Photographers are tough to shop for. Sarah comments on this all the time. Either I buy the toys I want when I see them, claiming I “need” them right away, or I want things that are so ridiculously expensive that they wouldn’t make suitable Christmas presents (yep, it looks like once again, I will not be getting that Nikon D3s for Christmas!) So, you may be wondering, “what, with reason, can I get the photographer in my life that would be useful for taking photos at Disney?!” I asked myself this the other day, and here are some things that came to mind. I tried to be hit some items that I thought would be both unique and fun with this list. Assorted relatives of mine, if you’re reading this, please don’t purchase anything on this list, as I may have already purchased it all for myself…
1b) Strobist 55 Piece Gel Filter Kit w/ Holder – ($20) – Taking unique photos at Disneyland and Walt Disney World is becoming increasingly difficult, but one way photographers can separate themselves from the pack is by doing creative things with external flash and gels. There are a few gel sets available, but I think this is the best one to get, as it includes EVERYTHING needed to starting using gels right away. (If the photographer on your list doesn’t own a flash, go with the mid-range models: SB-700 for Nikon or 430EX II for Canon.)
2) Pro Camera Handstrap – ($8) – You may notice in some photos of me with the camera that I utilize a handstrap in addition to a neck strap. I always like to hold the camera (even when it’s hanging from my neck) and this strap gives me a lot of extra support and I think it improves my stability. I could be wrong on that, but I’ve grown to love these handstraps.
3) Flash Diffuser Set – ($15) – If the person on your list takes a lot of family photos on vacation, diffusers are a near-essential. They improve the quality of light (when indoors) substantially, and having a set with warming and cooling diffusers is nice. I would highly recommend these rather than the substantially overpriced Gary Fong junk.
4) DSLR Rain Sleeve – ($6) It’s like a rain coat for a camera! I always carry one of these in my camera bag, and I generally find myself using it when photographing World of Color, Splash Mountain, Kali River Rapids, other water-oriented attractions, or just when it’s raining but I still want to use the camera (when combined with a lens hood, you can still get great shots in the rain!).
5) Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 – ($425) – Okay, at over $400, maybe this isn’t exactly a budget purchase. I just couldn’t resist adding it. I purchased this lens for Sarah to use on her camera prior to our November Disneyland trip, and it has quickly catapulted itself into my list of favorite lenses. Sarah achieves great results with it, and I often find myself wanting to borrow it to use for night shooting given its versatility. At f/2.8, it’s fast, incredibly sharp, and is a great focal range. We’ll have a full review of this later, but for now, know that it’s a great choice if looking for an all-purpose lens. We haven’t touched our 18-200 VR since getting this lens. Although the 18-200 has more range on the long end, this lens is overall so much better. We highly recommend it.
6) Wired Camera Remote – ($35) – If the photographer on your list uses cheap infrared remotes, get them this! It’s so much more convenient, reliable, and useful than the IR remotes. I started using it this year for time lapse, and now I rarely use the IR remote. I didn’t expect to like the wired remote so much, but it’s consistency and reliability really make it a great purchase.
7) Popular Photography Magazine Subscription – ($9) – At only $9 for an entire year, this is a no-brainer. Popular Photography is the leading magazine for photography tips, tricks, and advice, and any level of photographer can learn a lot by reading it. I’ve had a subscription since 2008, and I think I’ve learned something useful from every issue. While most of the same information is available for free online, I like having something tactile that can travel with me in the car, to the gym, or other places I might get bored.
8) B+W Neutral Density Filter (6 Stops) – ($110) – This neutral density filter is perfect for fireworks AND daytime long exposures, making it an incredibly versatile filter for the photographer on your list. I’ve used both this filter and the Hoya 400 (9 stops) and I’ve found this to be the slightly better bet for all around use. If this filter is out of your budget, consider the 3 Neutral Density Filter Set ($35). These filters may need to be stacked for fireworks, but they’re still a great option! Whichever filter you buy, make sure to get the 77mm size.
9) 77mm Infrared Filter – ($35) – Infrared cameras are expensive as are high-end infrared filters, so this makes a good compromise. Keep in mind that a tripod is absolutely necessary when using this filter. I purchased one prior to buying an infrared camera, and I was ending up with 60 second or longer exposures in broad daylight.
10) Understanding Exposure – ($16) – If you know me, you know there’s little chance that when discussing photography equipment to buy, I won’t recommend Understanding Exposure at least once. If the photographer on your list is still learning the craft, BUY THIS BOOK. If they already have Understanding Exposure (they must be smart!), consider one of the more advanced titles on my photography book list.
This is just my short list of photography recommendations that I think would make cool Christmas gifts if you’re unsure of what to get. Most of these items are cheap, and have a good chance of not being owned by the photographer on your list. Whatever you do, don’t get the photographer on your list one of those dumb lens mugs unless they ask for it. Those things are overpriced and the novelty wears off quickly!
For the complete list (which includes much more expensive items) of photography gear I recommend, CLICK HERE!