Photography Gift Guide 2013: 10 PDN Objects of Desire That Would Make Great Holiday Photo Gifts

DECEMBER 17, 2013

By Dan Havlik

Still doing some last minute shopping for that special photographer in your life? Check out our annual holiday photo gift guide, where we choose our favorite PDN Objects of Desire of the year. This top ten photo gift list for 2013 features something for every type of photographer, even if that photographer happens to be you! (If you're still stumped for photo gifts, here's our favorite Objects of Desire from 2012.)

Blackmagic Design Pocket Cinema Camera
The Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera is a slick-looking, compact cam (it’s less than an inch thick) that’s dedicated to nabbing crisp 1080HD video via a Super 16mm-sized sensor. Photographers will love that this pocket cinema camera is designed to produce a film-like output, including a dynamic range of 13 stops. Blackmagic says that the extra-wide range produces a richer moving image than DSLRs can, and mimics that of Super 16 film shooters, eliminating a loss of detail in blacks and blown highlights. The camera comes body-only; it has an active Micro Four Thirds mount, so lenses are relatively inexpensive and plentiful. With a third party adapter, it’s compatible with PL-mount and Super 16 Cine lenses, too. —Jesse Will

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Bird Photo Booth
One of the most difficult things about bird photography is finding the right fine-feathered subjects. But what if the birds came to you? That’s the idea behind a clever device called the Bird Photo Booth, which is a bird feeder that remotely snaps close-up photos of winged visitors. The Bird Photo Booth is designed to look like a classic Polaroid Land camera from the 1950s but open the front of this hardwood feeder, and there’s a spot to place an iPhone, iPod Touch or GoPro camera. Move away to a discreet location and you can monitor and snap photos of birds swooping in for a bite at the feeder via Wi-Fi or Bluetooth.

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Snappgrip is a snap-on device that adds a real, physical shutter release to a smartphone, which you can half-press to achieve focus. Snappgrip also offers hardware-based zoom controls and a multi-position mode dial with Portrait, Landscape, Flash and Video options. When you don’t want to use snappgrip, just pop it off the included protective case and your phone returns to normal. Snappgrip is compatible with the Apple iPhone 4, 4S and 5, along with the Samsung Galaxy S III smartphone. There’s also a free companion app, which communicates with the snappgrip control via a Bluetooth connection.

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Lomography Belair X 6-12 Jettsetter
Here’s a new analogue camera with a truly retro design that includes a bellows. The Lomography Belair X 6-12 Jettsetter is a medium-format model that shoots (gasp!) 120-format roll film and boasts a variety of forward-thinking features, combining the old with the new. Along with 6 x 12 panoramic images, the Belair X 6-12 offers two other picture formats: 6 x 9 and 6 x 6. The Belair also features auto-exposure, and long and multiple exposure capabilities—a first for any 6 x 12 medium-format film camera we know of. The camera comes with a pair of interchangeable lenses: a 90mm standard lens and a 58mm wide-angle lens. In addition, Lomography is offering optional lenses (sold separately) including Belairgon 90mm and Belairgon 114mm Russian glass optics.

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LA 100
While it may look like a Cylon Raider from Battlestar Galactica, the LA100 is designed to be unintimidating and relatively inexpensive. Unlike those mini-helicopter-like drones, which need to be piloted from the ground by experts, the LA100 is a fully automated glider designed for amateurs to easily shoot aerial images or video. The LA100 has been built, specifically, to carry a GoPro Hero3 camera on the top or bottom of the wing to shoot aerial footage. It can also fly with up to two GoPros at the same time. To prevent this UAV from going astray, the LA100 follows a preprogrammed flight path, which returns to the original launch site for a horizontal landing. In other words, you can send this bird into the heavens where it will reach a maximum height of over 300 feet while shooting stills or HD video, and then it will circle back to you like a trained falcon.

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GoPole Reach
Compact, lightweight action cameras like those in the GoPro series can capture sweet point-of-view still shots and video from extreme locales and in dicey situations where other cameras just can’t go. But how do you go beyond the standard helmet- or chest-mounted shot? Mount it to a pole. Setting the camera apart from your body exaggerates the camera’s 180-degree field of vision and enables you to get shots from low to the ground (think, your dog’s-eye-view of a trail) or from overhead (allowing for a full-body shot of you, say, attempting an ill-advised stunt). Early GoPro-ers fashioned these mounts with everything from broomsticks to ski poles, but the GoPole Reach provides a packable solution that’s built to be beaten up. At 8 ounces, it’s extremely portable: Its 17-inch aluminum body telescopes up to 40 inches, and twist-locks allow it to be fixed at any length in between. A dual-compound rubber grip offers a firm hold, and an adjustable wrist strap keeps the pole from flying away if you can’t hold on. —J.W.

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Gura Gear Sabi Sack
Simple in execution but exceedingly utilitarian, this beanbag-like camera and lens stabilizer is intended for the times when a tripod isn’t fast or convenient enough. The Sabi Sack by Gura Gear is composed of two pillows connected by two sewn-in handles that can be positioned at either side of a large, heavy lens, or set below a camera body to provide vibration-stilling support, whether you’ve set the bag atop a Jeep hood, on the ground, or atop a precarious ledge in an arena or auditorium. It’s hand-stitched together from nonslip, abrasion-and-scuff-resistant Cordura fabric. What’s it filled with? That’s the fun (and smart) part. The Sabi Sack comes empty, and zippers provide an opening to fill it with whatever’s nearby—beans, rice, birdseed, maybe all those dollar coins you’ve got lying around—so you determine how firm, malleable, light or heavy you need the bag to be. Two sizes are available: Sabi, at 8 x 8 x 5 inches, and Super Sabi, at 8 x 13 x 5 inches. —J.W.

Sabi model is $40; Super Sabi model is $60;
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Lomography Konstrucktor
Analogue junkies looking for cheap thrills will love this build-it-yourself camera kit. The Lomography Konstruktor is a fully functioning 35mm compact SLR that’s operational once you’ve spent an estimated two hours assembling it from 41 parts. Most of its plastic parts—including a 50mm f/10 lens, fixed 1/80 of a second shutter and collapsing hood viewfinder—either clip together or are affixed with tiny screws (be sure to lock the cat in another room). And yes, a tiny screwdriver comes with the kit. Once you’ve built the Konstruktor, you can spin standard 35mm film through it and hope for Lomo magic to happen (light leaks, trails, shots that are just slightly out of focus) or you can force the magic by multiple-exposing frames of film. —J.W.

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Made by SDPNT Lens Bracelets

Want folks to know you’re a photographer but don’t want to carry a six-pound camera around your neck all the time? May we suggest, then, donning one of these handmade bracelets (cuffs, if you’d prefer) made by Stefaan duPont. The New York City-based shooter crafts each one by hand from the parts of old lenses. He first made the bracelets for friends while on a jaunt around the world, then found enough interest to start offering them for sale. The colored, converging lines on some of the bracelets represent depth-of-field scales; others have aperture markings; and some feature the familiar texture of focusing rings. Most have a circumference of around five inches, but since one side is open, they’re adjustable so one size fits almost all. They’re made from a well-used lens, so each of the bracelets has its own distinct character marks to start; you’ll add marks and dents as you wear them. —J.W.

Starting at $250;
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Fujifilm Instax Mini 90 Classic
Fujifilm’s Instax line of Polaroid-like instant film cameras has been going strong since the late 1990s, but if you’re not a fan of the line’s bubbly, toy-like design, there likely hasn’t been a body you’d be dying to carry. That should change with the Mini 90 Neo Classic, which takes on the retro, two-toned, silver-and-black styling of the brand’s mirrorless X Series cameras. The new Mini 90 Neo Classic will sit at the high end of the Instax line, with a 60mm f/12 lens and shoot in several modes including Macro, Double Exposure and Bulb, for exposing shots up to ten seconds. The flash is more sophisticated than previous units, and will fire at speeds up to 1/400 of a second. The Neo Classic takes 800-speed Instax Mini film (the photos are roughly 2 x 3 inches). —J.W.

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