Photography Gift Guide

December 03 , 2008 by: Haje Jan Kamps Feature Articles, Gift Guides

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Are you looking for the perfect Christmas gift for that special photographer in your life? If so, you’ve come to the right place. I know from personal experience that present shopping for photography-obsessed people can be tough.

The world of photography turns quickly, so it can be a challenge for many of us to keep up. That’s why I thought I’d bring out this handy Christmas gift guide just in time for the holidays. (Well, that, and last year’s guide was one of my better visited pages, so I figured it’d be rude to not do a re-run with a bit of an update, too)

No matter what your budget, you should find something on this list that will bring a picture perfect smile to your photo-junky friend’s face.

Behold… Photocritic’s From sub-$40 to credit crisis-incurring gift guide (of DOOM)
 

 

In the $40s and below range:

Looking for an inexpensive photography related gift? I won’t lie; sometimes it can be tough to find a good photography gift in this price range, especially with everyone switching to digital.

Unless you know for a fact that your friend still uses film on a regular basis a well-wrapped box of film canisters and photopaper won’t cut it like it did in past years. However, we’ve been able to scrounge up a few interesting possibilities.

Out of the five listed below, we feel that the Westcott 750 Photo Basics 7.5-Foot Light Stand ($29.90) is the best buy in the $20-$40 dollar range. This sturdy 7.5 foot stand receives consistently good reviews and enjoys uniform popularity. Unlike some accessories, an extra one of these is almost never a bad thing.

For other low cost options try the Photography Studio Continuous Lighting Umbrella Kit ($39.99) or the Digital Concepts Ps-101 Portable Lighting Studio ($40.67).

If none of these seem quite right, you could always resort to buying one of these two popular photography related books: Microstock Photography: How to Make Money from Your Digital Images ($16.47), or the bestseller The Digital Photography Book ($11.99). Or, you know, my book; Macro Photography Workshop :)

In the $40 to $100 range:

In this range, I’d recommend the XPRO Studio Photography White Photo Light Tent ($49.99). This cleverly designed light tent is perfect for creating professional looking photos of medium sized objects.

Since it is made out of special outer nylon shell, it diffuses light much better than other light tents in this price range. Not only this, but its comes with an easy portable carrying case and contains internal elastic tabs for suspending objects by clear wires.

Does your friend already have one of these? You could also try another one of the following options in this price range:
American Recorder SIB-101CS Photo Studio-in-a-Box ($69.99)
Small Stand for Background Support from Interfit COR755 ($76.99)
Philips 6.5-Inch Digital Photo Frame ($89.99). Who doesn’t like these?
2 Photography Studio Continuous Lighting Kits for just under $80! This is a great deal for any photographer who needs lighting equipment for a good price.

In the $100 to $250 range:

Once you get into this price range its possible to start looking at some decent tripods and lenses. However, before you go out and buy a tripod for your photographer friend, be warned that both tripods and lenses can be very personal things for some photographers.

If you can, try to get the low down on what your friend already has versus what they might want. If he or she isn’t sure, you might consider going with the sturdy Manafrotto 725B Digi Tripod. This model gets top reviews over and over again ceaselessly repeating the same word: “sturdy”;

But what if your friend already has one? Never fear; try one of these alternative gift ideas:
Lowepro SlingShot 300 All-Weather Camera Bag ($109.95)
Black & White Backdrop System from Steve Kaeser ($132.00)
Westcott Photo Basics 501 Backlight Kit ($99.95)
SPD100 Digital Exposure Meter from Polaris ($169.99)

In the $250 to $500 range:

Alright, now we’re talkin’. In this price range, you can really find some quality lenses.

If your photography buddy already has their standard lenses set, why not spring for a high quality wide angle lens? This lens from Tamron is less expensive than many of its kind and is specifically designed to work well with the popular Canon Digital SLR cameras. This is great for any photographer who is looking to get into landscape portraits for the first time.

Or, if you’re not sure about what your friend wants, why not just get a gift voucher from Amazon? Then they can get whatever they want. Even so, you might find some of these other suggestions useful:
Sigma 10-20mm f/4-5.6 EX DC HSM Lens for Canon Digital SLR Cameras ($449.00)
Canon EF 20mm f/2.8 USM Wide Angle Lens for Canon SLR Cameras ($427.01)
Canon EF 50mm f1.4 USM Standard & Medium Telephoto Lens for Canon SLR Cameras ($319.95)
Induro C213 Carbon 8X C-Series Tripod Leg Set, Extends to 62.49″, Supports 17 lbs. ($279.99)

In the $500 to $1000 range:

Bestower of Christmas joy…

…you have just stepped into the digital SLR camera zone.

If your photographer friend has not yet experienced owning a digital SLR camera, this might be your opportunity to change his or her life forever.

With a 10.1 megapixel CMOS censor, a lightweight body, automatic cleaning system, and a 2.5″ LCD monitor, there are few cameras like the Canon Digital Rebel XTi (Canon EOS 1000D) ($499.95) for its price. This is a perfect gift for someone who is either just making the conversion from film to digital, or who wants to finally quite fooling around with simple point and shoot digital cameras.

You might also consider the Nikon model as an alternative:
Nikon D40 6.1MP Digital SLR Camera ($549.00)
Or, if your friend already has one of these, maybe one of these lenses could work:
Nikon 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 G ED-IF AF-S VR DX Zoom-Nikkor Lens ($634.95)
Canon EF 135mm f/2L USM Lens for Canon SLR Cameras ($921.90)
Canon EF 200mm f/2.8L II USM Telephoto Lens for Canon SLR Cameras ($630.13)

In the $1000 to $2000 range:

Now that you’re ready to start pulling out the big bucks, you’ve got a very important choice to make.

Do you want to buy that oh-so-special photographer a top of the line camera (like this one: the Olympus Evolt E-3 10.1MP Digital SLR Camera with Mechanical Image Stabilization with ED 12-60mm f/2.8-4.0 Lens and FL-50R Flash ($1,999.99), or should you choose one of these groovy telephoto lenses($1,140), eh? (They’re perfect for taking photos of moving objects and capturing elements of vision that are imperceptible to the human eye.)

You’re best bet is to get the inside word about whether or not your friend is interested in switching camera models. If so, you might want to go with a new camera. But if not, I’d say consider going with the lens.

And then again, if you feel like you still need more options, you might want to take a look at these other viable choices:
Canon EF 300mm f/4L IS USM Telephoto Lens for Canon SLR Cameras ($1,109.95)
Canon EF 85mm f1.2L II USM Lens for Canon DSLR Cameras ($1,828.98)
Canon 14mm f/2.8L II EF USM Ultra-Wide Angle Lens for Canon Digital SLR Cameras ($1,879.95)
Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM Telephoto Zoom Lens for Canon SLR Cameras ($1,529.95)

If price is not a concern…

If you are really willing to go all out this Christmas (and I mean really all out), then consider buying a medium format digital camera from Hasselblad. We’re talking about the high end of the high end here. Hasselblad’s H3DII-31 ($37,995.00) offers picture quality that is absolutely unimaginable with even the highest quality 35mm cameras.

Imagine shooting at 31 Mpix with some of the most advanced lenses in the world. Let it be known that the people at Hasselblad don’t mess around when it comes to digital photography!

Want to take a look at a few other (potentially wallet-busting) jaw-droppers? Check these out:
Hassleblad’s H3DII-50 ($21,995.00)
Canon EF 800mm f/5.6L IS USM Super Telephoto Lens for Canon Digital SLR Cameras ($10,998.98)
Canon EF 600mm f/4L IS USM Super Telephoto Lens for Canon SLR Cameras ($7,399.00)
Canon EF 400mm f/2.8L IS USM Super Telephoto Lens for Canon SLR Cameras  ($6,800.00)

Happy Christmas!

Finally, when you click on the Amazon links above, it’s tied to my affiliate account. That means that you pay the same as you always would for any of the goods listed, but I get a couple of percent in return for sending the traffic from this blog to Amazon, which I can spend to save up to buy a kitten and a mountain of cat-food… Having said that, Amazon might not always be the cheapest, so do shop around to get the best deal you can.

So, all that’s left to say – have a fantastic holiday (whether you celebrate Christmas or something else – and I’m probably going to take a bit of a break for the holidays… Catch you in the new year!

About Haje Jan

This post was written by Haje Jan Kamps, who has written 565 articles for Photocritic

Haje has written half a dozen books about photography. He spends most of his time running Triggertrap, a company that creates creative tools for triggering your camera.

His most recent books are:

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