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Mother’s Day is coming, and there’s not much time left to get your mom that perfect gift. You could always pick up some flowers or candy, but you’ve probably given her countless bouquets and sweets over the years, so that wouldn’t be much of a surprise, would it? It can be difficult to come up with unique gift ideas, and that’s why most folks resort to the easy and familiar year after year. But if your mother has a digital camera or camcorder that she’s always using, she’d probably really appreciate some accessories to go with it.
If mom is just a casual photographer or videographer, she’ll still be able to put a nice new case or camera bag to good use. And if she’s more of a hard-core shooter, either as a hobby or profession, there are countless accessories to choose from, such as fancy straps, lenses, media, lighting equipment, tripods and more. Let’s run through some atypical Mother’s Day gift ideas so you won’t have to show up at Mom’s with yet another Whitman’s sampler in hand. And you don’t have to tell your mom that we gave you the idea; just tell her that you thought of it on your own.
Photographers of all levels can always use a new pouch, case or bag, especially if they don’t already have one. Pouches and cases protect cameras from accidental drops, beverage spills and other hazards, and most cameras don’t come with one. Camera bags and other luggage keep a camera and all of its accessories together in one place and also make for easier traveling.
Camera pouches and bags come in a variety of shapes, sizes and colors, so you’re sure to find something that matches your mom’s unique style and taste. Small, lightweight cameras are best served by sleek, form-fitting pouches, and depending on the camera your mother has, there might even be a pouch made specifically for it, possibly even by the same manufacturer. If you can’t find anything specific, you can always go with a generic case or pouch. These are available in many different sizes, so you’re sure to find one that fits like a glove. To do that, you need the external dimensions of the camera or camcorder, and the internal dimensions of the case or pouch. Be sure to leave at least ¼ to ½ inch of extra space in all three dimensions.
The Acme Made Smart Little Pouch comes in lots of exciting colors and patterns—don’t worry, there won’t be any falling anvils! And if your mom’s tastes are a bit more colorful, the Built NY Soft Shell Camera Case might be the way to go. For a bit more flair, and a bit more money, the Jill-E Designs All Purpose Video/Camera Bag is made of genuine weatherproof leather, in red, no less. And whether your mother travels a lot or stays mostly at home, her camera will look like it’s seen the world when it’s pulled out of the National Geographic NG 1152 camera pouch.
If you’re buying for a mom who’s chasing after the kids, packing snacks, a cell phone, wallet, mp3 player, glasses and a camera, the Sucaro Freedom Strap will give her some well-earned freedom. Designed for extra comfort and versatility, this bandolier-style bag can be worn in several different ways, allowing mom to keep her hands free for doling out treats, crayons or catching a runaway toddler.
While the Mother’s Day Camera Bundles come with a case from the manufacturer, Mom may like a second one to keep in the car, as a spare or future replacement, or just an additional color to use whenever she brings the camera out with her. There are hundreds of cases and pouches to choose from. If your mother is green-conscious, some camera pouches are even made from recycled fabric, like the Mountainsmith Cyber II Point & Shoot Case, or even water-resistant nylon—in case Mom gets caught shooting in the rain, or is the type of photographer that chooses to shoot in the rain.
For larger cameras, including mirrorless and entry-level DSLRs, pouches become too small to be practical, and are replaced by larger, heftier camera bags, backpacks and fitted cases. These are then broken down into zoom holsters, waistpacks, rolling cases and totes that provide myriad ways to carry all of Mom’s camera gear—no matter how much there may be.
Camera Holsters and Zoom Cases are the smallest enclosures and arguably offer the slickest method of storage for Mom’s DSLR—with a lens attached. Although they do not offer much in the way of extra storage space, holsters and zoom cases are quite efficient in giving Mom quick access to her camera, so it’s ready to shoot at a moment’s notice. One that has been outfitted with a lot of convenient and practical features is the Ape Case ACPRO625 Compact Plus DSLR Holster. This features enough room for Mom’s DSLR camera and 5-inch lens, a water-resistant exterior and highly visible yellow interior, as well as front and interior pockets for small accessories such as spare memory cards and batteries. She can even carry it one of three ways, depending on whatever else she’s carrying. And don’t forget to remind her it comes with a lifetime guarantee against any defects, so it should last well into the future with her future DSLR bodies and lenses.
Modern Waist Packs aren’t like your mom’s fanny pack (unless you get her the F64 Fanny Pack). These packs vary—from true waist packs to slings and hip bags, and are available for both still and video cameras. Designed to be smaller, faster alternatives to full-fledged backpacks or camera bags, they offer efficient and lightweight ways for Mom to store and retrieve her gear in a flash, while not being quite as constrained as a compact holster.
Totes and carrying bags provide some of the most stylish and attractive ways for Mom to carry her gear, without even looking like she’s carrying camera gear. With many familiar brands, including Kenneth Cole, she’ll look more like she’s out for a day of shopping—at her favorite New York SuperStore, perhaps.
If your mother is very serious about her photography hobby—even making a career out of it—she can never have too many rolling cases to protect and cart around all of her expensive, heavy camera gear. Some cases come empty, while others arrive with die cut, removable foam cubes that can be rearranged to make a custom fit for whatever gear is going into them; one such case is the HPRC 2550WF Hard Case. Most of these cases are tough, durable and weather proof, while all are easily maneuverable on their built-in wheels. Mom won’t have any trouble transporting her largest pieces of equipment if you give her a rolling case for Mother’s Day.
For moms who want to carry around video cameras, dedicated camcorder bags are usually the best choice. Many feature comfortable shoulder straps and protective interior padding, but the color options are a bit less varied. The previously mentioned Jill-E Designs All Purpose Video/Camera Bag can be used as a camera or camcorder bag. But don’t forget to check if there’s a custom bag designed specifically for your mom’s camcorder, as this will be the most tailored option. If mom’s camcorder didn’t come with a strap, or if she’s unhappy with the one that did, the Porta Brace HB-12DV CAM Mini DV Strap is an ideal strap for smaller Mini DV cameras.
When a simple bag is not enough, the additional utility and storage offered by backpacks and sling bags make them a better choice for moms who have more than just a small camcorder. Many of these bags have pockets for laptops, iPads and other accessories, and most of them are made of water-resistant nylon that will protect the contents in foul weather. If mom doesn’t like nylon, the National Geographic NG W5050 Walkabout Rucksack is made of padded waterproof canvas, includes a foldable rain cover, and offers enough room for a small camera or camcorder kit and a 12.2-inch laptop.
Nearly all cameras come with some sort of strap, but you can usually attach one if they don’t. Accessory camera straps are available in many types, from the thin Felicity 1" Wristlet to the rugged BlackRapid RS DR-1 Double Strap. Camcorders have fewer options, but their strap loops will likely accept a neck or wrist strap from a still camera instead. Some straps have colorful designs, like the Lotus Spirit 1.5" Strap, while the Capturing Couture Organza Collection Black 1.5" Strap is decorated with whimsical velvet flowers; Mom will be one with nature when shooting outdoors with this strap.
For mothers with DSLR and mirrorless still cameras, an assortment of lenses will surely be appreciated. Depending on the type of camera, brand and model, the options vary widely. Regardless, if you give your mom a new lens for Mother’s Day, she’ll gain more experience with it than with nearly any other accessory. From fisheye and wide-angle to prime and super-telephoto, B&H carries every lens imaginable.
One of the Mother’s Day Camera Bundles allows the changing of lenses, while the others do not. If you go with the higher-end Nikon 1 J1 Digital Camera with 10-30mm VR Zoom Lens Kit, the big difference is the ability to switch the camera’s CX format lens—one that will dramatically alter the way the camera captures images. From super-wide angle (Nikkor 10mm f/2.8 lens) to telephoto zoom (Nikkor 30-110mm f/3.8-5.6 lens), you can cover a large range of focal lengths with just a simple change of the lens. Another camera bundle (Canon PowerShot A3400 IS Digital Camera Deluxe Kit) does not allow the changing of lenses, so the Nikon 1 J1 bundle is your best bet if your mother takes her craft seriously.
Even though most digital cameras and photo-editing programs allow you to add filter effects after snapping the images, there are some filters that simply cannot be “added” after the fact. While clear filters are worthwhile investments just to protect the front lens element and block stray UV light, some moms might want to have these and other filters in their camera bag to experiment with on occasion. These might include polarizing, Neutral Density (ND) and diffusion filters. These filters further benefit Mom’s photographic style and sense of experimentation by adding effects that are hard to replicate, and unique when compared to images made with a bare lens. Be sure to get the correct filter size for your mom’s camera lenses, because your gift will be a dud if it doesn’t fit.
On the other end, behind the camera, you can change the way your mom sees pictures before she takes them by upgrading her DSLR’s eyepiece. An item like the Canon EP-EX15 Eyepiece Extender will extend the eyepiece away from the camera body (of Canon EOS cameras), limiting the frustrating nose and cheek smudges photographers frequently notice clouding up their rear viewing screen, while also reducing the magnification of the eyepiece significantly. Eyepiece accessories are available for many different camera models. LCD hoods and shades are also great gift ideas, as they eliminate glare and shadows on the screen, allowing Mom to squint less and focus more on her subject.
For larger cameras above and beyond the scope of the point and shoot, external flashes and speedlights become a viable gift option if you want to introduce your mom to an entirely new way to experiment with lighting. From macro to portraiture to weddings to videos, there are lights for every kind of scene, look or device. Find out what Mom loves to shoot most, or what she may wish to learn to shoot, and give her the tools to make it happen this year. One interestingly versatile light is the Sigma EM-140 DG TTL Ringlight Flash for Sony Alpha & Minolta Maxxum cameras, as it is usually used for macro photography in the scientific and medical fields, but it can also be used just as easily by mom in the fields behind the house, for creative portraits or even for close-ups of your vintage Star Wars action figures that she’s posted for sale on eBay.
For moms who shoot video, one light that works well for both photo and video cameras is the Polaroid Studio Series Camcorder Video Light. It is pre-configured to match 5600K daylight, and reproduces the look of indirect sunlight when viewed or recorded. LED lighting can be an inexpensive, cool running and versatile option, one that’s quickly outpacing the traditional tungsten, fluorescent and HMI lights. LED lighting would make a nice gift for moms who like to add light to their photos, as well as for moms who are tired of using the more traditional, but hot and expensive, lamps.
Good video must always be accompanied by good audio, or else it’s just not that good. The rare mothers who care about the quality of the audio in her family videos will no doubt appreciate an external microphone. For example, the Cascade Audio Vive – Surround Sound Microphone mounts to any consumer video camera or DSLR with a 1/8" (3.5 mm) mini-stereo connection, and captures excellent 5.1-compatible surround sound. Another fantastic option for any of your mom’s devices that have built-in microphones, such as compact cameras, DSLRs and even cell phones, is the Rycote Micro Windjammer. Nobody wants to hear every breeze and gust of wind in their recorded video, especially outdoor-type moms who are proud of their home videos. The Micro Windjammer will muffle the wind and deliver the high-quality audio that should accompany HD video.
If your mother uses her camera frequently, she can probably use extra memory cards, especially if she shoots video. That’s where extra memory cards come in, ensuring that Mom can capture as many photos and videos without running out of storage space. Memory cards come in all sorts of capacities and styles, from a 1GB micro SD card to 128GB SDXC cards, and B&H carries all types of memory cards. Just make sure you get the right type of card for her camera or camcorder. If your mom has lots of memory cards floating around, something like the Clik Elite Memory Card Valet can help keep them organized; the card valet holds and protects up to 16 memory cards. Also note that the built-in card reader in many older computers is incompatible with the latest, most capacious cards. If that’s the case with your mom’s computer, then an add-on memory card reader will make a great mother’s day gift. Possible choices include the Delkin Universal Memory Card Reader, which supports 18 different card types, and the pocket-sized Iogear 12-in-1 Pocket Card Reader/Writer.
Most cameras and camcorders use rechargeable battery packs, and they typically come with only one. Avid photographer moms will want to have at least two battery packs, and possibly more, to avoid having the power run out at a critical juncture in their shooting session. B&H carries replacement packs and chargers for most cameras.
Any mom with a portfolio of pictures she likes to show off will appreciate a digital picture frame. From key-chain models (Coby DP180) to alarm clocks (Coby DP356 3.5" Digital Photo Album with Alarm Clock), digital picture frames are as varied as the photographers who fill them. Mom can easily plug in a memory card and display her pictures, anywhere in the house.
Mothers who care about the sharpness of their pictures as much as they care about their loved ones will no doubt be ecstatic when they receive a sturdy tripod for Mother’s Day. A tripod will help Mom steady her shots, especially macros of flowers, sunsets or any long-exposure shots. If she has a camcorder instead, don’t forget to choose a video head that enables smooth, fluid movement. Compact tabletop tripods—like the unique Joby GorillaPod Hybrid Flexible Mini-Tripod with Ball Head—are ideal to keep handy in a camera bag. And for moms that want to capture steady shots in places that prohibit the use of tripods, the SteadyWeb String Tripod will provide the stability of a tripod, without using a tripod.
Moms who like to read will always appreciate good books, especially if they cover her favorite hobby. B&H offers scores of books and DVDs that can teach and tutor her in the various styles, techniques and mechanics of photography and videography. Of special interest to moms might be Photographing Children Photo Workshop: Develop Your Digital Photography Talent and The Digital Photographer's Guide to Success in Maternity and Baby Portraiture.
So, have you decided what to get your mother for Mother’s Day? Amidst your review of all the technical specs on our website, remember that Mother’s Day (and every day!) should be about showing your love, respect and appreciation. Give her a gift with these things in mind and it will almost certainly be a Mother’s Day worth capturing in pictures and video.