If your favorite photographer already has a camera, accessories make a great gift.
The $29.99 Triggertrap Mobile Dongle lets you use your smartphone as a remote shutter release for digital SLR or advanced compact cameras. Though it can be used as a simple shutter release, its true strength is painless setup of time-lapse and HDR photography.
It also will allow you to trigger the shutter release with sound, which comes in particularly handy when paired with its Flash Adapter for high-speed photography.
The dongle is compatible with more than 280 cameras and the apps, which recently got a complete redesign and new features, are available for iOS and Android. Note that on the Android side it does require a phone with 4.2.2 or later.
The DayTrip is the perfect size for stabilizing low-to-the-ground macro shots, smartphone portraits, and tabletop photography for things like food and products. Fully collapsed it's just 9.4 inches, but grows to more than twice that size and can hold up to 8.8 pounds.
Other features include a mini Arca-Swiss style quick release plate, a built-in bubble level, twist-lock legs, and a reversible center column, so you can get your camera super low.
ExpoImaging's Rogue Safari Pop-up Flash Booster helps throw your digital SLR's built-in pop-up flash well beyond its normal range. It's designed for use with lens focal lengths of 100mm and longer and just slides into your camera's hot shoe. Pop up your flash and fire, no batteries necessary, and it weighs less than 2 ounces.
Some messenger-style camera bags can get uncomfortable once they're loaded up with gear, but not the Informant. The low-and-long design spreads weight comfortably across your back and, unlike regular messenger bags, the main compartment opens away from you for easy access. It holds a surprising amount of equipment for its size and even has room for an 11.6-inch laptop or a tablet.
This ingeniously designed strap has become my favorite. It tucks the camera neatly under or behind your arm when you're not shooting and quickly extends when you pull it out, plus it has an intelligent connector with a handle for screwing into the tripod mount. It does get a bit clunky around the attachment point so the camera can't really sit flat, but it's a great choice for use on ILC-size cameras.
Joby Pro Sling Strap and UltraFit Hand Strap with UltraPlate
Similar to the UltraFit Sling Strap, the Pro is wider and more sturdily constructed, and comes with a secondary tether to anchor the camera to the strap -- for all you belt-and-suspenders types. I've recently taken to using a hand strap; it's great for extra stability when you need to shoot single-handed. The UltraPlate provides another tripod connector for use with the hand strap, and while you can use any plate (like the Custom SLR M-Plate Pro), Joby's is extremely compact.
If you know someone who wants to get creative with a dSLR -- using the camera, and not in a filtery kind of way -- Lensbaby's special-effects lenses are a fun way to do it. The Spark is the cheapest of the line and makes a great gift for anyone with a Canon or Nikon body.
Big enough to comfortably tote a 13-inch laptop or tablet in as well as a camera body, lens, and flash, this well-designed bag should please most photographers who like the messenger-style bags. Plus, it comes in a bunch of appealing colors.
For those who need more than just a rain cap and extra padding to protect camera gear, check out Pelican's ProGear line of bags, including the U160 Urban Elite. The bag, which runs around $180, has a crushproof camera compartment that seals watertight with an O-ring gasket keeping your equipment dry in up to 3.3 feet of water for 30 minutes.
The main compartment is configurable with room for a body, a couple lenses, and a flash. On the inside of the compartment's door are zippered removable pouches for storing smaller items like cables and batteries, and there are additional zippered pockets on the sides, as well as hidden tripod straps.
Above the camera compartment is additional storage space with a dedicated tablet pocket and a rigid front plate to protect your stuff from impacts.
Though heavy at just more than 7 pounds, the U160 is comfortable to wear thanks to ample padding on the back and straps, an aluminum S-curve spine, and chest and waist stabilizer straps.