By JASON LIOH
Christmas is just round the corner! If you are thinking about what to get someone who is a photography buff, here are some ideas.
No photographer will complain about having an extra memory card to use. A DSLR camera that can shoot full high definition (1080p) videos and pictures at 24 megapixels, one memory card is probably not enough to store everything.
Compact cameras and entry-level DSLR cameras use SD/xD memory cards, which are really cheap and come in capacities ranging from 4GB to 64GB. Price usually starts from RM20 for a 4GB card, although it does go up to a few hundred ringgit for a professional version, which has faster read and write speed. Get a card that is “Class 10”, which is suitable for both photo and video shoots.
Compact flash cards or CF cards are more widely used in mid and high-end DSLR cameras. They are more expensive than SD/xD cards, but they are more durable and less susceptible to file corruption. It is important to find out the read and write speed before purchasing any CF card. If it is too slow, it would not be able to store images fast enough before the camera’s buffer runs out. The recommended speed is 30MB per second.
If you’ve got money to spare, throw in a memory card holder to your gift pack. Holders come in various shapes and sizes; some can even hold up to eight CF cards and folds like a small wallet. They are sold almost everywhere, and are very affordable.
Extra batteries are always handy for someone who has to go on long shooting sessions. Depending on the make and model of the camera, extra batteries cost about RM200-RM250. However, be prepared to spend more if you’re buying them for a person who uses a professional DSLR camera.
Be wary of “imitation batteries” that cost half the price of the original, as there is no guarantee that such batteries will not damage a camera.
If your photography buff has an external flash gun, then rechargeable batteries make for a good gift, too. I recommend the Sanyo Eneloop rechargeable batteries as they have high capacity (up to 2,500 mAh) and the capability to retain charge even after not using it for months. They also come in beautiful rainbow colours.
A good card reader is important to prevent file corruption during file transfer from camera to computer. I have lost two albums filled with pictures taken during holiday trips due to a faulty card reader.
A proper card reader also has a faster transfer rate compared to cheap versions. I am currently using a SanDisk Imagemate All-In-One USB 2.0 card reader, which cost me RM128. It has never failed me. My transfer rate is 25MB/s, which is 10 times faster than what I used to get with my old RM10 card reader.
There are three main items that a photographer should have in his bag to clean his kit – a microfibre cloth, double-valve rocket blower and two types of lenspen. The first two are pretty much self-explanatory, but the lenspen might sound alien to some.
Lenspen, as the name suggests, is a pen-like cleaner that has a retractable dust removal brush on one end and special non-liquid cleaning source and tool on the other. It is used to clean both the front and back element of the lens. One wipe with the pen is all you need to get stubborn fingerprints, smudges, water stains and dust off your lens. It’s about RM35 per pen and every photographer should have one.
There are many different types of filters – UV filters, ND (neutral density) filter, CPL (circular polariser) filter, macro (close-up) filter and wide-angle filter. They all have different usage and purpose and it is best to read up a little before getting your hands on one.
UV filter serves as a protector to the lens’ front element, preventing scratches and knocks. ND filter prevents light from entering the lens, allowing the photographer to shoot at slower shutter speed during broad day light.
CPL filter allows you to take really blue skies and prevent reflections from water, glasses and etc.
Macro filter allows you to take close up shot without having a real macro lens and wide angle allows you to shoot at even wider perspective.
Most camera lens are not cheap but what’s great is that there are numerous affordable and value-for-money lenses available here, such as Canon’s EF 50mm F1.8 II or Nikon’s 50mm F1.8 D, which range between RM280 and RM400. They are fast, lightweight and small in size and most photographers, especially those who are just beginning to dabble in the hobby, would probably love to have any of these lenses in his collection.
Of course, if budget is not an issue, feel free to ask what the person’s favourite lens is and just get him that particular one.
q Jason Lioh, an avid blogger and photography enthusiast, is hoping Santa Claus would put Canon’s latest flagship DSLR, the EOS 1D-X or a EF 16-35mm F2.8L II USM into his imaginary Christmas stocking this year.
Tell us what you think!