With the holidays around the corner, gift ideas are on everyone’s mind. Photography enthusiasts and loved ones of photography enthusiasts are generally pretty crushed at this time of the year, as most photo related gifts cost hundreds of dollars. However, they are in luck this season, as many photography related gift ideas are available for under $50.
What photographer doesn’t dream of drinking a hot coffee out of their $1500 Canon L series lens? Hopefully very few, but for those who do, photojojo.com offers a series of fashionable lens mugs. Sure to be a conversation starter at the workplace, at home, or anywhere you enjoy both coffee and photography, these lifelike lenses come in both Canon and Nikon formats and range between $25-35, depending on the make and model desired. And for the over 21 crowd, they also offer a three-set of miniature camera lens shot glasses for $18. Just make sure you don’t end up pouring your hot morning drink into your actual professional lens in your morning fog, as it will be guaranteed the most expensive coffee you’ll ever drink.
Lomographic Diana F+
For those who haven’t the faintest idea of what lomography is, just take a look at the photos on Instagram. These are the cameras that began giving the world that slightly off colored, hazy view so many people strive for today. For around $45 at Hunt’s Photo and Video, you can purchase a legitimate Diana F+ lomography camera for your favorite photographer. Going back to the good old days of photo, this camera doesn’t use digital processing at all, but instead relies on medium format film to capture images. Definitely not a gift for the weekend photographer, this is a gift for someone more interested in the actual art form itself.
Smartphone Camera Lenses
With the onset of Instagram taking the photographic nation by storm, the smartphone camera has become the most popular camera in hand. Photojojo.com sells a lens set to help bring new fields of view to smartphone camera loves. Attachable to any smartphone or tablet with a camera, the set offers a telephoto lens ($20), a fisheye lens ($25) or a macro lens for those impossible to shoot up-close shots ($20), the whole set can be had for $50. Attachable to any phone camera, even with a case on it, the lenses attach using a small adhesive strip with a magnet on it, which then holds the lens over the camera. They offer a nice alternative to the heavy DSLRs many photographers carry around daily.
Old 35mm Cameras
Some photographers just can’t quite get used to this whole digital thing. Maybe it’s the build quality of the older cameras, or they hate computers, or digital photography is just too mainstream, but their hearts still soar for those old 35mm film cameras. With their usefulness dropping like pants in a bathroom, they can be had for pretty cheap nowadays. Try searching flea markets, craigslist.com or Ebay to scour for the best deals. Many of these cameras can be had for around $25, but their functionality may be limited. If you’re looking for one that will take outstanding pictures, you’ll need to pay a bit more, but if you’re just searching for an interesting wall ornament or a new old school camera for a friend or family member’s collection, these can be a great inexpensive gift idea.
DIY Twin Lens Camera
A great gift idea for someone who not only loves the cumbersome workings of film photography but also doesn’t trust the build quality of anything produced today is the DIY Twin Lens camera from photojojo.com for $20. Modeled after the legendary Rolleiflex twin lens reflex camera that helped revolutionize photography, this build-it-yourself camera has a set aperture of f11 and shutter speed of 1/150th of a second. Shots are framed via the waist level viewfinder, and the plastic lo-fi lens offers dreamy and lomographic results. To top it all off, it takes 35mm film, which is pretty easy to find in comparison to some of the more obscure types of film similar cameras use. Composed of a lot of small parts and a likely slew of directions to follow, this gift idea may not be for the young photography lover or one who has a tendency to choke on small objects.
Finally, what may be the best gift idea of all; the gift of sharing art. Flickr.com is a photo sharing website, and while a free account can be made, it limits the users’ photos to 200 visible. A Flickr pro account ($25 for one year) offers the user unlimited pictures on one of the internet’s best photo sharing websites. Not only does it have a nice visual flow to image viewing, but also helps connect photographers through comments and social networking. Help them help you by getting all their photos off Facebook and onto a site where they can’t tag you in their pictures.
Justin Surgent is a lover of all things camera related and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.