It is one thing being a photographer and buying gear for yourself, but completely another being the spouse or relative of one and trying to come up with a suitable gift. I remember walking into work one day and being approached by one of my colleagues, desperate for advice about which camera accessory to buy for her photography-loving husband. Not having the technical knowledge, she had no idea whether the accessory she had planned to buy was appropriate. To my surprise, a second episode occurred with another equally-confused colleague a few days later.
If you are reading this article, I can assume that you, like my colleagues, are looking for a gift for the mirrorless photographer in your life but don’t know where to start. The following are mirrorless camera accessories and products that Mathieu and I have personally tried and tested, and feel would benefit any photographer’s shooting experience. There is a mix of small accessories that would work well as stocking stuffers, digital products, as well as larger items that would look good wrapped up under the tree.
1. Subscription to Inspired Eye
Who is it for: photographers who love street photography
I know, a subscription isn’t a physical gift you can place in a stocking or put under a tree but that doesn’t mean that it won’t be appreciated. The Inspired Eye is an online street photographer’s magazine written by photographers for photographers, and is released about once a month. Many, if not most of the photographers featured and interviewed in the magazine use a mirrorless camera of some sort for their work. What’s more, these photographers aren’t the same famous “masters” you see over and over in the most popular publications. Rather, they are talented individuals who are actively out shooting in the present day! If the photographer in your life enjoys reading about photography just as much as he or she does shooting and is on the constant hunt for inspiration, then this is the magazine to buy.
2. Lensmate Thumb Rest
What is it for: slow shutter speeds, panning, one-handed shooting
When we first received the Lensmate Thumbrest for the X-T1, I wasn’t sure whether it would prove a useful addition as the built-in thumb rest on the camera is already quite comfortable. However, after weeks of use, I have found that it gives me more stability, especially for one-handed shooting, panning shots and shots taken at slow shutter speeds. Not only is it available for the X-T1 but also a number of other mirrorless cameras including almost all Fuji X series models and a couple of Sony models.
3. LEE Seven5 Filters
Who it is for: photographers who do a lot of landscape photography
One of the accessories that I’ve most enjoyed using over the past year, and that you’ll find in most landscape photographers’ bags, are the amazing LEE Seven5 filters for mirrorless cameras. They work on any lens as long as it has a thread size equal to or less than 72mm. Of course, as with any filter set of this kind, you must buy not only the filter but also the appropriate adapter for your lens and the filter holder. Of all the filters, the Big and Little Stopper for long exposures have proven the most useful for the kind of photography I do.
4. The Gordy Wrist Strap
Who is it for: photographers who prefer a wrist strap to a neck strap
Since we received two Gordy wrist straps for testing, we’ve continued to use them both on the various mirrorless cameras we’ve reviewed. They are just that comfortable, and have become even more so with constant use. As you can see from the photo above, the straps are the perfect mix of elegance and ruggedness, topped with the convenience of a rubber O-ring that you can slide up and down the strap to change the size. Made of Latigo belt leather, they are tough, flexible, and pliable all at once. They are a particular favourite amongst Fuji X users, but will work just as well on any other mirrorless camera.
5. Lolumina Soft Release Button
What is it for: stabilisation of the camera (and a little bit of bling!)
The Lolumina soft release button is a product we recently had the chance to try on our Fujifilm X-T1. What is the point of a soft release, you might ask? Well, it increases the surface area of your shutter button, making it easier and faster to press while giving you more stability for shots where slower shutter speeds are required. The Lolumina soft release works on any camera that does not have a threaded mount, as the included adhesive mounting base is already threaded. This means that it is a good companion for cameras like the X-T1, E-M1/10/5, A7/r/s, Leica X Vario, and so on.
6. Porteen Gear Compact Bag
Who is it for: photographers who would love to own a high quality custom-made camera bag
As far as bags designed specifically for CSCs go, it is hard to beat the custom-made Porteen Gear bag I received a few months ago courtesy of the designer Robyn. Unlike other bag companies, Porteen Gear gives you the option of choosing your own fabrics and leathers to create a bag that is unique to your style. All the material she uses is top-quality and ethically obtained, and the size is perfect for small to mid-sized mirrorless cameras from the Pen, Nex, Lumix and X Series range. What’s more, in the case of the more feminine designs, these bags are easily mistaken for handbags, making it easier to go incognito.
7. Peak Design Leash Camera Strap
Who is it for: anyone!
One of my favourite accessories from this year was the Peak Design Leash, a versatile neck strap that doubles up as a camera sling depending on how you wear it. It works with Peak Design’s patent Anchor Link Quick-Connection System whereby you can easily attach and detach the strap from your camera via two small round links. Designed with a smooth seatbelt-like material, it glides over your clothing without any resistance and can easily be adjusted to your preferred length.
8. Cosyspeed Camera Bags
Who is it for: photographers who don’t want the fuss of carrying around a camera bag
We first reviewed the Cosyspeed Camslinger bags back in April when the first prototypes were released. Now, more than six months on, we still regularly use our two bags, the Camslinger 105 and 160, for street shooting, long hikes during which camera bags become a nuisance, and even occasional jobs where a lot of gear isn’t necessary. These belt bags have been especially designed for mirrorless (CSC) cameras, as evidenced by their compact size, and are as comfortable and unobtrusive to wear as the belt that holds your jeans up.
Who is it for: photographers who don’t like carrying around traditional tripods
The HandlePod is another mirrorless product we’ve regularly praised on our blog for its versatility and portability. It is basically a non-traditional tripod that can be placed on any relatively flat surface, from poles to benches to tree trunks. You can either choose to press the HandlePod against your chosen surface to keep the camera steady, or, to reduce the change of camera shake induced by your movements, use the included bungie cord to attach it to objects that don’t have a very large diameter. Though it will work with larger mirrorless cameras like the GH4 and E-M1, it is best suited to models around the same size as the Olympus Pen or Sony Nex series.
10. Rebecca Lily Pro Set II and III
Who is it for: photographers who love to give a true filmic look to their images
Our dear friend Rebecca Patience is an expert at producing stylish presets for Lightroom. While the Pro Set II was designed with Fujifilm X Trans files in mind, the Pro Set III is appropriate for any digital file. In each set, you receive a wide range of presets that enhance the light of your images and provide them with unique colour renditions, many of which hark back to the era of film. We use them to post-process most of our images, especially when we want to unify the appearance of a set taken with different brands of mirrorless camera. You can see our complete reviews of the two sets here and here.
Plus one bonus gift…
11. TriggerTrap Mobile Kit
Who it is for: photographers who like to experiment with long exposures and timelapses
The TriggerTrap mobile kit is a wonderful tool that will turn your smartphone into a remote control for your camera. Available for over 300 camera models and 14 different brands, it allows you to capture epic timelapses, perform long exposures, take star trails (as we did here), and much more. Since it doesn’t require WiFi to function, your smartphone and camera batteries won’t run out as quickly as they might with other remote devices, and the price is truly reasonable.
Is there a specific gift you would recommend for a mirrorless photographer? If so, leave us a comment below!