Photography is more accessible than it's ever been, thanks to the rise of cheap, amazing cameras. There's never been more potential photographers than this very moment.
The Potential Photographer is that person that has the eye. You see something in their cute kitty pictures or whacked out food photos that you don't see in the thousands of others streaming by on Flickr. Lots of their photos are somebody's favorite. And they want to take it further. This is what you buy them.
1. Hipstamatic iPhone App, $1.99. Forget the haters. Hipstamatic takes artsy-lookin' faux-vintage photos that makes everybody feel good (except internet curmudgeons and data purists). Your memories are oversaturated with good times, man. [iTunes]
2. Leica M9, $6,995. If they own a Leica, they don't even need to take a picture to be a photographer. The world's first full-frame digital rangefinder, this is the best digital Leica you can buy. [Adorama]
3. Adobe Lightroom 3, $80-$285. Serious digital photographers shoot in RAW. But dealing with RAW is a pain in the ass without the right software. Adobe's Lightroom 3 is indispensable for processing RAW photos and managing giant libraries of 'em. It's also shockingly well designed for Adobe software. [Amazon, Amazon]
4. Orbis Ring Flash, $200. Real ring flashes—lighting gear for pro-looking portraits and macro photography—are pricey. If your photographer doesn't wanna go all DIY, Orbis's ringflash transforms a standard speedlight into a ring flash for much cheaper. [orbis]
5. Joby Gorillamobile for iPhone 4, $40. The iPhone 4 camera is still our favorite one in a phone that people actually own. It'd work a lot better shooting those 5-megapixel photos and 720p videos in some situations if it had a tripod. This is it. [Joby]
6. Panasonic Lumix LX5, $420. If you can't afford to buy them a Leica, this is the next best thing—quite possibly the best camera that can be shoved in a pocket, complete with Leica lenses. [Amazon]
7. Domke F-3X Super Compact Ruggedwear Bag, $135. Most photo bags look like they belong on the backs of pimply high schoolers. The F-3X does not. And it holds everything a photog needs while looking conspicuous on a secret mission: one DSLR, 2-3 lenses, a flash and accessories. [Domke]
8. Black Rapid RS-7 Camera Strap, $60. Because whipping a camera out like a pistol at a duel is bad ass. Also, it's really handy. And way more comfortable than a standard strap. [Black Rapid]
9. DSLR Adapter and Lomo Lenses, $150. Most any photographer will tell you it's all about the glass. One of these kits will let your photographer slap a set of Diana+ lenses onto a standard Canon or Nikon DSLR for that soft tone they fell in with using Instagram. [Lomography (Canon), Lomography (Nikon)]
Bonus. 50mm-equivalent Prime Lenses, $90-$320. The classic lens, a powerful way to learn to shoot. They're, on average, sharp and fast. If you're buying for a non-full frame DSLR, you'll want to snag a 35mm lens, which works out to around 50mm with the crop factor on most non-pro DSLRs. Faster lenses cost more, but you can start at around $200 for a decent 35mm. [Amazon (Nikon 50mm), Amazon (Canon 50mm), Amazon (Nikon 35mm), Amazon (Canon 35mm)]
Further Bonus. Gift Certificate from BorrowLenses.com
If your camera budget this season just isn't going as far as it used to, don't despair (you're in the majority)! Instead, give a gift certificate for lens rentals! [BorrowLenses.com].
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