Choosing the “best” or “right” gifts for the photographer(s) in your life can be daunting, to say the least. So to ease the burden of having to wade through a gazillion or two pages of our website in your quest to be on target, we took it upon ourselves to narrow the choices down to a smaller group of items that have proven to be heart-warmers among the more serious shooters in our midst. And trust me on this one: we have quite a few serious shooters here at B&H.
Spider Holsters have become popular among pro shooters and serious enthusiasts seeking a safe and secure alternative to shoulder and neck straps. Designed to securely hold your camera and lens the way Marshal Dillon wore his six-shooter on Gunsmoke, the most popular models are the SpiderPro Single Camera System, which is designed to securely carry a pro DSLR weighing up to 5 lb, belt-like, around your waist (sizes 28 to 50"), and the Black Widow Holster, which is designed for lighter-weight DSLRs. Both versions, which incorporate well engineered quick release systems, are made of the highest-quality materials and hardware.
For those who’d prefer a body holster designed for carrying their camera gear, we suggest taking a look at the Cotton Carrier camera support system. Available in a number of configurations and styles to best fit your shooting and comfort needs, Cotton Carriers are one-size-fits-all and are manufactured from 1680 denier polypropylene, Lexan and similar heavy-duty performance materials. Cotton Carrier camera support systems are backed by a limited lifetime warranty.
If you prefer toting your camera gear more conventionally using neck or shoulder straps, you should take a peek at the various straps and camera supports from BlackRapid. Made from the toughest nylon materials, BlackRapid straps and harnesses are designed to be comfortable on assignment regardless of how long your days are. And for the women photographers out there, we offer the BlackRapid RS-W1, which is designed specifically for maximum comfort levels for camera-toting women.
If you or someone special to you is partial to using wireless flash triggers, take a look at the Vello FreeWave Fusion Wireless triggering system. Designed for dedicated use with speed lights and studio flash systems with select Nikon, Canon, Panasonic and Olympus camera systems, the FreeWave Fusion flash-triggering system has a wireless range of up to 320 feet and can sync with flash heads at shutter speeds as short as 1/320-second.
The Vello FreeWave Fusion triggering system can independently fire up to three groups of up to seven individual flashes, individually or as a group, on a 2.4 GHz frequency.
If you live or work in the northern hemisphere you might have noticed it’s been getting colder over the past month or two. To better handle the cold weather we recommend a nice pair of gloves, specifically gloves designed for keeping your fingers toasty while allowing fingertip control of camera settings and smartphones. We currently stock a variety of cold-weather photographer's gloves from Freehands, and Aqua Tech, in a full range of sizes for men and women.
Along with gloves, Aqua Tech also manufactures sound blimps, which are designed for noise-free imaging when shooting with select DSLRs from Canon and Nikon. Made from high-impact polyurethane and custom cut, sound-deadening foam, Aqua Tech Sound Blimps are ideal for shooting on movie sets, in theaters during live performances, courtrooms and other environments in which silence is golden.
If you want to add a bit of drama to your speed-light repertoire, you should take a look at the ExpoImaging Rogue 3-in1 Honeycomb Grid. Designed to be attached to shoe-mount flashes, the Rogue 3-in-1 Honeycomb Grid comes with a set of snap-on grids that allow for 45-, 25- and 16-degree angles of flash output.
For more ambitious lighting scenarios, ExpoImaging also offers the ExpoImaging Rogue 3-in-1 Grid and Color Correction Filters Kit that in addition to the Rogue 3-in-1 Honeycomb Grid, also includes a set of 20 color filters and a grid bezel to hold them in place.
Another number of thoughtful items on our holiday gift list would be any of the Nik Software applications we carry. Nik is a leading manufacturer of advanced image adjustment software applications that do everything from reducing noise and artifacts, reducing grain, sharpening images and offer a huge assortment of creative color and tonal transitions. Some of the Nik software applications we stock include the Nik Color Efex Pro 3.0 Complete Edition, Nik HDR Efex Pro Software, Nik Dfine 2.0 and Nik Sharpener Pro 3.0 Software Plug-in for Mac and Windows.
With the advent of pixel-packing smartphones jamming the marketplace, the number of photo-related doodads and must-have thingamabobs has increased tenfold. And some of these “must-haves” are actually worth having.
Just because something has a lens and a shutter button doesn’t necessarily mean it’s conducive to taking pictures comfortably. The truth is, unless your fingers are the size of a four-year-old child’s, taking pictures with most phones is about as awkward as pecking away on their tiny keyboards.
Have you ever noticed how your arm is never long enough when you’re trying to take a picture of yourself? To rectify the situation, XShot offers the Pocket XShot and the XShot 2.0. The Pocket XShot, which is designed to work with any point-and-shoot digital camera or shoot-and-share video camera, folds up to a tidy 6.5 inches, yet extends to a full 30.5 inches from the palm of your hand, which makes snapping self-portraits with your buds in them a piece of cake.
Slightly longer and somewhat sturdier for heavier digital cameras and palm-size camcorders is the XShot 2.0, which folds down to 9 inches and extends to a full 37 inches, with click-locks at set intervals.
GorillaPods. What more can be said about the only tripods ever manufactured that make people say “Coo-oo-ool,” the first time they see one? Seductively simple, colorful and whimsical in design, GorillaPods are not only terrific for stabilizing small cameras, they’re also quite affordable. Their functional beauty lies in their ability to wrap around objects such as tree branches, fences, light poles, automobile windows, signposts and other places that would be impossible for normal tripods to go, and still give you the rock-steady support that you need for capturing crisp, blur-free images. Depending on the model, many GorillaPods include various sized ball heads with and without quick-release plates, in place of a fixed ¼"-20 tripod screw. A few even feature bubble levels to better ensure level horizon lines.
Joby also manufactures a handy line of GorillaTorch Flashlights, which consist of GorillaPod legs permanently attached to water resistant 65-lumen LED flashlights. Guaranteed to last up to 80 hours on a fresh set of AA batteries, GorillaTorch Flashlights are available in a choice of blue, orange and yellow. For more demanding scenarios, Joby also offers the GorillaTorch Blade, which features a 130-lumen LED light source in an aircraft-grade aluminum casing.
The OWLE Bubo, which is available in configurations for use with the iPhone 3G/3GS, iPhone 4/4S and iPod Touch, is an aluminum frame-like enclosure that not only gives you something meaty to hold onto when shooting stills and video with your iPhone/iPod Touch, but also enables you to leave your iPhone free-standing on any flat surface. There are also four tripod mounting points for times you want to use your iPhone or iPod like a “real” camera. Included with each OWLE Bubo is an external microphone and an accessory lens. As a bonus, you get to tell people your iPhone is Bubo-enabled, which by itself is worth the price of admission.
Unlike point-and-shoot cameras, many of which feature zoom lenses that go from really wide-angle to really telephoto, smartphones and iPhones are limited to camera angles that are a squeak wider than normal. To get around this limitation we suggest taking a look at the iPro Lens System for the iPhone 4 and 4S.
Consisting of an aluminum enclosure with a handle that also serves as a tripod adapter as well as the carrying case for the supplementary wide-angle and fisheye lenses, the iPro Lens system features a wide-angle lens that provides an additional 35° of angle coverage to the iPhone’s standard FOV, as well as a fisheye lens that enables you to capture 165-degree panoramas. Both lenses are manufactured from high-grade optical glass and feature multilayer anti-reflective coatings.
Gary Fong has a growing selection of photo goodies for iPhones including Gary Fong Tripod Adapters. Available for the iPhone 3Gs and iPhone 4, Mr. Fong’s tripod adapter is a simple snap-in affair that provides you with a tripod socket for direct mounting on a tripod.
The Gary Fong Tripod Adapter can also be used with the Gary Fong Flip-Cage, a folding pocket-size device that’s well suited for tabletop use. Note that the holder holds the iPhone in horizontal orientation (the tripod socket is on the long edge of the phone); you need to tilt your tripod head or the Flip-Cage in order to capture images vertically.
One of the cooler aspects of the Gary Fong Flip-Cage is that it makes a handy platform for holding your iPhone in an easily adjustable position for hands-free use on a table or your desktop, when videoconferencing or enjoying the latest episode of Housewives of Amatignak. And yes, the Gary Fong Flip-Cage can also be used as a support for your point-and-shoot camera.
An iPhone can capture 360-degree pictures? Yup. All you need is an EyeSee360 GoPano Micro. The EyeSee360 GoPano Micro, which is compatible with the iPhone 4/4S, allows you to capture stills and video of literally everything around you, including yourself. Included with the EyeSee360 GoPano Micro is free membership for online sharing and embedding of your 360° imagery.
One of the trickiest aspects of shooting handheld video is shooting handheld video that doesn’t look like it was shot handheld, and that’s where the Zacuto Point ’n’ Shoot Handgrip System comes to your rescue.
If this is an issueyou’ve been grappling with when trying to shoot steady HD video clips with your iPhone, you most likely will be interested in the Zacuto Point ’n’ Shoot Handgrip System, a handy little device that like its pro-series siblings, enables you to capture smoother pan shots when capturing HD video with an iPhone. Consisting of a handle with a claw-like, rubber-tipped iPhone “gripper,” the Zacuto Point ’n’ Shoot Handgrip System is small enough to carry along without adding much in the way of bulk or weight in your bag. Equipped with a ¼"-20 socket, this system can easily be mounted onto a tripod.
Steadicam, the grand-pappy of camera-steadying systems, also has an iPhone stabilization device called the Steadicam Smoothee. Designed for use with the iPhone 4/4S and 3GS, the Steadicam Smoothee features an easy, out-of-the-box learning curve and enables smooth, jerk-free video capture with your iPhone in the same manner that Steadicam’s professional camera stabilization rigs enable smooth, fluid camera movements when shooting with motion-picture cameras and HDSLRs.
The Steadicam Smoothee is designed and marketed to be used with iPhones, and it is additionally compatible with ¼-20 tripod threads for attaching to the top of tripods.
Do you have any suggestions for gifts for your favorite photographers? Feel free to share them with us in the Comments section below.