Canon 400D, a Canon 40D or a Canon 5D – in that order of pricy-ness. Having said that, I have no beef with Nikon either, and their cameras are pretty much identical in quality, features, and price. Also read my post on choosing the right camera.
One thing I would say, though, is that if you are buying a compact camera, buy a camera from a company that is famous for making cameras, rather than electronics equipment. But I did a separate post about that a while ago, so you might want to go and read that, too.
Finally, remember that we tag all our stories quite cleverly, so if you ever want buying advice, check out all the stories tagged with buying advice. Clever, eh?
Oh, and finally: Happy Christmas! :)
A final note: You’ll have noticed that a lot of the links point to Amazon. This is partially out of laziness – I’ll probably do most of my christmas shopping via Amazon – but also because these links are so-called ‘affiliate links’. In other words, if you buy something after clicking on one of the links in this post, I get a kick-back from Amazon. That doesn’t mean you should only buy from them though – while they often have good prices, you can some times find better deals from elsewhere – shop around!
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