50 Gifts Under $50 For Photographers
Holidays are upon us and photographers like gifts they can use for their photography. Often, a small and simple tool makes a huge difference in the quality of images produced or it can inspire its new owner to go ahead and do more photography. So, do not worry if you cannot afford the one of the Best Cameras of the 2013, there are a good number of gifts available for under $50 USD.
Here we present 50 gifts for photographers, all available for $50 USD or less, The price may be slightly different locally but all these gifts are available from Adorama which ships to almost anywhere in the world. Amazon has plenty of those as well.
The majority of the gifts shown here are universal and compatible with any digital camera. A few items, as noted below, are available in different models or sizes to match with a specific camera or lens. Check the camera and lens for compatibility before ordering.
Camera support is essential to get critical sharpness and work with long exposures. Good tripods cost a good deal of money and are often inconvenient to carry. The alternative which is very light and extremely versatile is a flexible tripod. None is as well-regarded as Joby's Gorillapod which is available in a number of sizes.
The Gorrilapod SLR-Zoom can hold a mid-size DSLR with a short zoom lens. It's maximum load if around 3kg or 6.5lbs. The real advantage of the Gorrilapod over a short tripod is that it can bend and attach itself to things such as poles, trees, benches, etc.
For more convenience, the Gorillapod SLR-Zoom can be fitted with a nice compact ball-head with quick-release system and bubble-level. This makes a great gift for Gorillapod owners or second gift along with the SLR-Zoom.
Compact cameras get a smaller version with magnetic feet which can hold on to most metal surfaces. It has a maximum load of 325g or 11.5oz, so this is for ultra-compact and typical compact digital cameras, as opposed to premium compacts. The Gorillapod Magnetic retails for around $25 USD.
A remote trigger has many photographic applications. It is extremely useful when taking pictures from a tripod or Gorillapod to avoid shaking the camera. It also lets a photographer be in front of the lens sometimes. If there is a single photographer in your family, chances are there will be very few photos of him! A compatible remote can change this but check if the camera supports one and be aware that not all cameras do.
Here are the most common remotes for recent digital cameras:
- Pentax Waterproof Remote. Pentax is the only maker with a waterproof remote. This is a great complement to one of their DSLRs or remote-enabled cameras.
- Pentax Remote: There is also a smaller and lighter IR remote for the same Pentax digital cameras.
- The Nikon Wireless Remote is compatible with most of their recent DSLRs, all their Mirrorless cameras and some of their premium compacts. Check the current Nikon IR-Remote enabled cameras.
- Canon Wireless Remote is compatible with a good number of their digital and film SLR cameras.
- Sony has a Alpha SLT-A99 Remote which is very sophisticated and also serves as a viewing remote when the camera is connected to a television. They have other wireless remotes too but they are specific to each camera, so check the manual for the right model.
Modern digital cameras are generally good at getting colors close to neutral. To get them perfect under any conditions, particularly indoors where cameras struggle more, custom white-balance should be used. Most cameras other than the most basic point-and-shoot models support this.
What is needed to use this function is a perfectly neutral object. This lets white dresses and snow appear as white as they are. These objects, called White-Balance Targets, are available in pocketable or large versions. Larger versions are easier to use, while pocketable ones are easier to carry:
- X-Rite Custom White Balance Card : X-Rite is one of the brand names of color accuracy and their letter-size cards is of excellent quality. This is great for use at home or in a studio when size is not an issue.
- Lastolite Ezybalance Collapsible Exposure Aid: These 30cm (12") aids provide large targets for both white-balance and spot metering while folding to one thirds of their size.
- The WhiBal G7 Key Chain measures 2" x 1", making it the smallest stand-alone white-balance target. It attaches to a key chain, making it readily available on the go.
- Adorama Gray Card Exposure Aids is a pack of three 5.4 x 8.5cm cards to set white-balance and exposure. These easily fit in most camera bags.
- White-Balance Caps are a different concept which replaces a traditional lens cap. To use it, you take a shot with the cap on while the lens is pointed at the primary light source. The right size is needed for it to work and it fits standard lenses only. Given how costly this is compared to an ordinary lens cap, this is only practical for people with one lens or several lenses with the same thread-size.
Camera straps are a big thing among photographers. While cameras all come with a strap, the included straps are absolutely basic. Higher-end models are not so expensive and can make an immense difference in comfort and photography speed.
- Zeiss Air Cell: The most comfortable and cheapest way to own the Zeiss name. This ultra-padded shoulder-strap can make a heavy DSLR feel light. It gives all the security of a standard strap but much less stress on your neck.
- Both the DSLR Bosstrap and the Compact/Mirrorless Bosstrap are straps made to bring a camera quickly to eye-level and leave it out of the way when not needed. Unlike other slings, the Bosstrap attaches to the strap eyelet and does not occupy the tripod mount. Both versions are well made, with the DSLR version sporting a broader strap to better distribute the weight of a DSLR.
- The ultimate for candid and street photography is the hand-strap. This type of strap holds your hand against the camera while providing great freedom of movement and more safety than going strapless. Hand-straps from Canon and Sony, plus third-party ones are available. These are generally interchangeable but many photographers prefer brand-names to match.
- Nikon makes wrist-straps which it calls hand-straps for their Nikon 1 system of mirrorless cameras. Still, they are just as convenient! Pentax even makes a floating wrist-strap to avoid loosing a waterproof camera into the depths of the ocean.
Photoshop and the like may offer thousands of digital filters but there are still a number of filters which cannot be simulated by software. Properly used under the right circumstances, such filters can helpful.
Keep in mind that not all lenses accept filters. In particular, most fixed-lens cameras do not have a filter-thread at all. When a lens accepts filters, one which matches will fit directly on the lens. A larger one may be used with a step-up ring but will not let you use a lens hood at the same time.
- Polarizing filters are used to cut glare, eliminate reflections and darken skies. For under $50 USD, non-multi-coated polarizers are available which work with color-shifts and more reduction in light transmission. If you can afford it, Hoya HD Polarizer are the best polarizing filters and worth every penny.
- ND filters are used to reduce incoming light. While they can be used to photograph very bright subjects, like the sun, they are mostly used for the artistic effect of long shutter-speeds. Waterfalls, seascapes and light trails are all excellent subjects to use these filters with. ND filters come in different sizes and strengths. ND8 are very popular and reduces light by 3 stops.
- UV Filters provide protection against flying dangers like salt-water and sand. In the presence of these such as photographing near the ocean or desert, it is a good idea to protect your lens with a UV filter. In normal conditions, UV filters must be kept of to avoid a reduction in image quality due to flare. In the presence of light sources, this is very obvious. As a general protection mechanism, it is preferable to use a lens hood. Most lenses come with one or one can be ordered for it. Prefer those which are Multi-Coated over regular ones.
Photographers usually love looking at beautiful images. They show us the world, inspire us to travel and take more photos. There is a lot to learn from looking at what others photographers have produced. The best way to see plenty of great images is to look at photo books. These are often themed so that one can find a book to suit most tastes.
National Geographic has been synonymous with stunning photography for decades and they have published several books filled with hundreds of their best images. For their size and quality, these books are an excellent value.
Kolor Panobook 2012 which we reviewed recently is a very good inspiration for panorama photo enthusiasts. Its wide format let it present images which seldom make it into books. There are also several panorama books for specific locations such as Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur and London.
Photography is a complex craft with both artistic and technical aspects to learn. Beginners particularly keen on advancing their photography skills can learn plenty from books. Starting with general knowledge is a good idea before moving on to specialized topics. A good number of books are reviewed on Neocamera already.
Here are some great books, starting with the Photographer's Eye, the most in-depth book on composition. If you have to learn one thing about photography, it should be composition. The next essential subject is exposure and the classic reference in the topic is Understanding Exposure. The two following National Geographic books are general references.
Specialized books cover more complex topics. In the case of flash photography, systems work differently and practical books are written with a particular one in mind.
Plenty of photography gadgets exist. Some of them are even extremely useful:
- Soften light of a built-in flash with the Gary Fong Puffer. For an add-on flash, use the Gary Fong Lightsphere.
- A Remote Flash Trigger can fire a flash or studio strobe remotely from up to 30m (100') away. This one works with both hot-shoe and sync-port connected devices as long as the camera has a standard hot-shoe. Most Sony cameras require an additional adapter.
- The Interfit 36 x 24" Easy Grip reflector collapses into a small disk for transport and has a small grip to hold it up. It is mainly used for portraits, particularly outdoors, to fill shadows, resulting in less contrast.
- The 3-Axis Bubble Level lets the photographer perfectly level his camera along any axis. It works on any camera with a hot-shoe except those from SonyWith exception of the SLT-A99V, NEX-6 and Cybershot DSC-RX.
- Download images at super-speed with the Lexar Professional USB 3.0 Dual Slot Memory Card Reader. It supports SDXC, SDHC, SD and CompactFlash at up to UDMA 7 speeds. Needs a computer with USB 3.0 ports to get the maximum speed. For USB 2.0, the pocket-size ioGear SD Reader supports SDXC, SDHC and SD cards, plus their Micro versions directly without adaptor.
- Download images to a computer, an Android or an iPhone without touching your camera with a Toshiba FlashAir or an Eye-Fi 8GB Mobi WiFi SDHC card. The Eye-Fi connects to a networked computer using WiFi at up to 802.11n speed. Even includes a USB card reader and apps for both Android and iOS. Works with a most SD-compatible cameras, confirm with the manufacturer's website before buying.
- Enjoy your photos constantly changing before you with the Viewsonic 8" Super-Slim digital photo frame. This LED-backlit frame has an 800x600 resolution and supports SDHC/SD cards.
- Print new photos and scan old ones in with the Canon PIXMA MP499 Wireless All-in-One Printer. Prints color images at up to 4800 x 1200 DPI resolution using dye inks or 600 x 600 DPI black and white images using a pigment ink. Scans at 2400 x 1200 DPI up to letter-sized documents.
With so many great photography gifts to choose from, there is certainly something for everyone and $50 USD goes a lot further than it used to. Sometimes, as is the case for filters which affect the quality of images, it can make a real difference to spend more. The rest of the time, the ideal accessory is the one presented.
Thank you for visiting Neocamera and enjoy the holidays! Hopefully, we made your holiday shopping easier. If you found any of our articles helpful, you can support us without spending an extra penny by buying from our affiliates using links on this site. Amazon stocks a good number of photography gadgets and all non-book gifts are available from Adorama.
Neocamera Blog is a medium for expressing ideas related to digital cameras and photography. Read about digital cameras in the context of technology, media, art and the world. Latest posts links:
Nikon 1 J4 Review
The smallest Nikon mirrorless packs an 18 MP high-speed CMOS sensor capable of 60 FPS drive and full 1080p HD video at 60 FPS, plus slow-motion video up to 1200 FPS.
Panasonic Lumix DMC-GM1 Review
Uniquely compact mirrorless that features a 16 MP LiveMOS Four-Thirds sensor with ISO 125-25600 range, 1/16000s-60s, 5 FPS drive and full 1080p HD video. Full manual controls and a very complete feature-set.
Fuji X30 Review
Premium compact with a bright 28-112mm F/2-2.8 mechanical-zoom lens and a 12 MP 2/3" X-Trans CMOS II sensor with built-in Phase-Detect AF. Now offers a large 0.65X magnification 2.8 MP 100% coverage EVF with Eye-Start sensor. Dual control-dials and full 1080p HD @ 60 FPS.
Expert Shield Screen Protector Review
Expert Shield Screen Protectors offer scratch protection with a crystal clear covering that uses no adhesive.
Canon EOS Rebel T5 Review
Entry-level DSLR with 18 MP, 9-Point Phase-Detect AF, 3 FPS drive and full 1080p HD video in a compact body. The lowest-cost Canon DSLR yet.
Nikon D810 Review
Professional DSLR with anti-alias-filter-free 36 MP CMOS sensor. Ultra-low ISO 32 to 51200. 5 FPS and 1080p @ 60 FPS. Large 0.7X magnification 100% coverage OVF. All new processing-pipeline and Highlight-Weighed metering.
Fuji X-T1 Photographer Experience
Photographer Experience report on using the Fuji X-T1 along with the Fujinon XF18-135mm F/3.5-5.6R LM OIS WR and Fujinon XF10-24mm F/4R OIS lenses.
Olympus Stylus 1 Review
Premium compact with bright F/2.8 constant aperture stabilized 10.7X wide-angle optical zoom lens. Full manual-controls with dual control-dials, plus a huge 1.15X EVF with 1.4 MP and an Eye-Start sensor. 3-Stop ND-Filter and WiFi built-in.
Canon Rebel SL1 Review
The smallest DSLR yet packs a 18 megapixels APS-C CMOS sensor with hybrid Phase-Detect and Contrast-Detect AF. Captures images at 4 FPS and 1080p HD video.
Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Carbon 2014 Review
The lightest 14" ultra-book features a high-resolution 2560x1440 QHD non-glare display in a carbon-fiber body with illuminated and spill-proof keyboard. WiFi, WiDi, 4G and Gigabit Ethernet all in one sleek design.