Five Gift Ideas For Photographers

Having trouble finding a gift for the photographer on your list? It can be difficult since not all accessories work with all cameras, and it is difficult to know what they have and what they could use. The following are a selection of consumable or semi-consumable items, or the you can never have too many kind, that are useful even if the recipient already has one.

Links are affiliate links (I get a percentage back if you buy through them), but these are all products that I buy and use.

  1. Sensor Gel Stick* (~$60) – This one and the next are specific to DSLRs or interchangeable lens mirrorless cameras. Digital camera sensors get dirty over time, and there are several specialized tools to clean them. The gel stick is a block of adhesive gel on a plastic handle that makes it easy to pick up dust from the sensor. Although cleaning the sensor can be scary if you are not used to it, it can be done by anyone, and most cameras include a function to lock the shutter and the mirror up.
  2. Sensor Swab Kit ($15-$20) –  When the Gel Stick isn’t enough, sometimes you need to use a swab and cleaning fluid. These kits contain both. You will need to know if they need full frame* or crop sensor* sized swabs.
  3. Lens tissues* (<$10) – While microfiber cloths are the most common these days, some people still prefer disposable tissues, since there is less likelihood that they could pick up bits of grit that could damage a lens. Previously I have used microfiber cloths, but am planning to switch for that reason.
  4. Think Tank Cable Management* bags ($15-$30) – Don’t let the name fool you, these are very handy for organizing anything, not just cables, in your camera bag or luggage. With a clear side, it is easy to see what is in them if you have a few. There are several sizes, the 10 or 20 is probably a good starter.
  5. Training (various) – training is one of the most valuable things you can get a photographer. A KelbyOne membership (use this link* for a $20 discount on a one year membership) or courses from CreativeLive* can take a photographer’s work to the next level. I use training from both, and they are both great. Pricing is on two different models, CreativeLive is an outright purchase, you buy a class and it is yours to keep. KelbyOne is a subscription service, you get access to all the classes for as long as you are subscribed.

Have you given any great photography related gifts? Please share below in the comments.

* These links are affiliate program links through Amazon or the associated vendor. If you follow the link, I get a percentage back to help maintain this site and bring you more content.

3 Legged Thing Winston Review

As much as I like a tripod to be small and easily portable, sometimes you want a more stable tripod, especially for things like panoramas, shooting at night, and long exposure photography.

I recently picked up a 3 Legged Thing Winston (product links are Amazon affiliate), their largest tripod. I picked the 3 Legged Thing for a few reasons, I have one of their Punks Travis tripods, and like it. I use the monopod leg often enough that it is a definite added value. The head also comes with a pano clamp on the QR part of the head, so it can be leveled independent of the tripod, critical for panoramas on uneven terrain. Continue reading “3 Legged Thing Winston Review”

A Dangerous Question

The other day on Quora, someone asked “What are the best reasons to switch from a Nikon D610 to a Nikon D750?” (Amazon affiliate links) It may be a little unfair, but I read this as “What is the best excuse to buy a new camera.”

My answer was simple: Because the D610 doesn’t do something specific you need, and the D750 does. And that feature is worth $2000 to you. If you can’t answer what that benefit is, there is no reason to buy replace a fully functional piece of equipment. If I were looking to buy a new camera, the WiFi and tilting screen might be worth the $300 difference, but it isn’t worth $2000, or even the $1000 if I could get $1000 for the D610 body. Add to that the time to buy the new camera, sell the old camera, and learning a new camera, and it becomes even more expensive to switch. Are there benefits big enough to justify that cost? If not, better to keep your money, or all too often your credit card, in your pocket.

Another way to look at that money is as hours of your freedom. For a median US income of $56,000, a $2000 camera represents over 70 hours of work. Factor in that about a third of your income goes in taxes, and it’s over 100 hours. Pay for it on credit that isn’t paid immediately, and it could be many times that.

Of course, there are times where it is worth upgrading, but make sure that you are spending money intelligently, not just chasing the latest and greatest just because it’s new.

A question I like to ask when I am looking at new equipment is “what pictures, that I want to take, can I not take without this?” The part about “that I want to take” is important. A D5 could double the frame rate of my D610, but almost nothing I shoot would benefit from that. I could get the perfect portrait lens, and almost never use it, because that’s not the work I do. Make sure that the features you are buying create benefits you actually need.

If you really have an extra $2000 burning a hole, you will often get better results out of a trip, some training, or a workshop. The benefits of those will last long beyond the release of the next camera upgrade you will have to have.

Take Better Pictures By Switching Things Up

While creating your style is important in photography and other arts, sometimes switching things up can open new doors, and improve your “normal” work. Switching things up forces you to see things in new ways, and may open up new ideas. Maybe you won’t use anything you take in these sessions, but they will help you to think outside the box in your normal work. Continue reading “Take Better Pictures By Switching Things Up”

Capture One – Comparing Perpetual License vs. Subscription

More software is going to a subscription model, which offers the benefits of a smaller up front cost and distributing the cost over multiple lower payments. The downsides are that there is a constant cost, and in most cases the cost of the subscription will overtake the cost of perpetual license and upgrades.

So, which is a better deal for Capture One users? Let’s look at the costs. These are current as of February 2017, and are taken from phaseone.com, and  are subject to change at any time. Continue reading “Capture One – Comparing Perpetual License vs. Subscription”