Christmas wish list--
Many times a years I get asked for recommendations for photography related items such as a first DSLR for someone interested in photography, a pretty and well-made camera bag for someone's wife, or a smaller gift for someone who likes photography. I try to make recommendations based on both the skill and interest level of the photographer and the budget of the person purchasing a gift. Sometimes people have very specific requests and others are a little broad, so these recommendations are personalized to each request.
Since it is nearing the biggest gift-giving time of the year, I thought I'd go ahead and put a list together of some photography gifts that just might fit your list. I'm pretty sure this list could be endless, but these are a few things that could fit a broad audience and a wide range of prices levels. Hopefully it will help at least one person out there doing their Christmas shopping.
Many of these items can be bought online in multiple places. Personally, I prefer to shop at one of three places: B&H Photo, the original manufacturer's site or the Houston Camera Exchange. I feel like supporting your local business is very important, so HCE is always a good choice. They may even price match online retailers, but I'd call first to double check. Sometimes it's just a little easier to shop online, so B&H is my No. 1 choice for that.
1. Canon Rebel T5 - $399
For the person in your life who loves to take photos with their phone or point and shoot camera (if people actually use these anymore), but wants to move to a more advanced camera with the option to add gear in the future, the Canon Rebel T5 is your go-to starter DSLR. Tons of photographers start out with a Canon Rebel of some sort. Personally, I started with a film version of the Canon Rebel. There are a few other versions of the Rebel out there, but I wanted to keep everything on the list under $500 and this one fit the bill. Any Canon DSLR is going to be a great camera and allow your potential to soar. From here, you can add extra lenses, external flashes, tripods and more as the skill level of the photographer advances. If you want to go one step further for only $50 more, grab this bundle and you'll get a zoom lens and camera bag too.
2. Canon PowerShot G16 - $399
If you have someone on your list who wants to go a little more advanced in their photography but doesn't want to deal with the size of a DLSR or all the extra gear, a point-and-shoot is the way to go. The G16 has a lot more bang than your standard point-and-shoot, with the option to use manual settings to be a little more creative and advance your skill set. I personally have never owned one, but if I was in the market for this type of camera, the G16 would be at the top of my list. The only downside is that it probably won't fit in your pocket like some of the smaller point-and-shoots...it will easily fit in a purse though.
3. Sony Cyber-shot - $148
If you want a small camera that will fit in your pocket, the Cyber-shot is it. I've owned two of these and loved them! They are perfect to throw in your pocket or purse when you head out for your next adventure. I know that everyone and their mother has a cell phone that takes photos these days, so a lot of people have no interest in getting a camera, but I'm still not sold on cell phones being better than a real camera. For this super low price point, you can easily carry both in your purse and have better quality photos of your kids.
4. The GoPro Hero Plus - $199
This gift can be not only for a photographer, but also for someone who participates in a lot of actions sports. It's a really awesome point of view camera that takes wide angle photos and videos of all of your activities. You can buy tons of mounts to stick the camera to anything, to wear it, to take it under the water or wherever. There are a few different versions. I'm posting the most bargain-friendly because it still has a ton of great features. And unless you're going to invest in quality editing equipment and really learn about videography, there's no need for the $400-$500 version.
5. The Nifty Fifty (Canon 50mm lens) - $110
If the photographer you're buying for already has a basic camera and lens kit, you may consider giving them a second lens to add to their bag. This 50mm lens by Canon, nicknamed the Nifty Fifty, is a handy little lens. It's not a top-of-the-line lens at it's price point, but it does help a newer photographer get the feel for prime (non-zooming) lenses, let you shoot in lower light and gives you that nice blurry background that people enjoy so much. (P.S. That blurry background is called bokeh.) Without getting too technical, this lens, when used on a crop sensor camera like a Canon Rebel, is actually more like an 80mm. But even so, it's a great little portrait lens.
6. Kelly Moore camera bag - $149-299
About once a week or so, I get a compliment on my Kelly Moore camera bag. People love it and so do I! I love it so much that I have two. Oops. Ten years ago if you were looking for a pretty camera bag, you probably wouldn't have found much selection. But today they are everywhere, and Kelly Moore is on top of her game. She was a photographer tired of carrying ugly camera bags, so she made her own line of bags and the rest is history. Anyway, if you want a pretty bag that is functional and protective of your gear, go for Kelly Moore. I have both the Songbird and the Followell. If you shop the Kelly Moore site 11/26-11/30, you can save $50 off your bag by using the code "BlackFriday."
7. Fotostrap - $85
Fotostrap is kind of like the Toms of camera straps...in that they are a philanthropic organization. This is another item that I get tons of compliments for. It's a very simple, yet stylish camera strap that comes in a variety of colors, and you can pay a little extra and get your shoulder strap monogrammed with your name or initials. This one does come with a disclaimer. I've had a little trouble with the clasp slipping a bit. If you decide to purchase one, let me know and I can tell you my "life hack" for keeping the clasp in place.
8. Photo books such as "Archiving Photographic Legends" - $65
The book I linked to is one on my personal Christmas list, and it's one that someone else interested in the history of photography would surely appreciate. But, photo books are a great item that almost anyone can appreciate. Someone in photography will obviously love the beautiful photographs and will appreciate the creativity and technical skills that go into making the images. But say someone likes classic cars, you could buy them a beautiful book photo book of classic American muscle like the Ford Mustang or Chevy Camaro.
9. LaCie 1TB Mini Portable Hard Drive - $99
This is probably the most uninteresting item on the gift list but one of the most important. Backup, backup, backup. I strongly believe that technology cannot be trusted, therefore always have multiple copies of your images, whether you're a photographer, a hobbyist or just a mom who takes lots of photos of your kids. First, print your images (this is a whole other blog post). Then, backup. You never know when your computer will crash, your iPhone with a zillion photos will find it's way to the bottom of a lake or your CDs you've burned of images in the past will get scratched and no longer work. So, this is a great little portable hard drive that should store lots of images and easily fit in a safe or safety deposit box for extra protection.
10. Anything from Photojojo - All prices
This website has a TON of fun, quirky and handy photo gifts ranging from camera straps and selfie sticks to camera shaped cookie cutters and film salt and pepper shakers. Some of these items are great stocking stuffers and others will be great gifts for even the most serious photographer.
(Editor's note: I get no kick backs from referring you to these products or their sites. I was just hoping to help out a bit during this hectic season. I also make no claims that any of these items will make you a better photographer...that comes with education and practice.)