Inexpensive Gifts (Starting at $8) for Photographers

Flash adapter and umbrella for an shoe-mount electronic flash.

Flash adapter and umbrella for a shoe-mount electronic flash.

There are a lot of practical and inexpensive (more or less) gifts for photographers. Here is a nice list of items from $8 to $179. To make it easy to track them down, these items are individuality linked plus most of these items can be found  in the Misc Goodies section of my photography store which has direct links to Amazon.com. Prices are current as of the date of this post, but prices do fluctuate. Some items can be temporarily unavailable.

Posted Nov. 21, 2017. Updated Dec. 4, 2017.

 

Individual links for most of these items take you directly to that item or item category in my Amazon.com powered photography store.

LensPen

$10 – LensPen

A great little “toss in your camera bag” lens cleaning system. Use it on camera lenses, binoculars, spotting scopes, and other optical devices.

18% Gray Cards

18% Gray Cards

$17 – 18% Gray Cards

A gray card can help you come up with a more accurate exposures, teach you subject tonality differences, and you can use it to set the white balance of your camera. In short, it can help you be a better photographer. Read more in the exposure articles at JimDoty.com.

$8 – Fabric 18% Gray Card

This functions just like a gray card except it is made of fabric and collapsible. It can help you come up with a more accurate exposures, teach you subject tonality differences, and you can use it to set the white balance of your camera. In short, it can help you be a better photographer. Read more in the exposure articles at JimDoty.com and in my book (below).

Stofen Flash Diffuser

Stofen Flash Diffuser

$10 – $15 – Stofen Flash Diffuser

The simplest, least expensive way to soften the light from your accessory flash. Just slide one of these diffusers over your flash. Be sure to get the size that fits your particular brand and model of flash. You can find them on this page of my photography store..

Air Blaster

Air Blaster

$12 – Giottos Rocket Air Blaster

A must-have to go in every camera bag. Blow dust and grit off of the outside or your camera, and most important, a safe way to blow dust out of the inside of the camera. NEVER use compressed air to clean out the mirror box of your camera.

Coast HL4 Headlamp

$25 – Coast HL4 Headlamp for Night Photography

To do night photography you need a headlamp with a red LED that has its own separate switch. This article tells you why.  The Coast model HL4 is one of the few headlamps that has separate switches for the red and white LEDs.

Camera Pod

Camera Pod

$28 – Red Portable Camera Pod

This 5 inch bean bag is what you need for those occasions when you can’t or don’t want to use a tripod. Ideal for small cameras or a DSLR with a normal size lens. You can also get the green pod for larger cameras.

Black, gray, and white calibration target.

 

$32 – $38 – Gray, White, and Black Calibration Target

You can use these targets for metering, to create a histogram, and set the white balance on your digital camera. It comes in a 6 inch and 14 inch size.

$10 – $40 – Photography Books

Choose from a selection of the best photography books in several categories at my photography store.

Black Cat Exposure Guide

Black Cat Exposure Guide

$20 – Black Cat Exposure Guide

This guide is just what you need for those occasions when the situation is too difficult for your camera to meter reliably. If it also a backup should your meter decide to quit working. It lists a whole series of scenes (like a moonlit landscape or lightning) and the dials give you a range of aperture and shutter speed combinations for that scene. It is simple and effective to use in all kinds of tricky lighting situations.

Gorillapod

Gorillapod

$130 – Joby Gorillapod Tripod

A Gorillapod is very handy when you want a small, ultra flexible tripod. Screw the 1/4 x 20 thread of this model into the bottom of your camera (or add a small tripod head, see below) and you are ready to go.

iOptron Ball Head

$58 – iOptron Ball Head

The iOptron ball head is sturdy, well made, and comes with an Arca-Swiss compatible mounting plate for your camera.

White Umbrella

White Umbrella

$21 – White Umbrella (43 Inch)

If you have a tripod, an umbrella is one of the best ways to soften the light from your accessory flash unit. You will need an adapter to mount your umbrella and flash to your tripod (see the next item) and an optical slave to fire your off camera flash (see below).

LumoPro Umbrella Adapter

LumoPro Umbrella Adapter

$20 – LumoPro Umbrella Adapter

This handy adapter will attach your flash and umbrella to your tripod (with the included adapter) or a light stand.

$110 – 45 inch Halo Combination Umbrella and Softbox

This is my favorite softbox on an umbrella frame for using a speedlite (hot shoe mounted flash) off the camera. You will need to get an umbrella adapter (above) to mount the Halo and your flash on a light stand or tripod. Your speedlite will be inside the Halo so you will need to use a radio controlled flash (like the Yongnuo flashes fro Canon and Nikon  below).

$115 – Yongnuo YN600EX-RT Radio Controlled Flash Unit for Canon Cameras

This is the Chinese equivalent of the Canon 600EX-RT flash. The Yongnuo and Canon flash units and radio transmitters are compatible with each other. I now own three Yongnuo YN600EX-RT flash units and the Yongnuo radio transmitter and they work very well. Three Yongnuo flashes and one Yongnuo radio radio transmitter cost less than one Canon flash unit alone. If you have two or more of these flashes, one of them on the hotshoe can control one or more off camera flashes. They can also be controlled by a Yongnuo or Canon radio transmitter.

Infrared flashes and transmitters are limited to line of sight over short distances (up top 25 feet in typical low light circumstances). They don’t work well in daylight. Radio flashes and transmitters do not need line of sight, they work well out to 100 feet, and have not problems working in daylight. After all the frustrations of working with infrared, I have switched to radio flashes. See this article for more information on Yongnuo radio flashes and radio transmitter.

$77 – Yongnuo YN-E3-RT Speedlite Transmitter

This is the Chinese equivalent of the Canon ST-E3-RT. This unit in you hot shoe will control Yonguno and Canon radio controlled flashes. The Yongnuo and Canon flash units and radio transmitters are compatible with each other. I now own three Yongnuo YN600EX-RT flash units and the Yongnuo radio transmitter and they work very well. Three Yongnuo flashes and one Yongnuo radio transmitter cost less than one Canon flash unit. See this article.

Yongnuo Kit for Nikon

$179 – Yongnuo Kit for Nikon with 2 Speedlites and 1 Radio Transmitter

This kit gives Nikon photographers a radio controlled, off-camera flash system. The power of each flash is set in manual mode from the on-camera transmitter.

Digital Photography Exposure for Dummies

Digital Photography Exposure for Dummies

$8 and up – My Photography Book

Want to be a better photographer? Would you like to create images that stand out from the crowd? This is my own book on photographic exposure. After covering the scientific and artistic sides of exposures, there are suggestions to get you started in people, landscape, wildlife, flower, sports, closeup, and low light photography. This is a highly rated and recommended book by reviewers at Amazon.com. You can buy it new or used from one of Amazon’s third party sellers.

 

 

Wein Optical Slave

Wein Optical Slave

$23 – Wein Optical Slave

This handy optical slave will fire an off-camera accessory flash when it sees the light from another flash (like the one on your camera). The accessory flash must be used in manual mode. You can use this accessory with a white umbrella and an umbrella adapter (see above).

Double Bubble Level

Double Bubble Level

$9 – Double Bubble Level

Keep your camera straight with a double bubble level, the simplest way to avoid off kilter horizons. More info on using one here. You can also get a triple bubble level.

 

Flash Bender

Flash Bender

$20-40 – Rogue Flash Bender

Attach this to your accessory flash and use it open to soften the light, or roll it into a snoot to shoot a narrow beam of light at your subject. The attachment strap is included. There is both a small and large version.

Honl Snoot/Reflector

Honl Snoot/Reflector

$43 – Honl Speed Snoot/Reflector ($30) and Speed Strap ($11)

Soften the light from your flash with a Honl Snoot/Reflector. When used open (as in the photo above), it softens the light. Fold it into a snoot and it shoots a narrow beam of light. It comes in gold to warm the light and in silver for neutral light. Attach it to your flash with a Honl Speed Strap (sold separately). Go to this page.

 

Neewer 5-in-1 Reflectors

$20 – Neewer 43 inch 5-in-1 Reflectors

Control the light with this all-in-one set of reflectors. Use the white, silver, and gold reflectors to bounce light back onto your subject. Use the translucent disc to soften sunlight. Hold back some of the light with the black disc.

 

Color Checker

X-Rite Color Checker

$80 – X-Rite Color Checker

This is a standard reference for checking color on your digital camera (or the color accuracy of your favorite films). If your camera has several color modes, you can use this chart to see how each mode handles the standard reference colors. Using the information in my book, Digital Photography Exposure for Dummies, you can use this chart to test the color exposure latitude of your digital sensor for over and under exposure. There is a $45 version from Datacolor.

Honl Softbox

Honl Softbox

$70 – Honl Softbox

A mini-softbox for your shoe mounted flash unit. This is a handy way too soften the light from you shoe mounted flash unit. Just attach it to your flash with the included Honl Speed Strap.

Purchase Links

You can find most of these items (except for the books and calendars) in the Misc Goodies section and books section of my photography store which is powered by Amazon’s great prices, fast service, and excellent guarantee.

Series Link

This is one in a series of articles that will guide you to the best of all things photographic. The rest of the series is here: Buyer’s Guide: Recommendations For The Best Photography Equipment, Software, Books, Magazines, DVDs, Online Photo Labs and More.