It's that time of year! Here are some gift ideas for the photographer on your list.
Aside from my camera and lenses, my tripod is easily my most important piece of gear when I’m out shooting. That said, there are times when a full size, traditional tripod can get in the way. Let’s face it, as useful as tripods are, they can also be heavy and inflexible and just don’t work in some situations.
That’s where the Joby GorillaPod comes in.
The GorillaPod is a short tripod featuring three legs constructed of interlocking ball joints. The result is something akin to a twist tie. The legs of the GorillaPod are flexible so that you can conform them and twist and wrap them to support your camera in all sorts of odd angles and configurations. You can use it on uneven surfaces, on tabletops or wrapped around a sturdy pole, tree or fence post.
The GorillaPod is multi-purpose and very versatile. Combined with the BallHead X, you have the perfect gift for the photographer on your list.
As much fun as digital photography is, it’s even more fun when you can print those photos instantly.
Fujifilm brings back the fun of instant photography with the Fijifilm Instax Mini 90. It’s small, fun and easy to use and the picture quality is nothing to scoff at. Plus, the film that the Instax uses is easily available and affordable.
I’m sure that you’ve heard that the best camera is the one that's with you.
Maybe. But it’s certainly true that most folks these days are shooting a lot of their photos on their smartphone. And that includes many photographers.
But even with the convenience of shooting with your phone, there are certain drawbacks to smartphone photography. And the biggest one, I think, is the lack of an optical zoom. Yes, the camera function on most phones includes a digital zoom, but that’s really nothing more than cropping the image. With a true optical zoom, the lens optics change to allow you a closeup of your subject.
While we can all hope that smartphones with built-in optical zooms are on the horizon, currently the only way to add optical zoom capability to your phone is through add on lenses.
Personally, I’ve used both the Olloclip Telephoto + CPL Lens (I have an iPhone 6) and the TECHO® HD Camera Lens Kit (which is available for both iPhone and Android devices) and I’ve been happy with both. I’ve also heard good things about the Camkix Camera Lens Kit for the Samsung Galaxy S4
Lighting can make all the difference between a bad shot and a great shot.
A reflector lets you to control light by bouncing it onto your subject in a way that isn't happening naturally.
Reflectors can come in handy when you are outdoors, shooting in bright, natural light. In those types of situations, you ‘ll often find that the direct sunlight casts harsh shadows on your subject. Using a reflector can help reduce or eliminate this problem by reflecting the available light to 'fill in' the shadowy areas. The result is a more evenly lit photo.
Reflectors can be useful when shooting outdoors too, to fill in any shadowy areas that are the result of light coming from a house lamp or flash or from the daylight streaming through a window.
A small reflector kit, one that comes in different colors and collapses small enough to fit in a camera bag or even a jacket pocket is invaluable for all forms of photography. My favorite is the Neewer 5-in-1 Collapsible Multi-Disc Light Reflector. If you want to go even smaller, the Westcott Erin Manning 3-in-1 Pocket Pack 12" Reflector Kit folds down small enough to slip into your pocket.
All cameras come with a strap. They are functional. They do the job of holding your camera slung around your neck or your shoulder. And for a lot of people they work fine.
But I don’t like using the factory strap because I find that their design and shorter length make them uncomfortable to wear and cumbersome to use. With these straps, you have the option to carry your camera around your neck and that’s convenient in terms of accessing it. But it can be very uncomfortable if you do it for any length of time. Or you can carry your camera with the strap over your shoulder, but it will slip off constantly.
The bottom line is that the standard straps are never long enough to (comfortably) wear sling style–over the shoulder and across the chest–so that you can keep the camera out of your way at your side or, better yet, slid around to your back.
Premium camera straps are more comfortable and easier to use than the factory supplied models. They are longer, have more padding, are easier on your neck and include features that allow you to access your camera quickly. A good strap is well worth the investment and a great gift idea for a photography buff.
My personal favorite–by a long shot–is the Peak Design Slide Camera Strap. It’s easy to adjust, is sturdy and safe and attaches securely to my camera, and is very comfortable, even after hours of shooting.
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We've seen how managing the ISO setting allows you to control the amount of grain that shows in your photos. But it does more than that. Understanding and working with the ISO setting gives us added flexibility in terms of setting the other two exposure settings–aperture and shutter speed.
The bottom line is that ISO is an important and useful tool, and one that you will want to be comfortable with if you are looking to take creative control of your exposure.