Christmas Wish List 2011 – Prepare for Black Friday!

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With Christmas a little under seven weeks(!) away, and Black Friday only TWO WEEKS away, now is the time to get your shopping game plan together! Here are my recommended gift items for the photographers in your life. Grab a cup of coffee and get comfortable, because I have a LOT of gift ideas!

For the Beginner DSLR Photographer:

The Nikon D3100 14.2MP Digital SLR Camera is a fantastic beginner’s DSLR, and at around $550 is one of the more decently-priced entry level cameras. The learn as you grow guide mode is a great teaching tool, and will guide as little or as much as the photographer needs. As the photographer grows in skill, the D3100 has full manual controls ensuring years of usability.
Scott Kelby’s Scott Kelby’s Digital Photography Boxed Set is one of the first items I think of to buy a beginner DSLR photographer. I know I’ve mentioned this set quite a few times on this site, but as of this writing Amazon is offering all three volumes for just $40 bucks. I don’t know how long that deal will last, so you might want to check it out!
Every new DSLR owner needs a camera bag! Case Logic has a bunch of great, low-cost items, including this TBC-307 SLR Camera Backpack.
A 50mm lens like this Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II (or the Nikon 50mm f/1.8D AF) makes a great first lens purchase when the photographer is ready to move past the kit lens. The f/1.8 sells for a touch over $100 bucks but is a highly regarded and well-reviewed lens. You get a LOT of bang for your buck with this one!

Stuff Every Photographer Can Use (or use more of)

You can never go wrong with Compact Flash Cards and other memory cards specific to your photographer’s camera brand. Trust me, we ALWAYS need more of these.
Memory is getting cheaper and cheaper these days. You can get a 1TB external hard drive (like the Hewlett Packard HP Portable 1 TB USB 3.0/2.0 External Hard Drive shown here) for under $200 bucks. The Western Digital Elements USB 2.0 Desktop External Hard Drive that I use at home – THREE TB, mind you – is currently $220. Keep an eye out for sales, because I bought the one I have for quite a bit less.
Buy microfiber lens cloths in bulk and be the hero of the day. I’m CONSTANTLY losing mine.
You know what else I lose all the time? My Lens Cap (here’s one for Canon). Pick up a couple of extras for the photographer in your life, because I doubt I’m the ONLY one that loses these things.

For the Photography Gear Head:

Any photographer that wants to get their flash off of their camera, but finds themselves limited to the range that the IR wireless system presents, needs Pocket Wizard. The PocketWizard MiniTT1 Radio Transmitter/Flex TT5 bundle for Nikon (here’s the one for Canon) is a must for doing some fantastic and creative things with a speed light. Then when the photographer is ready to go to studio strobes, he or she will find the Pocket Wizard lineup to be invaluable there as well.
The Westcott Apollo Strip Speedlite Kit doesn’t require a speed ring and fits almost any style of studio light. You just pop it open, mount it onto an umbrella stand, and you’re good to go. There’s an orb kit too, if you like your light modifiers round.
Lensbaby has done it again! Their new pro line of lenses, including the Lensbaby Composer Pro with Sweet 35 Optic for Canon cameras (here’s the Nikon) is solidly constructed and offers a wider field of view than the original Composer lineup. Pair it with a Creative Aperture Kit 2 and the photographer in your life will soon discover just how addictive a Lensbaby can be!

Software and DVD’s:

Photomatix Pro is an essential piece of software for the HDR addict in your life. It automates and simplifies the process of developing an HDR image, with flexibility in results that produce an image that is as realistic or as surreal as the photographer wishes. At only $100 bucks this is a great buy.
I highly recommend Studio Lighting Essentials for Portrait Photography. I own a copy myself and will be providing a review on this site in the coming weeks. The DVD is full of information on lighting basics, lighting setups, equipment essentials, color theory and more. If the photographer in your life is planning to journey into studio lighting, this is definitely a valuable resource to get them started.

Recommended Point and Shoots:

The Panasonic DMC-FH25K 16.1MP Digital Camera has 8x Wide Angle Image Stabilized Zoom and a 2.7 inch LCD. It’s tiny and can fit into a pocket or purse, for those occasions when you want to be able to capture the memories in photos but don’t want to lug around your big ol’ DLSR.
Canon’s wildly popular PowerShot series now includes the ELPH 100 HS 12 MP CMOS Digital Camera. This one’s got full 1080p HD video capabilities (including Super Slow Motion, which sounds like fun), performs well in low light, and comes in pretty colors! Personally, I like the blue.
Ashton Kutcher has the world hooked on Nikon Coolpix. The L24 14 MP Digital Camera features a 3.6x NIKKOR Optical Zoom Lens and 3-Inch LCD. This one is somewhat less expensive than other models, but still delivers the level of quality that we’ve come to expect from Nikon. The Easy Auto mode takes every bit of thought out of the picture taking process, other than pointing, composing, and shooting. A great stocking stuffer!
The Sony NEX-5N 16.1 MP Compact Interchangeable Lens Touchscreen Camera boasts “DSLR quality in your pocket”. While I can’t see myself fitting this in my pocket unless I’m wearing REALLY baggy pants, this camera is still compact enough to take the hassle out of lugging around a camera. It can shoot up to 10 frames per second, has full HD video capability, a tiltable touchscreen, a bunch of picture effect modes including panorama, and is compatible with Sony E-mount lenses. As far as gadgets go, this thing will satisfy even the pickiest gearhead!


Gift Ideas that are Just Plan NEAT:

The Celestron 44340 LCD Digital LDM Biological Microscope. This is SO COOL. If you have a budding scientist in your household, or a teacher, this would be a PERFECT gift. This microscope/digital camera combo has the ability to capture 5MP images and video, a quadruple nosepiece with 4x/10x/20x/40x objective lenses, dual focus, and a SD card slot. The microscope is controlled by a touch screen with a stylus, has 1GB of internal memory card and USB slot, 4x optical zoom, LED’s to illuminate the slides, and is powered by 4 AA batteries or an AC adapter.
The MyStudio MS20J Complete Tabletop Photo Studio – 12-Piece Jewelry Photography Toolkit, Bonus Tripod for Product Photography. If you or someone you know is selling jewelry or other small products on Etsy or Ebay, this small product photography studio might be just the thing to add that extra level of professionalism to your product images.
If you feel like spoiling the photographer in your life, you can’t go wrong with the Olympus PEN E-P3 12.3 MP Live MOS Micro Four Thirds Digital Camera. This thing is just plain cool, with impressive low light performance, fast auto-focus, a touch screen and in-camera editing capabilities. It shoots 1080 60i HD video and is expandable with interchangeable lenses and accessories. I would LOVE to get my hands on one of these babies, but it’s a bit pricey at around $875 bucks.


Do you have great ideas for Christmas gifts, or an item from your own wish list that you wish someone would give you? Please share in the comments or on our Facebook Page!

*The Author did NOT receive any products or compensation in exchange for mentioning the Provider’s products and/or services on this website. We will only endorse products or services that we believe, based on our expertise, are worthy of such endorsement. This is not an advertisement.

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