good fun

Seasonal gifts and goodies

It might not take pictures, but it looks the part. £5

If you're looking for a little-ish gift for a photographically inclined loved one, these are eight favourite suggestions coming in at £25 or under (so that's around $40). Some are quirky, some are practical, but with luck, any of them should bring a smile to someone's face. Better yet, they are all available online so you don't need to brave the thronging hordes on the high street.

Camera necklace

In-keeping with my search for a piece of camera-oriented jewellery, this year I went in search of necklaces. I've found a heap of them. Who knew that they'd be so popular? But here are two of my favourites:

Antique-looking silver for $15

Or chunky acrylic for £5


When I road-tested tiltpods for mobile and compact cameras earlier this year, I said that I thought they'd make great presents, but I wouldn't necessarily buy one for myself. Seeing as this is the season to be giving gifts...

Tiltpods for mobile or compact camera are $14.95

Cookie Cutters

Cookie dough + camera-shaped cookie cutter = An edible Nikon D800. What's not to love?

All of $17.95

Bokeh Masters kit

More than anything I think that adding cute shaped bokeh to the background of your pictures is good fun. This kit gives you 25 pre-cut shapes to play with and an opportunity to craft eight of your own.

$25 from DIY Photography

Triggertrap mobile

Wirelessly control your SLR from your mobile phone (Android or iOS) to make time-lapses or distance-lapses; trigger the shutter using sound, vibration, or facial recognition; chase stars, and generally have far too much fun with a camera.

The app costs $4.99 from Apple or Google Play, the all-important dongle is $29.99


Having a multi-tool stashed in your kit-bag can be Very Useful Indeed. You never know when you might need a screw driver or a pair of scissors. There are hundreds to choose from, but right now this Leatherman is great value.

$35 on Amazon US

Or £36 on Amazon UK


If someone were to ask me which photography book I'd most like this year, it would be one that's beautiful and inspires me. So I'm going to suggest National Geographic's Life in Color.

$40 from the National Geographic store

Fracture gift certificate

The wonderful people at Fracture sponsor our monthly photo contest here and supply the winner with a gorgeous 12" Fracture. They also offer gift certificates so your beloved photographer can turn their own images into stunning glass prints.

As much as you want to spend

Of course, last year's suggestions are just as valid this year. So do take a look at that list, which includes practical cleaning kits and grey cards as well as adorable camera-shaped rubber stamps.

Focus and re-focus after the event with Lytro

I get asked what I think the next big thing in photography will be, or what direction technology will take, quite a bit. It’s one of those things that you can’t really answer. Not until you’re actually living in that imagined future does it seem possible. So if you’d asked me a few years ago if a camera that would allow you to focus and re-focus your image as much as you wanted to after you’d captured it was on the cards, I’d've probably shrugged my shoulders. But it’s here now. It’s the Lytro.  

The idea behind the Lytro is that it captures all of the light rays in a given scene. According to Lytro, it captures a scene in four dimensions by recording the colour, intensity, and the direction of every ray of light that hits the light field sensor in the camera. And what does it do with all this information? It processes it using a light field engine so that you can re-focus pictures directly on the camera. If you want to share your images on-line, this light field engine will travel will them, allowing anyone to interact with them from any device, from mobile phones to desktop computers. No special software required.

I’ve had a play with some sample images: you click on the area where you want to focus and… tah-daa!… the focus will shift there in a second or so. It’s simple and quite good fun. You can mess around there, too.

Despite the technology involved, Lytro wants to keep their cameras sleek and simple. There are just two buttons on the camera – on/off and the shutter – and everything else is achieved through a touchscreen. As for the design, I can’t help but think it looks a bit like something I would’ve made using mirrors and cardboard when I was seven, but perhaps I was weirdly ahead of my time. Still, it’s small, light, and comes in blue, red, or graphite.

The lens has a constant aperture of f/2.0 and an 8× optical zoom. With no need to focus, it’s pretty speedy; and as it captures all of the available light in a scene, it should have pretty good low-light capability, too.

The Lytro comes in two sizes, an 8GB model in blue or graphite that stores 350 photos, or a 16GB version in red that holds 750 images. They cost $399 and $499 respectively. If you’re one of Lytro’s first customers, they'll provide you with free storage for your light field images uploaded to, too. They should be shipping come the new year.

You can learn more from Lytro.