Nikon and Canon have given us plenty to lust for this holiday season, but let's take a look at some equipment that I think would make a great stocking stuffer for any photographer on your shopping list. Everything on this list is $150 or less, making them great gift ideas!
Rules: I own almost everything on this list, and if I don't own it, I'm at least very familiar with it. I also don't get any money or commission if you buy any of this stuff from the provided links, they are just there for your convince. I also don't work for or with any of these companies, so no bias.
All photos are from the linked websites.
1. Rode SmartLav Condenser Microphone - $60
You're looking at this list and wondering why a microphone is topping my list of stocking stuffers for photographers. Well, if you take any video with your camera, particularly if you do video blogging, you'll want a microphone to use instead of the in-camera mic. The SmartLav by Rode is awesome- I use it for all my video blogs. It connects to the iPhone and records audio directly to my phone. I can then pull the audio off without having to install special software on my computer. It's a great tool and worth buying for anyone who also does some video with their photography.
2. MindShift Gear Contact Sheet - $40
This is on my Christmas list! It's such an amazingly simple invention, yet brilliant. Landscape photographers often find themselves dumping their gear in the dirt/mud/wet grass/etc. The contact sheet is a mini tarp and super lightweight so that it's not bogging you down. It also has elastic loops so you can hang it as a rain shelter while you wait for your shot. MindShift gear is a subsidiary of Think Tank Photo, so you know it's going to be good stuff!
3. Visual Echos Better Beamer - $37
This gadget is a wildlife photographer's best friend. It attaches to the flash and helps throw the light further to get into trees or longer distances. It's an incredible product and the price is even better. I think this $37 gizmo has had more impact on my photos than any other similarly priced item! I won't bore you with how it works here, but if you (or someone you know) take photos of birds or other wildlife, then you need this. Make sure to order the correct version for their flash.
4. A Metal Print - $42+
Photographers love to take photos, but also love seeing their photos printed. A metal print is a unique (and totally awesome) way to print a photo and give it a unique twist. Prints are available in a zillion sizes - but you can get a gift card if you don't know what size or photo to get the photographer in your life.
5. Nikon Binoculars - $95
I always carry a small pair of binoculars with me for spotting birds or other wildlife.... but I'm already carrying plenty of stuff, so it's important to have high quality and lightweight binoculars. These Nikon ones are great - they've stood up to LOTS of abuse and are plenty bright. They also are small enough for me to tuck into a pocket or pouch as I hike. Tip: I mounted a keyring to mine and use a carabiner to me as I hike; I don't want more things around my neck!
6. A subscription to Photo Technique - $30
I have read or subscribed to almost every photography publication you can imagine, and I've let most of those subscriptions lapse when the year was over because I wasn't engaged or learning from the magazines. Photo Technique is the exception! Their articles are wide ranging and talk about some more unusual techniques in great detail, not a teaser article. It's one periodical I've learned a lot from, and it's got a more intimate feel that some of the bigger photo magazines. Head to your local bookstore and buy the current copy to stuff in their stocking with a note telling them they've got another year coming!
7. Wacom Tablet - $93
I purchased a Wacom tablet a year ago and have been addicted ever since. The idea of interacting with your photos through a tablet is so much more natural than a mouse! There's a short learning curve, but I've found I can be much more efficient with editing by using the tablet vs a mouse. Wacom makes a variety of tablets, but this is a great entry-level tablet for someone just starting. I have one of these for travel and a larger pro version for my desktop in my studio.
8. Moose Peterson's "Captured" Book - $35
My library of photography books is expansive, and, unfortunately, filled with alot of junk. I've been disappointed with poor books on more than a few occasions, but there is one book I swear by for any wildlife photographer... "Captured" by Moose Peterson. Moose is regarded as one of the best wildlife photographers in the United States, and this book is packed with useful knowledge and motivation for a wildlife photographer. It's a great value and I've learned an incredible amount from Moose's book.
9. UPstrap - $30+
I've used the UPstrap for two years and been very happy with how it's held up. Despite my cat and dog both chewing the strap, it's had no signs of fraying or weakness. The big rubber grippy pad doesn't slip - ever. I could do some wild dancing and my camera would stay exactly where I put it. The UPstrap also doesn't have any quick release points, which means it's less likely to fail and suddenly drop my expensive camera.
I never, ever, ever, use the strap that came with a camera. Those straps are easy to cut and grab the attention of a thief from far away. Plus, they're not comfortable.
10. A Roll of Gaffers Tape - $10
Gaffers tape is duct tape for photographers. You can use it to fix an amazing number of things! I've once used gaffers tape to fix a tripod when the leg lock broke - now I always carry a few yards of gaffers tape rolled around my monopod or tripod legs. It's an incredibly versatile tool and worth having some handy at all times.
11. A Print from ScenicTraverse.com - $25+
You know I can't have a list end on 10.... everyone has a list of 10! I've got World War II poster prints starting at $25 and special limited edition prints for the fine art collector available. Perfect for anyone, even a non-photographer!