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13 Gift Ideas for Photographers

November 13, 2017

Photographers are a hard bunch to buy for because we lust after gear that costs thousands of dollars. What’s worse is there’s so much photography speak involving dynamic range, bokeh, F-stops, chromatic aberration, and it all sounds like gibberish to the uninitiated.

To help you cut through all the BS I’ve put together a short guide of gift ideas for photographers that are sure to make the shooter in your life smile (hint, hint, nudge nudge).

Mindshift Backlight


Mindshifts Backlight is the perfect pack for the adventure photographer. The back panel access pack comes in 26L and 36L sizes and has plenty for Pro size DSLR bodies and lenses as well as room for extra layers, snacks, and even dedicated compartments to carry a 15in laptop and full-size tablet.

Mindshift Backlight 26L US$249 / AU$362

Mindshift Backlight 36L US$289 / AU$379

DJI Mavic Pro

Drones are all the rage at the moment and they allow for some truly unique imagery. The Mavic Pro is pretty much the end all be all with a three-axis gimbal stabilized 12mp / 4k camera, follow me modes, collision avoidance and so much more a whirlybird from DJI will put a smile on any giftee’s face.

DJI Mavic ProUS $999 / AU$1,599

Fstoppers Flash Disc (FS FlashDisc) Portable Speedlight Softbox



Portable light modifiers that don’t suck are few and far between. Because of their size quite often modifiers that will fit in your backpack just are not big enough to defuse the light from a flash very well, but an exception to that rule are the FStoppers Flash Discs. I have two which never leave my bag because they’re lightweight, pack down to just about nothing and work surprisingly well. They have their limitations but can be put onto any Speedlight and are extremely portable.

Fstoppers Flash Disc US$50 / AU$66

Vortex Media Pro Storm Jacket Rain Cover


Like with flash modifiers, rain covers for cameras are extremely bulky. You could argue they should always be with you, but sometimes there just is not enough room in your bag for something that packs down to nearly the size of a telephoto lens. The solution is the Vortex Media Pro Storm Jacket Rain Covers!

Made from rip-stop nylon it’s essentially a tube your camera and lens goes inside that you cinch down on either side. Weighing all of 70g, they come in a variety of sizes and colors, I have two a medium and XL and that covers all of my lenses – I’ve even used them to cover off camera lights too. They’re not the ideal solution when it’s raining cats and dogs, but for inclement weather, you’ll be glad you have them

Vortex Media Pro Storm Jacket Rain Cover starting at US$50 / AU$65

Think Tank Pixel Pocket Rocket


Keeping memory cards organized is a royal pain in the ass, and they have the uncanny ability to find every hard to reach nook and cranny inside your bag.

The Think Thank Pixel Pocket Rocket is a small card wallet designed to stip cards from disappearing into the deep dark depths of your bag. It can hold up to 10 cards (SD and CF) and the outside is made with DWR treated ripstop nylon, so even if you get caught in a rainstorm your media stands a chance of staying dry. What’s better is it comes in bright color combos that you can easily spot in even the messiest camera bag. There’s also a strap which can be clipped to your belt or the inside of your camera bag for a bit of added peace of mind.

If you  to buy the Think Tank Pixel Pocket Rocket, and you spend $50 or more you’ll receive free shipping and a free gift courtesy of Think Tank

If you click through to Think Tank with as THIS LINK, you’ll get to choose a free gift at checkout when you spend more than $50

Think Tank Pixel Pocket Rocket US$19.95 / AU$21

Giottos AA1903 Rocket Air Blaster Large

Nothing can ruin an awesome shot faster than a dirty lens, and camera lenses seem to be a magnet for dust and dirt.

The best way to get rid of these pesky particles is to blow them away with a sharp blast of air, and the best tool for the job is the Giottos AA1900 Rocket Air Blaster. There are plenty of these handheld air puffers available, but what sets the Rocket Blaster apart is the one-way valve which prevents it from inhaling dust and puffing it back onto your gear.

Giottos AA1903 Rocket Air Blaster Large US$12 / AU$20

LensCoat Lens Cover for Canon 100-400 IS II (Real Tree Max4)


If you know me, you know I love camo. I can’t explain it (maybe it’s because I’m a little bit red neck), but I just do. So Lens Coat’s neoprene lens covers were a no-brainer for my telephoto lenses. Not only does it look cool, it provides a bit of added protection for your $2000+ lens. The neoprene covers offer a bit of impact protection and also insulate the lens from extreme temps and a bit of moisture and dust.

They come in a variety of colors other than camo, and just about every lens on the market. Even more, if they don’t make a cover for your lens, they’ll make you a custom cover!

Pricing varies depending on lens and color

 Data Color Spyder5Pro


If you’re printing photos, having a color calibrated screen is extremely important otherwise it’s a shot in the dark as to what your photos will actually look like.

The Spyder5Pro is a relatively inexpensive way to make sure the colors on your computer screen are true. I use the exact device,  and it’s as simple as having it from your screen pressing play and following a few prompts.

Data Color Spyder5Pro US$189 / AU$220

Lexar Professional USB 3.0 Dual-Slot Reader


Some card readers make you want to bang your head on our desk. They usually have 70 different ports for cards that haven’t been used in 20 years but won’t transfer more 20 photos from an SD card without dropping out and the pins and contacts will fail after only a few uses.

Lexar’s Pro USB reader is an inexpensive and extremely reliable alternative to these fury inducing units. It has a slot for a CF and SD card, utilizes and fast USB 3.0 connection, and its pop-up design keeps dust out of the slots (my favourite part).

Lexar Professional USB 3.0 Dual-Slot Reader US$45 / AU$59

 Bose Quiet Comfort 35 Noise cancelling headphones

I think everyone should have a good set of headphones. Between travelling and working and sometimes you need to be able to drown everything else out and focus.

I myself have a set of these noise cancelling headphones and they are the first thing I stuff into my camera bag when I’m headed to the airport. They are super comfy and I’ve worn them the entirety of international long-haul flights and long days at the computer working to a deadline.

 Bose Quiet Comfort 35 Noise cancelling headphones US$349 / AU$499

Phottix Odin II TTL Flash Trigger

Camera Hacks: Phottix Odin Wireless Shutter Release

The Phottix Odin II triggers are my radio triggers of choice. The reason being, they just work! I’ve never had any issues with misfires, they’re easy to use and offer advanced features like high-speed sync and rear curtain sync. They are also backwards compatable and will work with the older Odin triggers.

Phottix Odin TTL Flash Trigger for Canon US$210 / AU$365

Sigma 35mm F1.4 ART DG HSM Lens for Canon

Sigma-35mm-F1.4 ART

Lenses are super expensive, and for the most part, you get what you pay for. However, Sigma’s 35mm F1.4 ART has proved to be a workhorse lens, and at half the price of the Canon version, it demonstrates a fantastic performance to price ratio.

It’s sharp, fast focusing and does a pretty good bokeh and has accompanied me to everything from the Tour Down Under to the One Hit Wonder Big Air.

Check out my first impressions of the Sigma 35mm F1.4 ART

Sigma 35mm F1.4 ART DG HSM Lens US$899 / AU$942

Canon EOS 5D Mark IV Full Frame Digital SLR Camera Body


On the extravagant side of the spectrum is the Canon 5d Mark IVCanon’s 5D series of cameras are workhorses for photographers the world over, and the Mark IV is the latest edition the range. Taking 30-megapixel images and a burst rate of 7fps is ideal for landscape and action photographers alike. It’s also got built-in Wifi, a touch screen, dual pixel focusing and majorly improved dynamic range.

Canon EOS 5D Mark IV Full Frame Digital SLR Camera Body US$3,599 / AU$4,788

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Camera Hacks: Phottix Odin Wireless Shutter Release

June 15, 2016

A shutter release is something every photographer should have in their gear bag. Especially for long exposures, it is vital to eliminate camera shake because you don’t have to touch the camera at all.

While wired versions can be had quite cheap, purpose built wireless shutter releases are pretty pricey but they’re not the only option. For those who are using PocketWizards, they can be set up to fire the camera with the addition of shutter release cable (which varies depending on what brand you shoot with). With the PW on your camera set to receive and the one in your hand set to transmit, press the test button and the shutter will go.

With the Phottix Odin triggers it’s not quite as simple, and as far as I can tell may not have actually been designed to be used as a shutter release like the PW’s – luckily there’s a simple hack to make them do just that.

What you’ll need


The tools for a remote camera

Obviously you’ll need a Phottix transmitter, and a receiver (note: these are the original Phottix Odin triggers, not the Odin II‘s, I haven’t gotten my hands on those yet). As your transmitting to your camera, put the receiver in the hot shoe of your camera, and keep the transmitter in your hand – this is where it gets tricky.

You’d think it would be as easy as buying the right cable and chucking the triggers onto your camera, not so much. It turns out that Phottix doesn’t actually sell the cable you need. The closest you can get is the C8 cable which has the Canon shutter release plug on one end and a 2.5mm stereo plug on the other.

On the Odin receivers themselves there’s only two plugs, a mini-USB port and a 3.5mm jack. So to connect the receiver to your camera you’ll need a camera brand specific shutter release plug and a 3.5mm stereo plug, which are actually pretty difficult to find. I couldn’t even find one on FlashZebra.com!

*Note: These cables may exist on FlashZebra, but for anyone who’s never used this site it’s near impossible to navigate. Even when you know exactly what you’re after it’s hard to find it.

However, 2.5mm stereo to 3.5mm stereo adaptors are readily available and cheap at that. So once you’ve got your adaptor and your cables plugged up you’re ready to go.



Selfie game is strong

Once you’ve got everything plugged up make sure your transmitter and receiver are on the same channel and press the test button on the transmitter. There will be about a three-second delay, and then the shutter will go.

It’s worth noting that you’ll lose autofocus control, once the circuit is completely between the receiver and the camera body the, and lens will focus on whatever the AF points are on. I found the best practice was to compose the shot, and manually focus using live view before plugging the cable into the camera.

You also lose the ability to add wireless off camera  flash. This is because it physically takes longer for a camera to release the shutter then it does to fire a flash. If you rig everything up with wireless triggers it will appear that everything fires at the same time, but when you look at the image there won’t be any visible flash.

There’s only a microscopic time difference between flash and shutter sync, but it’s more than long enough. You can get around this by using a really long flash sync cable, or a second transmitter in the hot shoe of the camera.

But why?


You really need to think about your composition before you leave your tripod

Part of the reason why this is something you may want to do is if you’re trying to get the most out of the gear you already own. Some wireless triggers cost over $100, whereas this method cost $25 not including the Odin triggers which I already own.

Beyond taking long exposure landscape photos, the ability to take and star in the photo is actually a fun creative challenge. It forces you to think critically about the image you’re about to take before you ever push the shutter button. Messing around with this new technique I’ve realized how many last second instinctual changes I make in composition. Not actually being behind the camera you’ve got to think ahead and make these changes before you walk away from the tripod.

Check out a few photos from my experiment with remote cameras

[envira-gallery id=”1614″]


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