This piece originally appeared in our guide Building Your Outdoor &…
I always have problems coming up with gifts, so this year, I thought I’d help you out with some of my favorite tools of the trade. Now, now. no need to get them for me because I already have them. This is not some sort of shill list for our partners — these are things I purchased and use (well, with the exception of the last item on the list…feel free to gift that to me).
Giotto Rocket Blower – $9.99
The latest generation of cameras have anti-dust vibrating sensors. Sounds cool, but at the end of the day, sometimes you need a blast of air to really get the dust off (and out of the chamber). Not sure why the Giotto is any better than any other blower, but it is.
Lumiquest Pocket Bouncer – $21.95
There are lots of different contraptions to attach to your flash unit from spheres to domes to mini softboxes. But I seem to get pretty darned good results from this plasticized piece of cardboard. Fortunately for me, the price is right, because I tend to lose them more frequently than I care to admit.
Gaffer Tape – $26.95
Tape? Who wants tape for Christmas??? I do. Perhaps you remember a humble guy named MacGyver. Need I say more? The difference between tape and gaffer tape is that gaffer’s doesn’t leave that sticky residue. It’s sort of like blue painter’s tape, but better.
X-Rite Digital Color Passport – $99
Color seemed to be so much easier with film. You’d shoot your roll, drop it off a the store, and get back a version of your images that some technician (or computer) deemed color appropriate. But with digital, we can tweak everything, but sometimes it’s just hard to tell what’s right. X-Rite’s Color Passport is a mini color chart/gray card that you can stick in your camera bag for a reference image, and comes with plug-in software for your image editing programs like Adobe Lightroom.
SanDisk Extreme 8GB CF Card – $99.95
In truth, it doesn’t really matter how big or what brand — the point is, you can never have too many compact flash cards. I personally use a 32GB and 12GB card in my Nikon D3, which makes me feel like I’m never going to run out of frames when I’m away for a weekend wedding.
Photo Mechanic – $150
There are a few programs that I use daily, and Photo Mechanic is one of them. If you’re not a photojournalist, you might not even heard of it. But if you need the fastest tool available to plow through hundreds or thousands of images, pick your selects, add meta data, and finally transfer them to a destination like PhotoShelter, Photo Mechanic is the cat’s meow.
Fotoquote 6 – $149
If I had a penny for every time someone asked me how much they should charge for a photo, I’d not only be rich, I’d probably have created fotoQuote myself. Fortunately, industry-advocate and veteran photographer Cradoc Bagshaw has done it for us. PhotoShelter uses fotoQuote as our rights-managed pricing engine, but you can only get the valuable negotiation tips and coaching with the desktop software. Make sure to take advantage of the special discounts to PhotoShelter users.
ThinkTank Airport Security v2 – $369
One of the cool thing about all the products in the Under $500 category is that they are created by small businesses who care deeply about photography. Doug and Mike wanted to create a better bag for serious photographers and thus ThinkTank Photo was founded. Back in the day, photographers prided themselves on carrying as much stuff on their back as possible, but common sense took over. Now we have rollers like the Airport Security. It’s lightweight, well-designed, and fits in an airplane overhead compartment. Neat.
Video has been at the fingertips of photographers for years, but it’s only in the past few years, that full frame, HD video has made its way into the D-SLR camera. The significance is less that photographers can be videographers, as much as it allows low-light, shallow depth-of-field videography that simply wasn’t possible before. Combine that with the cottage industry of software and hardware to fuel D-SLR filmmaking and you get stuff like this:
Apple iMac 27″ – $1999
I grew up watching the A-Team on a 19″ television. I could have never imagined what my computing experience would be like with a 27″ monitor, but with my 7 year old dual G5 computer on its last legs, I decided to take the plunge and get a new iMac. Sure, the first two computers that Apple sent me had cracked screens, but hey, who’s counting. The third time was the charm, and even though I’ve only used it for three days, I shudder to think at how many hours of lost productivity I’ve had because of the newfound speed.
Oh yeah, it looks good too.
Leica M9 – $6995
I admit there is a cult of Leica. There are some really great photographers who have used Leicas. But there are also a lot of hacks who take crappy pictures with Leicas, but think they’re Cartier-Bresson because they dropped $10k for a body and lens. But let’s put all that petty stuff aside and marvel at the M9, which judging by early reviews and inventories, is a grand slam. I shot with a rangerfinder. Once. And yet, I find myself lusting over manual focus and spending oodles and oodles of money so that I can stand on top of my camera like my friend Justin Stailey (2:09).
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