15 great gifts for photography geeks.

not my camera, not my picture. but it is nice, isn't it?

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.

nikonRemote ML-3
ir remote – You can control your camera with a remote! These little guys are good for group photos, stop motion work, and for the times your camera is way out of reach. They’re cheap too!

$16 for the nikon version
and $7 for the knockoff

flash Slave
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

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Christmas Gifts for Geeks (pt 3) MAKE magazine



There really are few magazines that I eagerly look forward to. There are even fewer that I can’t hold back from reading in the bookstore BEFORE my subscription arrives (I just can’t hold back!) MAKE is chock full of cool projects, ideas, and people. They have detailed build plans for some of their projects, and they are always a source of inspiration. To give a gift subscription click here of just go to http://www.makezine.com/ There seem to be a few different deals out there. Sometimes you can get a makers notebook for free, and sometimes you can get an extra issue. You get to pick your deal.

It should also be noted that their blog is one of my main interests on the internet. You can find it at http://blog.makezine.com/ and it is almost like a new issue that arrives every time you hit the refresh button!

Make seems to be about celebrating the unabashed love of technology, and I unabashedly love that. If you know of someone who might like it – get it for them. If you already get it – loan out a few copies to your friends. This magazine deserves some more evangelism!

Christmas gifts for geeks (pt 2) Weller soldering iron


One gift that geeks undeniably love are tools. The tricky thing is finding ones that not only they don’t have, but also need. I can’t imagine anyone interested in electronics NOT owning a soldering iron, but almost all beginners start out with a really useless $8 radioshack iron. That thing usually has a very blunt tip, is uncomfortable, and is almost never the right temperature. It really is amazing anyone can learn how to solder on one of those. Last year I became the proud owner of a Weller WLC100, and I suggest you do the same.


I’m sure you are wondering what makes this is soldering iron better.
-It’s MUCH more comfortable in your hand
-It has a variable temperature dial so that you can gently heat components.
-It is much more stable on the desk, and it has an orange light on it that lights up whenever the unit is powered (and therefore much less likely to light your shop on fire!)
-And lastly, when you work with it you feel like you are using the proper tool for the job. We have all been in a situation where you are stripping wires with a kitchen knife, or cutting a hole in a box with a plastic fork. Sometimes you need to use the wrong tool for the job, but when you have the perfect tool for the job it really makes the process much more enjoyable.

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Dremel vise-Christmas gifts for geeks (pt 1)


I am going to do a series of posts on things that geeks might need for Christmas / the holiday season. It will be a learning process, as I am going to rely on the collective wisdom of the internet to pick between a few similar products. Some might be big and some might be small, but I can guarantee that more than a few people are lusting over these…

One important disclaimer is that you need to know the kind of geek you are shopping for
If you buy a unix geek some anime, they might not be too excited. These gifts are for the kind of geek who is interested in hardware, robotics, DIY electronics, and microcontrollers (particularly Arduino!) If that describes the person on your wish list – you are in luck!

The first gift idea is a desktop mini vice. This is useful for soldering and working on small(ish) tabletop projects. These can not be used for holding a 2×4 while you cut it, but they are perfect for holding a circuit board while you solder in the components.

I saw this the other day while wandering around home depot. It looks like something I need. I’ve been lusting over this panavise for a bit, and there is a strong pull for the dremel one at half the price!

The dremel one looks like it would be easier to set up on a benchtop (i think you have to bolt the panavice down, the dremel has a clamp) and it looks like you could use either one for light machining, soldering, and dis/assembly.

The only contender to those two might be this cheapie panavice, but it doesn’t look like it could stand up to some dremelling, and I like my tools to be multi-taskers!

So I’ll put the question out there; has anyone used any of the three? I’d love to hear thoughts, or suggestions if you have something better!