There are lots of things to compliment a camera that a photographer can use to become a better shooter. And guess what: not all of them require you to break the bank. Many of them are very affordable and can be useful in a variety of instances.
Here’s a quick roundup of some of our favorite items for the holidays or any time.
A Prime Lens
While everyone talks about how you should start out with the 50mm equivalent, we’re going to go with the less conventional route on this one. Not everyone wants to get a 50mm lens and some folks hate that field of view. But a prime lens, also known as a fixed focal length is a wonderful gift because it not only has a much more shallow depth of field to give you some beautiful out of focus areas, but it also forces you to think more about the photos that you’re taking.
More than anything, a prime lens is a teaching tool. One technique that many photographers try to do is working with one camera and one focal length (or lens) for an entire year. If the photographer uses this lens to actually try to force themselves to take better photos, then they’ll be in love with it forever. If not, then they’ll probably just be blown away by the bokeh.
So what are some good choices? Well, there is the Canon 50mm f1.8, 40mm f2.8, Nikon 35mm f1.8, 40mm f2.8, Fujifilm 28mm f2.8, Panasonic 20mm f1.7, Sony 20mm f2.8, Samsung 16mm f2.4, and then there are the super affordable lenses that Rokinon puts out: but keep in mind that those don’t have autofocusing abilities.
A single focal length lens will also help the user take the fullest advantage of a DSLR’s imaging sensor.
MeFoto DayTrip Tripod
MeFOTO has some of the most stylish yet functional tripods out there in the industry. But even though tripods can be clunky and extra weight, we didn’t have any major issues with MeFOTO’s DayTrip tripod. In fact, that’s why it’s called the DayTrip. The tripod is designed to be light, portable, and sturdy for a day trip.
So how could a beginning photographer use one of these? Well, there are lots of cool projects. If the novice photographer in your life wants to start getting into Macro shooting, a tripod could help keep them and their camera stabilized in order to get steady and camera shake free photo. No matter how steady you think you are, you can’t beat a tripod.
Then there are timelapses, long exposures, and short videos. In fact, we used our DayTrip for timelapse shooting and really loved the portability combined with the sturdiness that it gave us.
Then when we were done shooting a timelapse on the coast, we put it into a camera bag designed for mirrorless cameras.
For those instances where you need a tripod but don’t want to lug around something gigantic, the DayTrip can work out quite well.
Check out our review.
Think Tank Retrospective 7 Camera Bag
When Think Tank designed the Retrospective camera bag series, they surely had the commuter in mind. Available in loads of different sizes, one of our favorites is the 7. The 7 is a perfect balance between needing to bring lots of gear and only a little bit of it. It can hold a camera and a Monolight–yes, we’ve tried it. But if you’re not looking to bring that much stuff, you can stick a camera, lenses, flashes, filters, batteries, an iPad and loads more stuff in here.
Indeed, it is the bag for the photographer looking to be quick and effective with a small kit.
Besides all of this, the Retrospective series maintains a balance between too much and too little padding to keep your accessories safe, a great and comfortable shoulder strap, and overall maintains a very low profile look.
It’s up there as one of our favorite bags that we’ve ever revieed.
Check out our review.
Capture Pro Clip
The Capture Pro Clip is designed for those of us that hate camera straps–sort of. Instead of using a strap, the Capture Pro is a system that attaches to the bottom of your camera and slides in and out of a a small holster. This holster is easily connected to your belt or a backpack strap. To get your camera out of the holster, you’ll need to press a button and release it with one smooth motion.
More than any other holster out there, we believe that the solution from Capture (which funds all of its projects via KickStarter) is one of the best for outdoors photographers and backpackers.
In fact, we still tend to use ours in big cities while on a photo walk or something else. We should warn you though that in order to take the most advantage of the Capture Pro we recommend mounting it to the PROPad or practicing with it quite a bit and learning how to secure it properly.
Check out our review.
Cub and Co Shooter Strap
If Mark Ecko developed a line of products for a more mature male and decided to get into the camera strap industry, he would have founded Cub and Co. With each strap being hand crafted in Long Island, NY, each product is beautiful, rugged, and will have heads turning.
The Cub and Co Shooter strap isn’t adjustable so you’ll need to get the right size for your needs. The entire thing is made with leather and had a really comfortable shoulder pad that also works very well when wrapping the strap around your wrist.
Our review unit is permanently fixed to our Fujifilm X Pro 1.
Check out our review.
Buy Now: Cub and Co
Hoya Graduated ND Filter
Hoya only recently came out with a Graduated ND–but they’re already being highly rated. The company has been one of the bigger names when it came to filters that don’t compromise on image quality, and indeed they still are.
The Graduated ND filter is designed for the photographer that wants to capture landscapes. The filter will darken a sky so that you can expose for the shadows and have a very low contrast image that captures all the details. They’re perfect for the shooter that wants to create an HDR too–landscape or not.
Hoya’s versions spin around so that you can position the dark side wherever you want it.
Buy Now: B&H Photo
A List of Essential Courses Over at Lynda.com
And last but not least on this list of a free resource for the photographer in your life to actually become better. It’s going to require some time from you, by Lynda offers lots of free resources for photographers. You’ll just need to go through it, and figure out which ones are best for the novice that you know. Head on over to Lynda to see what they’ve got.
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