Christmas is just around the corner... if you are still shopping for gifts, here are some gift ideas for the photographer in your life (Please note, I am not getting paid for any of these recommendations, nor are the links within the text of this blog 'affiliate links'; I either own or genuinely lust after these items!).
1. Canon 5DS - Ok, ok... I know that very few people are willing/able to spend this amount of money on their loved ones. It's an insane amount of money. But I couldn't make this list without including a camera and this is THE camera I would love to own. Boasting a 50.6 megapixel CMOS sensor with a low pass filter, dual DIGIC 6 images processors, a 61 cross-type point auto-focus system with iTR technology, it sounds like an absolute dream. To be fair, it's features and resolution are/is possibly overkill for most photographers and the resolution would show all the flaws in lower quality lenses, buy hey. If you buy from a reputable dealer (ie. not grey market), this will set you back the best part of £3,000. My recommendation for cameras and lenses is Wex, who offer a fast service. I've used them a couple of times for both new and second hand gear and they have been great.
2. Camera bag - No gift list would be complete without a bag. I'm obsessed with bags, camera and non-camera bags, and my current bag lust is directed towards Ona bags. They are both stylish and practical and come in messenger and backpack styles. They are made from waxed canvas, leather and brass and look really durable and well made. Ona offer numerous styles and sizes, but my favourite is the Brixton, which is just the right size. They are available online, but if you want to see the quality before you buy, take a visit to West Yorkshire Cameras in Leeds.
3. Tripod - a tripod is a crucial bit of kit for slow exposures and is also useful for other things, such as getting yourself in a group picture or doing panning shots. My old tripod recently fell apart on me, so I replaced it with a Hahnel Triad 40 Lite Professional. You can spend a little or a lot on tripods and, for the money, this tripod is great! It's relatively small and light (for an aluminium alloy tripod), which is a key factor for me, but opens to reasonable size. It has a ball head, a quick release plate, quick lock legs and a reversible centre column. It also has a hook on the centre column for adding extra weight for stability. All in all, a well designed, well made tripod for around £45. Find out more here.
4. An external flash - I'm just getting into flash photography and so far, I love it. If you've used an on camera, built in flash, you may have noticed how unpleasant the light is. In fact, some people are completely put off using flash altogether after seeing these results, but using an external speedlight flash can change all of this, by giving you the ability to change the direction of the light and bounce it off other surfaces, thus diffusing and softening it. I've been using the Neewer TT680 for a while, but recently added the YN568EXii to my kit. They are both great flashes and I would recommend either if these to anyone looking to get into flash photography. They are cheaper than the Canon/Nikon flashes and seem to offer just as much.
5. Flash triggers - Sticking to the theme of flash photography, if you want take control of your light, you really need to get it off camera. To do so you will need a trigger and receiver. There are many types of triggers, ranging from basic, manual only ones to radio triggers which maintain ETTL, high speed sync and other features. As with most gear, you can spend a little or a lot on triggers, but I settled on a mid range set, which is great for my needs. It's the YN-622c tranceivers and commander set and it allows me to remote control the flash(es) from my camera. I got two transceivers and a commander for under £100 and this set up allows me to control two flashes from my camera, with different settings on each (you can add more flashes and would need to purchase a transceiver for each additional flash). If you are happy to control the flash from the in-camera menu or on the flashes themselves, you can get set up with just the two transceivers (which both transmit and receive a signal, hence the name) for around £50.
6. Eneloop batteries - All this flash photography requires power and as such, re-chargeable batteries are the way to go. Flashes use a lot of power and as the batteries wear down, the flash takes longer to recharge between each shot. As such, you need high power to keep shooting. I recommend Eneloop batteries, as they are low self-drain and can be re-charged around 500 times. They also come pre-charged and ready to use!
7. Instax Mini 90 Neo Classic camera - Those who follow me on social media will know that I love instant photography. I usually shoot with an old Polaroid camera and Impossible Project film, but it's really expensive and so, in an attempt to maintain my instant love without the hefty price tag, I recently bought the Instanx Mini 90. This is such a fun camera and it offers way more control than the previous Instax mini cameras, including various modes for different types of photography. It has a re-chargable battery, so you don't have to spend money constantly replacing them and the film is reasonable, at around £14 for 20 shots. There is just something magical about seeing an image appear in front of your eyes. This camera won't replace my 1977 Polaroid SX-70, but it allows me to mix it up and spend a bit less on film. It would make a great gift for adults, who will remember instant photography from their childhoods, or for children, who will have never seen anything like it!
8. Lens pen - I'm fanatical about keeping my gear clean and this little gadget is essential. One end has a soft brush to remove dust and the other has a small flat disc for more stubborn grime. It is particularly useful when photographing children, who can't seem to help putting sticky little fingers on your lens. It's easy to throw in your bag or pocket and super cheap too, so would make a good stocking filler. I got one last year and I still use it constantly. It's way better for your lens than your t-shirt!
9. Gift Vouchers - If you have left it last minute, why not buy someone gift vouchers? Many photographers (including myself!) offer vouchers, which can be redeemed against shoots and print products. If someone recently married, they may wish to put towards an album or wall hanging, or for those recently engaged, an engagement mini-shoot is a great way to see if you like a photographer, before booking them for your wedding. Louise Westbrooke Photography gift vouchers can also be used to purchase landscape and Polaroid prints. A great last-minute option!
I hope this has given you some ideas. I'd be over the moon with any of these items, but if you are looking to suprise me, the Canon 5DS is the best bet ;-)
If you are a photographer, what would you like to find in your stocking this year?