If a new digitalcamera or camcorder is beyond your gift-giving budget, you can still impress your favorite digital shooter with a fun camera-related gift. Here's a list of great gifts under $50 for the camera-lover in your life, arranged from most to least expensive:
Canon and Nikon lens travel mugs and thermos
Camera lovers have been searching high and low for the Canon EF Lens Collector Cup-- a doppelganger for the EF 70-200mm f/4L lens, except it's a travel mug -- since it was given out as Canon swag at the Vancouver Olympics. But as my fellow camera blogger pointed out, they've been pretty hard to find. Well, just in time for holiday gift giving, here's a source for high-quality lens-lookalike travel mugs and thermoses. Canonmugs.com offers not only the original Canon 700-200mm lens model, but also a smaller cup that looks like the EF 24-105mm f/4L lens, along with two Nikon models: a replica of a Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8 lens with actual zooming action (a slightly dangerous proposition when filled with a hot beverage?) and a larger Nikon 70-200mm lens model that's actually a full-on 16.5 oz thermos with an easy-pour, spring loaded stopper as well as a cap/cup with a handle that looks like the lens tripod mount. The big Nikon is my favorite -- it's the most useful as an actual thermos and looks the most realistic too (though all will fool even seasoned photographers at first glance). They don't come cheap, though, with prices ranging from $39.99 for the least-expensive lens mug to $49.99 for the big Nikon. You'll pay less if you buy in bulk and there's a 5-percent-off coupon (Coupon Code: CM5%OFF) running for the holidays.
ThinkGeek Electronic Spy Camera Shirt
The retro-kitsch graphics on this t-shirt are kind of cute on their own, but the pièce de résistance is the actual hidden camera tucked behind the faux-Bond's cartoon camera. Yes, a real digital camera is velcroed to the inside of the shirt and connected by cable to a small black box (with batteries and a remote shutter release) that fits into a built-in pocket. Just slip your hand in the hip-side pocket and discreetly snap a shot of whatever is in front of you -- there's even a little shutter vibration feedback to tell you that you've snapped the shot. With fairly lame 640x480-resolution color images, the photos are for novelty purposes only, but the camera (shirt?) does hold over 150 photos which can be downloaded via the included USB cable. And not to worry -- the electronics are velcroed in and completely removable for washing.
ThinkGeek Universal Gadget Wrist ChargerThinkGeek has turned out to be one of my go-to online shops this holiday season (what does that say about me?) and this little doohickey is a great find for gadget lovers of all types. With everyone and their brother using smart phones, portable gaming devices, digital cameras, and the like, portable charging devices that let you juice up your devices away from an outlet have become almost commonplace. Until now, one of my favorites has been the Ecosol PowerStick (me and David Pogue, both), but if you've ever tried to use a phone, camera, or other gadget with even the tiny PowerStick dangling from it by USB cable, you know how awkward it can be to charge on the go. Well, the cleverly designed Wrist Charger actually snaps around your wrist like a watch, allowing you to talk, play, or snap away comfortably while charging. It's true, you may feel like a complete dork wearing it, but that's a small price to pay for the convenience. The Wrist Charger comes with nine adapter tips to power a plethora of phones, music players, gaming devices, and any mini-or micro-USB-compatible camera or camcorder. Plus, with a 1,500mAh capacity (in six Lithium-Ion cells) it can give a full charge to most smartphones, portable camcorders and compact point-and-shooters, unlike the 750mAh PowerStick which doesn't even fully juice my iPhone.
Sanyo Eneloop Rechargeable Batteries
Speaking of charging up on the fly, I've been a long-time fan of Sanyo's Eneloop line of rechargeable batteries. In fact, I've recommended them here in the past, because they're not only pre-charged and ready to use out of the box, but they have a lower self-discharge rate than other rechargeables. Just in time for this holiday season, Sanyo has released new and improved versions of its AA and AAA Eneloop batteries. According to Sanyo, the new versions can be charged up to 1,500 times (approximately 500 more charges than their predecessors) and maintain about 75-percent of their charge for up to three years. They're currently available at Costco in a $25.99 combo-pack that comes with a four-battery charger, plus eight AA and four AAA batteries. The batteries in the combo pack come in colored pairs (two shades of blue for the AAs and two shades of green for the AAAs) to make it easier for you to keep track of paired batteries. Plus, Sanyo walks the eco-friendly talk by using solar energy to pre-charge the batteries at the factory.
With more and more digital cameras sporting touchscreen interfaces, snapping photos outdoors in the colder weather is becoming as finger-numbing as using your smartphone: You have to pull off your gloves to get those capacitive touchscreens to work. I've seen other touchscreen-friendly gloves, such as these or these, but they've either had those freaky-looking silver fingertips or else they sport finger-tip flaps that are both unwieldy to use and drafty. Then I discovered Agloves. Finally, a pair of relatively normal-looking and warm knit gloves that do the trick. Rather than going the more techie-looking route of adding conductive material to the finger tips only, Agloves weave silver-coated nylon fibers throughout the whole glove (creating a nicely heathered look). They fit snugly enough to allow for fairly precise touching and, unlike other touchscreen gloves, they let you use any finger, knuckle, or whatever part of your hand to tap, scroll, swipe, and pinch away.