6 great analog geek gift ideas for your 2013 holiday buying frenzy (Gift Guide 2013)

6 great analog geek gift ideas for your 2013 holiday buying frenzy (Gift Guide 2013)

Summary: Analog gifts for your geek might become his or her most prized possessions. Choose well and you could set your geek on a new journey of renewed self-discovery.

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TOPICS: Amazon, Hardware
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There's a hipster in all of us isn't there? Sure there is. You need to appeal to your inner hipster by considering some analog gift choices this year. 2014 is the Year of the Analog Hipster. Your geek will imagine him or herself doing cartwheels at the site of any of these analog gifts.

Yes, I know that this is a technology site but even we digital age, techno nerd types need some analog love and here it is, just in time for Christmas. You're welcome.

Lomography Camera

Lomography is an analog photographic movement that all began when a couple of Austrian guys picked up an old Russian film camera and started playing with it. The name lomography comes from the factory (LOMO) in St. Petersburg, Russia (Soviet Russia) that made inexpensive plastic cameras for the masses. They produced millions of them from the 1940s up to the 1980s. The most popular ones were the Smena (means 'generations') cameras.

But now lomography covers more than just those Soviet cameras. It is a blanket term that refers to lo-fi analog photography and lo-fi analog filmmaking.

Holga
The Holga 120 N Film Camera. Plastic. Unpredictable. Awesome.

Lomography includes film cameras of all types. The more popular ones are the Diana, the Holga, the Smena, the Lubitel, and the Zenit to name a few. There are hundreds of models from which to choose and in many varieties: half-frame, medium format, 35mm, pinhole, and stereo. There are cameras that expose the sprocket holes on your 35mm film, some that give you as many as 144 frames per roll of 36 exposure film, and others that use the truly retro 120 film.

I love them all. Yes, you can still buy film. In fact, film is more popular now than ever before. My wife doesn't get it but as her brother so succinctly pointed out to her during one of her anti-lomography rants, "Just because cameras were invented doesn't mean that it deprecated painting." So true.

Film is awesome. Lomography is very cool too. Unleash your geek's inner creative self with a film camera.

If you're not totally sold on the idea, you can buy lomography lenses for your digital cameras. I have a Holga and a Diana lens for my Canon T3. They produce some great effects.

Film cameras can range from a few dollars on ebay.com to hundreds of dollars on lomography.com. I suggest starting with a Holga (less than $30). The standard Holga uses 120 film, which you can still buy at camera shops or order online. I suggest you start with color print film instead of black and white because many camera shops have stopped developing black and white film.

There's an alternative developing method for black and white film that I've had great success with called Caffenol. You develop film with a combination of coffee, vitamin C powder, and washing soda. You don't need a fancy darkroom or a lot of stuff and it's totally non-toxic unless you're like me and you hate coffee.

Converse All Stars (aka Chuck Taylor's)

CAS_White
White, High-top Chuck Taylor's. Just what The Doctor ordered.

Converse All Stars? Basketball Shoes? Yes. Trust me on this one. Your geek will absolutely snort at the sight of some white high-top Converse All Stars. Why? Watch a few episodes of Doctor Who starring David Tennant and find out why. Watch with caution because women go "gaga" for him, so be prepared. He either wears red or white Converse All Stars on the show.

I never owned a pair of them because I always thought that they looked ugly and that only poor kids wore them. My how times have changed. These canvas gems will set you back $50.00 or $60.00 per pair. My daughter and I went to Shoe Carnival and bought ours because they're buy one, get one half off there. I bought white high-tops and she got red high-tops. We wore them to the "Day of the Doctor" showing. I felt awesome.

Books

books-stack
Dead trees full of flowery prose.

The ultimate in analog geekdom: a book. Yep, the old dead tree variety is still going strong. Captain Picard loved books. I love books. Geeks love books. Reading is good for you. And you don't have to limit your ideas to hardbacks or paperbacks. Try giving your geek a comic book. Yes, they still make comic books. And they're better now than ever before. The art is unbelievably great and the stories are engrossing. Seriously.

My daughter, of course, wants the Doctor Who comic books (classic and new).

Books range in price from free (Yes, free) to hundreds of dollars for classic ones or first printings. There's nothing quite like holding a book and reading real words on a page. Try it and give your geek something to hold onto: a book.

Art Supplies

Does your geek like to doodle, draw, paint, or create mixed media artwork? If you don't know the answer, shame on you. Get yourself a clue and go buy an art set for your geek. There are many such sets at book stores, art supply stores, and large retailers.

crayons
Primitive yet seductive artistic medium.

I suggest watercolors or acrylics in a set because those mediums are very forgiving and fun to work with. Plus, they're non-toxic and clean up with water. One warning with acrylic paint though is that you have to clean up quickly because acrylic dries fast and permanent.

Because you only have stock "art" on your walls from retail stores, allow your geek to hang his or her work in places of honor on your walls, not just on your refrigerator. Frame your geek's masterpieces. Real artwork makes a home warmer and more inviting than those fake ones you buy at "starving artist" sales. Encourage your geek to create, color outside the lines, and to push the boundaries. Grass doesn't have to be green, you know.

If you submit some of those masterpieces to me, I'll use them in posts with attribution. What's better than that. Same goes for awesome analog photographs. And remember, creativity, not depiction of reality catches my attention.

North Face Jacket

the_north_face_logo_2378
The North Face. The toughest face of all.

OK, this one's a bit strange, I know, but it's a hipster choice. Actually, I believe it's really, "The North Face" but I call it simply, "North Face". North Face jackets are very cool. I used to see everyone around town with "The North Face" printed on the backs of their jackets and I wanted one. Now I have two and a North Face hoodie. Everyone in my family has a North Face jacket--except for my wife who didn't buy herself one.

They all used to make fun of me for wanting one because they're kind of hipsterish. Now, they all love theirs. Your geek with love one too. I assumed, incorrectly, that they were priced out of my budget. Of course, like anything else, you can pay as much as you want for something.

The jackets range from $75 to $1,300. I buy mine on sale and at the low end of the spectrum but there's a jacket for every budget. They're warm to wear and cool to look at. When I see a North Face jacket, I think, "Now there's a discerning buyer".

Your geek will appreciate the comfort and good looks of the jacket. Heck, even non-geeks love them.

Skinny Jeans

nomuffintops
Skinny Jeans. Not to be worn ironically.

If you're a true hipster geek, you already own a pair of skinny jeans. Maybe more than one pair. True skinny hipster jeans are thick and stiff. They're funky to put on but people love them. To wear skinny jeans, you should be under thirty, in my humble opinion but to each his own. Skinny jeans also don't get washed. You're supposed to just wear them. If you wash them, you wash out the part that makes them awesome. I guess sizing and dye are now considered to be awesome. Go figure.

The ultimate in the skinny jean variety comes from Urban Outfitters. They're not cheap for jeans and will put a $100 dent in your wallet. But hey, what's the price of fashion? Can you really put a price on it? I can. But that's me. I'm just here to help you decide on some geek-oriented gifts.

Don't get me wrong here either, I'm not anti-hipster. In fact, were I a bit younger, I'd be a total hipster. I'm sort of one anyway. And I can get away with it because I do it ironically. Yes, I said that. Don't judge me. <wink>

Do you have any cool analog gift ideas? Talk back and let me know.

Be sure to check out CNET's Holiday Buying Guide for 2013 while you're at it.

Topics: Amazon, Hardware

About

Kenneth 'Ken' Hess is a full-time Windows and Linux system administrator with 20 years of experience with Mac, Linux, UNIX, and Windows systems in large multi-data center environments.

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8 comments
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  • Weird

    I wouldn't want any of the items mentioned with the exception of a good book.
    JohnOfStony
    • I think we're meant to be thinking more hipster

      Than actual geek. Maybe 'geek chic'?

      These are more poser presents - instead of just a book you enjoy regardless of what others think, it should probably be either something akin to a J J Martin, or a book on something like lomography that you carry around but don't read.

      If you're geek's a real geek, not a poser, find out what series of books they've been reading by checking their bookshelves and use the internet to find a recent release they don't have.

      As for this lomography, it's hipster beyond belief. If the person you are buying for is pure hipster, then a medium format, film camera is essential - they won't touch 35mm with a barge pole; this was popular during their childhood so seems old fashioned. 120mm is best. However for that true hipster look something with a top mounted view finder from the 60's is the business - it's retro, they have to hold it like a movie director and it takes film they won't have seen before.

      If your intended reciever is an actual geek, get on ebay and look out for full manual, 35mm slr's from the late 70's -nikons and olympus. Get them the standard 'eye sight' 50mm lens and let them build from there. You'd be looking at about $70 for a good condition, once top of the line camera body, and the 35mm film is still cheap and easy to find and develop.

      The art supplies? Not really a geek thing. If they're into arts, best find out what they're looking for as art supplies can quickly empty the bank.

      The hipster choice would have to be some kind of notebook (moleskin) and expensive fountain pen.

      As for geeks - easy. Most geeks will have a tablet already. Get them the wacom pressure sensitive stylus to use with the procreate app.

      Oh and film is definitely not more popular then ever. I used to be able to buy it at every pharmacy and grocery store and everyone I knew had a film compact camera. Now i barely even know people who take compact DIGITAL cameras out with them - it's all phone camera and semi professional dslr's.
      MarknWill
      • @MarknWill

        Actually, the 50mm is kind of out. Get a wide angle lens--the wider the better and get close to your subject. And yes, film is more popular than ever. There's even film available for your old Polaroids too.

        Remember, these are ANALOG geek gifts. And posers are posers no matter what they carry.
        khess
    • Indeed.

      I even prefer my books to be electronic.
      GrumpyOldMan
    • @JohnOfStony

      John,

      Expand your horizons. Try something new.
      khess
  • What is with these people?

    First they threw away 50 years of development, opting for Lo-Fi audio. Now, they seek to popularize crappy photography!?!
    As if having the resolution of a tintype makes your photograph, "ART." Does this make my old Instamatic collectible? How 'bout the Polaroid Swinger?
    North Face does make some high-quality outdoor gear. Still have my sleeping bag since 1976. But, unless you regularly spend the night under the stars at 20 degrees or below, wearing the jacket definitely qualifies as POSER.
    Art supplies? I got a closet full. I also have a perfectly useless BFA from the pre-Mac days.
    Way past skiinny jeans! Though I do wear jeans which fit and don't show the world my underwear. I have an old pair of Levis big bells in the closet. Don't think I'll ever get back to a 32" waste, though. LOL
    captainanalog
    • @captainanalog

      Yes, your Instamatic and Swinger are both cool again. If you don't want them, I do. As for your art supplies, box them up. I'll take those too.

      Remember, these are analog geek gifts. Retro Geek is cool. Lomography is cool. Bow ties are cool.
      khess
  • Maybe eBay

    Might see what either of those cameras is fetching on eBay. I even have a home-made, external battery pack for the flash on the Instamatic. How retro geek can you get?
    I still use most of the art supplies, especially my drafting tools.
    And, keep away from my reel-to-reel tape machines. They aren't for sale!
    captainanalog