Once again it is that time of the year for me to post my holiday gift suggestions. The following items are things that I use on a daily basis and highly recommend. I hope this list will help you purchase the correct gift for yourself or a friend or family member.

Eneloop USB charger:

I found this diminutive battery charger in a computer shop in Yangon Myanmar. It’s also available in the USA and is the most convenient and compact AA and AAA charger you’ll ever find. Charge your batteries from any USB port (or use that little white iPhone cube (or similar) that converts USB to plug it directly into a wall plug) .

The Sanyo Eneloop USB Travel Charger will charge two AA or AAA NiMH rechargeable batteries at a time, and can be powered by any device with a USB output.  Charge from your computer’s USB port, or use any USB-to-AC adapter to plug it into the wall  The Sanyo Eneloop USB Travel Charger kit inlcudes two Eneloop 2000mAh rechargeable AA batteries to get you started.

I particularly love the integrated cable that folds neatly, making this tiny package easy to carry and packs in a tiny space! The Sanyo Eneloop USB Travel Charger isn’t all that easy to find, but last time I checked, it was available here at Neobits.

Fenix e05 flashlight:

The Fenix E05 mini, pocket flashlight is an ultra-portable high-intensity flood beam mini-flashlight perfect for every day carry. Featuring an durable, light weight body and extremely compact size, the E05 is in my pocket every day. It offers perfect flood beam, easy and reliable operation and exceptional 3 hr runtime on a single AAA battery. Brightness: 27 lumens * Size: 2.5″” (Length) and it’s waterproof. I bought this light on Ken Rockwell’s recommendation and I’ve not been without it since! Available at Amazon for about $20.

Hoodman Raw Steel CF cards:

As you may know or remember, I used to be the poster boy for San Disk memory cards, but after 3 failed cards in the span of just 12 months I was fed up and looking for a better product, so I did a Google search and ended up on Scott Kelby’s website, reading about his experiences with Hoodman.

To make a long story short, I sent a letter to Lou Schmidt at Hoodman. Here’s part of my letter to Lou….”

“A few years back, I was Sandisk’s CF Card “Poster Boy”, appearing in full page advertisements in all the major photography magazines (see the advertisement here). Over the past 12 months, I have had 2 card reader failures and 3 SanDisk Compact Flash cards crap out on me. Thankfully, the images on the last card that failed, while on assignment in Vietnam last month, were able to be retrieved by the folks at LC Technology International (LC is the company  that does recovery for SanDisk….I think they’re doing a booming business recovering lots of people’s images from defective SanDisk cards). Anyway, I am aware of Hoodman and know that you guys make your products right here in the good ole’ USA….”

Lou wrote back to me within 12 hours and then we chatted on the phone. What I learned was that large manufactures of CF cards expect and accept a 3 to 5 % failure rate, a rate unacceptable to Hoodman.

For 9 months, I’ve been shooting with Hoodman Raw Steel CF cards on a daily basis and I can tell you, they have been rock solid performers. Sure they cost a bit more, but as they say,” you get what you pay for”, and that means in terms of customer service too.  Hoodman customer service is manned from 8 am to 5 pm Monday through Friday with live, helpful people. Other, big CF card sellers will send you into endless voicemail loops and make you wait 2 to 5 days for an offshore call center to get back to you; not what you want to hear when you need answers now! Get your Hoodman CF cards here.

Spider Holster:

Do yourself a favor and get a Spider Holster now. It’s the best way to carry your cameras, period. I’ve been using this product for 3 years now and I’ve done several blog posts and product reviews about it, one such review that you can read by clicking  here . Each year I see more and more folks on my photo tours switching to the Spider Holster, and I’ve even arranged for a discount code, for those of you reading my blog. When you order, just use the following coupon code and get 25% off of the spider holster. Coupon code =  grobl25


Kuhl Revolvr pants:

This is the third year in a row that Kuhl’s Revolvr Pants have made my top 10 list: As you might remember, last year I also recommended Kuhl Pants in my “2010 gift ideas blog post”, about the Kuhl Jeans. Now, Kuhl has introduced the The Revolvr , it’s their upgraded version of Kuhl Jeans.  The Revolvr’s  upgraded features include scuff guards on the cuffs and pockets for incredible durability.  Pockets are now riveted, not just bar tacked. What makes these the perfect travel pant is the Uberkühl Ultralight Fabric Technology:   Kuhl has blended the strength of nylon into a cotton oxford weave. These pants feel like light weight cotton pair of Levi’s that wicks perspiration and will dry quickly. What makes them the perfect pants for photography, is a little bit of extra roominess, a gusseted crotch and articulated knees for flexibility and comfort, all of which allow me the freedom of movement needed to get into any position, in order to get the shot.

I’m including some photos of the Kuhl pants which I have been wearing on a daily basis, for the last 18 months in some of the most punishing conditions imaginable, and which have been washed time and time again in parts of the world where “washing cloths” entails banging them on a rock in the local river. If these pants have survived for me, I’m guessing that you can expect at the very least, the same exceptional performance and durability!

Oh, almost forgot to mention…I love the special CF card pocket! Get your Kuhl Revolvr pants here.

Think Tank Holsters:

I love the Think Tank Digital Holsters and Steroid Speed Belt for safely transporting my cameras from point A to point B, and I even shoot out of them from time to time: For many years I have used Think Tank’s Digital Holster and Steroid Speed Belt combo to carry my cameras. It is the most comfortable and efficient way to transport your gear. Some folks like shoulder bags or back packs, but I’m not a fan of either of those methods. The waist belt- based system allows you to carry your cameras comfortably and if you need to “shoot out of your bags” it’s the most convenient method. My system is a combination of the Digital Holster 40, the Digital Holster 50 and the Steroid Speed Belt.

The Digital Holster 40 V2.0 and Digital Holster 50 V2.0 are designed for pro size DSLRs such as the Nikon D3 series or the Canon 1D/1Ds series. The shape of the bag conforms to the camera itself, with one straight side and one curved side. The Digital Holster 40 is for my Nikon D3s body with the 17-35 f2.8 and the Digital Holster 50 is for my Nikon D3s body with attached 70-200 f 2.8 lens. Both are attached to the Steroid Speed Belt, a fully padded 3.5” waist belt which allows you to “Rotate or Lock” Modular, Skin, and Multimedia components for even weight distribution HALF WAY around the belt on special rails. Especially designed for use with lots of gear.

I’ve done several reviews of this set up over the years, you can read an old review by clicking this link

Think Tank bags are AWESOME, if you don’t own them already, get some, you won’t be disappointed!

If you visit my Thank Tank order page and place your order through me, you’ll receive free camera gear with your order of $50.

Macbook Air:

I’ve had a 13 inch MacBook Air for almost 2 years now and I don’t know how I ever lived without it. The MacBook Air is compact, lightweight and powerful. Although the new MacBook Pro with retina display has a wonderful screen, it’s a bit larger and heavier than the MacBook air. I’m hoping that someday soon the MacBook air comes with a retina display, but until, I’ll be using my MacBook Air.

G-Drive slim : Ultra-slim USB external hard drive designed for the Apple MacBook Air

I have two 500GB G-DRIVE slim external hard drives which I connect to my MacBook Air to back up all of the images I created during assignments. I place one G-DRIVE slim unit in my Think Tank bag, the other in my luggage, thus minimizing the possibility that I would lose my hard earned photographs.

Now available in a high-performance USB 3.0 interface with Time Machine-ready backup, G-DRIVE slim is the Mac user’s sleekest answer to superior data storage. Its slender, lightweight aluminum case packs plenty of storage (up to 500GB) and it’s ready to work with your Mac right out of the box. G-DRIVE slim comes preformatted HFS+ with Journaling and is Time Machine ready right out of the box, or prepare G-DRIVE for use with Windows® systems with a quick reformat.

G-Drive has one of the best warranty & support systems around. The G-DRIVE slim is backed by a 3-year factory warranty and unlimited free technical support. Adorama has these in stock now click here and search for G-Drive Slim 500GB only $88 with free shipping!


6 inch USB cables from USB Firewire.com:

I hated the messy spiderweb of USP cables that I had in my luggage for connecting my card reader and external drives to my MacBook air. They always seem to be tangled in a mess that took a lot of effort to straighten out, so one day I went online and found a company that makes 6 inch cables for just about any application.  Sure enough, they had the cables I needed thus eliminating my spiderweb of tangled cables! http://www.usbfirewire.com


Russell Athletic Men’s Dri-Power Mesh T-Shirt:

For a long time I’ve been searching for the most lightweight, breathable, quick drying and comfortable T-shirts that I could find. In early 2012 I found the answerer was looking for: Russell Athletic Men’s Dri-Power Mesh T-Shirt. Available from Campmor for just $12.99, these shirts make me happy every time I put one on. They come in a variety of colors.

Russell Athletic Men’s Dri-Power Mesh T-Shirt $12.99 http://www.campmor.com/outdoor/gear/Product___32897

I hope these recommendations have been helpful

Happy Holidays, Karl

4 Responses to “Holiday Gift Ideas For Photographers” Subscribe

  1. Doris & Jerry December 17, 2012 at 11:40 pm #

    Merry Christmas & Happy New Year to you Karl & your wife.

    We are going to Bhutan in April if you have anything that should be a must for us to see
    would you please let us know. Thanks for all the photo tips and great trips that we have had with you in the past several years! Was great to hear about Roberto’s photo award!W

  2. this is lemonade December 18, 2012 at 1:52 pm #

    Hi Karl,
    Such an insightful post and some great tips. I’m in no way a professional, neither do I have professional sized cameras, but some of the equipment you recommend will definitely go on my wish list having struggled to find a satisfactory way to transport my camera for ease of use for ages now.
    What I really enjoyed was following the links and finding the Come Along For The Ride series and feeling like I got to meet you and understand more what is involved in your work and how you produce the wonderful photos I so enjoy viewing. Thank you for sharing your insights in such a clear way. I don’t have the boldness to photograph in the way that you do and it is obvious that your skill comes with much experience. Thank you so much for sharing it with us.
    Have a peaceful and happy Christmas, all the best for the new year too!
    Keep up the invaluable work!

  3. Karl Grobl December 19, 2012 at 1:14 pm #

    Dear \this is lemonade\,
    Thanks for the nice comment and compliment, folks like you are the reason I take the time to share images and information.
    Merry Christmas to you and best wishes for 2013.

  4. Jeremy December 21, 2012 at 8:07 am #

    Very informative and unique gift guide. You’ve included many useful ideas that other guides overlook. Great stuff.

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