Gift ideas for the photographer on your holiday shopping list 

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If there's a photographer on your list and you’re looking for gift ideas, you’ve come to the right place. Here are five ideas that will both inspire your photographer and help improve the family slide show at the end of the year.

Best how-to book for photography geeks

Jeff Schewe’s The Digital Negative is one of my favorites. If I was teaching a photography class today, this would be my go-to text book. Schewe’s step-by-step primer on how to process digital images using photoshop is exceptional. He clearly explains how to address problem images and how to use different photoshop techniques to enhance each picture. Learn more here.

For the photography collector who has everything

One of my favorite places to find inspiration is the Magnum Photography web site and it’s a great place to find a gift for the photography collector who has everything. In case you don’t know, the Magnum Photo Agency is considered the gold-standard for photojournalists. The agency has one of the finest photography collections on the planet. My particular favorite are the contact sheets they periodically sell. It's just like it sounds, showing a photographer's contact sheet with an image (usually well-known) that was created by the photographer. There’s a book as well, which might be sold out, and prints that occasionally come online. Learn more here.

Best camera for the serious amateur

Professional mirrorless cameras have finally come to the marketplace in a big way. This year both Canon and Nikon released a professional grade 35mm mirrorless camera. These cameras are light, noiseless and exceptionally versatile. It goes without saying the image quality is outstanding. In a nutshell, a mirrorless camera comes without a mechanical shutter. That makes the process of taking a still photograph or making a movie nearly one and the same. Mirrorless cameras are changing the landscape of photography the way the Leica rangefinder did in the 1920s and 1930s, ushering in an era of great photojournalism. Learn more about the Canon R series or the Nikon Z7.

Best lens for the serious amateur

One of the foundations of a great picture is a great lens, and the prime lens has finally returned from the annals of photography history. Back in the era of the Leica rangefinder and the great Time-Life photographers, the prime lens was king. It was light, versatile and offered outstanding image quality. But prime lenses then got lost in a sea of cheap zoom lenses in the 1980s, and again during camera manufacturers' quest for great autofocus lenses. Amateur photographers were led astray by the manufacturers who wanted to make it easy for consumers to “get close” and get it "in focus." But now we’re going back to an era when image quality is more important than ease of use. Prime lenses created specifically for mirrorless cameras are more affordable than they were for film cameras or even DSLR's. Don’t get me wrong, they’re still expensive, but the performance is out of this world. Pair your new mirrorless with these prime lenses for the Canon R series or Nikon Z7.

Best fun photo purchase for the iPhone photographer

A couple of columns ago, I explained that I don’t use my iPhone much anymore. But a lot of people do, so I thought this gift might be a fun one for people who stick to their camera phones when it comes to photography. One of the biggest problems with camera phones is that the lens is a wide angle lens and it’s really hard to get close to your subject sometimes. That problem is solved with this optical zoom you can you use on your cell phone camera! Learn more here.

Happy holidays!

Sean Cayton is a wedding photojournalist of 19 years and operates a successful, award-winning wedding photography studio in Colorado Springs. He's also an award-winning photojournalist. Sean is happily married to the love of his life (also his business partner) and is father to three beautiful children. When he’s not working, Sean can be found outside flying kites with his kids, hitting golf balls or casting a fly rod to hungry trout.


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