- QuickShot allows you to select from four cinematic shots (rocket, dronie, circle, and helix) to capture professional-looking video.
- TapFly enables precision flying with just a tap on your phone screen. Simply indicate where you want the drone to fly by tapping your screen, and Spark will fly there while avoiding obstacles and maintaining a constant altitude. I cannot tell you how cool of a feature this is!
- ActiveTrack recognizes objects and track them from the front, the back or the side.
- PalmControl means pilots can maneuver Spark without a controller. Just make specific movements with your hand, and Spark will move accordingly.
I know we've still got over a month until Christmas, but the clock is ticking to get awesome gifts for the photographers on your holiday shopping list.
The question is, what can you get them that will have that wow factor and totally knock their socks off?
Well, I've got quite a list for you...
And this isn't just some random collection of photography gifts, either. I have personal experience with every single item listed below.
Take it from me, if you need to shop for a photographer, there's something on this list that they will fall in love with!
DJI Mavic Pro
If you’re pressed for time and trying to find ultimate gift for the photographer in your life, consider buying something truly impressive that will take their photography to new heights...literally!
The DJI Mavic Pro is a small but powerful personal drone that offers incredible portability and ease of use while giving you the ability to capture amazing photos at the same time.
Get a load of some of these features…
The Mavic Pro has 24 high-performance computing cores and an all-new OccuSync transmission system that gives it top-notch performance for greater distances. What I found most impressive about this feature is that you can enjoy full HD video streaming from up to 4.3 miles away!
And you don’t have to worry about flying into things, either, because the Mavic Pro has a FlightAutonomy system that detects obstacles up to 49 feet away. Fly with confidence up to 40 mph knowing the Mavic Pro will avoid anything in its path. That feature has saved me a few times!
FlightAutonomy isn’t just for obstacle avoidance, though. It also gives you the ability to land the drone in the exact spot from which it took off. The system also enables the drone to hover more precisely in varied environments, and keep the drone the same elevation above the ground, no matter the terrain.
Additionally, the Mavic Pro has a 4K camera that’s stabilized by a 3-axis mechanical gimbal, offering gorgeous, high-resolution photos and smooth-as-silk 4K video at 30fps.
The Mavic Pro has an improved battery life, too. Why fly for just 10 or 12 minutes when you can fly for 27?!
Another feature that I really appreciate is ActiveTrack. Using ActiveTrack, the Mavic Pro can follow the subject from a front or rear position (or circling them), fly alongside the subject as it moves, and even maintain its focus on the subject as it flies in for close-ups and out for wide shots.
Perhaps most impressive, though, is Tripod Mode.
Sometimes, you need to fly your drone in tight quarters, such as indoors. In that case, flight movements need to be slow and precise. That’s where Tripod Mode comes in: it gives you pinpoint control so the drone can be moved with precision to ensure safe passage.
Clearly, the Mavic Pro is the perfect gift for photographers and videographers because it is loaded with incredible features that make taking photos and videos a breeze.
As a sidenote, DJI just released the Mavic Pro Platinum (shown above) that is 60% quieter and features a longer flight time of 30 minutes. If the photographer on your list wants something that extends their photographic capabilities even further, you might consider it!
Let’s face it, there are a ton of places where you can pick up one of these. With that in mind, I am a bit picky, and recommend “Drone World” for whatever your drone needs are. That's mainly because these guys have insane customer service, and are the largest DJI authorized dealer with something like 5 years of drone experience and I want to say upwards of 10 years of web sales/service.
Coming from the high-powered automotive industry, I love modifications. So when I found out these guys modify drones that got me excited. And when I say modify, they supercharge these things! HA! Now you're talking my language and scored some extra points! Speaking of which, if you are like me, you should check out this beast: DJI Mavic Pro MaXX Mod Kit.
BumbleJax Acrylic Photo Block
I think one of the most pleasant surprises I've gotten this year is when I ordered a print of my son, and opted to get it as an acrylic photo block.
Now, I say that I was surprised because in the past, I ordered some not-so-great acrylic blocks that just looked like some mass-produced trinket.
I was determined not to make that same mistake again...
So, I hopped online and found BumbleJax, a Seattle-based company that creates acrylic blocks.
But they don't just make acrylic blocks - they handcraft them.
After reading a few hundred reviews saying how awesome these acrylic blocks were, I pulled the trigger and got the 8x6, one-inch-thick block shown above.
To say that I was blown away when this thing arrived at my house is a complete understatement.
Right out of the box, I could tell that this was not like the previous acrylic blocks I'd ordered from other places.
The diamond-polished acrylic looks like a million bucks. The depth it gives the photo is amazing!
The acrylic also enhances the colors and the contrast of the photo. That's due in part to the metallic photo paper BumbleJax used for the print, as well.
The other factor that makes these things look so fantastic is that BumbleJax face mounts the image onto the acrylic. That way the vibrancy of the colors can really shine through.
It looks so good, in fact, that my wife decided that she wanted the photo block for her desk at work! I wouldn't let her steal it, so she's getting one of her own for Christmas.
Heck, I even ordered a second photo block from BumbleJax, this time a larger 15x10 version of one of my landscape photos.
Again, the quality certainly did not disappoint. The photo block really has a huge impact on my foyer.
One other thing I like about these photo blocks is that they can stand on their own on a table or desk or you can mount them on the wall.
In other words, this is the perfect gift idea for a photographer or a loved one that just wants an awesome photo to display in their home or office.
I suggest you visit BumbleJax to see all the different sizes and options they offer. You won't be disappointed!
Holdfast Sightseer Backpack
Photo by Brandon Burk
Every year, I head up to New York City for the Photo Plus Expo.
And every year, I make it a point to visit the Holdfast booth because they make some of the best camera bags I've ever had the pleasure of using.
To say that Holdfast's craftsmanship is second-to-none is really the understatement of the century.
I mean, their products show how dedicated they are not just to aesthetics but to functionality as well.
Photo by Brandon Burk
Their new Sightseer Backpack certainly fits the bill for an awesome gift for the photographer on your holiday list.
This thing will carry all the gear you could possibly need while still giving you easy access to your camera when quick shots are needed.
That's because it's the only backpack on earth that has an integrated slider for your camera. That means you can safely and securely carry your camera on the outside of the bag where you can grab it and shoot at a moment's notice.
Something else that blew me away about this bag is that it's completely expandable.
There's tons of pouches you can add to the outside of the bag for carrying anything from your mobile phone to extra lenses.
Photo by Brandon Burk
So this bag impresses with its sheer capability to carry tons of stuff and for its ease of use.
But the combination of waxed canvas and leather on the exterior and Aztec flannel fleece on the interior just looks incredible.
The canvas and leather are waterproof, too, so it's not like they don't have a function in addition to their beautiful form. There's even waterproof zippers for those occasions when you're shooting in some really rough weather.
And since I enjoy landscape photography, I can't tell you how much I appreciate that this is a backpack. It sits well on your shoulders, stays put, and is comfortable to carry.
What's not to like about that?
When you're thinking about a last-minute gift for a photographer, trust me, they will LOVE a Holdfast Sightseer Backpack.
Holdfast Roamographer Bag
Another one of my absolute favorite photography accessories is the Holdfast Roamographer bag.
Like the Sightseer Backpack, the Roamographer is gorgeously crafted and truly looks like a piece of art. When you hold it and touch it, you can sense the hard work that went into designing the bag and building it to be something that lasts forever.
I can be hard on camera bags, that's for sure. But no matter what paces I put the Roamographer through, it's certainly up to the task.
There's actually two Roamographers - a large version for DSLR shooters and a small version for mirrorless shooters.
Either way, what you get is a bag that's purpose-built to help you get your gear from point A to point B safely and securely.
That starts with the removable camera inserts that hug your gear and keep it from clanking around inside the bag.
The key word here is "removable"...
That means that when I need the bag for a weekend trip that doesn't involve photography, I can just slide the insert out and I've got an awesome weekend bag that fits all the essentials for a couple of days away from the grind.
But when I do need to carry my gear, this thing more than gets it done.
I love the fact that there's carrier straps on the exterior of the bag so I can easily carry my tripod.
The other thing I really appreciate about the Roamographer is the shoulder strap.
If you've ever carried a heavy bag with a flimsy strap, you know how uncomfortable that can be.
But with the Roamographer, my shoulders rejoice under the shearling-lined padding that make it a breeze to carry.
And like the Sightseer Backpack, the Roamographer allows you to secure a small camera to the shoulder strap, that way you can fire off some quick shots without having to set your bag down to unpack your camera.
If it sounds like Holdfast thought of everything with this bag, they did...
Even the fussiest of photographers on your shopping list won't have a negative thing to say about this bag. If you need something that is sure to impress, give the gift of a Holdfast Roamographer bag this year.
Looking for the perfect gift for photographers and videographers on your list? Look no further than the DJI Spark.
This mini drone is ideal for a loved one who loves to fly but wants to avoid carrying a large aircraft everywhere they go. As someone that loves photography and trained as a commercial airline pilot, I can tell you that this is a fantastic gift for the photographer on your list!
Though the Spark is small, that doesn’t mean this mini drone is light on features…
In fact, Spark has all of DJI’s signature technologies, meaning you get a lot of bang for your buck.
That includes a 12-megapixel camera, a mechanical 2-axis gimbal for clear, sharp images and smooth video, and UltraSmooth technology that reduces camera shake and rolling shutter effects. The f/2.6 25mm lens means you can get wide-angle shots, even if the lighting conditions are less than ideal.
Something that I find to be incredibly helpful is the fact that getting the drone airborne is easy too - Spark has FaceAware technology that allows it to take off from your hand by recognizing your face. Crazy, right?! And after takeoff, it hovers automatically, all within just a few seconds of being turned on.
But if you ask me, the best feature of the Spark are the intelligent flight modes:
As if that’s not impressive enough, consider this…
Spark can fly over 31 mph and has a maximum flight time of 16 minutes. Additionally, you can see full HD video from the drone from up to 1.2 miles away, and with DJI’s FlightAutonomy system, pilots can fly knowing the drone will avoid obstacles on its own.
At $499, the DJI Spark is one heck of a buy this holiday season. If the photographer in your life wants to expand his or her creativity, there’s no better way to do so than with a drone!
As I mentioned earlier, if you're in the market for a DJI drone, follow my lead and head over to Drone World to find what you need. They've got upgraded kits available, and tons of other great accessories, too. Check out the DJI Spark and see what I mean when I say it's the ultimate gift for photographers!
Sometimes, the best gift for a photographer isn't the flashiest, but instead something that they will use each and every day to improve their ability to get the shots they want.
That's the category into which band.it falls...
This is a new company to me. I first encountered them at Photo Plus, and I was so impressed that I had to order the product right then and there.
I know when I'm in the zone and taking photo after photo, sometimes I struggle to find my zoom ring and focus ring as quickly as I'd like.
Well, band.it solves that problem.
The soft, elastomer band fits any lens, giving you a tactile clue as to where your focus ring or zoom ring is. That means no more fumbling around looking like an idiot like I used to do on occasion before putting this bad boy on my lens!
But band.it isn't just for helping you find the rings on the lens...
Instead, it helps you improve your grip on the lens. And that improved grip means you get sharper photos.
These little guys also help protect the delicate zoom and focus rings from damage.
It's about $200 to repair a lens ring (don't ask me how I know that...), but for just $25, you can protect the lens ring with a band.it.
And as if that's not enough to like, consider this - band.it also prevents lens creep. That means that if you're always on the hunt for a unique angle and you're shooting at a steep incline or decline, band.it will help keep your lens rings right where you want them, not where gravity wants to take them!
This is a fantastic stocking-stuffer idea for photographers. If I didn't already buy a band.it for myself, you can believe they'd be on my Christmas list this year!
I'm not a for-hire photographer, but being that I'm a new dad, I love to take photos of my son, who's two-and-a-half.
We take selfies with each other every single day, and that collection of images is one of the most cherished things I have in this world.
But sometimes, I like to take more formal photos of my little guy, and that requires a little more effort than turning on the front-facing camera on my cell phone...
That's where Click Props has saved my bacon.
These guys put out incredible backdrops for portraits that give you the ability to take professional-looking images that look like they came straight out of a portrait studio.
That's because they craft their backdrops using 550gsm vinyl. That means you get a high-quality, durable backdrop that will stand the test of time and look great for years to come.
And if the photographer on your holiday list is like me and has a little kid to photograph, they'll appreciate the fact that these backdrops are super easy to clean!
You can hang their backdrops easily and with confidence as well. There's heavy-duty grommets every 12-inches, so you don't have to worry about rips or sagging.
There's a variety of sizes too, which any professional will appreciate, and more than 200 designs to fit your favorite photographer's style and aesthetic.
One more thing...
As a businessman, there's something else that I really like about Click Props...
In this industry, you get to know other companies pretty well, and let's just say that some of them focus on profits and not on actually helping their customers.
Click Props is certainly one of the good guys because they are with you at your side before, during, and after the sale.
Whenever I've had questions, they've had answers. And it's not the short "you're annoying me" sort of answers, either. They're genuine folks that truly want to help you take the best possible photos.
I can't even imagine how handy these backdrops would be for a professional portrait photographer. This holiday season, maybe you can help the photographer on your list find out by gifting them a Click Props backdrop!
Vanguard Alta Pro 2+ 263AB100
When it comes to photography gear, I think the most underappreciated part of a photographer's kit is a tripod.
Just like camera lenses aren't made alike, neither are tripods. By that, I mean that if you opt for something from the bargain basement, well, you're going to live to regret it.
That doesn't mean that you need to spend $500 on a tripod for the photographer on your holiday list, either.
I have a couple of Vanguard tripods, and I have to tell you - they're a perfect balance between top-quality construction, tons of features, and a great price.
Take the Alta Pro 2+ 263AB100 as an ideal example...
You can set this thing up in just a few seconds, which is ideal for situations in which you need to get the shot sooner rather than later.
The quick setup is aided by easy-locking legs, each of which has an independent leg angle. In other words, it can be set up with one leg at 20-degrees, another at 40-degrees, and another at 60-degrees, if so needed. They can even open up to 80-degrees. That means there's no terrain too uneven for this tripod to handle.
Another feature that makes this such a great tripod is the Multi-Angle Center Column. As the name suggests, it can be positioned in a variety of angles on both the positive and negative spectrum. That means that you can get awesome low-angle shots for a more unique view of the subject.
This bad boy also has a quick release so you can quickly grab your camera, and with the included ball head and bubble levels, you're sure to frame up top-notch photos.
The Alta Pro 2+ 263AB100 has another trick up its sleeve that I really like...
It's super lightweight, thanks to its aluminum alloy and magnesium construction, but it's also super strong.
It's rated to hold up to 15.5 pounds of gear, so when I'm out playing with my Nikon D850 and a big lens, I don't have to worry if the tripod has enough wherewithal to provide my gear with the stable base it needs.
And if your loved one wants awesome features like a canopy suspension loop for adding weight, all-weather grips, angled rubber feet, and more, well, this is the tripod they'll want! See for yourself why the Vanguard Alta Pro 2+ 263AB100guard Alta Pro 2+ 263AB100 is such a top-notch tripod.
MrStarGuy Vixen Polarie Star Tracker Mount
A few years ago, I decided to get into astrophotography, so I bought a star tracking device to help me get better shots of the night sky.
Now, I live in the Los Angeles area, so it's not like I can setup my gear in my backyard. Instead, I have to hoof it to the sticks to find a dark sky, so it's a huge investment of time.
The problem I ran into is that the star tracking devices I used in the past were just unbelievably complicated to use.
Not only did I feel like a moron for not being able to figure out how to use them, but I also never got the types of photos I imagined being able to get.
Fortunately, I found my saving grace - the Vixen Polarie Star Tracker Mount from MrStarGuy.
I met the folks at MrStarGuy, and I have to say that I was beyond impressed.
Visiting their shop, you get the feeling of how dedicated the husband and wife team are to their craft. They seek to make sure that every customer feels like a friend and that they get what they need. I can attest to that fact!
It doesn't hurt that MrStarGuy has top-notch astrophotography gear, either.
Their Vixen Polarie is hands-down the best I've ever used.
I just attach it to my tripod, use the included compass to orient it to the north, and once I have it all set, it will track the motion of the stars for me. That means I can get clear, sharp photos of the night sky without any star trailing.
If your favorite photographer is looking for a tool that will make his or her astrophotography life a lot easier and more productive, there's no better gift than the Vixen Polarie Star Tracker Mount. See what I mean by visiting MrStarGuy!
I've always been a still photographer, but once 4K video became a thing on DSLRs and mirrorless cameras, I started to dabble in videography.
The problem I encountered was this - the video quality was amazing, but the sound wasn't.
In fact, the sound was pretty terrible on my first videos on its own, but when you pair poor sound quality with amazing 4K video, the sound seems even worse!
I wanted an external microphone that would yield the kind of sound that a 4K video deserved, but I didn't want some huge apparatus, either.
I found exactly what I needed in Sound Shark by Klover Products.
The great thing about Sound Shark is its small form factor. As you can see, it just mounts to the hot-shoe of the camera, and you're good to go.
This thing puts all other microphones I've tried to shame. In fact, it will pick up voices in crystal clear quality from a good distance away. People in my videos sound like they're wearing a lapel mic, even if I'm five or six feet away.
Not only that, but Sound Shark helps eliminate unwanted background noise, so if there's action to the sides or behind your subject, you don't have to worry about it overwhelming the audio you actually want to record.
Sound Shark has been one of my favorite toys for grabbing videos of my wife and son. But if my endorsement isn't enough, think about this - Sound Shark is used to get audio of things like the Super Bowl, the World Series, and the NBA playoffs.
If it's good enough to get the audio of a LeBron slam dunk, it's definitely good enough for my home videos!
Have a look at Sound Shark and see what all it has to offer the photographer on your list.
For my money, the most unique, eye-catching gift you can give a photographer this Christmas is the Meural Canvas.
What’s the Meural Canvas, you ask?
Well, in short, it’s a way to bring art to life.
Rather than viewing the same piece of art or photograph, Meural allows you to upload your own photos, create playlists, and sent art to your canvas instantly.
With TrueArt technology, the images are rendered in a way that makes them ultra-lifelike - when I first saw Meural in person, I felt like I could reach out and feel the texture of the brush strokes on the painting I was viewing. It’s that real!
And that’s just the start…
Meural gives you three different frame options (Leonora Black and Wwhite, as well as Winslow in walnut) to customize the look of the canvas. The canvas has a light sensor to adjust to the lighting of your room, and you can hang it horizontally or vertically, only show images in the appropriate orientation.
It’s easy to control, too. You can change images via the Meural website, the Meural mobile app, and even with hand gestures.
The upgraded iOS app allows you to upload, crop, and add filters to images, and then immediately send to the canvas. You can even schedule your canvas to come on when you wake, turn off when you sleep, and to randomize artwork or schedule playlists for certain times of the day.
In a word, Meural is amazing. Talk about an awesome last-minute gift!