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Holiday and Christmas Wishlist for Photographers

With Thanksgiving behind us and December ahead, it’s that time of year again: Christmas shopping. Every year, I get that same question from my mother. “What do you want for Christmas?”

And usually, the answer is the same. I shrug and say, “Stuff.” Eventually I put together some kind of list for her. But, if you’re shopping for a friend or family member who likes photography, here are some ideas – big and small – for what you can get them.

Stocking Stuffers – The Little Stuff

While a lot of photography related toys are expensive, there are plenty of small things that photographers can never have enough of.

  • Rechargeable Batteries. Cameras use fancy batteries. Flashes don’t. They use AA’s, and they get used up fast. Rechargeable batteries are an essential for any camera bag, and I know I always wish I had a few more sets. Try AmazonBasics AA batteries or Eneloop AA batteries. A 4-pack will run you less than $10.
  • Memory Cards. Memory cards are cheap these days, and you can never have enough. Most cameras use SD cards, but some more expensive cameras will use CF cards. You may want to check. For a small point and shoot camera, a Transcend 4gb SD Card will probably do, but you could upgrade to a 8gb. If your friend has an SLR with a higher resolution (15 megapixels or more) you may want to opt for the larger Transcend 16GB SD Card. And if they don’t already have one, a memory card wallet would be useful, too. The memory cards should be $10 to $20, and the wallet should be $5 to $10.
  • Blank DVDs. I usually try to share photos over the internet, but sometimes it’s easier to give someone a DVD. And when I start burning them, they disappear quickly. It’s always nice to have a spindle of blank ones around, and Verbatim 4.7gb DVDs (50x) would do nicely. Expect to pay around $15 to $20. Don’t bother getting the larger dual layer DVDs, the 4.7gb capacity is just fine. However, box of slim jewel cases is a great addition to the DVDs themselves.

Medium Sized Gifts (Less than $100)

Instead of stuffing the stocking, maybe you’re looking for a small to medium sized gift to wrap and put under the tree. Here are a few ideas that are under $100.

  • Battery Grip. Perhaps the most underrated accessory to a dSLR is a battery grip. Since I bought my first Canon t1i, I’ve never lived without one. It allows you to put two batteries in the camera (extending battery life) and it makes the camera a bit heftier. It also makes it much more convenient to turn the camera sideways and take a portrait oriented shot. The name brand battery grips are kind of pricey, but off-brand battery grips will range from $40 to $60. Type in the camera name and “battery grip” into Amazon to find one that fits your friends camera. For example, “canon t4i battery grip” or “nikon d5100 battery grip.” Pick something with a 4 star rating or higher and you’ll be just fine.
  • Backpack. The first camera bag I got was woefully inadequate. After I added a few lenses to my collection, it just didn’t do. A new bag like a Canon 200EG Backpack will run you $40 or $50. Look for something with two straps – it’ll be more comfortable than a shoulder strap and more durable than a sling. Make sure it holds a camera and three or four lenses so that there’s room to expand.
  • Off Camera Flash Kit. This is more for the serious camera enthusiast than the average picture snapper. If you’re serious about doing any kind of people photography, you need to know how to manipulate light. Tell your friend to start reading Strobist, and then buy them something like the Aputure Trigmaster Flash Triggers. They allow you to trigger a flash remotely and do all kinds of cool stuff to manipulate light and craft beautiful pictures. This is a rather nice set that runs about $70.

The Big Splurge

Looking for something bigger? Want to plunk down some cash and splurge on a real gift for your significant other or really lucky friend? Here are a few ideas.

  • Get a New Lens. dSLRs come with what’s called a “kit lens,” like the Canon EF-S 18-55mm. These are ok to get started, but they’re kind of one-size-fits all. Every photographer would love to expand their collection of glass (lenses), but they can be pricey. The cheapest option would be a Canon EF 50mm f/1.8, about a little over $100. It’s awesome for street photography. A sports enthusiast might enjoy a telephoto lens like a Canon EF-S 55-250mm f/4.0-5.6 (about $250-300, good for use outdoors) or a Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L (about $1300, but awesome and better for indoors). Another cool option is the Canon EF 85mm f/1.8. It’s under $400, and a great portrait lens.
  • Better Flash Triggers. Anyone that’s just getting started with off camera flash probably bought a cheaper, off-brand set of triggers. These are great to experiment with cause they’re, well, cheap. But the gold standard in offer camera flash is Pocket Wizard. I would love anyone who bought me a set of PocketWizard 801-130 Plus III Transceiver. You’ll need one transceiver for the camera and one for each flash, so a set should include a minimum of two transceivers and likely three or four.
  • New Camera. Finally, what could be better than a new camera? I’ve been using a Canon t1i and t2i for a few years because they work just fine. I’d like a newer camera, but I can’t justify spending that much for a new toy. But that’s what gifts are for, right? You could upgrade someone to a Canon EOS Rebel T4i for about $800. Even better, you could upgrade an extra special person to a Canon EOS 7D for about $1500. If the recipient already owns a dSLR, get them the same brand – so get a Canon guy a Canon camera, and get a Nikon girl a Nikon camera. Otherwise, all their old lenses will be useless and they may get somewhat irritated. If it’s an upgrade, you can also save some money by choosing the “Body Only” option on Amazon. This means the camera won’t come with a lens, but your friend already has one… and it may be the same exact kit lens that comes with the new camera. More lenses is usually better, but more of the same lens is just a waste.

What Do You Want…?

I’d love that Canon 7D or those PocketWizards, and I know my daughter would too. Neither is in the budget for Christmas this year, though. I’ve already got a good collection of lenses and flash accessories, so I’m looking forward to a nice gathering of stocking stuffers and little odds and ends.

I’d be curious to hear from other photographers out there – what do you want for Christmas to add to your camera bag?

Looking for other gift ideas? Check out this post about mother’s day gift ideas for photographers.

Image Credit: gift by werdock at sxc.hu.

Filed Under: How to Choose a Good Camera

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About Digital Photography How To

Digital Photography How To is intended to be a guide to people learning how to use their digital SLR cameras. Three years ago, I had never picked up a camera; now, I produce a yearbook every year and I moonlight as a professional photographer.

I write this website to share what I've learned in that time. The topics will range from truly beginners topics, to tutorials for post processing, to resources for yearbook and graphic design, to thoughts on transitioning from a hobbyist to a professional. Keep up to date by subscribing to the RSS feed.

About the Author

Digital Photography How To is written by Brian Rock. In addition to being a photographer, he's an educator. He teaches high school history, he's the advisor of the school yearbook, and he trains his kids to do all of the photography for the yearbook.

You can connect with him directly on Google Plus.