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

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.
Written by Ken Hess, Contributor

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.

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)

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.


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.

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. 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

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.

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