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All posts for the month December, 2010


The Holidays are fast approaching, which means you probably have a list of loved ones, or not so loved ones who you need to buy gifts for. If any of those people on your  list have an interest in photography, whether it’s a hobby or a profession than this guide is for you. Even if you are the photographer yourself, reading this, I’m sure you’ll find something on this list that you’ll want to add to your arsenal. I’m going to walk you through 5 must-have gadgets for every photographer, and the good news for you is none of these items will break the bank!

Item 1 – The Gorillapod

Gorillapod Family

Gorillapod Family (photo courtesy of Joby, Inc)

Sounds and looks like something out of a science fiction film, but the original Gorillapod has become so popular that it has spawned a whole Gorilla family of devices. So  what  the heck is a Gorillapod? Made by Joby, Inc. the Gorillapod is the ultimate mini-tripod. With it’s flexible legs and great accessories there’s no other tripod in the world like it.

Say you want to take a night time photo of  a city skyline from the top of a tall building, such as the Empire State Building or Willis Tower. You look around, but find no place to rest your camera to steady it. Enter the Gorillapod, with it’s flexible legs you can secure your camera right to the railing on the side of the building, making your camera rock-steady to take the shot. You can’t do that with a traditional tripod.

The Gorillapod comes in several different sizes to accommodate all cameras from compact point and shoots, to the largest DSLR’s. They even make one for video cameras. With prices ranging from just $19.95 for the original, the Gorillapod makes the perfect present for any photographer. Get it here at www.joby.com. I use mine ALL THE TIME!

Gorillapod on Rail

Gorillapod on Rail (photo courtesy of Joby, Inc.)

Gorillapod on Tree (photo courtesy of Joby, Inc.)

Item 2 – A Digital Calibration Target

Digital Calibration Target

Digital Calibration Target (photo courtesy of Photovision)

When digital cameras came along we all had to learn about a new setting that traditional film cameras didn’t have, white balance. White balance tells the sensor of your digital camera what color the light is in your scene. For example, when shooting indoors the light tends to be more orange. While shooting outside on an overcast day the light will tend to take on a blueish color. Setting your white balance properly allows your camera to get the colors in your image correct no matter what color the light is.

To nail perfect color every time I use and recommend a Digital Calibration Target from Photovision. The Digital Calibration Target acts like a neutral gray card allowing your camera to measure the color of the light in your scene. This allows your camera to set proper white balance. This function alone would be worth it, but Photovision’s Digital Calibration Targets do so much more! They also allow you to check proper exposure.

Exposure Histogram

Exposure Histogram (photo courtesy of Photovision)

Since each one is colored with a black, gray, and white stripe, you can use your camera’s histogram to make sure that your exposure is perfect every time. Not only that, they come in several different sizes depending on your application, and fold down to 1/2 their size. If that wasn’t enough in a pinch you can flip your Digital Calibration Target over and use it as a reflector. With several different sizes, prices, and even money saving packages you’re bound to find a Digital Calibration Target that’s right for the photographer on your gift list. Get yours here at www.photovision.com. I use the 14″ size and keep it in my camera bag all the time.

Item 3 – Eye-Fi Wireless Memory Card

Eye-Fi wireless memory card

Eye-Fi wireless memory card (photo courtesy of Eye-Fi, Inc.)

When you’re done shooting photos with your digital camera for the day, there’s always an annoying chore that follows. You have to hook up your camera or memory card to a computer and copy all those images. Wouldn’t it be great if your photos could magically get sent to your computer as you were shooting them?

Why limit yourself to a computer, with the Eye-Fi wireless memory card from Eye-Fi, Inc. now you can transmit your photos directly from your camera to your computer, laptop, iPod, iPad, Facebook, Flickr, and tons of other places right as you snap the photo! The Eye-Fi wireless memory card replaces your cameras regular SD card. It will both store your photos and transmit them in real-time as long as you have a Wi-Fi connection.

There are several models to choose from which perform everything from transmitting your photos, to geo-tagging them, to creating their own ad-hoc wireless network for transmitting to your computer. But, what if you have a DSLR that only takes Compact Flash cards?

You may still be in luck, although Eye-Fi does not officially support it, many people have had great success using their Eye-Fi wireless memory card in their DSLR’s with an SD-Compact Flash adapter.

The best news is all of this functionality starts at just $49.99. The Eye-Fi makes a perfect gift for anyone who uses a digital camera, amateurs and professionals alike. Get yours here at www.eyefi.com.

How Eye-Fi Works

How Eye-Fi Works (photo courtesy of Eye-Fi, Inc.)

Item 4 – Tri-Grip Reflector

Tri-grip Reflector

Tri-grip Reflector (photo courtesy of Lasolite, Ltd.)

It’s been said time and time again that the best way to photograph portraits is using diffuse natural light, such as in the shade of a tree. The problem when dealing with nature is the sun and your natural light don’t always appear where you need it to. This is where a reflector comes in handy. Reflectors can be used to bounce the light right onto your subject where you need it. They usually come in many sizes and also with several different covers depending on what type of light you are reflecting.

So how is the Tri-Grip Reflector from Lasolite Ltd. different? It’s unique triangular shape allows you to hold and position it with only one hand. This is a huge help as normal round reflectors usually require a dedicated assistant or a bulky light-stand with an extension arm to hold them up and keep them properly aimed. With the Tri-Grip Reflector you can now hold your camera in one hand and your reflector in the other to take the perfect portrait wherever you are.

Shoot the photo and hold the reflector

Shoot the photo and hold the reflector (photo courtesy of Lasolite, Ltd.)

Selling for around $65 with a plethora of add on accessories including different reflective surfaces and a full money-saving kit, the Lasolite Tri-Grip Reflector is the perfect gift for a photographer that shoots in natural light with minimal assistance. You can get more information about the Tri-Grip Reflector including where to purchase it at www.lasolite.com.

Item 5 – Lens Mugs

Canon Lens Mug

Canon Lens Mug (photo courtesy of Canon Mugs)

Alright, so this is not a product that you use while shooting photos but I think it is the most awesome one on the list and something that any photography enthusiast would love. Lens Mugs are travel thermoses in the shape of a Zoom Lens. They come in both Canon and Nikon versions depending on which side of the debate you’re on and the detail in them is simply amazing! So much so that they actually have a big disclaimer posted on their website that says “This is a lens mug, not an actual lens. Don’t pour coffee into your real lens!”

Nikon Lens Mug

Nikon Lens Mug (photo courtesy of Canon Mugs)

Starting at about $45 there are many different sizes and options to choose from and each one is simply incredible. They even offer 10-packs so you can get one for every photographer on your holiday list. Get yours right here at www.canonmugs.com. Yeah I know, it seems to make them a bit Canon bias but they have really cool Nikon stuff too, I promise, go look.

Thus concludes our Holiday Gift Giving Guide. With all of these great products, you’re bound to find something that the photo enthusiast on your list will love. Heck, I wrote the list and there are at least 2 products on here that I want to run out and buy right away. Of course there are plenty of great products out there that we didn’t get to cover in this article, perhaps they’ll show up in next years’ Gift Giving Guide.

As always if you have any questions about any of the products mentioned or own any of the products discussed please feel free to leave comments, reviews, and endorsements. I wish you all the best and a great Holiday Season to you and yours.

Scott Dengrove is a professional photographer from the NYC area. Scott’s work has been featured in many national photography competitions and published in several nationally circulated magazines and publications. In addition, his work can currently be seen in 3 exhibits at Cosi® restaurants in New York and Connecticut. For more information, and to see more of Scott’s work visit his website at www.dengrovestudios.com and connect with him on his Facebook page at www.facebook.com/dengrovestudios