xmas

All I Want For Christmas

It’s that time of the year again and many out there are scratching their heads trying to decide what to get a friend or family member for Christmas. Of course most of us seem to hint heavily at something specific I like to think that a good surprise is still alive and well within the gift giving spirit. I don’t particularly like the crazed rush and pressure that comes with the holidays but I do enjoy sharing and gift giving so I thought it would be fun to assemble a photographer biased list of things to consider when looking for that special something. I did my best to avoid anything too horribly obvious and included a number of fun film cameras.

Gordy’s Camera Strap

This guy makes amazing leather camera straps which are great for smaller and larger cameras alike. There are a number of options such as color and more or less padding to choose from and each strap is hand made and of the highest quality you could imagine a simple strap like this having. I bought one for my Olympus OM SLR and love it, its strong enough to leave the camera hanging from your wrist without worry when you need both hands and keeps your camera steady and safe otherwise. I love a good, high quality hand made product and this is one that excels. There is plenty of info on his site on different options and sizes.

Souldier Seat Belt Camera Strap

For those who may be a bit more traditional about their camera strap, these straps from Souldier are the best around. Sturdy, dependable and gorgeous. They come in 23 different colors so you have a lot of unique options and they are also all made to order in Chicago. There is also an option to add padding in the middle which is handy because it does keep it from being too slippery. The padding is not very pretty though as it is a simple grey foam like material. I enjoy having it there but others may like the smoothness of not having any padding. I have used a red one for years now it seems and always get questions and compliments on it. It has been one of my favorite accessories and the perfect step up for any photographer wanting to ditch that ugly branded default strap.

SuperHeads Wide and Slim Camera

These are cheap and a lot of fun to have around YoungDoo has been shooting with one for a good while now and I am always impressed with the results. It is about as simply as you can get, go out on a sunny day, point, and shoot. Load it up with any random film you can get your hands on and enjoy. If you know someone that enjoys playing around with different cameras this is a perfect new toy. The results offer a slightly distorted, wide angle effect as well as a nice contrasty, vignetted image. They come in a variety of colors so you can pick just the right one for the person you are gifting it too. A fun alternative to one of these would be a Juice Box Camera, seems childish but its super inconspicuous and a lot of fun to mess around with.

Lomo LCA+

Sure, its not the cheapest gift at $250 but these are among the best all, point and shoot film cameras out there. I think they have been given a weird reputation because of its hipster “lomography” upbringing but they have been around forever and for good reason. The results are vivid and unique and I think its a great way to get into shooting with film because it offers something different from a camera offering clean or tidy results all the time. I find that it does take a little getting used to the quirks of the camera but once you get the hang of it it can be a realy satisfying little camera to have around. I think this would make for an unexpectedly fun gift for any open minded photographer. Have a look at some of the great images taken with these cameras on flickr.

Gakkenflex

These can be a challenge but offer a fun, do it yourself, camera kit. They use 35mm film and offer a cool experience when putting them together as you see exactly how the camera functions. The photographic results are a mixed bag but you can get some cool images from it if you stick with it. Being a fixed shutter speed and aperture its another sunny day camera but its more for the experience I think, and this offers a great one. The original kit came packaged with a Japanese magazine and the instructions are all in Japanese but there are many guides online to help you out. Alternatively, you can get one with english instructions and different color options because a new company started to manufacture them again once they gained a cult like following, here.

Sunprints Cyanotype Cotton Squares

This would make a great gift for just about anyone. They are cotton fabric squares treated with a cyanotype solution which allows you to lay one of the squares out in the sun and place opbjects on top of it which will create an image based on the shadow that is cast onto the square. You then simply rinse the square in water and the image will be on the fabric permanantly. It is a lot of fun and I think it would be a fantastic gift for children or anyone who enjoys experementing a bit. I love messing about with these. There are different sizes and even colors available as well as simple paper versions which cost a bit less.

Zero Image 35mm Pinhole Camera

Know a photographer that likes to try new things? There is nothing more classic than a pinhole film camera and this is a great one. With its classic wooden body and brass knobs it’s a beauty and would be a great addition to any camera collection not to mention a lot of fun to use.

Ari Marcopoulos Camera Bag

As many of you know already from my glowing review, I love this camera bag and feel it would be a great choice as a gift for any photographer not using a huge amount of gear. Keep in mind my note within my review about it maybe not being the best for someone with a smaller physical build. Otherwise you can’t go wrong with this fantastic bag.

X-Rite ColorChecker Passport

While I don’t shoot with one of these I do think it would make for a nice gift to any photographer doing portrait work or simple commercial work. I have had my eye on one for quite some time now because I think it could be a quick, useful tool while out shooting to quickly get a handle on the white balance in post for those times when I want that extra bit of control and support. It’s a simple gadget that is portable and easy to use. You simply take a photo of the device before or during a shoot and use that shot as a quick refference tool to grab the perfect white balance for the situation at hand. Great for someone you know spends a bit too much time in post messing around with their white balances for every single photo.

Gossen DigiSix Light Meter

This is my favorite portable light meter. Simple and stuffed full of abilities for its size and price, it’s a great option for anyone looking to get into using an older manual camera or those who want to experement and have a tighter control over their exposures. The one thing that is a bit annoying about it is that there is no ‘off’ so the buttons get pressed while in my bag. The battery lasts what seems like forever so its not that big of a deal and the good totally outweighs this one quirk.

LensPen

If there is a photographer out there without one of these in their camera bag I have to question their sanity. Simple and cheap.

Soft Release Shutter Button

When you grip your camera to take a photo it can be more of a natural feel to let the shutter button rest on the first joint of your finger rather than bending your finger to point down onto the shutter release button. A soft release is a simple screw on button designed to give extra height to the shutter release and in turn let you hold your camera more naturally. This leads to you being able to hold your camera in a steadier position letting you keep still at slower shutter speeds. I love them and use one on my older cameras which have a threded screw mount on the shutter release. So for anyone you know using a camera with a screw mount release these make a great addition. There is a handy list on the site that they originate from telling you which cameras work best with which release button. They are also available here which I have ordered from a few times, a great guy runs the site.

Film Travel Case

I bought a few of these earlier this year and I love them, they are a great way to transport film. Both 35mm (without its original canister) and 120 film will fit. There is room for 6 rolls of 35mm or 4 rolls of 120 film, the only downside of the 35mm ability is that you really need to keep a full 6 rolls of film inside so they dont rattle around loosely inside. I still feel its a great accesory for anyone shooting film often and they are currently listed as clearance so they may not be available for much longer!

Round Corner Cut Punch

Seems a bit of an odd thing to add to the list but I think its cool. A simple round corner cutter that allows you to give paper a rounded corner. I love putting round corners on printed photos, it gives them sort of a vintage feel. Also useful for postcards or anything really.

A 35mm Film SLR

There are hundreds available on eBay as buy it now right around $100-200 with a simple 50mm lens. You just use your best intuition as far as which one you buy based on photos (make sure they are nice high quality images of the product), Seller feedback score, and an honest item description. I could easily suggest  an Olympus OM2 based on my own great experience, its a great sturdy camera and surprisingly compact for being an SLR. There are other classic options as well such as a Canon AE-1 or Nikon FM-2 which would give the photographer getting it the option of using the lens on their current DSLR should they already use a Nikon. Shooting with a film SLR is a quintessential experience for anyone wanting to call themselves a photographer.

If you have any suggestions for something photography related that is fun or interesting, feel free to leave any ideas in the comments below. Also, due to a number of requests, I have made the image above available as a wallpaper, see links below.

Comments

  1. John - December 6, 2011 at 5:14 am

    I’d love to download the header graphic to use as a desktop. Did I just miss the link to it somewhere?

  2. john - December 6, 2011 at 5:19 am

    I had considered adding it but didn’t have time to pull it together for the post. I may do a dedicated post for it but check back here as well this week if not, I will at least ad links to this post for it!

  3. lomomo - December 6, 2011 at 6:55 am

    Hey the round corner cut punch is cool :) For camera bags i like unique / handmade things. My last camera bag i have buy from etsy.com.

    The LC A+ is a great camera. But I like the LC Wide more :)

    And my christmast wish is a diana lens adaptor so I can use all my different dians lenses on my canon camera :)

    Have a nice day greatings from Germany :)

  4. john - December 6, 2011 at 11:37 am

    Ah yes, I would love an LCA Wide! That lens looks like a lot of fun. I decided to stick with the classic for this list. though. And as I mentioned in the Gordy strap, I love handmade things myself! Should have included more perhaps!

  5. Aqeel Fikree - December 6, 2011 at 11:58 am

    Your post got me interested in a couple of things. The strap (sadly it ain’t on amazon), and the LensPen (call me insane). Can you give your opinion on a lens blower, do you use one. I came across Giottos rocket blower (S, M, L) couldn’t decide which one.

  6. Brian - December 13, 2011 at 1:55 am

    Agree w. John, I would love that picture as a wallpaper

  7. john - December 15, 2011 at 10:11 pm

    The desktop is now available!

  8. sunhead* - December 17, 2011 at 4:53 am

    you aren’t getting any of these things from me :) you’ve totally changed your website!! it’s wild. wow. so different!

  9. Radmir - December 17, 2011 at 9:24 am

    John, excellent photo! Thank you!

  10. That Time Of Year - November 23, 2012 at 10:48 am

    [...] and a good lens what else does a photographer really need? You can have a peak at my list from last year which has a few more photo centric ideas. I did toss in one idea related to photography but well [...]

  11. Hildegard - March 3, 2013 at 1:08 pm

    These are in fact fantastic ideas in concerning blogging.
    You have touched some pleasant factors here.

    Any way keep up wrinting.

  12. Things - December 10, 2013 at 3:10 pm

    […] previous two guides are still just as fun and relevant as ever and can be found here and here. Follow the link below for this years […]

  13. http://roysdonludaf.edublogs.org - September 17, 2014 at 7:28 pm

    Hey I know this is off topic but I was wondering if you knew
    of any widgets I could add to my blog that automatically tweet my newest twitter updates.
    I’ve been looking for a plug-in like this for quite some time and was hoping maybe you would have some experience
    with something like this. Please let me know if you run into anything.
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