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Gift Ideas for Amateur Photographers

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Written by Izak Van Heerden

The photography space has exploded with great products as digital photography progresses and becomes more advanced.

These are eight of the coolest new tools to make photography easier, better, more productive, and more fun!

Gift Ideas for Amateur Photographers

Pixelstick LED Lightpainting Gadget

For years photographers have used “light painting” in conjunction with long exposures to create striking images after dark, typically illuminating an existing object. The pixel stick is more than just an advanced wand that replaces the time-honored technique of using a flashlight. It features 198 LED bulbs, and the ability to retain digital images created in Photoshop or graphic arts programs and then display them while you expose your image.

The light is so well-developed that it is hard to tell it’s even light painting that you’re looking at in these photographs, and not an addition created right in Photoshop. The colors in some of these applications are hardly even transparent! To see this feature conceptualized, check out the video above. If you’re painting with light, although on the pricier side, this very sturdy and well-constructed (with metal) device is the best.

Turn Your Phone into a Light Meter

For beginner photographers shooting full-manual on their DSLRs, often their greatest frustration is that their on-camera light meter is their only assistant in determining which settings to use. Sometimes taking a test shot and judging the light situation from the rear LCD is just too difficult and inaccurate, especially if you’re getting used to a new body, and even the on-camera meter can be fickle and frustrating at times.

As for the pros, even those of us with years of experience still botch a shot every now and again. Wouldn’t it be great to have an extra set of eyes to double check our methods? These have been long-standing needs, and finally the solution has arrived. The best part? You’ll never leave it behind if you have a smartphone.


Thanks to Luxi, an application for iPhone that works in conjunction with a small light diffusion dome that sits atop the phone, photographers now have a light meter that not only tells them how much light is entering the lens, but what settings to use for getting that exposure just right!

Lensbaby Composer Pro for Nikon DSLR Camera

Another device that has been drawing recent attention is the Lensbaby Composer Pro. For those unfamiliar with Lensbaby’s line of tilt lenses, in short, they’re lenses that distort images to produce special effects, such as extreme bokeh, blur, distortion, or aberrations. These products are designed for use with DSLRs and mirrorless cameras.

The Composer Pro  is a manual focus lens with a minimum F-stop of F2.0 and a fixed focal length of 50mm. It features a tilting element on the front end, allowing the user to pick the “center point”, from which the distortion will radiate. It also has a lock ring to keep the lens in a fixed position, very helpful for repeated exposures. The Composer Pro has an improved swivel ball for smoother, and more fluid focus and tilt control. This is the most distinct feature of the new model, since it allows the user to place more faith in the ability of the lens to perform as the photographer intends it, without the lens shifting outside of the user’s control. Since even the slightest movement can totally change the composition and focus of an image, this feature is crucial.

This lens is popular primarily among photographers who primarily shoot portraits and use their photography skills in macro applications. The extreme bokeh and distortion created by these Lensbaby tilt lenses simply cannot be replicated with such quality in Photoshop. For the low price, it’s an easy addition to your current arsenal of great macro equipment.

Stellar Photo Recovery Software

Gift Ideas for Amateur Photographers Stellar Photo

Sometimes, we can be our own worst nightmare. Every photographer has experienced it. You NAIL the shot, and somehow, being careless, you delete the photo. You hop online, start calling your tech-savvy friends, and go into full panic mode, ready to shell out as much time and money as it takes just to recover that one great shot. I’ve been there, and it’s horrible. This, until recently, has been a largely ignored problem in the consumer market.

Now, if you make that devastating mistake, or want to be prepared for it when it happens, grab a copy of the Phoenix Photo Recovery software, and recover your lost work at home, while being guided step by step by the software. Even if you’re not computer-savvy, it’s still easy to use, which is a huge plus for someone like me. The best part? It’s under $50! I know that purchasing this software will bring me peace of mind greater than any other device in the photography space today.

SD USB Card Combo

Gift Ideas for Amateur Photographers SD USB Combined

Now, in addition to accidentally deleting photos, I’ve often “lost” photos simply by tossing my SD card in the drawer, thinking that I’d just upload photos later, and then finding the photos four months later. Uploading photos can be just enough of a minor inconvenience to delay the action. That’s why this next device is so ingenious. Short of magically teleporting photographs from your camera right onto your computer, this card is as advanced, yet as compact, as it gets.

This SanDisk SD card literally folds down into a USB port, so transferring photographs is easier than ever! A must-have for the weary photographer who just wants to get uploading out of the way and get back to enjoying their masterpieces!

CamRanger Wi-Fi Dongle and Wireless Camera Remote ControllerGift Ideas for Amateur Photographers Camera_WiFi_Dongle

Check out this device! If you’ve ever squinted to look at what’s on the back of your LCD while shooting in live-view mode, or wished that your rear LCD was just bigger, then this is for you! The CamRanger is a device that connects to your camera and enables your tablet, computer, or smartphone to remotely control your camera settings, while view the rear LCD screen from your device.

This is a big assist thrown to those who do a lot of their shooting at night in live-view; sometimes it is hard to work with manual focus with a viewfinder or live-view on such a small screen. Not anymore. For those who wish to get the camera close to their subject without casting a shadow or interfering with the subject, this is a huge development as well. The best part-it’s a steal-only $299.99 on! Don’t miss out!

Light Tent in a BoxGift Ideas for Amateur Photographers Light_Tent_In_A_Box

Every beginning photographer has struggled to create quality macro shots of small subjects at home. I’ve experienced this myself – I wanted to photograph a small device that I was selling on Ebay, so that I could avoid using the manufacturer’s provided photograph. Sure, I could get great shots…if I had the right equipment!

I don’t do much portrait shooting, so buying expensive studio equipment that eats up both cash and space was just not practical. That’s why I love the Limo Studio 16”x16” Table Top Photography Studio. It can literally fit on the kitchen table! For your money, this mini-studio features a mini-pod, folding white photo box, 2 LED light stands, and a cell phone clip holder. Even if you don’t think you need it, this is one of those great purchases that every photographer will at some point find to be an inexpensive lifesaver!

Beta Shell – Shock resistant Lens Case

Gift Ideas for Amateur Photographers Betashell

Last but not least, and my personal favorite, is the Beta Shell. I’m a railroad photographer, which means that I’m constantly racing from one shot to the next, climbing up steep rock cuts, and scrambling to bring my lenses with me through it all.

But when my precious glass is out of the camera bag, there’s never a guarantee that it will make it back in before a freak accident. The Beta Shell is a “rigid, waterproof, and shock resistant” lens case. In a nutshell, you can blow it up, run it over with your car, drop it off of a building, or leave it in the rain, and not only does the case usually make it out without a scratch, but the precious cargo inside always does. How’s that for peace of mind? My favorite part? Unlike other tough and rugged cases, it’s sleek and professional. Check it out!


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Izak Van Heerden
Izak has witnessed a couple of decades worth of changing tech. He hopes to make it a couple more until his conscience can be copied to a cyborg body.

About the author

Izak Van Heerden

Izak has witnessed a couple of decades worth of changing tech. He hopes to make it a couple more until his conscience can be copied to a cyborg body.

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