Holiday Gifts for Photographers 2011

Christmas Tree Ornament

I like to live in a state of denial. Florida doesn’t really have “seasons”, but when the weather got cooler and I had to start raking my front yard, I had to admit it was Fall (or at least Fall-ish). I’m still not used to the time change and despite the commercials, ads and displays, I don’t want to think about Christmas just yet. But alas time marches on without me. So with that, I want to start sharing some gift ideas for photographers in case you’re the type that likes to wrap presents before you dress your turkey.

Let’s begin with Adorama’s “100 Photo-tastic Gifts for under $100.” Considering most photography gear is in the hundreds or thousands of dollars, this is a good list of stuff that is actually useful; from camera bags and light modifiers, to memory, software and books.

I am a dork. (You see how I moved past denial and straight into acceptance?) My mouse pad has a camera dial on it and I have two Canon lens mugs. I also like to wear photography-related t-shirts. The best place to find them is over at Cafe Press. They’re having a sale right now, so most shirts will run you in the $23 range. Here’s a tip: don’t pay extra for faster shipping; I got my most recent order much faster than anticipated. Try coupon code “GLOW” for an extra 15% off.

Since I mentioned mouse pads, there’s one for Nikon shooters here; and more designs here.

UPDATE 11/29/11:  I just ran across this link from the LensPro To Go blog. I like how they divide the categories based on price range. Check out the $100-$200 category. The Steadicam Smoothee is an interesting item. A DSLR steadicam will run you about 800-bucks! Also, check out the Spider Holster which I mentioned in a past blog post.

Lastly, check out the posts I wrote last year in case you missed them:

Gift Ideas for Photographers

Stocking Stuffers For Your Favorite Photographers

That’s it for now. As the holiday’s get closer and retailers announce deals, I’ll try to post them. If you noticed, I’m looking for items that won’t break the bank; because let’s face it, no one in my family is going to get me the $2,400 5D MKII…which is why I’m giving them socks.


Finding the Right Camera Strap

All camera straps are not created equal and I am on a quest to find the perfect one; the holy grail, if you will. The strap that came with your camera is ok at first; but be honest, how many times has the danged thing slipped off your shoulder…or just felt like a rock was hanging off your arm?

So the first leg of my journey brings me to the R-Strap by Black Rapid. In my last post, I mentioned a model made just for women. There are three other models with varying sizes of built-in storage compartments. Then there’s a model to carry two camera bodies. Cost is $54 to $130 depending on which model you choose.

The R-Strap runs across your chest so the camera rests at your hip. It’s designed so you can quickly bring the camera up for shooting. See the video below:

(note: this is an early video from the company. The fastener that attaches to your camera has since evolved)

If you get one, save yourself a lot of time and trouble and go to their website and click on “Set-up and Tips” to learn how to adjust the strap to fit you.

There are a couple of things I don’t like about my R-Strap, but there now seems to be a remedy for one of my complaints. First, I find that the shoulder pad sometimes slips. I’ll look down and find it on my chest instead of on my shoulder. Second, I can’t use it with my tripod plate. That means that if I want to go to a tripod, I have to unscrew the fastener, then screw-on the plate; then reverse the procedure to go back to the R-Strap. I considered returning the R-Strap and getting the Luma Loop. It’s very similar but uses a lanyard to attach to your camera. Looking at the pictures, however, I’m not sure it would solve my problem.

As I was writing this blog post I discovered Black Rapid now has a solution. The “FastenR T1” attaches to the Manfrotto RC2 Quick Release plate for quick transitions.

Other than that, it works great. My shoulder still starts to hurt sometimes, but I don’t think that’s an issue with the strap itself. My rig is a Canon 40D with battery grip and either a 17-55 f/2.8 lens or the 70-200 f/2.8. So what if I could get the weight off my shoulder entirely?

Well, back in the 1800’s, photographers carried their DSLRs just like any other respectable gunslinging cowboy.

Ok, I hope you know I was joking about DSLRs in the 1800s. Everyone knows people were using the I-Daguerreotype made by Apple!

Anyway, back to our story. I don’t have the Spider Holster yet, but I so want one! Sometimes I carry a second camera body to shoots and I’ll have one on the R-Strap and the other on the strap-in-the-box made by Canon. Ideally, I’d have one on the R-Strap and the other on a Spider Holster. Or maybe I could complete the gunslinger look and just get two Spider Holsters! Why don’t I just get the double strap from Black Rapid? It just looks cumbersome to me.

As you can see, the Spider Holster also leaves your camera at your hip where you can quickly reach for it. The entire system will run you $110, but you can buy just the parts and pieces you want separately. Or for $55, you can get the Black Widow for lighter DSLRs.

If you’re looking for just a regular strap that won’t slip off you shoulder take a look at the Up Strap recommended by the guys at D-Town Tv. The rubbery material with those “teeth” grip onto your shoulder to prevent slippage. There’s even one made of Kevlar so it will stop a bullet! (no, not really)

Ok, here are a few other suggestions:

From the Photojojo store, the poor man’s R-Strap. For just $15, you can turn your existing camera strap into a sling.

Buy the Camera Strap Buddy at the Photojojo Store!

For you fashionistas still shooting film (because you’re a purist, right?)

Buy the The Tokyo Dreamer Strap at the Photojojo Store!

And for those of you who fly with reckless abandon, why not rip out your car’s seatbelts (you don’t use them anyway) and put it to good use?

Buy the Seat Belt Camera Straps at the Photojojo Store!

What kind of strap do you use? Have you found something that works really well for you? I’d love to know…