It's that time... Black Friday sales are coming, and we have TONS of great ideas for the photographer in your life, be it your best friend, spouse, or yourself. No harm in putting a present under the tree for you from you, right?
Gifts Under $10.00
Kiorafoto Professional Water-Resistant Anti-Shock Memory Card Case with Carabiner - $7.99
A photographer's worst nightmare is loosing a memory card while traveling. They are so small, delicate, and yet carry on them some of our most prized keepsakes. So why not protect them fully? This case not only comes with a carabiner to secure it safely inside your bag, but also comes with weatherproofing silicone seal and hardened exterior to protect from almost anything you throw at it. Going on a long trip? This case can hold up to 12 SD cards and 12 micro-SD cards so you don't have to worry about running out of space. Still worried? Well you can do like I have and buy two to ensure you have enough space and can separate out your back-up set and original set of images. Find it here on Amazon.
Nikon 8072 Microfiber Cleaning Cloth - $8.85
You can never have enough lens clothes running around, so go ahead and buy a couple. I have something similar and really like it. Just because it bears the Nikon brand does not mean you have to give it a pass if you a Canon, Sony or Pentax shooter. You can pick it up on Amazon here.
For just $5.69 you can get a pack of 60 Zeiss Lens Wipes. These are absolutely AWESOME to have in your camera bag, purse, jacket pockets... Each is individually wrapped like those little wet naps you get with fried chicken, except it's a super little lint-free cleaning cloth for your lens.
A one month subscription to Phlearn Pro - $8.25
For $8.25/month or $99.95/year, a subscription to Phlearn pro will help you get up to speed in Photoshop and Lightroom. The video tutorials are light and entertaining, making easy to follow along and learn. Keep an eye on their social media as there are frequent sales and discounts on even this very reasonable price.
Adobe CC Photography Plan with 20GB/mo storage - $9.99
This is, to me, the single GREATEST value in the entire photography industry today. Some don't like the idea of a subscription plan where you "rent" your software but it has some tremendous advantages. The older versions of Photoshop were expensive. When you consider you'll get Lightroom Classic CC, Lightroom CC, Photoshop and Bridge if you choose to do so, it is a tremendous value. Add to this the fact that updates are always rolled out and you'll always have the latest and greatest versions installed. A no brainer for anyone serious about photography - hobbyist or pro! Click here for more options!
Hot Shoe Bubble Level - $9.99
Nothing drives me more crazy that when I compose a shot the way I want and it seems just right in the viewfinder, but afterwards it's obviously tilted. Well, until they can insert a level into our heads, an inexpensive bubble level that mounts to your camera's hot shoe can be just what you need to save your landscapes from the dreaded tilt! This 4-pack of different types of levels can be had on Amazon for just $9.99.
Rainsleeve by Op/Tech - $6.95
This little piece of genius should be in every photographer's gear bag. The design is so simple and so useful. The sleeve itself will keep your gear protected, but the drawstring is the real star of the show. You can use the drawstring to bring the Rainsleeve to the very edge of your lens--and with a lens hood on, you can fully protect your glass from any drops of water. I did five family shoots in the pouring rain one Saturday with this on my camera; not a single drop of rain touched my gear. This is a steal for $6.95. Every photographer should own the Rainsleeve.
Gifts Between $10.00 and $25.00
Platypus DuoLock SoftBottle Collapsible 1.0-liter Water Bottle - $13.95
For those traveling photographers in your life, this is a lifesaver when flying or day hiking. Super easy to clip on the outside of a bag, with its double lock closure, you don't have to worry about the top coming off or cross threading causing a leak. Empty out before TSA screening and fill from the water fountain on the other side. It will pay for itself in a single trip when you aren't having to buy $5 bottles of water from the Hudson shop. You can find them at various outdoor supply retailers such as REI or here on Amazon.
Wavlink USB 3.0 to SATA Dual Bay Hard Drive Docking Station - $19.99
If funds are tight and you need a cheap way to backup your files, then you can get a docking station, and a hard drive separately to do the deed. Not the best solution, but it's not bad.
Luxe Lens makes absolutely incredible presets. They give you SUCH a neat perspective on editing - even just deconstructing what they do to see what they are all about. In my own workflow, I ADORE their brushes. The photoshop actions/brushes especially!
A Set Of Clip On Lenses for Smartphones - Around $14.99
There are many options on Amazon for sets of clip on lenses for your smartphone. Take a pass on the telephoto options, as they are practically useless. (It's like trying to focus through one side of a pair of binoculars; you would need to be on a tripod, and finding your subject with that tiny field of view is extremely difficult). The macro and fisheye lenses are a lot of fun though, and the circular polarizer can come in handy. These tiny lenses are easily carried in your purse, pockets or glovebox, and every now and then they will allow you to get that shot when you don't happen to have your "big camera" on hand.
Understanding Exposure - $16.39
This is the photographic equivalent to the Bible for both new and experienced photographers. If you want to start out right or if you need a refresher course in getting the shot right in camera, this is where to start.
Need to clear off dust or smudges from your lens? Look no further than the LensPen. I've used this product for years, and I'm always impressed by the cleanliness of my lens afterwards. Combine this with a Rocket Blower, and you've got yourself everything you need to keep your glass clean.
Gifts Between $25.00 and $50.00
Breakthrough Photography's 77mm X1 Circular Polarizer - $29.00
Known for their quality glass, this is a steal of a price for the photographer who might just be starting out or for the advanced photog who wants a good quality but easy-on-the-wallet backup. Circular polarizers (CPLs) are the workhorse of my filter collection. Ask any landscape photographer what filters they carry and a polarizer is going to be on the list as they help in so many situations and cannot be duplicated in post processing (yet). Combine that with the ultra-slim design and weather sealing, and you really can't get a better stocking stuffer than this. Find it here on Amazon.
This is a super-helpful contraption if you have an assortment of different light stands and lights. It has a cold shoe mount for speedlights, but that can pull out and replace with a lighting mount for a full size studio strobe. There is an umbrella insert, and it easily tilts. For ages I seemed to have too few of these for the number of lights and stands that I own. Picking up a couple of these will just make life much simpler if your photographer has a lot of lighting stands that they work with. This will hold up to 66 pounds of lighting/modifiers!
A Big, Beautiful Art Book - $50.00 +/-
Appreciating and enjoying fine art can help any photographer improve their game. Seeing how the masters handled light, colour, motion, and composition can't help but inspire and give any creative person new ideas. It doesn't need to be Impressionism, any art book with lots of large images will do. Photographers will benefit from studying how the renaissance masters handled light, how abstract artists simplified a scene, how impressionists created a sense of motion, and how surrealists broke barriers and opened minds. Feel free to pick a genre that catches your eye, even if it is not one that the photographer on your gift list is familiar with. What could be better than the gift of inspiration?
EBL 12 Bay LCD AA AAA 9V Battery Charger for Rechargeable Batteries, New Released - ETL Certified - $26.99
Any photographer knows the value of having batteries ready to go at all times. This is a great charger to have on hand for all the batteries you will be using from AAA thru 9 Volts, they have you covered.
Holga 120N plastic film camera with a roll of 120 film - $40.99
If you want to go all the way back to the basics, Holga is where you want to start. Nothing fancy here. Fixed aperture f/8 plastic lens. One shutter speed. Two focus settings...near and far. Yet there is something magical about the soft results, often with light leaks. It's the LoMo experience from the ones who invented it. Plus, for those who have only ever shot digital, there is the experience of waiting like a kid at Christmas for the film to be developed so you can see what you got. This bundle can be had from Amazon for just $40.99
All three of the books in the "Picture Perfect" series are excellent, but I'll recommend Picture Perfect Practice because it is a great all-around book of advice and technique. With numerous examples, fantastic diagrams and photos, and a great message (deliberate practice makes perfect!), you can't go wrong with Valenzuela's text. I've read countless photography texts, and Valenzuela's books take the top spot for me. The writing is clear and fun, and the advice is, well, perfect.
Gifts Between $50.00 and $100.00
Zomei Z668 Professional 65'' Tripod with Ball Head - $89.99
I am of the mindset that good gear doesn't always cost an arm and an leg. This tripod is a prime example. Under $100, this tripod has withstood everything from ocean tides, Iceland's black sand, and Hokkaido's freezing snow. Sturdy in all but hurricane force winds, this tripod makes for an excellent travel companion, folding up small enough to be carried on board, and weighing less than five pounds making it light enough to actually do so without compromising performance. Find it here on Amazon.
I absolutely adore this camera strap! It's wonderfully made, and you can attach/detach it in seconds from your camera body. I have this full width one on my 5D Mark IV, and there is a "lite" version that is a thinner strap which I have on my 7D Mark II. Honestly, if I were buying again, I would get the larger strap for both. The wider strap is just more comfortable on my neck, and I love it. There is also a great little silicone 'anti-slip' coating on part of it, which really does keep it in place on my neck. I absolutely adore this strap!
Aquapac Waterproof DSLR Case - $99.95
For the camera enthusiast on your list, who enjoys scuba diving, snorkelling, or even just beach vacations, an underwater DSLR bag can be a lot of fun, at a fraction of the cost of a full housing. Many photographers won't bring their DSLR to the beach or pool, for fear of getting sand in it, or of having it stolen while they swim. An underwater camera bag enables them to take their precious camera right into the water with them. Cameras are kept dry and safe from dust and sand. Most importantly, they can now take high resolution images of underwater flora and fauna, the kids swimming underwater, and landscapes with the unique perspective of looking back at the land from the water.
Yongnuo YN560 IV Speedlite - $69.59
Inexpensive, versatile and compatible with any camera with a standard hotshoe, the YN 560IV is an excellent value. From beginners to pros who want low cost yet effective speedlites, it is hard to beat this price!
No photographer should be without a reflector kit. That sun not quite where you need it to be? No problem...bounce it to where you need it. Sun too harsh? No problem...diffuse it. It's something literally every photographer needs to own. No exceptions. This one from Westcott is high quality and contains everything you need in a compact foldable solution. Available at Adorama Camera.
If you do any kind of detailed brush work in Lightroom, then you need a tablet. If you use Photoshop for any editing at all, then you need a tablet. Your mouse is clunky and inaccurate, and frankly, it just can't function like a paint brush. The Wacom Intros Drawing Tablet will give you the fine control that will completely change how you do fine editing. Anything beyond basic RAW processing requires finesse and artistry. A Wacom tablet will make that artistry that much easier and intuitive.
Gifts Between $100.00 and $250.00
I simply cannot travel without my Pelican Air 1535! The durability and protection it gives my gear when I travel domestically or internationally takes such a weight off my mind. Plus, with smooth rolling wheels, it takes the weight off my back as well! If you or the lucky photographer in your life fly with gear, you need this. Bonus, it comes in several colors if you aren't partial to black.
You can also read my article on packing for travel here to see exactly how I use this case.
This is the monopod that I use with my AD400Pro battery powered strobe. (featured also on this list.) Here's a quick note about how I use it. This monopod is absolutely amazing quality. It will hold up to 66 pounds of gear. It's super-tall, in case you need the height for something, and the twist locks are the very highest quality. I love this monopod, and take it with me everywhere.
Lensbaby Sol 45 - $199.95
Lensbaby make a line up of specialty lenses that use selective focus and unusual apertures to create some very cool effects. The Sol 45 is one of their most affordable standalone lenses, and the painterly, brush stroke effect that can be achieved is unique and dramatic. The fixed aperture and focal length may make it easier to use, for photographers who are new to using manual lenses. I've written about this lens in greater detail here.
Beautiful soft light can be created using this portable and nicely constructed softbox. Various mount options are available. Be sure to order the proper model for your needs.
I used to carry my camera(s) on strap(s) for all-day events, and I would come home in agony. My back would be killing me for 2 days. Then I found the Spider Holster. For those of you who are into hiking, think of it as the hip belt for your camera. Now I have one belt and a plate on the bottom of both of my cameras. Whichever one is not in my hand, hangs from the belt. My back never gets tired or sore.
Admission ticket to Shutterfest 2019 - $149.00
There is no conference like Shutterfest--the price alone should have you booking your trip to St. Louis. But it's the atmosphere, the ethos, the sheer amount of fun that makes Shutterfest amazing. I spent two full days shooting, learning from the best in the business (Peter Hurley was the 2018 keynote speaker--does it get better than that?). While the initial draw to Shutterfest might be the standard workshops, many of which are hands-on, the real bonus is everything else. All of the presenters--and we're talking big-time pros--make themselves available for FREE to give advice and to tag along and shoot with. Just spending an hour with a small group and a pro creating photos is crazy, but it's that fact that all of it is built in to the low, low, LOW price is mind-boggling. I don't know how Sal and his crew do it. Go to Shutterfest. You won't regret it. Register here.
Gifts Between $250.00 and $500.00
Sometimes the best thing we can do to better our photography skills and grow our craft is invest in education over more gear. The Create Photography Retreat is an annual event that rotates through different cities each year. In 2019 it will be in my current hometown of Las Vegas, NV. Come immerse yourself among like-minded people while having hours of hands on instruction, informational classroom presentations, and the opportunity to network and study with some of the finest photographers in the business. Register that special photographer (including yourself) here today! PLUS if you are one of the first 20
Photographers Cooperative members/readers to use the code "Allin" you will receive $55 off!!!
I receive a LOT of gear to review every year. This item is something I bought, instead of receiving for free. I was teaching a workshop, and decided it was time that I have a truly professional set-up to hold my computer, and to project my information and use as a workstation. Shooting tethered is a game changer! The ability for you to connect to a monitor, and let headshot clients see their photo as you take it can cut an hour off of each session! This is an awesome investment for any intermediate to professional photographer that is not already shooting tethered. And: COFFEE HOLDER!
An Infrared Camera (Or Conversion) - $275.00 - $450.00
A DSLR camera can be modified to capture near-infrared light that is just outside the spectrum of what our eyes can see. Images made with a converted camera have an other-worldly glow, and colours contrast and interact in unusual ways. Lifepixel are a well respected company that can convert a camera you already own, (which is what I did with my old Nikon D7100), or they also sell new and used cameras that have already been converted).
Brian Pex: I agree here with Mark Morris and his choice! A tremendous piece of kit to have or want!
Here's an opportunity to let your creative juices flow! The Sweet 35 is a selective focus lens. This means that whatever you put in the Sweet Spot (as determined by the angle on the Composer Body) is sharp, while the areas surrounding are softer and softer. The smaller the aperture, the larger the Sweet-Spot. And the cool thing about the Composer pro is that it allows you to buy additional optics for the Composer and get even more creative!
CreativeLive's Creator Pass - $299.00
Unlimited classes for an entire year? Yes, please! This is an incredible amount of information not just for photography, but for all sorts of creative pursuits. I've watched more videos than I can count since I signed up for this last January. With CreativeLive videos, I've changed my Photoshop workflow, added SEO tricks to my website, learned the in's and out's of macro photography, and so much more. CreativeLive is a photographer's dream-come-true for education.
Gifts Between $500 and $1000.00
Airfare (domestic or international) - $500 to $800
By now you have probably sensed a theme in the items I have chosen to include on this list. Really shouldn't be a surprise then that if you are looking for something in this price bracket, I'm going to suggest that you get out and use the gear you already have at home. If you are open and willing to be flexible with either timing or destination, you can easily pick up a ticket to almost any domestic and many international locations in this range. Might I suggest places like San Francisco, Charleston, Scotland, or Japan? Search for airfare deals on sites like Kayak.com or Google.com/flights.