My Annual Guide to Gifts Appropriate for the Photographers in Your Life.

First and foremost I would be happy to chat with you about gift ideas – Lenses, Bags and Even cameras are a possibility if I know a little more about you or who you are buying for so use chat or leave me a message on Facebook or twitter and I will be happy to provide some guidance.   I’d love to know what you want to receive this holiday season – feel free to leave a comment here or on Facebook.


  A bit silly but cheap enough to throw in the stocking or wrap around another gift. Rubber bracelets with lens markings!
Triggertrap Mobile

TriggerTrap– Time lapse cable for iOS and Android phones.  Now I love the simplicity and affordability of the Neweer time lapse controllers but the TriggerTrap taps into the brains of your smartphone giving you loads more options including eased time lapse, HDR lapses, drive lapse (distance triggered) and more.   Beyond the phone you need the dongle and the cable that matches your camera model.  Feel free to give me a shout if you want help picking the one.  A few months back I bought their original dongle that didn’t work with my phone, Lucy at TriggerTrap was awesome and sent me a newer dongle free of charge and it works perfectly.    I plan to have a full writeup on this soon.  Triggertrap Mobile
Card Safe Wallet– Waterproof, dust proof and virtually crushproof. I love the peace of mind I get when I store my cards in here.  I have connected a small lanyard to the eyelet and looped it into my camerabag. Seriously reduces my worry about my cards filled with precious photos.
Not directly photo related but plug your camera battery charger or smart phone charger and stop wasting electricity.  The Belkin Conserve Socket allows you to set a time that shuts off power after 30 minutes, 3hrs or 6hrs.  3hrs should cover most camera battery recharging.
It is no secret that I love the Ey-Fi cards but in previous models (and gift guides) you had to make sacrifices with speed and space but with the latest model you get a fast card plenty big for photo and video.   For those wondering what is special about these SD Cards, They are 16GBs plus a tiny wireless chip that lets your camera upload photos, as you take them, to your computer, social networks, your smartphone or tablet.  Those last two are my favorite – using direct mode you can be out in the woods or in the case of this image on top of a fire tower at dawn and using direct mode I sent the image to my phone and then shared it with the world -necessary? No. Fun? You bet and the image was scientifically 65x better than the one my phone could take.
Now if you pick up an Eye-Fi card and you go around beaming images to your phone or tablet you want a program that lets you edit those photos.  Two options iPhoto for the iPad or Photoshop Touch for iOS or Android.  Both have interfaces that get out of the way and let you do some serious editing.
Auto white balance does a fine job most of the time and if you shoot RAW you can easily correct the WB in post processing but that does take time and shooting with a calibrated white balance card will reduce that time and give you more accurate results.  This sturdy little card comes with a clip and lanyard.  Throw it in your back and pull it out for tricky situations
Having your photos printed in a professionally created book is really wonderful, last year I recommended Blurb – I am sticking with Blurb again this year but am offering you all the easy way out, give the photographer in your family a gift card, Maybe include a note that says you cant wait to see ___________ in print.  Fill in the blank with vacation, kids, your photos etc.
Last year I recommended the excellent Understanding Exposure, 3rd Edition: How to Shoot Great Photographs with Any Camera But with all of the recent questions I have received around landscape photography I thought it would be nice to share one of the best books I have seen on the subject. Michael’s book is approachable and full of information in clear language.
We are finally starting to see USB 3.0 card readers come down in price and $25 for this Lexar Multiple Format Card Reader is great.  Speedy, doesn’t waste your camera battery downloading photos and fits a variety of formats including SD, Micro SD and CF.
 I consider myself a careful and non-klutzy person but this summer a careless move sent my portable backup disk careening toward the hardwood floor, with cat like relfexs I lunged for the tumbling drive only to succeed in shoving it harder into the floor.  Suprisingly it still works but occasionally
I am still a big fan of the value of the Dolica tripods but I was looking for something a bit more compact and have been happy with the Benroo MeFoto tripods – they come in snazzy colors but more importantly they are light, under 4lbs and pack down to portable 12.5″ while still providing a stable platform for my heavier gear.
Amazon Gift Cards let the photographer in your life decide what they need or use it as a form of contribution toward a bigger purchase like a lens.
Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 4 I usually try to keep each gift guide free of repeats and on a technicality can claim that last year I recommended version 3.  Version 4 adding the map and book modules and loads of improvements in the develop module.  I have used Aperture, iPhoto and Photoshop and none of them , in my opinion, make it as easy to import, tweak and export your photos.  And as mentioned above my geonerdiness is in love with the easy geotagging features of the map module.    Often an argument against shooting Raw is the time it takes to process your files.  Using import presets to process your images in no more time than it takes to import them.
Everyone needs more storage and with prices for 16GB cards now dipping under $20 you should be stuffing the stockings full.  After testing a slew of cards I found the SanDisk Extreme to be great value.
It isn’t pretty but small enough and useful enough that everyone should have one in their camera bag.  Sometimes when the weather is ugly the photos are beautiful and spending $6 bucks for this SLR Rainsleeve will keep your gear protected and let you keep shooting.

Nothing on this list that interests you?  Review the 2009 Holiday Gift Guide2010 Holiday Gift Guide and 2011 Holiday Gift Guide  Looking for camera recommendations or deals?  Camera Recommendations | Black Friday/CyberMonday Deals and Shopping Advice

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 Untended yards are still beautiful yards in Trogir, Croatia
 Box Canyon Tunnel on the descent from Paradise, Mt Ranier National Park Captured with the #GH5 and 12-35 f/2.8
 My niece giving me that look. From early morning family adventures in Saguaro National Park, Arizona

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  1. Toby, we’re taking a trip in February, and i want be able to post some shots each day from my new EOS T4i. Sne we wont be traveling with a laptop, that will require moving files to my iPad. I’be been reading mixed reviews for EyeFi cards due to software issues. Do you still think that’s the best way to go? Any other options that won’t require traveling with a laptop? Thanks for your help! Steve

    • Hi Steve! As you know I am headed off on a trip next week and will only be traveling with a Nexus Tablet- I have enough confidence in the Eye-Fi card that I will be able to share some photos while on the move but as an iPad user you do have another option – The Camera Connection kit with SD card slot, it also has a USB slot you can plug the camera into and the photo app on the iPad is quite happy to slurp those photos right up. I know the 30 pin connectors work well, I don’t know if the lightning connector version works as well, I don’t think Apple is making that yet. About the polarizers – I haven’t used the warming version, I hear some really like them – you can warm in post process and I am not sure you want to always have warm and CP. Happy Holidays, Toby

  2. One more question while I’m at it. I’m looking at circular polarizers and see that Hoya has two that get strong ratings. One uses optical glass while the other (“Moose”) claims to produce warmer images. Do you have any experience with the latter filter? Thanks again!

  3. Thanks once again for your suggestions. Have a great time in Costa Rica, and leave a little sunshine behind for us February folks! I look forward to seeing your photos.

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