Who You Should and Shouldn’t Buy Camera Peripherals For
I don’t recommend buying camera equipment for a professional photographer (our guide to photographyA Beginner's Guide To Digital PhotographyA Beginner's Guide To Digital PhotographyYou may think that picking up a digital camera, turning it on, and taking the photo is all that you need to know about digital photography. Think again.Read More). A professional wields their camera as if their income depends on it — because it does. They likely won’t use or appreciate anything you could buy dealing with their camera because they’ve already bought everything they need. Instead, this article focuses on three demographics:
The Serious Hobbyist with a DSLR.
The Amateur with a Point-and-Shoot.
The Neophyte with a Smartphone.
For the Serious Photographer With a DSLR
Out of everyone you might buy a camera peripheral for, the serious photographers can be the hardest to shop for. They probably already own a great camera and lens, but some of the items they might skimp on — the luxuries — include items like filters, top-tier backpacks, and remote pan controls.
The MindShift BackLight offers a tremendous amount of storage, allowing photographers to carry a tripod, water bottles, laptops, and an assortment of lenses. The Wirecutter rated the BackLight as one of the best camera backpacks around because of its impressive versatility. On B&H Photo, the BackLight received 4.5/5 stars on 27 reviews. In short, it’s a great, although expensive, accessory for anyone owning a DSLR.
Neutral density filters reduce the intensity of light that would otherwise cause an overexposed shot. This allows photographers to shoot using slow shutter speed in bright light. Syrp’s filter functions as a circular polarizer, meaning the user can twist the lens in order to control the amount of light blocked by the filter.
Overall, it’s a fantastic gift for any photographer who shoots outdoors. Syrp’s filter also comes with two step-up rings (72 and 77mm), for a wide range of lens compatibilities.
The Syrp Genie Mini allows photographers to remotely control the motion of their camera. It works with a wide array of camera types, including point-and-shoots, GoPro Action cameras, and DSLRs. It’s among the most creative devices around, and pretty much anyone passionate about photography would love to own one — particularly if they shoot moving video.
One thing that’s sure to ruin a photographer’s day is a dirty lens. You can’t just clean a camera lens with any old rag — it needs to leave no trace of lint or cleaning residue. That’s why Zeiss offers streak-free pre-moistened lens wipes. It’s dirt-cheap and receives 4.4/5 stars on 270 Amazon reviews. They’re also great as stocking-stuffers.
The JJC memory card case offers a low-cost method of organizing and carrying multiple memory cards — both SD and microSD cards. It has a solid 4.2/5 stars on Amazon, with an A-rating from FakeSpot. While larger capacity cases exist, few combine water-resistance, durability, and compatibility with both SD and microSD cards for less than $10. It’s a low-risk, high-value product worthy of any photographer.
The Sabrent SuperSpeed card reader currently sells at a tremendous discount over its MSRP. At $7, it’s among the best priced of all card readers on the market. Part of its popularity is that it can read and write to both microUSB and full-sized SD cards in a portable USB 3.0 thumb drive form factor. As an owner of this reader, I swear by its ruggedness and cross-system compatibility.
It scores a 4.3/5 stars on a whopping 2,000+ reviews and is Amazon’s best-selling card reader. Considering its price, it’s a great gift for photographers who just want to easily transfer photos from their camera to a computer.
One of the lessons many point-and-shoot photographers need to learn is how to properly white balance a camera. A white balance card isn’t sophisticated. It’s just a plain white card designed to maintain “spectral neutrality” in all lighting environments. Here’s a video on how to white balance a camera:
For Photography Neophytes With a Smartphone
Everyone who doesn’t own a point-and-shoot should look at smartphone lenses and self-sticks. They’re relatively inexpensive and can take one’s photography game to the next level.
There are hundreds of selfie sticks out there, the majority of which are re-badged and sold as a unique brand. Don’t get fooled, most selfie sticks are pretty much the same beast. They feature collapsible handles, a 3.5mm jack for plugging into your smartphone, and a grip.
One of the most cost effective options out there is the $9.50 TaoTronics Mini Selfie-Stick. It scores 4.4/5 stars on 480 Amazon reviews. TaoTronics receives a B from FakeSpot, meaning the reviews are legit.
The $90 Moment Wide angle lens attaches to the back of your smartphone, just over the camera, improving its optical capabilities. It’s also compatible with a wide-range of devices, including Samsung Galaxy and iPhone models. (Full compatibility list.) Moment also offers a telephoto version, although the majority of smartphone users probably aren’t using their phone for long distance shots.
Overall, reviewers warmly received the Moment. Wirecutter rated it as the best smartphone camera lens around. CNET gave it a 7/10 based on its heavy weight and bulky size (qualities that lend to the Moment len’s optical quality).