Holiday 2012: Great Gifts for Photographers
Most photographers love getting gifts. (Well, who doesn’t?) But with the wealth of equipment available and accessories for that equipment and accessories for those accessories, there is always a new “toy” that can expand a photographer’s creativity or speed their workflow. In this article, we’re going to showcase a handful of stocking stuffers: budget-friendly gifts that will make your favorite shooter smile. If you think, however, that the pro or advancing photographer on your gift list might be interested in upgrading their core tools, take a look at these year-end roundups of cameras and lenses: Professional-Level DSLR Cameras, Intermediate Mirrorless Digital Cameras, Entry Level DSLR Cameras and New Lenses and feel free to ask a B&H professional, whether in-store, on the phone or via chat, for information and advice regarding compatibility, alternate options and applicability. We really enjoy matching the person with the right product for them and their task.
Let’s start with memory cards. SanDisk, Lexar and Transcend each offer high speed Compact Flash and SDHC memory cards with a range of data storage capacity from 8GB to and incredible 128GB. Cards from Transcend and SanDisk have speed ratings up 600x, while the Lexar Professional model has a speed rating of 1000x, with a minimum Read Speed of 150MB/second. All of these cards come with a Limited Lifetime Warranty. The Eye-Fi Mobile X2 Wireless 8GB Memory Card is a Class 6 SDHC card with 8GB of memory but provides the ability to instantly send your photos and video from your camera to your computer, smart phone or tablet. The Eye-Fi card, utilizing your Wi-Fi network and its built-in 802.11n speed, sends your data to any computer in your network and then can automatically delete the images from the card, freeing up more space so you can continue shooting without taking the card out of the camera. If you are not near enough to your computer, the Eye-Fi Mobile X2 Card will utilize its Direct Mode to transfer images to iPhones, iPads or Android devices.
And to safely store those memory cards, Ruggard offers various memory card cases. The Memory Card Case for Up to 8 SD Cards keeps the cards firmly in place and its polycarbonate resin exterior protects them from drops and crushing. A molded rubber interior lining, weather-resistant sealing and a snap-on locking system keep moisture and dust out of the case. The case will easily fit in your camera bag or large pocket and a molded eyelet provides a hole through which to run a strap or hook. The Ruggard Memory Card Case for Up to 4 CF Cards provides space for 4 CompactFlash memory cards and the Black Ruggard Memory Card Case can hold 2 CF cards, 2 SD cards and 4 microSD cards.
Think Tank Photo offers three versions of their Pocket Rocket Memory Card Carrier. The Pixel Pocket Rocket holds 10 CF cards, the SD Pixel Pocket Rocket holds 9 SD cards and the Pee Wee Pixel Pocket Rocket holds 4 CF cards and 3 SD cards. Each one folds wallet style to protect the cards, has clear slots for easy organization, a quick clip lanyard to tether the carrier to your bags or clothes and is made of rip-stop nylon backed by a lifetime warranty.
Finally, Gepe makes the Card Safe Extreme Watertight Case to store up to 4 memory cards. Its molded interior is designed to hold any type of card including SD, CF, MMC, Memory Stick and Smart Media and its insert material protects the cards from accidental erasure or damage due to electrostatic charge. The case seals tightly but can be easily opened, even when wearing gloves. And while it floats in water, it is also watertight up to 30 minutes at a depth of 3.3’ (1 m). Neon Green, Rosso Red and Ice Blue colored models make it easy to find them in your bag and 4 viewing windows allow you to clearly see inside to identify the cards.
Now that we have our well-protected memory cards, we will need to transfer the images on those cards to our computer and for that, the SanDisk ImageMate All-in-One USB 3.0 Reader/Writer is a fast, compact, multi-format card reader. With the USB 3.0 interface and transfer rate of 500 MB/second, it reads even large 64GB cards quickly, and with 4 media slots, it supports all major card formats including UDMA 7 enabled CompactFlash cards. It is backward compatible with USB 2.0, and a detachable metal stand allows it to stand upright, saving precious desktop space. The Lexar Professional USB 3.0 Dual-Slot Reader (UDMA 7) is compatible with SD, SDXC, SDHC (UHS-I) and CF cards including UDMA-& cards. Like the above SanDisk, it offers USB 3.0 interface with backward compatibility and a 500 MB/second transfer rate. What is cool about this reader is that it can transfer from both the SD and CF card simultaneously and can transfer data between cards. Its sports a stylish, compact design with a pop-up hood that protects the card slot when not in use.
Not exclusively for photographers but certainly helpful for those of us who mix up new batteries with used, the Dot Line AA Battery Case stores 8 AA batteries snugly in its soft lined case that keeps the battery contacts from touching each other. The see-through case keeps moisture and dust out and, once and for all, separates spent batteries from freshies!
And to charge your rechargeable batteries, Pearstone makes the Duo Battery Charger, which will simultaneously charge two batteries and one USB-powered device. The great thing about the Pearstone Duo is that it works with almost every Lithium-Ion battery on the market. Purchase the Duo that is compatible with your batteries, but if you need to charge batteries from a different camera or even a different brand, simply purchase the adapter plate for that battery and slide it into the Duo charger. An LCD monitor displays charge status and voltage for both batteries and the USB device, and safety features prevent short-circuiting, overcharging and overheating. The Duo Charger comes with an AC power adapter and a DC car adapter.
For significantly extending your shooting time and offering a more comfortable and stable way in which to hold your camera, Vello makes a wide range of Battery Grips for DSLRs. Available for almost every Canon and Nikon DSLR, the Vello Battery Grip not only accepts one or two rechargeable batteries, effectively doubling your shooting time, it accepts AA batteries as well. Also, by extending the size of the camera and providing a secondary shutter button, a battery grip offers more stable handling, especially when shooting in the vertical position.
Needless to say, keeping your camera and lenses clean is extremely important for quality imaging as well as for the longevity of your equipment. The renowned lens maker Zeiss produces a lens-cleaning kit that provides the essential items to keep your lenses clean and functioning to their utmost abilities. With lens-cleaning fluid, 10 single-use cleaning wipes, a microfiber cloth, a soft brush and a pouch to keep them all in, the Zeiss Lens Cleaning Kit is ideal for not only camera lenses, but for binoculars, rifle scopes and of course, eyeglasses.
With clean lenses and fully charged cameras, your photographer could use the tools that allow for stable and secure shooting in varied environments. Joby makes flexible and portable tripods designed to fit into places that other tripods dare not go. The Joby GorillaPod Hybrid Flexible Mini-Tripod with Ball Head supports smaller mirrorless and compact cameras up to 2.2 lb (1 kg) and with its bendable, rubberized legs it can be mounted on fences, branches, chairs or any form that the tripod’s legs can wrap around. The bendable legs with strong-grip feet also make it ideal for placement on uneven surfaces. When fully extended, it is 10.1” (25.7 cm) high, great for table-top shooting—and weighing only 6.4 oz (191 g), it’s very portable. Unusual for a mini tripod, this GorillaPod has an integrated aluminum ball head, which provides full panning capability and 90° tilt. Locking mechanisms keep your camera secure and allow for controlled panning without tilt, ideal for shooting video. A quick-release clip with bubble level offers fast setup, and quality components mean the tripod will retain its strength, grip and bendability for years. The Joby GorillaPod SLR-Zoom Flexible Mini Tripod with BH1-01EN Ballhead offers the same bendable, grippable legs as the above Hybrid Mini-Tripod, but is designed for larger cameras weighing up to 6.6 lb (3 kg). Its maximum height is 11.7” (29.7 cm) and with its versatile ball head with quick-release plate, it can support DSLR cameras with zoom lenses on its flexible and strong jointed legs.
The Oben ACM-2400 4-Section Aluminum Monopod provides 26.4 lb (12 kg) support to hold almost any camera-and-lens combination. With a maximum height of 63.2” (160 cm) it has high reach but will fold down to 21.3” (53.3 cm) for storage and travel. Three adjustable flip locks allow for easy and precise height adjustment and a reversible ¼”-20 and 3/8”-16 screw mount will fit any camera or head. A strong rubber foot, foam hand grip and wrist strap round out the features on this sturdy monopod. The Oben CTM-2500 5-section Carbon Fiber Monopod also holds 26 lb (11.8 kg) of equipment and has a maximum height of 65” (165 cm) but will collapse down to 17.3” (44 cm) and weighs only 1.05 lb (470 g). A carbon fiber build ensures strength and portability and an anti-rotation shaft allows for easy twist-lock setup and collapse.
When working with a tripod, the Tripad Tripod Mountable Workspace with Slide-out Extensions provides a convenient, portable multi-functional workspace for laptops or other equipment you want handy when shooting. It easily attaches to your tripod’s legs and offers a flat surface and pull-out extensions for a mouse and/or a beverage. Like a mini-desktop, it’s ideal not only for photographers, but also for film crews, surveyors, astronomers or anyone who needs that sturdy flat surface while working with a tripod. By taking off the tripod attachment, it can also attach to the handle of a rolling suitcase and serve as your desktop while travelling. And it is made from recycled glass and plastic!
The Pedco UltraClamp Aluminum Support Clamp provides you with a ¼”-20 screw mount almost anywhere you need one. This aluminum-alloy clamp will securely attach to car doors, tabletops, pipes, handle bars or just about anywhere you would want to put a camera and lights. It supports equipment up to 6 lb (2.7 kg). Its knobs allow for easy, tool-free operation and its rubber-topped clamps hold snug without inflicting damage. The Pedco Ultra Clamp Assembly with ¼”-20 Screw offers the same strength and versatility but provides a 2-way swivel and tilt head with more mobility for your camera or lights.
The Delkin Devices Fat Gecko Dual-Suction Camera Mount is the way to mount your camera or video recorder to your car for dramatic action shots. With dual suction cups, the Fat Gecko can be attached to any flat, smooth surface and with a load limit of 8 lb (3.63 kg), it can support most camera models. A double-knuckle design enables the mount’s tubing to tilt, turn and rotate in any direction for exact camera angles, and a 2” extension tube allows further flexibility. A ¼”-20 mounting screw will fit most cameras and heads and steel construction keeps it functioning over many miles. At 1.25 lb (567 g) and 9” (22.8 cm) it can be transported and stored easily.
Use the Fat Gecko with Vello’s FreeWave Plus Wireless Shutter Release to operate your camera from the safety of the passenger seat. This wireless radio remote control can trigger your camera from as far away as 320’ (100 m) or even through windows and walls and with 16 available channels, one transmitter can trigger multiple cameras. Yes, it’s good when operating a camera mounted on a car or plane, but for more basic macro or telephoto shooting when even touching the shutter button creates camera shake, this remote is ideal. And not only can you trigger the shutter, but you can operate autofocus, multiple and bulb exposures and set a 4-second delay. The FreeWave Plus Shutter Release is available in models that work with all major brands of camera. A B&H pro can assist you in picking the right model for your camera and shooting needs.
Vello also makes the ShutterBoss Timer Remotes for more remote camera control. Able to adjust exposure times and interval times up to 99 hours, 59 minutes and 59 seconds, the ShutterBoss can be turned on and left alone to create beautiful time-lapse imagery or set to shoot a specific number of continuous shots. The Shutterboss is available in wired and wireless models and also offers models that work with all major camera brands.
When hands are cold and operating a remote control, let alone a camera or cell phone, becomes difficult, Freehands Gloves are what your photographer needs. Available in a multitude of styles and sizes for men and women, Freehands Gloves have one thing in common: they are designed for photographers. Most models offer a fold-back tip for the thumbs and forefingers to allow better control of your equipment. A magnet holds the tips back when folded and a flap overlay keeps cold air out of the finger and thumb tips. A rubberized palm patch for better grip is available on some models, while other models offer PVC grip dots or silicone gripping. Leather models with cashmere lining are available as well. Some models are tight fitting and unlined whereas others are designed for ultra-cold temperatures. Sizes and styles vary, so it’s a good idea to check the B&H website or talk to one of our professionals, but rest assured, there is a glove that will perfectly fit your shooting needs as well as your hand.
Finally, a fun gift for the studio photographer or just the shutterbug parent who wants better pics of their kids is the Camera Creatures and Shutter Huggers. Camera Creatures come in the form of Outrageous Owl, Look-at-Me Ladybug and Dapper Dog, and are basically colorful stuffed animals that fit around your camera’s lens and give the little ones something to look at (and hopefully smile at) instead of a big scary camera. They also have a built-in squeaker to get attention when needed. The Shutter Huggers are similar but offer more variations, including a dinosaur, a monkey and a ready-for-the-holidays elf. They will fit on any lens up to 90mm in diameter and are sure to get a smile out of those that Mom loves best. They should—they were invented by two moms trying to get the best smiles out of their own kids.