Photographer’s Holiday Buying Guide: Gear

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If you’re already a photographer, you don’t need me to remind you that the costs for even a basic setup can add up quickly. The good news is, if you wanted to tack a few extras onto your holiday list — or even if you’re searching for a stocking stuffer for the photographer who has (nearly) everything — you can do it without breaking the bank. Here’s the “Hard Times” edition of the holiday gift guide:

  • Giottos Medium Rocket Air Blaster: These come in a number of sizes and prices. As camera equipment goes, they’re pretty cheap (the standard size usually retails for between ten and fifteen bucks), and they’re higher quality. I’ve heard that some of the off-brand versions have talcum powder or some other, similar, substance inside their blowers to keep the rubber from sticking to itself, which creates about as much of a mess as you’d expect. Given that this isn’t an expensive item to start with, pay the extra.
  • Nikon 7072 Lens Pen: Lens pens come in a few varieties. Some will have a soft felt tip, others a small brush with soft bristles; others still will have both, one at each end. The brushes are good for things that settle in crevices around your camera, in your eyepiece, or in your lense’s filter threads. The felt end, in the meantime, is handy for the stubborn stuff the brush won’t take care of. I recommend this particular one because I own it; if it had some other logo on it than the brand I currently shoot with, it’d still be as competent. If the lens pen by itself isn’t quite enough, consider a lens cleaning kit.
  • Microfiber Cleaning Cloth: Similar to the cloth used for glasses, this is a soft cloth that’s good if you have a larger area you want to clean. It’s good for your lenses and filters, and even works well in getting nose grease off your LCD.
  • FishBomb Lens Filter and Accessory Case is a smallish neoprene pouch with pockets on either side that close with velcro closures. There’s a loop at the top, so you can slip the bottom part of the case through the loop in order to secure it to a belt, camera strap, or camera bag. Its compactness is both good and bad; on one hand, it won’t fit a ton (it fits two 67mm filters comfortably), but on the other, it takes up a lot less room in my camera bag than the plastic cases the filters originally came in.
  • The Tamrac S.A.S. MXS536801 Memory and Battery Management Wallet"", like most things Tamrac, features competent, no-frills construction.  Mine currently holds  . It’s good for the times you want to travel light, taking little more than a backup battery and cards, and is also good for corraling your batteries if you’re using a speedlight.
  • The Promaster Xtrapower Traveler turned out to be a lot better than I expected, handling batteries from a few different SLRs. It also includes a USB power “out” jack, enabling you to stash a handful of cords for anything capable of charging through USB, meaning one charger instead of a pile of transformers taking up space in your bags.
  • Finally, something that’s not a piece of equipment, but that has the potential to be just as useful: if you have a camera shop in your area, see if they offer classes. Most do, in addition to single-day workshops and trips to local destinations for photo opportunities that the average person might not otherwise be able to get to on their own (one shop local to me recently did a shoot in an old penitentiery).

A word to the non-photographers among you: Most photographers are a picky lot when it comes to their gear. Buying decisions usually come after considerable research, reading, and debate. When all else fails, a gift certificate to the local camera shop may be your best bet.

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