2011 Holiday Gifts for Photographers
It's holiday gift giving time again. If you're still looking for that special something for a photographer on your list (or perhaps for yourself), I have some suggestions that may just fit the bill.
Lytro Light Field Camera
I preordered one when they were first announced but won't get it for another few months yet. But even without a hands-on evaluation myself, the Lytro light field camera is one of the coolest photography gadgets to come along in ages. You shoot the picture, and focus it later as needed. Refocus to a different point just by clicking on the image. Lytro images invite being experienced. The manufacturer calls them "living pictures." Choose from the Graphite or Electric Blue versions with 8 GB of memory for $399 or the 16 GB Red Hot version for $499.
If you've been frustrated with other HDR programs and long for a way to make HDR images that still look realistic, you're not alone. In fact, I'm betting you have friends who would appreciate receiving a great HDR program that produces great, realistic results. Oloneo is a French company founded in 2006 that released their first product earlier this year, and it's a winner. They've continued to release enhancements for the original Oloneo PhotoEngine and also just released a scaled down HDREngine product so there's a version for any photo gift buying budget. $59 for new HDREngine or $125 for the full PhotoEngine.
USB Film Drive
What better thing use could there be for old 35mm film canisters than to turn them into USB thumb drives so they can hold digital photos? Now that's recycling. Put a smile on the face of a photographer you know by giving them a 4GB USB drive made from a colorful Fuji Velvia or perhaps Kodachrome roll. The good old days meet the new digital world. $20 from Photojojo.
Joby Gorillatorch Blade
By now, the cool Gorillapod flexible tripod is well known. But did you know they also make flashlights with the same bendable legs? You can position one just where you need it for a macro catch light or simply fasten it somewhere convenient so you can see your gear in the dark. Joby makes several different versions but my favorite is the Gorillatorch Blade that features 130-lumen power and a USB-rechargeable lithium-ion battery. And the flashlight can be removed from the legs for handheld use too. This thing is downright handy for so many uses. $60 list price, but discounted online.
Aqua Tech Sensory Gloves
The holiday season also brings cold weather, and what outdoor photographer wouldn't appreciate a pair of gloves you can actually wear while shooting? The AquaTech Sensory Gloves are one of the best renditions of photo gloves I've come across. They are warm and functional. For tasks requiring extreme dexterity the tips of the index finger and thumb have a small hole so you can actually touch things. Construction consists mainly of neoprene and fleece which I appreciate. As warm as wool is, it simply sheds too much to be around my camera when I change lenses. At $50 for a pair online, these aren't cheap as gloves go, but they are good.
Typically, it's not the cost of the printer that gets you, it's the cost of the inks over the life of the printer. For someone who prints a lot, the cost can add up. And what digital darkroom geek wouldn't appreciate the gift of an ink refill for their printer? Just make sure you buy the right kind. B&H Photo sells just about everything.
The Lensbaby line of creative focus lenses continues to evolve and become more refined and easier to use. The Lensbaby Composer and Composer Pro are downright fun to use. If you've never tried a Lensbaby, you should. If you're trying to buy a gift for a photographer you know who hasn't, they should. If they have an earlier version of the Lensbaby and enjoy it, they'd probably really enjoy stepping up to the Composer or Composer Pro. Individual lenses and packages are available from $199 with special promotions good through the end of the year.
Lens rental gift certificate
Everybody wants one of those big lenses you see wildlife and sports shooters using but few can afford to buy one. These things cost thousands of dollars, but thankfully there are companies out there that will rent you one when you need it so you don't have to buy one unless you use it regularly. If you want to make a photographer on your list happy, give them a gift certificate for a lens rental from lensrentals.com or borrowlenses.com.
Shutterfly gift certificate
Photographers grow to enjoy the fruits of their labors. The satisfaction from seeing the results is one of the things that keep a photographer photographing. So why not give a photographer you know a gift certificate from Shutterfly that they can use to pay for creating a custom photo book of their own images? Shutterfly Gift certificates can be delivered either on printed paper or electronically so you can take advantage of this right up until the last minute. Shutterfly offers other photo gift options as well so the cost can be tailored to your budget.