Every holiday season the family and friends of photographers go seeking gift ideas. Every year they ask the photographer or videographer what he or she would like. Every year the answer starts with a 400/2.8 at eleven grand and the buyer gives up. The Photo Video Guy is here to help with my top 12 gifts under $250 (mostly). If you buy from B&H, OnOne or Amazon through my links, you help support The Photo Video Guy. If you buy from Adobe or Google, you're getting the deal and if you buy through the Henry's links, well you help them out because Henry's doesn't have an affiliate program. Adobe Creative Cloud Photographer's Bundle
At $9.99 per month if you sign up before December 31st, this is a killer deal. You get Lightroom 5.x and Photoshop CC for less than the retail price for Lightroom. Yes it is subscription and yes there is a web activation component, but you get the newest hottest code and the ability to run on two machines simultaneously. Adobe has listened and this is a great deal.
Set of Extension Tubes
It's hard to beat a great macro lens for closeups but this is the entry way to do it. Using a set of extension tubes enables pretty much any lens to do close up work. If your gift receiver already has a macro lens, this kit makes it capable of even greater closeup work. I recommend the set because the kit of three costs about the same as one tube from a manufacturer and works just as well.
Kenko Tubes - B&H USA
Google Nik Collection
When Google bought Nik, post-processors were terrified. The Nik Collection used to be $600. Now it's $149 and contains amazing post processing plugins that work with Lightroom, Photoshop and Aperture including Color Efex Pro, HDR Efex Pro 2, Silver Efex Pro, Sharpener Pro and Dfine Noise Reduction.
Lastolite Ezybox Hotshoe / Ezybox
Nothing makes a hotshoe flash look better than getting it off the camera and softening the light. The Lastolite Ezybox hotshoe straps right onto the head of your hotshoe flash and produces really nice light. If you have an off camera cable or wireless system, you can control your flash centrally and just hold it at arm's length for significantly better flash shots. Want a bigger source? Go for the Lastolite Ezybox Softbox. It includes the bracket and flash mount, all you need is a simple light stand and tilter bracket. Nothing sets up faster than an Ezybox and the dual diffusion panels make the light beautiful
Henry's Canada - Softbox
B&H USA - Softbox
Henry's Canada - Ezybox Speedlite Kit
B&H USA - Ezybox Speedlite Kit
Cowboy Studios Shoulder Rig for DSLR Video
You could spend a fortune on a shoulder rig to shoot live video with your DSLR or Compact System Camera. You don't have to. The Cowboy Studios kit is an amazing value and it just works. Designed specifically for DSLR and mirror less style cameras, you forego weight and cumbersome rods for a solution that is simple, lightweight and incredibly effective. Also includes a follow focus for less than the price of a standalone follow focus.
Shoulder Rig w Follow Focus
You can do most anything in post processing with digital filters except for true polarization. Every photographer and videographer will benefit from a polarizer to manage reflections and deepen blue skies on clear days. Buy the one to fit the largest diameter required and step down rings to use the same filter on lenses with smaller filter sizes. I personally prefer the B+W and Heliopan brands.
Various sizes and prices, check out Henry's
I see too many potentially great shots where a bit of camera shake creates enough micro blur to make the shot less than ideal. Piccure is a plugin that does one thing really well and that is to correct for camera micro shake. The plugin works with Lightroom or Photoshop. If your photo enthusiast is complaining about micro blur, this could be the answer.
OnOne Software Perfect Photo Suite
Full disclosure, I am an affiliate with the great people at OnOne Software, and if you buy the software through my link I earn a minor commission. That said, Perfect Photo Suite 8 rocks. The Suite contains Perfect Effects, Perfect Enhance, Perfect Portrait, Perfect Resize, Perfect B&W, Perfect Browse, Perfect Layers and Perfect Mask. And the full suite is on sale right now.
Cowboy Studio Continuous Lighting Kit
This is a very inexpensive multi-head continuous lighting kit that is perfect for someone starting out. You get in a easy to handle kit, two light stands, one boom stand kit with bracket, a lamp housing with soft box for the boom, two 5 lamp housings with two 20"x28" soft boxes, 10 45w bulbs, 1 65w bulb and a carrying case. Because it is continuous lighting based on CFL bulbs it's perfect for photography and videography and the lights run cool so you don't bake your talent.
Manfrotto Boom/Stand Kit
Every photographer needs a light stand. They also need a boom. They usually find out that they need a boom after buying a light stand. Then another trip to the store to buy a sandbag to keep everything from being tippy. Save time and money with the superb Manfrotto 420B Combi-Boom Stand. It folds compactly and is all most folks will ever need in a complete kit with a boom that doesn't creep like some sold for more money.
Henry's Canada - Manfrotto 420B
B&H USA - Manfrotto 420B
External Hard Drive
Photos and videos take up space. Many photographers and videographers have limited space on their preferred laptops so an external drive is the way to go to hold libraries and projects. You can build your own using components or buy complete units. The WD Passports are complete kits that work pretty well as are the G-Tech series. I've had bad experience with LaCie myself but many people love them. My greatest success comes from buying a case and putting an SSD into it. Screaming fast and easy on energy.
WD 2TB USB3
Aputure HDMI Monitor
That little LCD on the back of the camera just isn't big enough to confirm sharpness and a good shot, especially with video. Every videographer needs an external monitor that runs off the HDMI port to check their recordings. The videographer is often in the "shot" and an external display can be positioned to help the talent see what's going on. The Aputure 7" display does a great job at a really low price.
Henry's Canada - Aputure HDMI Monitor