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Quick. Name a very cool camera that looks like a Holga, takes Holga-style pictures, and comes in colors. Stumped? How about a color Holga? Designed to capture 'artsy-type' pictures with dark fuzzy edges, these modern classics are now available in Blooze Brothers, Violet, Sunset Boulevard, Oscar, Twilight Zone, Pretty in Pink, Yellow Brick Road, Jawz, Casablanco, and Commando. Aside from their retro design, they also shoot a retro media – film*.
Another retro beauty is the Seagull GC-104, the least expensive of a quartet of Seagull twin-lens cameras we sell at B&H. Modeled after the classic Yashicamat (which in turn was modeled after the truly classic Rolleiflex), the Seagull GC-104 is a fully manual twin-lens camera, that shoots through a fixed set of 75/3.5 lenses that captures the field of view of a 'normal' lens.
The camera's leaf shutter has a top shutter (and flash sync) speed of 1/300th, and a PC flash connection is provided for studio lights. Seagulls capture a dozen 6 x 6cm images onto a roll of 120-format film, or sixteen 6 x 4.5cm images when using the included 645-format mask. Please note- batteries aren't included with Holga and Seagull cameras because they don't need batteries.
Admit it. The Minox DCC Leica M3 Plus is way cool. Containing a genuine 5Mp CCD sensor and a massive (for it's size) 1.5" color LCD, SD-compatibility, along with 32MB of built-in memory, the 'mini-M3' will prove to be a show stopper way past the holidays.
You wouldn't expect the words 'Smooth & Precise' to appear in a Lensbaby press release, but these are the exact words used to describe the Lensbaby Composer, which joins the Muse (formally known as the Original Lensbaby 2.0) and Control Freak (formally known as the Lensbaby 3G) in the Lensbaby product line-up.
Available in mounts for Olympus 4/3, Pentax K, Sony/Minolta Maxxum, Nikon F, and Canon EF camera bodies, the Lensbaby Composer uses a ball-and-socket design as opposed to the 'traditional Lensbaby' radiator hose design. As with all Lensbaby optical systems, aperture control is accomplished via black, magnetic washer-style 'waterhouse' stops that attach onto the forward flange. Truth be told, Lensbabies work their best magic 'wide open'.
The Composer's ball-and-socket design, complimented by an honest-to-gosh focusing ring, allows for easier – and repeatable – focusing, and like all Lensbaby optical systems, enables you to capture images quite different from the types of images you get from the kit lens that came with your camera.
Sekonic Color C-500 Color Meter, available with or without a wireless triggering module, is designed to pinpoint the precise color temperature, or white balance (WB) of most any lighting condition you find yourself working in. And what's more, it will do it far more accurately than your camera's onboard WB controls.
Unlike a light meter, which measures the quantity of light in a scene, the Sekonic Color C-500 uses 4 color a Red for film, another Red for digital sensors, a Green and a Blue to analyze the RGB makeup of the ambient or electronic lighting sources illuminating the scene.
Depending on your needs, color readings can be read in Lux (lx) or foot-candle (FC), and can be displayed in terms of Kelvin, LB/CC Index Display, or as an LB/CC Filter Number Display, which indicates the precise filtration needed to 'clean up' the existing color balance. Settings, custom or otherwise, can also be stored in the meter's memory for future reference.
The Gift of Garb
To paraphrase Allen Kessel, the world-renowned outdoor sportsman and fly-fishing expert, "There's no such thing as bad weather… only bad choices of clothing".
Keeping this in mind, we would like to suggest the following photo-related gift ideas designed to make shooting in extreme weather environments more tolerable.
Starting from the head on down, we'd like to suggest a sensible hat, specifically the Coronado UV Protection hat. Designed primarily for hot, sunny climates, the Coronado UV Protection hat uses an extended brow shade and neck drape to prevent harmful sunrays from cooking your face and neck.
For shooting in wet and windy environs, Aqua Tech Photo Jackets (M, L, XL), are available in black, charcoal, and camouflage. Aqua Tech jackets are tough, well designed, weatherproof jackets with multiple pockets, pouches, and hiding spots. Made from Antartech fabric, the Aqua Tech photo jacket is waterproof, yet lightweight, and 'breathable. Anti-slip material is covers the jacket's shoulder area to keep shoulder straps in place, and drawstrings help keep out wind, snow, and rain. A weatherproof hood folds neatly away when not in use.
The Gitzo Four Season Jacket (M, L, XL), designed for shooting in extreme weather conditions has a tough, waterproof outer shell consisting of a weatherproof blend of Teflon-treated Cordura and Ecodry fabrics. Fully sealed seams and elastic wrist guards further keep nasty weather at bay.
To keep things comfy, extra padding is used in the shoulder areas, the elbows, and the snap bottom loops. When needed, a Lightshield cover folds out from the hood to shield the camera body from water, and to block stray light from the camera's LCD surface.
For stowage you have 2 large front pockets (1 sub-divided), 2 smaller front pockets, another large pouch across your lower back, and a slew of interior pockets for all of your berries, pods, phones, organizers, flashlights, and other stuff. Large flaps that enable easy access to the interior sections protect your belongings, and unzip to allow for extra wiggle room.
Like the Gitzo Four Season jacket, the Gitzo Fleece Jacket (M, L, XL) has a tough, waterproof outer shell made from a weatherproofing blend of Teflon-treated Cordura and Ecodry fabrics. Need pockets? How about 2 large front pockets (1 with sub-dividers), 2 smaller front pockets, another large pouch across your lower back to carry additional lenses, meters, hard-disks, etc, a removable see-through pass holder, and a slew of interior pockets for all of your berries, pods, phones, organizers, flashlights, wallet, and other accoutrements.
Large flaps add protection while enabling easy access to the interior pockets, many of which unzip to allow for extra space. And a weatherproof hood is tucked away in the collar.
Domke's PhoTOGS Convertible Jacket/Vest offers you the option of dressing appropriately when taking pictures in the great outdoors. Made from machine-washable 100% cotton, the Domke PhoTOGS jacket/vest easily converts from a shooting jacket into a shooting vest by simply unzipping the sleeves. In cooler conditions drawstrings can be tightened to keep wind and cool air from entering the sleeves and collar area.
A total of 16 pockets have been designed into the Domke PhoTOGS jacket including 2 large, bellows-style cargo pockets that also contain a pair of 'hand-warmer' pockets, 4 breast pockets, 3 pen and pencil pockets, a removable see-through pass holder, and a bunch of smaller interior pockets for all of your e-doodads.
To keep your – or that special somebody's hands both warm and dexterous, Lowepro's Photographer's Gloves are soft, pliable gloves made from Lycra and DuPont Thermax, which help keep your hands dry and protected when shooting in cold and nasty weather conditions.
Tiny rubber 'control dots' enable you to safely handle your camera gear as well as adjust the camera's control buttons and menus.
Additional Cool (and Affordable) Gifts include…
Since their introduction a couple of years back, Gorillapods have developed a cult following. Easy to stow away in a camera bag or coat pocket, Gorillapods provide a flexible form of support for small digicams and other small personal devices. The fact they come in fun colors and are rather cool-looking doesn't hurt either.
If the thought of carrying a heavy bag over your shoulder makes you wince, take a look at the Tamrac M.A.S. Modular Accessory Belt System. Starting with the basic belt, which is available in Small, Medium, and Large, the Tamrac M.A.S. Accessory Belt system offers you the ability to custom build a pouch system to fit your specific needs, while shifting the load off your aching shoulder.
While the Leatherman's Skeletool CX in a Box may not specifically be photo gear, it certainly can be justified as a must-have-with-me-at-all-times gadget. Sporting a rather stylish, lightweight design, the Leatherman Skeletool is made from stainless steel, and aside from a 4" Combo Straight/Serrated blade, features pliers with a wire cutter, and bit drivers that stow away in the handle.
The Leatherman Skeletool is also available with a Straight 420HC blade
It's not always easy to level with a photographer, but that doesn't mean you can't level their cameras. The Kaiser Hot Shoe Duplex Spirit Level is a cleverly-designed, Lucite bubble level that mounts onto your camera's accessory shoe in order to level your camera both horizontally and vertically for dead-on horizon lines and fluid QTVR movements.
If you need a handy gift for the outdoor sportsman in your life, check out the GoPro Digital Hero 5, a 5Mp digicam, complete with underwater housing that mounts on your wrist with an elastic band. Good for grabbing underwater snapshots as far down as 100', the GoPro Digital Hero also makes for a handy point-and-shoot digicam for hiking and biking, not to mention a cool gift for kids.
It's Better to be Safe (and Stylish) than Sorry
Protective wraps are designed to protect cameras, lenses, meters, and other sensitive gear from damage when bouncing around in your bags. Wraps use touch-tab fasteners to keep the folds in place, and are available from several manufacturers in a number of sizes and colors.
Domke manufacturers a full line of wraps in 11", 15", and 19" sizes. Consisting of a padded nylon knit exterior with a non-scratch nylon backing, Domke wraps are available in the following colors- Red, Yellow, Black, and Gray.
Only available in black, f.64-series lens wraps consists of 1/8th" open cell foam sandwiched between a 400-denier nylon outer shell and a soft liner f.64-series wraps are available in 11", 15", and 18" sizes.
Software & Digital Doodads
Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 2
Hobbyists be warned: Lightroom is addictive. You'll find yourself spending hours organizing and adjusting photographs in this digital darkroom application. The software, for Mac and Windows, is filled with robust media management tools – including volume management, keyword tools, and metadata filters. It's also a powerful nondestructive RAW image editor, and is continually being updated with support for the latest formats. Oh, and it's got a nifty printing module.
Professionals, on the other hand, can rejoice – you can use the same software to streamline your photographic workflow, saving you time… and we all know that in business, time is money. Current Lightroom users can upgrade to Lightroom 2.
Adobe Photoshop Elements 7 for Windows
It used to be that you'd have to go to a professional to have an image cropped, remove red-eye, or have your in-laws removed from a family photo. The digital camera boom and the availability of the Photoshop software helped to change all that, for better or for worse. Photoshop Elements 7 is Adobe's latest entry in its consumer line of image editing software. In addition to the standard plethora of photo editing features, Elements allows you to share family photos on the web, gives you 20GB of online storage for photo backup, and allows you to tag photos with keywords.
Sanho HyperDrive COLORSPACE O
Oh, look! The HyperDrive COLORSPACE O, brought to us courtesy of Sanho, is a portable memory card reader available in capacities ranging from 80GB to 500GB, complete with a 3.2" color LCD display and support for direct-download from 11 different memory card formats. The battery-powered device is designed to be used by photographers in the field. It lets you backup and review images, with support for both JPG and RAW. The device downloads images at the rate of about 1GB per minute, and its rechargeable battery can pull down 120GB on a single charge. A standard AC charge and a car charger are included.
Jobo GIGA Vu extreme
Jobo's GIGA Vu extreme is a portable photo viewer, media player, and memory card Jobo GIGA Vu extreme Stand-Alone Data Storage Unit - 160GB Capacity reader.It features a large 3.7" color LCD with a 640 x 480 resolution, and support for JPG and RAW photos. The GIGA Vu doubles as a media player, with support for MP3 audio and MPEG movies. The device can download photos from Comapct Flash and Secure Digital cards, up to 10GB on a full charge. It's dust detector is great for photographers working in the field, delivering an alert when a camera's sensor needs to be cleaned. The GIGA Vu is compatible with Jobo's photoGPS, simplifying the process of geotagging. It is available in 120GB and 160GB capacities.
Epson Multimedia Photo Viewer
The Epson Multimedia Photo Viewer is available in two flavors, the 80GB P-6000 and the 160GB P-7000. Otherwise identical, these handy devices feature a large 4" color, LCD, support for Compact Flash, Microdrive, Secure Digital, SDHC and MMC cards, and support for JPG and many types of RAW files. Its large screen is great for reviewing images to verify critical focus, and features support for 16.7 million colors and the Adobe RGB color space. The viewer also supports playback of MP3 audio and many types of video files.
In addition to a larger storage capacity, the P-7000 includes a handy travel pack: a carrying case, dual battery charger, viewing stand, car charger, microfiber cloth, and protective film for the 4" LCD.
Delkin Devices 32GB eFilm Secure Digital (SDHC) PRO Card
Once upon a time people took photos on "rolls" of "film" that generally held 24 or 36 photos a piece. This "film" would cost a few dollars to purchase, a few dollars to process, and, aside from Polaroids, there was no such thing as instant gratification in photography. Oh, and while we're at it, in 1998 an 8.4GB hard drive was considered to be freaking enormous.
My, how times have changed. This 32GB memory card can hold thousands of images, even when working in RAW file formats. It features Class 4 performance, delivering 4MB/sec write speeds at minimum. Put this card in the camera and you'll be able to snap away to your heart's content. The best part is, you won't have to wait to get anything developed.
*In case you forgot, film is a single-capture, celluloid-based, recording material widely used in the 20th century. Film, which is coated with a light-sensitive, silver or color dye-based emulsion, must be handled and processed in a lightproof environment, and scanned before bringing the resulting images into Photoshop or other digital editing software.