Photography gadgets

Photographers love their gadgets, and gadgets are fantastic go-to’s when the gift-giving season rolls around. There’s certainly no shortage of toys on the market, but it’s overwhelming figuring out what’s worth the buy. If the photographer in your life hasn’t provided you with a wish list, it feels like a shot in the dark trying to pick out what they need. This might help. Here are key photography accessories that make for awesome gifts.

White-Balancing Tools

Most digital cameras have an Auto White Balance function that works in a pinch. But, for many pros and serious hobbyists, it’s preferable to customize WB right on the spot. Impact’s QuikBalance Collapsible 12″ Gray Panel, a modern twist on the classic gray card, is one way to do this. One side is 18% gray, and the other is neutral white. When placed in the same lighting as the subject, photographers can adjust their settings accordingly or use it as a base point for accurate post-processing later. The same concept applies to the X-Rite Original ColorChecker Card, which features 24 colors that mimic things they might be shooting (skin tones, sky, foliage, etc.) as well as neutral grays.

Replacement Camera Straps

The neck straps that come with bigger cameras typically aren’t designed for comfort. On longer shots, they can become downright painful. The best way to avoid strain is to get the camera off the neck altogether, and these several fantastic alternatives can do just that. Black straps are designed to be worn from shoulder to hip, distributing weight evenly across the body. They come in a range of designs, depending on how much or what type of support is needed. Peak Design also has a great line of versatile straps that can be worn around the neck or across the shoulder, along with a quick-connecting handgrip and tethered wrist cuff (great for lighter cameras). Hand straps are also available from Vello, who sells some great little padded attachments that can be used with or without battery grips. To go hands-free altogether, hip holsters are lifesavers. Spider is famous for its heavy-duty SpiderPro Single and Dual holster systems, and its smaller Black Widow for lightweight DSLRs. 

Memory-Card Wallets

A memory-card wallet is a downright necessary organizational tool for any photographer. Memory cards are small and delicate, a bad combination without somewhere safe to keep them. Check out the colorful little SD Pixel Pocket Rocket from ThinkTank. This wallet will hold 9 SD cards in clear slots, along with a few business cards in the back. It folds up nice and flat so it hardly takes up any room. For a more protective way to store cards, Pelican offers some great hardcover cases made of polycarbonate resin. These are water-resistant and shock absorbent, so they’ll gladly take a beating. The 0915 is perfect for SD or Mini SD cards, while the 0945 is designed for CF cards.

Camera Bag

A good camera bag is a necessity. It will be heavily used, so put some thought into what’ll serve someone best. Lowepro is a good place to start, since the company offers just about any style of carrying case a person could need. Sleek black shoulder bags are available in a range of sizes, each with padded interiors and retractable rain flaps. Lowepro also offers similarly-built backpacks, which come in assorted colors and are well suited to the mobile photographer. If you’re looking for something that offers style as well a protection

Tripod

Every photographer needs a tripod. Whether you decide to shell out a lot or a little, having something to safely stabilize a camera is a must-have for certain kinds of shots. The MeFOTO’s aluminum construction can support up to 26.4 lb of equipment. One of its key features is its portability: it collapses into a mere 16.1″, which is remarkably convenient for a tripod of its size. But if that’s still too big, the flexible little Joby Gorillapod is a perfect mini-tripod to stabilize up to 6.6 lb of camera. Its bendy joints can be flexed to grip or wrap around almost any object.

Filters

Filters can be somewhat underrated these days, but they definitely serve a purpose, even in the age of digital photography. Warming or cooling filters can be used for adjusting color temperatures, and a multitude of specialty filters can be used to achieve different creative effects. For landscape photographers, two of the most beloved types of filters are neutral density and circular polarizers. ND filters come solid, graduated, or center-weighted, and cut the light entering a lens by several stops. These are great for long-exposure shots, letting the photographer dictate the shutter speed and aperture without worrying about overexposing in bright ambient light. Circular polarizers work by changing the way lenses takes in light. They eliminate reflections and glare (water, glass, etc.), as well as darken blue skies for rich, gorgeous color.

Memory Card Reader

High-volume photographers need a way to quickly and efficiently get their digital images uploaded to a computer. The best way to do this is with a memory card reader, and the Lexar Professional USB 3.0 Dual-Slot device is perfectly cut out for the job. This portable reader is compatible with CF, SDXC/ SDHC UHS-I, and SD cards, and is fully capable of simultaneous transfer. Its pop-up design protects inner circuitry when not in use, and it’s compatible with both USB 3.0 and 2.0 ports.

What is a go to gadget you recommend photographers think about picking up for their travels, studios, or just to have around the house? Let me know in the comments below!

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