Exposed! :: Seven Great Photo Gift Ideas ::
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What can you get your photographer for Christmas, birthday or other special occasion? Oh, it's tricky!
In this month's Exposed! Photography Newsletter we share some valuable photography gift ideas for different people and budgets.
Cameras start at amazingly low prices. Choose something to fit your photographer's sense of fun. From point and shoots to fancy SLRs, there are more than enough options to satisfy the shutterbug on your list.
For the budget oriented or beginner, a used film camera can be cost-effective (~$75 and up) and can last a lifetime. Throw in some inexpensive black and white film and something for processing - and processing can be done at home.
For all levels looking for an easy, well appointed point and shoot, try the Canon G11 (~$500). This powerhouse point-and-shoot is popular and well-built.
For the experienced techie, try the Nikon D3x (only ~$9000). This camera has been on the forefront of digital technology this year. It's a fine pro level digital SLR camera.
For experienced or advanced photojournalist fans who appreciate the finer things, consider the Leica M7 (~$4500). The Leica M-series have been favourites with social documentary photographers and photojournalists for decades. Their superb mechanics, strength in adverse conditions, reliability and exceptional lenses have kept film photographers working for years.
For beginners there are many fine, budget, entry level cameras from Nikon, Canon, Pentax and Minolta. Nikon and Canon are the more prominent brands with supporting lenses and paraphanalia most available. Other manufacturers will also have good options usually with better features per dollar but with less available extras.
Remember, no camera will take good photos unless the human using it learns the fundamentals of photography. I have seen many people take poor photos with good equipment and many fine photos shot with the most simple, inexpensive cameras.
These overlooked powerhouses are valuable assets in both low light (living rooms, forests, offices) or fast moving fun (young children, dogs, sports, etc.). A fixed focal lens is an essential addition for any photographer with an SLR camera.
For all levels of photographers, consider either a 50 mm f1.8 (~$150) or a 85 mm f1.8 (~$500).
For advanced to experienced low light photographers, try a 50 mm f1.4 (~$550). These offer better low light availability.
For advanced to experienced available light portraitists, try an 85 mm f1.4 (~$1100).
Take all levels of digital photographers into the digital age with some superb photo management software. Adobe Lightroom (~$300) can help your photographer select, tweak and output fine photo files. One of my beefs with digital's early days was the difficulty of editing digital files - it was slow and cumbersome. Editing film was much quicker and easier. Once I started using Lightroom, I discovered editing could be easy, effective and even fun!
What about Apple Aperture? Aperture and Lightroom are very similar. When we researched the programs other working photographers directed us to Lightroom - a lighter program that is easier for your computer to drive. Aperture and Lightroom are very similar. Both should be available as trial downloads. Try them out to see which is best for you or your photographer
Santa at the Aylmer SPCA
For the beginner, try Understanding Exposure by Bryan Peterson (~$25). This is a well thought out classic book on exposure.
For the advanced and experienced, consider a subscription to Photo District News (~$65/year). PDN is a fun and fine North American (read mostly US) based paper and online magazine geared towards industry news.
The advanced and experienced photo equipment junkie will salivate over the offerings of the B&H Photo catalogue (free). This catalogue is put out regularly by the B&H superstore of photography in New York City. It's available free online and a print version can be mailed. It makes for a fun distraction.
For all levels of photo adventurers, try Adventures in Photography by Pat Morrow (~$20 - scroll down the page.) Although written many years ago, this book highlights the work of four adventure photographers with their insights on the individual photos.
All levels of photographers will appreciate a fine photo bag. There are many, sizes, types and styles to fit all kinds of budgets. Things to consider:
- Size - A good bag should be big enough to carry enough gear but small enough to be able to move. My camera bag for our Iceland trip weighed more than my wife's luggage. The camera bag I bring to a family events is slightly bigger than one camera.
- Weatherproofing - Nothing short of a Pelican Case will be totally waterproof but, ideally you want to reduce any wet penetration. Look for design features and coated nylon (Cordura)
- Design - There are bags geared to every purpose, from skiing to event shooting. Some bags will incorporate a mid tone grey fabric that doubles as a grey card.
- AntiTheft - If a camera bag looks like a camera bag it will be a target for thieves. Look for bags that are generic looking.
We recommend the Crumpler Brazillion Dollar Home (~$300) or other Crumpler Bags. My Crumpler is the finest camera bag I've ever used. LowePro bags ($various) are also solid and well built. Finally, you can't get any better than a Pelican Case ($various) for rough and wet weather (white water canoeing, etc.). I use them when I really need to keep my gear safe.
More valuable than most equipment is the gift of learning how to use it!
May we shamelessly suggest some of our workshops?
Beginners and experienced photographers will benefit from learning or reviewing photo elements in Creative Fundamentals.
The experienced and advanced photographers can sharpen their portrait skills in Natural Light Portraits.
Experienced and advanced photographers will appreciate the real-world experience provided by our
- Pro Hockey Photography Workshop
- David Trattles Photojournalism and Social Documentary Photography Workshop
- NightLight Photo Workshop.
For a fabulous gift give the Iceland Photo Experience.
Looking for something small? Consider these useful gift ideas for all levels:
A photo of YOU!
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Visit your local photo retailers for gift ideas.
In Ottawa visit:
For photo labs visit:
Buying equipment is tricky business especially if it's for someone else! Remember any retailer wants to sell you something. Do your research. Ask questions. For technical info check reviews on sites like DPReview.com. For best stores and services ask your friends!
Happy Holidays!Take photos and have fun!