Cool Holiday Gifts for Photographers

December 9, 2013

By Dan Havlik and Theano Nikitas

It’s that time of year to go out and splurge on yourself or others. Senior technology editor, Dan Havlik, and technology writer Theano Nikitas highlight seven of their favorite photo-related gifts, ranging from purely indulgent wish list items to the more affordable necessities.

HiLO Lens

Products to help you take better photos with your smartphone abound these days, but most of them are just novelties. The HiLO lens, on the other hand, is both useful and fun. The 
right-angle lens attaches to your iPhone and helps you shoot photos from unique angles—such as down low or overhead—with your smartphone camera. For high-angle shots, such as during concerts or when trying to photograph over crowds, the HiLO lens acts as a periscope. For low-angle shots, such as of pets and children, you can use your iPhone like a camera with a vari-angle screen to compose photos from difficult angles.—DH

Digital Bolex D16

Even those who didn’t grow up making home movies in the 1970s would probably recognize a Bolex camera with its familiar pistol grip and sleek, compact style. Now, two Bolex enthusiasts are introducing a digital version of this classic 16mm film shooter. Developed by Joe Rubinstein and Elle Schneider with the approval of the Swiss-based Bolex company, the Digital Bolex D16 uses a Kodak-made CCD sensor and records RAW video in Adobe Cinema DNG. There are two resolution options: 2K and 1280 x 1080 HD. Not only does it resemble a film Bolex, the new version even has an old-school hand crank on the side of the camera that you can program to adjust various functions such as frame rates and volume, or to switch the camera into single-image mode capture for stop-motion work.—DH

Leica T-Shirts

Leica fanatics are notorious for buying anything with the German company’s distinctive red dot logo on it, which is why they’re sure to love these officially sanctioned Leica T-shirts. The T-shirts, which are exclusively branded and distributed by Leica Camera USA, started turning up at official Leica dealers across the country this summer, and while we haven’t seen them for sale online yet, it’s likely just a matter of time. Meanwhile, stop by your local Leica store and check them out. The shirts are 100 percent cotton and come in a variety of graphic designs featuring Leica rangefinder cameras and, of course, the Leica logo.—DH

Aquabotix HydroView Sport

Want to shoot cool, underwater video in a difficult-to-reach location? You can either hire a submarine or just buy one. The Aquabotix HydroView Sport is a remote-controlled mini sub with a built-in HD camcorder. The 19-pound submarine (9 x 14 ½ x 7 inches) sends a live video feed from its cockpit to an iPad from up to 100 feet underwater, allowing you to observe and record marine life without getting wet yourself. This one is definitely a splurge, but worth it.—DH

Moab Slickrock Metallics: Pearl 260 and Silver 300

This line is perhaps one of my favorites. The Metallic Silver 300 is great for black-and-white and infrared photography, but color images on this slick surface are gorgeous as well. While it’s heavier than Slickrock Metallic Pearl and takes the metallic look to a whole new level, both Slickrock papers are instant dry, compatible with dye and pigment inks—although pigment is recommended—and come in cut sheets and rolls. These papers are must-haves if you want your images (monochrome or color) to pop off the page.—TN

Reflex Lens Stool

Here’s a unique gift we’re pretty sure your photographer friends don’t already have: a comfy stool designed like a Canon fisheye lens (though not branded as such). The 21 x 16-inch handmade stool from the Monoculo Design Studio is built from Ayous wood and has a plush, cushioned red top for sitting on. That top is removable and the stool is hollow inside, making it a convenient place to store your camera gear. —DH

The Think Tank Photo TurnStyle

This is a great little sling bag for wedding photographers who are traveling light. The bag can be worn as a sling bag or converted to a beltpack. Either way, TurnStyle’s exterior fabric is water resistant and equipped with a rain cover for when you’re caught in heavy rain or snow. Available in small, medium and large sizes, the smallest TurnStyle can carry a minimum of a mirrorless camera, two to four lenses and a small tablet. The largest, the TurnStyle 20, accommodates a standard DSLR, one to four lenses (up to a 70-200mm) and/or flash and a large tablet. All models are lightweight, come in charcoal or blue slate, and are equipped with adjustable foam dividers plus a front organizer pocket to hold accessories and other day-shoot necessities.
$75, TurnStyle 5; $85, TurnStyle 10; $100, TurnStyle 20;—TN