I have really had a lot of fun shooting pictures of things and learning about photography in the last few years. One thing I love about digital photography is that you don’t need to spend a lot of money to take a lot of pictures. I have had an absolute blast playing around making pinhole lenses, taking infra red pictures, and playing around with garage sale flashes.
Here are a lot of ideas (and links!) for gifts for the photographer in your life, arranged by price from low to high. Most of these links are nikon-specific, but if you like the idea, there is definitely a canon version to be found out there! Side note: if you don’t want to read my interpretation, then you can just click here and find the list at amazon.
flash slave – This is a neat tiny little bit of electronics that you pop onto the bottom of a flash and it will fire whenever it sees another flash fire. These aren’t as good as the high tech versions out there, but they still do the trick a lot of the time. These can be found for $8
lens caps – It seems like nothing is easier to lose than a lens cap! These can be found pretty cheaply, and are sometimes all that stand between your $600 lens and a duststorm. There are 3 kind of caps. There are lens caps that go on the front and the back of the lens. The front caps vary in size based on the lens size, so if you look hard enough at the lens you can usually see the filter size in mm written somewhere near the front.
Front caps vary in price,
but a basic 52mm starts at $8
Back lens caps are generally universal, so grabbing a few could be nice.
They can be found for $3 each.
Body caps go on the camera when there isn’t a lens attached. Those are one size fits all as long as you get the right (nikon) brand and
gels – gels are a cheap way to get some serious color out of your flash. This is a kit of 55 different colored gels. It is used by taping a gel to the top of a flash, and thereby coloring the light that comes out of it. An amazing resource for how to use these gels (and flashes in general) is the strobist. The gels kit is $19
flicker pro account – Having the support and input of a group of photographers can sometimes be the difference between frustration and inspiration. Having a pro account at flickr means that you can upload many more photos and you have a lot more options once they are uploaded. It costs $25 for the year, and is a great way to share photos with friends, or to make new photo-friends!
reversing ring / macro tube – both of these do the same thing, but different ways. They both enable macro photography. That means that you are able to get reeeeally tight in on small objects and take photos. The reversing ring allows you to turn your lens around and mount it backwards on the camera. Those can be picked up for $40, and they need to match the filter size of whatever lens you would like to use them with. The macro tube is simply a metal threaded tube that allows you to mount your lens further away from the camera. These are generally either lower quality or higher price.
I’d go for the low quality one at $10.
lensbaby – A lensbaby is most easily described as a flexible camera lens. Due to it’s flexability you can choose what parts of the image are in focus, and what parts aren’t. It is a really interesting way to get some very artistic shots. There are three different levels, but the cheapest lensbaby is just a hair shy of $100.
disposable camera – sometimes I feel like digital cameras have taken a lot of the magic out of photography. If you bought a few cheap disposables and went out on an afternoon photoshoot you could definitely bring back some of the anticipation that came with waiting for prints!
screw on adapters – there are a wide range of wide angle, fisheye, and just plain weird adapters out there that will make your lens look drastically different. They usually screw onto the front of your exiting lens. Because they are generally made cheaply, they can also be bought cheaply. Try out something that seems interesting! Here’s a 52mm .34x fisheye for $30. Make sure that this matches your lens filter size.
uv filters – These might be called “UV filters” but really they are sacrificial lambs. They protect your lenses from accidental finger smears, snowflakes, dust and acts-of-god. They are simply clear glass, but they are very good insurance for your precious lenses. They vary by lens size, and
can be picked up starting around $8
cheap glass – There is never anything wrong with getting a new lens! There are also some great lenses out there that can be had for cheap! One great one to look for is an e- series 50mm f1/1.8 lens. This lens is fixed at 50mm (ie no zoom) so it forces you to think and move a bit more. It is also very good in low light. The best thing about it is that it can be found for under $30 used on ebay sometimes! Heck , if you want to, you can buy the newer version of it for $129!Still a bargain compared to most lenses.
flash – A flash in the right hands can create magic. Even in the wrong hands it will give better pictures, be it indoors or outdoors. You can spend as little as $90 on a vivitar flash,
or $200 on a nikon sb600 The nikon one has more options, and is better if you have a nicer camera and/or want to run it off camera, but they will both open up new worlds to your average photographer.