You don’t need to spend mega dollars to expand your collection of photography gear. The list below is my attempt in creating a 25 items list, all under $25 that any photographer will be happy to receive as a present.
Yes, You Can Get Better Gear For $25
The first section is all about “real” photography gear, like the one you would not be embarrassed to use when around clients. If you are a long time readers, chances are you already know or even pack some of this gear.
Nikon 600mm f/4.0G ED VR II AF-S SWM Super Telephoto Lens – ~$9,999 on Amazon | B&H
I just had to start this list with something that will really make any Nikon photographer happy. You would have to stretch your $25 budget just a bit, but it is definitely worth the expression on the face of the photographer who gets this a Christmas present. OK, nuff fooling around. It is $25 or less from now on. for real. (if the 600mm is over budget for you, try those cool Nikon and Canon Holga filters for $22.99)
Westcott 43″ Collapsible Umbrella – $19.90 on Amazon | B&H
Long time readers will recognize this umbrella as one of the most used light modifiers on the blog. It is great for portraiture lighting on the cheap and is probably the first modifier any off camera photographer gets. It is a permanent part in my travel photography kit as being super compact and super light.
Bokeh Masters Kit – $25 on DIYP Store
We love bokeh, and love shaped bokeh even more. This little turns light into shapes. Remember those little out of focus circles of light you have when you shoot city lights or waves? This kit will turn those dots of lights to one of 21 shapes with no software intervention. How cool is that?
Strobist Gels – $7.46 on Amazon | B&H
If an umbrella is the first light modifier you get, a set of gels is probably the second. There is a selection in that pack of gels for just about anything you need, from matching you strobe to tungsten light through making it florescent friendly till giving your model a nice skin tone. We reviewed the gels way back and loved each and every one of them.
Ring Flash – $25 on DIYP store
The DIYP ring flash is a proof that you don’t need to spend big $$ to get a great light going. It is great if you have some shadows you want to subtly fill or if you want to get a fashion / Glamour look. For $25 it is a no brainer to get the light quality of a ring flash.
Joby GPM-D1EN Gorillapod Magnetic Flexible Tripod – $19.95 on Amazon | B&H
The magnetic gorillapod is one of the best flash mounting accessories I have met. If you need a go to clampy thing in your bag to get a strobe placed in some weird places on location this is a great accessory. Between the flexible legs and the magnetic attachments, there is almost no where it can’t be mounted.
It is small enough to be an “always in the bag” kinda mount and is useful for point and shoot BTSs, setting up a mic or getting a strobe positioned.
43″ 5-in-1 Collapsible Disc Reflector – $19.95 on Amazon
Five in one reflectors are a great invention for “adding” a second light source to a setup. A reflector is by far the easiest way to fill in shadows or to easily change a lighting setup. You can see how reflectors can effect your light here.
Gadgets That Will Make Your Life Easier
The stuff that I put here is really the small things that will make your life easier, not always the best looking, but definitely can be a time saver when you are in a hurry.
Ball Banjees – $9.15 on Amazon
For when you need to put something up there and fast. Strobe to sign poll; light stand to small tree; your subjects hand to the drivers mirror. Not really sure why you’d wanna do this, but you definitely can.
Gaffers Tape – ~$11 on Amazon | B&H
For when you need to tape something real good. Like cover cables on the floor, gaff a strobe to a wall, mark a spot in the studio or make someone be quiet in the trunk while you are driving to the near waste site.
Gray cards – $11.95 on Photocritic
For when you need your color just right.
Or just gray.
Memory Card Wallet – $18.75 on Amazon
For when you have too many memory cards to carry in your pocket. Of you just wanna feel like you have lots of memory cards. Of for when you need to get them strobist gels organized.
Foldable Apple Box – $20 on Kikkerland
My find of the year! for when your studio is so tight you can not spare any room for an apple box. This baby folds flat and goes aside. It also doubles as my kids bench when they need to reach the sink.
The Glif – $14.59 on Amazon
For when you have no Behind The Scenes shooter and all you have going for you is an iPhone. It works really sweet with the tiny gorilla pod from the first section. Can really place it anywhere at all.
For when you want your strobe to be on your stand and stay on your stand, unless you want to take it off. or put it on again. Or off.
Cutlery tray – A few bucks on IKEA
For when you have too many lenses and not enough storage space. Really if you are the point that you are storing your lenses in a drawer on a cutlery tray, you are one happy photographer.
Museum Gel/Putty $9.79 on Amazon
For when you need to place something in a really awkward place. It’s clear, It’s putty and you can use it to take product shots of things placed in weird sports. You can also just shoot clear gel if you feel really artsy.
The Nice Clip $9.95 on nice
For when you try and find your lens cap after you have just finished a great photo session, then you realize it is not in your pocket, in the bag, or on the ground. where the heck is the lens cap?
It’s Good To Have In The Bag (Just in case…)
The things here are the small things that I carry around “just in case….” They have saved my behind more than once.
Translucent face powder – About $10 on Amazon
If you ever had to photograph a sweaty subject you know why this is a life saver. It takes all the glitter from a shiny face, or a smooth head. I can not tell you how many time this has saved my life on warm days. Make sure you match the right color or go with translucent to be on the safe side.
Memory Stick – $10 on Amazon | B&H
Where you ever in a position where a client wanted to transfer files over to you, you wanted to transfer files to them. Hand carry, not through mail? I Also keep a folder with a portfolio and a folder with handy docs and software on mine.
Unopened Enloops – $17.97 on Amazon | B&H
The nice thing about Enloops is that they come pre charged and loose very little charge over time. I use a few sets regularly, but also keep a sealed emergency set in my bag just in case a set dies on me. This is not a sexy gift, but it is very useful.
Lint Remover – $14.71 (for 5) on Amazon
This one goes hand in hand with the face powder above. It will remove hair flakes from jackets, dust from shits and flees from dogs. Using this on subjects with dark clothes will save you hours of post processing work.
Screwdriver Set – 10$ on Moma
You never know when you’ll be required to open a battery compartment, close a loose screw or give you radio trigger an open heart surgery. I keep those in the bag even when I am not shooting. FTW!
MAGLITE XL50-S3016 LED Flashlight – $23.99 on Amazon | B&H
If you ever shoot in dark places this will save your behind when you need some help focusing. You’ll especially appreciate it if you are a photographer of a certain red brand. The torch also makes a great tool for light painting.
HDMI cable – $9.99 on Amazon
There is a post coming about this in a bit, but an HDMI cable will turn any nearby TV to an instant preview monitor. True it will not be color calibrated but it can provide some instant feedback or you can use it to show images right off the camera
Lighter – $13.49 (for 50) on Amazon
It is great for closing loose threads, finding things in the dark and with the Maglite from above you are all set for your next light painting job. (No, I don’t smoke).
Happy thanks giving if you are celebrating today!
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