Heather Rae, World Traveler, Photographer (Nikon),
and Writer from In Search of Squid

As I mentioned in the last post, I spend a couple days a week at B&C Camera, owned by my friend, Joe Dumic. Everybody in this shop is shooting pro work. So with Christmas coming up, I figure you might be thinking about getting that photographer in your life something special and if he/she is anything like me, we’re all picky as hell. This may be your significant other, a son/daughter, boy or girlfriend, or whoever. Maybe its an uncle. Shopping for a photographer can be tricky. Sometimes it might be better to NOT get us anything related to photo rather than get the wrong thing that we can’t use or don’t want for whatever reason. So let me help you out a little bit. Here are a few pointers and options. Holla if you have questions.

What you need to know for your photographer:

1. You have to find out what your photographer already has. That doesn’t mean you need to trick them into giving you an inventory of their gear. But you have to first know what brand of equipment they have and then what type of camera it is. What do I mean with that? Eighty-eight percent of most photogs are shooting either Canon or Nikon and the gear brands are not interchangeable. Sony, Pentax, and Olympus are other brands that some people stick to. Then you need to know the sensor format. Chances are it will either be a full-frame sensor, identified commonly as FX, or it will be a cropped sensor, commonly identified as DX or APS-C. That’s important to know because lenses built for DX cameras will not generally fit on a FX camera. These are considered DSLR cameras. If your photog is shooting either medium format or large format, sheeshh… contact me directly.

Chances are, your significant other will have mentioned at some point, what gear they need or have on their wish lists. All you have to do is listen. In terms of buying them a lenses, which is ALWAYS a good choice I might add, they will probably be throwing out a lot of numbers like 70 to 200, or 2.8. You may hear them talking about fast glass, wide-angles, or tilt-shift. Write this stuff down as you hear it and try to get it as specific as you can. THEN, go up to B&C Camera and tell them the information you have acquired and let them guide you on a proper choice.

**NOTE: And let me throw this caveat out there as well. We’re talking about PHOTOGRAPHY. Be prepared to drop some bills. My folks freak out when I tell them I spent $2,000 on a lens. To a photog, this is not an issue of expensive or not…its a matter of what we need. Better gear nets better quality.

With respect to cameras, all you have to know is what camera they currently have and then go to B&C to find out what a proper upgrade might be. It might even help you to sneak into their camera bags, or where ever they store their gear and take inventory on what they have. This will tell the B&C guys how old their current cameras are and they will help you with reasonable upgrades within your budget.

Portrait, British world Traveler, Central America

2. Another thing that will aide the B&C representatives in helping you find the right gift is to know what genre of photography your photographer shoots. The needs of a SPORTS photographer is entirely different than a LANDSCAPE photog or one who shoots BOUDOIR. If your photographer has a website, let the guys at B&C know. They can see clearly what your photographer shoots and what their primary business is modeled around. Their gear preference might also be located on their websites under an ABOUT ME or BIO tab.

3. There are some gifts that you should NOT try to purchase under ANY circumstances unless you ABSOLUTELY know what your photographer wants. For instance…photography BAGS are one of those things that is just so personal and intimate to a photog that it would be easier for you to avoid that purchase. Its sort of like a woman and her purse. She will buy this purse on so many factors that have nothing to do with size, shape, or cost. Its just to risky. Don’t do it. Ask the B&C guys for help on this. By the way, there are several associates working on any given day, so if you speak Spanish, ask for Angela, German…Joe, Lithuanian…Ugi or Rob, Mandarin…Lucy, or Black Guy…come find me. And all of us have varying degrees of expertise. Rob…Video, Lucy…Underwater, Me…naked people!

4. If you want to stay on the safe side, storage cards can be an excellent option. Large capacity brand name cards can be appreciated no matter if they already have some or not. Make sure you know if their cameras need CF or SD cards and get the top of the line and largest capacity you can budget. B&C sells some excellent SanDisk and Promaster cards up to 128GB and 1000x speed. Just ask for the biggest and fastest cards if you don’t want to get into the numbers on that.

Portrait, Californian World Traveler, Central America

Lights are another safe option. Speedlites or on-camera flashes are great, but you have to know the brand of camera it matches. Monolights, such as the Elinchromes brands (along with accessories) are top of the line and great for either camera brand. You can ask the professional reps for assistance with that. Along with that, if you can get a high-end carbon fiber tripod by Manfrotto or Gitzo, you really can’t go wrong (I bought this one last year! Love it!). If they already have one, again find out what brand they already have an upgrade it. PocketWizard wireless flash triggers are an EXCELLENT option. The new PocketWizard Plus IIIs are excellent…again, know what brand of camera first. They are coded for a specific manufacturer.

5. Find out what Christmas specials are being promoted right now. Tamron lenses have significant rebates in addition to the Canon and Nikon ones. This information will be posted throughout the store. If all else fails, get a B&C gift card and put $500 or so on it. Maybe a $1,000, if they’ve been nice.

And the last two points of concern are about you:

6. Don’t be afraid to get yourself a little something-something. Treat yourself to a nice camera as well. The Nikon 1 system is an excellent alternative to the regular old point and shoot cameras. They have the same simplicity but a quality that comes closer to the larger cameras systems your photographer uses. The Nikon N1 J1 and the N1 V1 are mirrorless cameras that are very affordable right now with rebates up to $450 off. And if you really want to step up quality wise, check out the Sony NEX-6 or the NEX-7. These Sony brands use some of the same sensor sizes as the larger DX cameras your photographer might use. The NEX-7 sensor is 24MPs! Let your B&C store associate help you with the best choice for you. They will also help you set up your camera and assist you with getting started. You won’t find that with online stores. If you have questions later on with it, visit the store again and they’ll show you how take care of those issues.

World Travels I met in Central America

7. Take the two classes offered by B&C for $35 each. They teach beginner and intermediate level classes twice a month. After your second class, you will have a better understanding of what your photographer is talking about and can better share in that experience with them. I challenge you to tell me another way you’ll bond with your fave photog quicker than that.

In addition, you can hire ME for a personalized, but flexible 2-week training session for yourself or you AND your photo guy/gal. I’ll run your through a myriad of scenarios that cover everything your camera is capable of. I teach by hands-on training in the field. Classroom time is minimal. You will learn by shooting, covering all the basics and then some of the advanced mechanics of photography, cameras, lenses, lighting, etc.

So enjoy your the season. Spend time with family. And shop with confidence that you’ll get the right gift for your photographer. For the record, I shoot NIKON and ANY of the guys at B&C will know exactly what I need.

B&C Camera
4511 West Sahara
Las Vegas, NV 89102
Open 7 Days a week from 10am to 5:30pm