Jud Dagnall Photography Blog

Photography, technology and occasional rants!

Gift Ideas For Photographers

Posted on December 8th, 2004 in , by jud || No Comment

I just got an email from a friend who wanted some gift suggestions for a photographer friend. The friend is getting a new digital camera, and so here’s my list of recommended accessories (really doesn’t matter which brand of camera. The books are tailored more towards my [specific interests](/photo), but the other accessories should apply to almost anyone who is a serious digital camera enthusiast.)

### Gadgets

* Extra battery (extended life – check out the batterybarn.com).
IMO this is the single most important accessory, because when your battery runs out, you have an expensive brick slung around your neck for the rest of the day

* high-capacity memory cards (1GB is fine. Get more than one if you want more
capacity. 2 or 3). Otherwise, there’s too much risk of losing ALL your pictures
on a trip if the card goes bad/gets lost. It takes only seconds to change a

* additional flash. I have the canon speedlight 550, which is a high-end
model (and only for canon!) but any external flash can make a huge difference
when taking indoor (or outdoor) pictures.

* Camera bag (lowprowe or tamarac) These can be somewhat difficult to
select, since there’s a huge variety and it depends greatly on what you will be
doing. I have the lowprowe photo trekker, which I got because I wanted space
for camera gear + space for lunch and other stuff. It works well when I need to
be hiking, but I wish I’d gotten the all-weather model. It does not work as well for in-city use or anywhere where the distance between stops is short and I need to repeatedly get access to various lenses and/or equipment.

* battery charger that will work in car/home. Sometimes these come with the
camera. I have the lenmar mach 1, which is a rapid charger and I just keep it
in the car.

* USB2/firewire card reader (+ usb/firewire card if your computer doesn’t
have it already)

* Photographer’s vest. I’ve used a number of these and am not super excited about any of them, but they are VERY helpful for outdoor photography.

* Tripod (these are somewhat difficult to buy, so let me know if you get
down this far and I’ll tell you more :) I now use the Slik 400X pro

### Photography Books

* National Geographic Photography Field Guides (various topics)

* John Shaw’s books (landscape and nature)

* Kodak Guide to Shooting Great Travel Pictures

* [Seeing Landscapes: The Creative Process Behind Great Photographs](http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/081745831X/qid=1103186130/sr=8-2/ref=sr_8_xs_ap_i2_xgl14/102-8358822-0451332?v=glance&s=books&n=507846)

* Learning to See Creatively by Bryan Peterson

### Photoshop Books

* The Photoshop bible – BIG but good

* Photoshop CS Artistry (advanced techniques, very dense and dry)

I really can’t recommend any short photoshop books. The Adobe classroom in a book series, and studio techniques series are both very good,
but they are pretty dry.

UPDATE 2004-12-23

After some consideration, an extra memory card is probably the most important
extra item, since cameras typically come with a tiny memory card (or none at all).
The amount of space on your cards directly limits how many pictures you can take without
access to a computer to offload your images. This is especially critical on longer trips where
you might not have access to power (or your laptop). Most modern cameras have file sizes
between 0.75 and 3 MB for highest quality jpeg, and larger if your camera has a RAW

If you’re using anything but the maximum settings, you should be taking pictures that
you really don’t care about or potentially want to blow up to large sizes.
So if you get a 32 MB card with your camera, that’s a max of about 50 pictures.
Not so great for your 3 day trip to that *amazing
place*. That’s why I recommend a 512MB – 1GB card.

I purchased a portable
hard drive (10GB model) from a company (minds@work) that is now out of business.
That is very useful in the field since I can copy the images from my CF card to the
mindstor. The mindstore is small enough to keep in my camera bag, unlike a laptop,
and very simple to use. For anyone who wants to go on long trips, and doesn’t want to
carry a laptop, I’d recommend something similar. (In my case, I use both the mindstor
AND a laptop so I have two copies of my images, just in case) Belkin and a number of
other companies make these portable storage devices, some of which are quite advanced
with color displays for previewing your images, etc… However, with the price of memory
cards dropping, it might make more sense (particularly if you already have a laptop) to
just get 3 or 4 GB of memory cards instead. Although you don’t get as much storage for
your money, it’s a lot easier to switch cards than to download your card into the device, plus
you have a backup if one of your cards dies.

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