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Tanya’s Gift Guide for Photographers, $250+

By Tanya Goodall Smith on November 23rd 2015

Buying gifts for the photographer in your life can be daunting. Especially since the array of choices is dizzying and the price point for many coveted photo gear items outrageous. If you’ve got $250 or more to spend, you can give your Shutter Bug a pretty sweet gift that they’ll actually use. Here’s my gift guide for photographers $250+. I either own these already, or they are actually on my wish list.

 

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A Faster Prime Lens

My first upgrade from the kit lens that came with my first DSLR was to a 50mm f/1.4 prime lens. The Canon 50mm f/1.4 is $349.00 at B&H right now, which is a great deal! This lens elevated my amateur work and helped me begin to understand depth of field and how to use it to my advantage, not to mention the ability to shoot in much lower light situations. Dubbed the “nifty fifty’, the Canon 50mm F/1.8 version of this lens is even more affordable, at just $125, and I hear it produces a quality image as well.

For an incredibly in-depth comparison of lenses available for DSLRs, check out our Lens Wars series by clicking here.

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An Instant Camera

While generally considered a novelty item, an instant camera is just plain fun to have. I’ve been scrounging up used vintage Polaroids for my own collection, and I’m pretty sure any photographer would love to have one. Finding the right film is going to be the trick. The Impossible Polaroid SX-70 Sonar Instant Film Camera Kit comes with two packs of film so your photographer would be all set, at least to start out. Keep in mind this is a special order item so make sure you allow for the extra 7-14 business days shipping.

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An On-Camera Mic

I’ve been experimenting with video a little bit lately and find my Canon 5D Mark III does a good job, but the on-camera microphone picks up a lot of unwanted sound. A Rode on-camera mic is on my wish list, and any photographer who is using their DSLR for video interviews and the like could use something like this. The $289 price point is affordable for quality audio. Rode has some less expensive options as well.

Read more about using on-camera mics like this one in this article: SOUND AND AUDIO | FROM STILLS TO MOTION

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Noise Cancelling Headphones

I’m not sure if all photographers will appreciate these or just those who also happen to be parents, but I find I’m in constant need of noise blocking so I can focus and get stuff done. Editing, blogging, answering emails, doing dishes… I just need to be able to hear myself think and half the time, whether I’m at home with the kids chattering in the background or at a cafe where some drama queen is divulging her life story loud enough for everyone to hear, I need noise cancellation!

I’m guessing that, unless your photographer is lucky enough to have their own office space with three-foot thick insulated walls where they get to sit in solitude and think, they need these Bose noise cancelling headphones. I’m just working on convincing my husband they’re worth the $299 price tag. I’ll tell you what, the $30 knock off pair I bought earlier this year does not block out any noise at all…

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A Graphics Tablet

If your photographer is getting serious about retouching, or any kind of illustrative or composite work, they must have a Wacom tablet. This is a non-negotiable item. I haven’t been able to live without mine since 2003. I use the Wacom Intuos Pro Professional Pen & Touch Tablet, and it’s only the second one I’ve had to buy since 2003. The only reason I replaced the first one is because the mouse that came with it stopped working and they didn’t make it anymore. The tablet still works great, and I use the old one for traveling since it’s slightly smaller. I haven’t tried any of Wacom’s less expensive, non-pro tablets, but I hear great things. As long as you stick with the Wacom brand, you should be fine.

Read more about graphics tablets by clicking here.

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An iPad

I may be the only photographer on the planet who doesn’t already own an iPad, but it’s on my wish list. We are an Android device family, mainly because my husband hates Macs. I find many apps designed for photographers are not compatible with Android devices, so my Android tablet and phone are sometimes quite worthless. Plus, an iPad would sync up with my MacBook Pro, so it seems like a no-brainer; iPad is where it’s at. If you’re asking yourself why your photography obsessed loved one needs an iPad if they already have a laptop and a mobile phone, well, I can think of a few uses. Sales presentations, mobile portfolio, social media posting on the go, even photo editing can be more portable with a tablet. Just get him/her an iPad already.

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An Educational Course

Last but certainly not least, you can’t go wrong with an educational course. I’ve always been an advocate for investing in education. It’s the best gift you can give. The SLR Lounge Lighting 101 and 102 bundle fits within our $250+ budget, but you can’t go wrong with any of the courses in the SLR Lounge Store, depending on where your photographer is on their journey. If they’re just starting out, go with Photography 101. If they need to learn more about artificial lighting, go with the lighting courses. These courses are the highest quality video photography education available. I wish they had been around when I was starting out. Happy Shopping!

Tanya Goodall Smith is the owner, brand strategist and commercial photographer at WorkStory Corporate Photography in Spokane, Washington. WorkStory creates visual communications that make your brand irresistible to your target market. Join the stock photo rebellion at workstoryphotography.com.

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Ralph Hightower

    A Canon 50mm f1.8 was the kit lens for my Canon A-1 when I bought it in 1980.

    The prices below are from the 1982 Calumet catalog:
    Canon FD 50mm f1.8: $65.95 (but it doesn’t autofocus)
    Canon A-1 body: $329.95
    MA Motor Drive (A-1) 222.95

    I bought the following kit for $400 (I don’t have prices for the split-screen/microprism spot and partial metering screens):
    Canon F-1N body with AE Finder FN: $547.95
    Canon AE Motor Drive FN: $389.95.
    Total (1982 dollars): $937.90

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  2. Korey Napier

    I would actually argue that the new 50mm 1.8 has just as good if not better image quality than the 1.4 version. I would pick the 1.8 every time over the 1.4, especially considering the price difference. Cool list though.

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