“It’s the most wonderful time of the year”… especially if you or someone on your shopping list is a photographer. The possibilities are endless, and frankly overwhelming. But fear not! The Guys are here, with our recommendations for the absolute best in everything from stocking stuffers to complete camera systems for that photog in your life, (which just might be you!).
Keep it clean
Dirt and dust on your lens or worse, on your sensor, is a photographer’s nightmare. Ed likes these two solutions:
“The LensPen Lens Cleaner looks like a chubby pen that offers a retractable dust-removal brush on one end and a lens cleaning element on the other. It does a great job of keeping both front and rear glass elements of your lens spotless and it snuggles away nicely into the corner of your camera bag.
To remove dust from the exterior of your camera body or lenses, and especially from your sensor, the safest and most effective tool is the Giottos Rocket Blower. This admittedly odd-looking device literally blasts away dust, and it’s the only thing I’ve ever used to clear dust from a sensor and the interior of a digital camera. It comes in multiple sizes and I’ve been very happy with the medium Rocket.”
I can see clearly now
A neutral density filter reduces the amount of light that enters your lens, allowing you to capture some very long exposures. Perfect for certain types of photography, like these by Vassilis Tangoulis, a 2 Guys Featured Photog. Rey recommends a 10 Stop Neutral Density filter for your DSLR – “I’ve been playing around with long exposure photography and have found that for the uberlong exposure, you need 10 full stops. I’ve used cheapo filters and experienced all sorts of optical and digital nastiness. B+W brand seem to do the trick just fine.”
Ed recommends another filter that every DSLR owner should have: a circular polarizer. We wrote about circular polarizers in this post so you can see just how effective they are at making your colors pop.
Note: for any filter, be sure to get the right size to match the lens you will be attaching it to. And while you can easily spend hundreds of dollars on a filter, those made by Tiffen and Hoya are great for the average photog.
Expand your mind
The beauty of photography as a hobby is that there is always something new to learn, and for every photographer out there, it seems there are about a hundred books for us to read on the subject! We have both had very good experience with, and recommend the eBooks from the Craft and Vision Library. Rey’s take on C&V: “Cheap and good. Read it on your tablet, your laptop, your notebook… and if your eyes are young enough, on your phone. Just read it.”
Ed adds: “We previously pointed you towards a FREE ebook from Craft and Vision, that you can try out if you’re not sure. My recommendation is their newest release: Lightroom 4 Unmasked. If you’re a beginning or intermediate Lightroom user, or are contemplating getting into this fantastic software, then this book is for you. Its hundreds of pages will take you through all aspects of the program in an easy to follow way.”
But wait, you ask, how do I give someone an eBook? Simple. Buy it and download it to your computer and then burn it to a USB drive or CD, or simply forward the link that will be emailed to you when you buy the book, to the lucky recipient. That’s the easiest – no wrapping required!
A touch of leather
Rey is a huge fan of Gariz leather cases – these are custom fitted, leather half-cases for mostly smaller cameras, including mirrorless and compacts. They are beautifully crafted, dramatically improve the grip for some bodies, and provide a door on the bottom for battery and (in some cases) SD card removal. Nice. Only available on eBay but worth it.
It’s in the bag
Whether the photographer in your life has a single camera or several with an assortment of lenses and accessories to go along with them, she or he must have a camera bag, or several. I think it’s required by law.
Rey explains: “I admit it. I have a camera bag thing. Some people like shoes, others watches. Me? Bags. In part, this is because I’m always looking for the perfect one. Bags made by quirky Aussie company, Crumpler, come closest. Very functional, extremely durable, and wonderfully funky.”
Ed on the other hand goes for the more conventional. He recommends the Kata Digital Rucksack 467-DL. “This bag has it all: a lower section for all your gear, a spacious upper section for personal items, and a slot for your notebook or tablet. The interior is a bright yellow so finding that lens cap at the bottom is a breeze. It’s so roomy, it’s been said, it’s bigger on the inside than on the outside!”
Make the leap
If you’ve been following 2 Guys Photo for any length of time, you know that we’ve become fans of the newer mirrorless, compact camera systems. Rey has been a convert for years, and Ed has just recently “come over”. Just search our site for “mirrorless” and you’ll see what I mean.
These systems are attractive to those photogs who, like us, want a smaller, lighter, but fully capable camera to replace our heavy DSLR’s, or to use for traveling, without sacrificing quality. At the same time, these cameras are a great step up for someone who’s been shooting with a compact or bridge camera and wants to take their passion to the next level.
Rey’s thoughts: “The Fujifilm X-E1 – Ever think that you wanted to get back to basics with a no nonsense, still photography only (or at least mostly), zero whiz-bang and frill, old school camera? Fujifilm thinks so and as a result has focused on the X series of cameras. I’ve reviewed the X100 (love) and X-Pro1 (unlove) and have very high hopes for the X-E1 (kind of like a cross between the two with an emphasis on removing all of the things that annoyed me about its big brother, the Pro). Stay tuned for a full review soon.”
Meanwhile, Ed’s in favor of the Sony NEX 6. “I’ve had mine for about a month and am thoroughly enjoying the capabilities and design of this little marvel, and really appreciating the smaller, lighter form factor. And if the NEX 6 is too pricey for you, consider the NEX 5N, at half the cost – same sensor, but without a viewfinder and some other frills.”
Both the NEX and Fuji cameras mentioned above have APS-C sensors, which are larger than those found on many other mirrorless cameras, and much larger that what’s found in point and shoots. In fact, the APS-C sensors in the Fuji and NEX cameras are the same as found in many DSLR’s. The larger the sensor, the better the image quality.
Wrapping it all up
Ok, we hope you’ve found something of interest here, for that special photographer in your life…or maybe even yourself .
Best wishes for the holiday season, and thanks for supporting 2 Guys Photo.