Holiday Gift Guide
Gifts Under $100
Although particularly suited for use with a small compact camera, they can be used with an SLR or any format camera to add an extra touch of light. Several new slave models are intended primarily to extend the flash of digital cameras, but also can be used with film cameras. There are several different slave flashes currently available, including the Morris Mini Slave (list under $30); RTS Nissin DigiSlave flash ($30); and the Sunpak Digital Flash complete with small flexible tripod stand for under $50.
Handling a camera with small button controls with gloves on in cold weather can be tedious. There is an easy solution. Photo Gloves are soft and warm but have all of the fingers and the palm covered with rubber-like Control Dots to ensure a tight, firm grip on the camera, its controls, or tripod. These black gloves are available in M, L, and XL from Lowepro and list for $22 a pair.
I like to take skyline pictures at sunset. But, the sun does not always cooperate and produce a nice red sky on the one night I might have available. So, just put a sunset filter on the lens to introduce a two-tone red sky to obtain an artificial sunset glow. This is one filter I always pack in my gadget bag when I travel. Many firms offer this type of filter including Cokin and Tiffen. They usually list for well under $25. Don't forget to get an adapter with a ring of the same thread type as on the camera.
If your photographer friend has an SLR camera with a number of accessories such as interchangeable lenses, a shoe mount flash, etc., there are several small, inexpensive items from OP/Tech USA that would probably be appropriate gifts. Soft wraps provide extra-soft protection for lenses and other valuable items. These foam wraps have a self-securing closure so they can be configured to fit most any size item. There is even an extra 5" removable pad to provide additional protection where needed. They are available in 11, 15, and 19 inch squares in a choice of colors and list for under $14 for the largest size.
I realized that I like putting myself into situations like this. When I'm a little uneasy, a little insecure, I have a tendency to look a little harder for pictures. And Asia always rewards my efforts. Everything is different there, and that's part of the allure. It's a spiritual place, where beliefs are part of everyday life. There are elements of mystery there, and there is serenity, too.
I realized, too, what the difference between Asia and Europe is for me. There are places in Europe where I have to play the pretend I've never been here before game--and there are places where the game no longer works. In Asia I never have to do that. It's new every time, and whenever I get there, no matter what city on the continent, it's step one all over again.
Most camera equipment and portable computers are quite expensive, thus the owner has legitimate concern about the safety of the items when they must leave it unattended. The Pacsafe from Lowepro is a slash-proof, noncorrosive stainless steel mesh material that can be secured with a lockable draw wire, high-impact, polycarbonate locking system. Each device includes a hardened-shackle padlock and three keys. It's offered in three sizes of Explorer series. The Travel Safe is a Pacsafe enclosed in a discreet weatherproof black fabric pouch. It's offered in two sizes. Simply place the wire loop of either type onto something secure and nonmovable, then you can safely leave your equipment. List prices are under $76 for the largest version.
A tripod can improve the quality of most longer telephoto lens pictures by helping to steady the camera from possible movement. They also are imperative when taking longer exposures (1/15 sec up to several seconds or minutes long) of nighttime subjects. Some tripods are heavy and cumbersome in the field, and extremely small tripods tend to become wobbly at full height, so they don't really do the intended job. The new Cullmann 2650 is a contradiction. It's both featherweight and sturdy. Each leg offers a variable angle, locking device so it has a usable height range from 3-61 inches. Flip-lock clamps on the legs make for a speedy setup. It has a geared reversible center column, and a quick release plate on the three-way fluid effect head. There is even a convenient carry bag included in the list price of $165.
No Price Limit Gifts
Hopefully this will provide you with some ideas of presents for your photo friends. Maybe your Santa will take the hint and act on your wishful desire.