The holiday season is just around the corner and the scramble to hunt for the perfect gifts is quickly approaching. Inspire the pro or aspiring photographer in your life and help them hone the art of photo-taking with these handpicked gift ideas.
Scroll down for a checklist including some gift-giving inspiration and must-haves that the photographers and memory makers in your life will appreciate:
Grey Card Kit
Serious photographers understand the use of a grey card. Get a kit of grey, white and black from Cameron for under $20.
The Polarizer is the single most useful filter in digital photography. From darkening blue skies to managing reflections and increasing colour depth, no one filter can make such a huge difference. Just check the size that you need for the lens you intend to use it on. Good polarizers aren’t cheap but will last a lifetime. The Cameron Pro Polarizers are possibly the best value for dollar on the market!
A print speaks louder than words. Art Directors, wedding clients and most others are tired of looking at hundreds of images on smartphones or tablets. Show off your best work in a nice portfolio – available in a variety of sizes at very competitive prices. Itoya carries a wide range of styles and sizes that can meet all your needs.
You know what your friends and family will really appreciate? One of your photos, printed, matted and framed and wrapped up ready for opening. This very personal gift speaks volumes about how important the recipient is to you.
Accessories to Advance
Fast Prime Lens
Every photographer will enjoy and benefit from a standard prime lens. For full frame shooters, the go to lens is a 50mm, typically an f/1.8. For crop sensor owners, get a 35mm typically around f/1.8. Micro 4/3 owners should go with a 25mm f1.8. A standard prime lens is not only small and lightweight, but provides great sharpness, nice out of focus highlights and works awesomely in low light without a flash.
When you need something lightweight and portable for travelling or vacations, consider a carbon fibre tripod with a ball head like the Cameron CF550. Weighing only .73kg, it goes from 20cm to over 1.2m in height and it folds down to only 32cm long for travel. Plus, you can easily convert it to a monopod for those tripod unfriendly sites.
Henry’s Learning Lab Private Training
Sometimes the most effective way to learn is one-on-one with an instructor who is passionate about photography. Whether it’s learning how to use your new camera, more advanced topics or learning to manage and process your images with Lightroom, Henry’s Learning Lab private training services has you covered. Speak to a store sales associate for details.
Gifts Under $1000
Walk Around Lens
When on a trip or out for a day, many photographers don’t want to carry a lot of gear or be changing lenses all the time. A wide angle to medium telephoto lens is a great idea. OEMs make some nice choices, but to keep budgets balanced, consider a lens from Sigma or Tamron. For crop sensor owners, Sigma’s 18-250mm is really popular as is Tamron’s really excellent 16-300mm. Full frame users won’t get in under $1000, but within pitching range is Tamron’s awesome 18-400mm lens. Micro four thirds users will love the Olympus 12-200mm lens.
Wide Angle Zoom
Sometimes the wide end of the kit lens or your walk around lens just isn’t wide enough. For crop sensor users, OEMs, Sigma and Tamron all build excellent wide-angle zooms starting around 10mm and ending between 20mm and 24mm — nice, lightweight, incredible fields of view and great sharpness. Full frame users will find solutions for this in the next bracket.
Dedicated TTL Hotshoe Flash
Every photographer needs a portable ‘sun’ that can be used off camera wired or wirelessly. For Nikon owners, I am very impressed by their SB-5000. Canon owners will really get a lot out of the 470EX-AI. If you shoot Sony, Panasonic, Olympus or Fujifilm they all make solid flashes. You can also look to Godox for a full range of flashes compatible with most camera brands.
13″ Wide Capable Photo Printer
Printers come in two different ink types, dye for fast drying on resin coated papers, and pigments for longevity on all papers and canvases. A photo is not really a photo until it’s printed and put in an album, a portfolio or on the wall. Epson’s P400 and P600 are excellent printers that will last for years. Canon’s Pixma Pro line-up includes the Pro 100 and the Pro 10. These are excellent printing options as well.
There’s always a lot of interest in close up and macro photography and the good news is that no matter what kind of camera you use, there are macro lenses that will deliver incredible quality for far less than the top of this category. Nikon’s 60mm micro Nikkor is a great choice. Canon has a 60mm. Olympus has a really sharp 60mm. Panasonic delivers up the Leica 45mm. Sony has a very fine 50mm. Macro lenses are built with their special purpose in mind and tend to be tack sharp centre to corner and exhibit the very least distortions and vignetting of any lens you can use. You’re Worth It
Wide Angle Zoom (FF)
We’re into a few more dollars to get full coverage on a full frame sensor but this also brings us the widest options available. From Canon’s amazing 11-24mm to Nikon’s acclaimed 14-24mm, the OEMs really do a great job, but so do the independents. Sigma just released a new version of their really awesome 12-24mm and Tamron’s 15-30mm is a proven winner.
Long Telephoto Zoom (all)
OEMs produce some really stellar long telephoto zooms that reach out to 400mm, 500mm and even 600mm. They are large and a bit heavy, but sometimes you just cannot get the shot without having the reach. Most all of these lenses are designed for full frame and work well on crop sensor bodies. In addition to the OEMs, there are plenty of choices from both Sigma and Tamron. If you do wildlife or birds and cannot drop over $10K on a long prime, the 150-600 from either vendor is a great range at a great price point. Tamron just released their second-generation version of this range, and it’s even better than the first which was superb. Designed for Fujifilm crop sensor mirrorless cameras, their 100-400mm lens is an excellent choice and for micro four thirds shooters the Olympus 75-300mm or Panasonic 100-400mm are excellent choices.
Professional Strobe Kit
I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t offer up a couple of awesome strobe kits that work well in studio but also in the field where there is no AC power. For mobility, light weight and incredible light, you cannot lose with Profoto’s B10 Duo Kit. The B10 and the B10 Plus, and the quality of light they deliver brings lots of creative possibilities. But ease-of-use is also incredibly important. They feature a clean and minimal interface so you can start shooting straight from the box. Batteries are quick and easy to switch in and out and can be charged while in use. Trigger and control them wirelessly with ease from any Profoto Air remote, from Profoto Connect, or from the Profoto A1 or A1X. You can point and shoot with TTL or switch to manual control at any time. The Profoto app allows you to you easily view and control all B10 and B10 Plus settings from the palm of your hand and install new updates in seconds. There are very good reasons why seasoned pros favour Profoto. Quality speaks. And also lasts a very long time. I am well aware that such kits are not insignificant investments and I would never recommend them if I hadn’t used Profoto systems under high pressure situations and achieved 100% success.