Shopping for someone who shoots video or stills either professionally or on the side, is a daunting task.  Buying camera gear for someone is a bit like shopping for a teenage girl.  The type of gift is as important as the name brand.  Get the wrong thing or the wrong name and you can expect an instant request for a receipt.  Most gift givers concede defeat almost immediately and go for a gift card from Best Buy or Walmart.

However, if you want to do something more personal this year or impress that special someone with a gift that will say, “I care about what you do and want to support you”, then this gift guide will help you make the right choice.


No matter what they shoot, everyone needs storage, and too much is never enough.  All you need to know is what kind of camera they use.  This is easy to find out, because most shooters LOVE nothing more than talk about their camera.  Trust me when I say you don’t have to worry about arousing suspicion as much as you do about being trapped while they go on and on for hours about why their’s is so much better than everyone else’s.

  • SD Card: For those using Canon and Panasonic video cameras, SD Card 16g: no less than Class 6 $44.
  • Compact Flash Card: For those using Canon DSLRs (5D Mark II or 7D) you’ll need a compact Flash Card.  You can a 16GB card anywhere from $33 to $100.
  • Sony Pro Duo: These memory cards are sold in various sizes:  2GB to 32GB and are essential for those using Sony prosumer cameras.    They range in price from $10 to $100.
  • Memory Card Reader: These devices read all of the afore mentioned memory cards and plug into the PC or Mac via USB connection.  The range in price from $12 to $30.
  • Patriot Flash Drives: Boasting a 200X transfer rate, these little drives are great for video or boosting your memory performance when editing.  They  range in price from $11 to $50.
  • Western Digital My Book Essential: These portable hard drives are awesome.  They’re built for video and easy to take with you wherever.  They range in size from 500 GB to 2 TB with prices ranging from $50 to $200.


  • ikan Cheese Stick Jr: The Cheese Stick Jr. is a simple metal block that contain all of the standard production industry threads (1/4-20, 3/8-16, and M4-.7) which makes your production set-ups easier.  They retail for $50.
  • The Leatherman Multitool: This all in one gadget replaces an entire tool box and is a must have for any shooter.  They range in price from $30 to several hundred depending on the model.
  • The Zgrip iPhone Jr: This  device allows you to mount your iphone on a handle providing more stability for shooting video with an iphone.  $69.
  • White Balance/Grey Cards: These cards are available from a myriad of different companies.  Essentially, they establish a standard for setting white balance to ensure you’re color balance is accurate.  They range in price from $5 to $30.

Bags and Case

If they complain about their current bag, you might inquire as to what they would ideally like.  Key fishing questions include hard or soft case and backpack or sling.  You’ll need to know what and how many things they want to fit into the bag or case.  Standard brands are Kata, Pelican, Porta Brace, Petrol Tamrack and Lowepro.  These range in price from $20 to several hundred depending on size and manufacturer.

Prepaid Premium Memberships

  • Netflix: Even if they already have a Netflix account, they can apply your gift card to their existing account.  Plans vary from $13 to $40 depending on how many videos you get at a time.
  • Smug Mug Premium Membership(you should be a member of smugmug to make this happen).    Smug The web address for
  • Vimeo Premium Membership: Vimeo was created by filmmakers and video creators who wanted to share their creative work.  To purchase a premium account for someone, yYou need to be signed in to your own Vimeo account, which you can create for free. Then, you simply go to that person’s profile page and you will see a “Gift Plus” button that, when clicked, will guide you through the rest of the process.
  • Filmschool On Demand Prepaid Tuition: Filmschool On Demand provides filmmakers with an education in the filmmaking process and business side. Their classes are taught by industry veterans with years of experience in production, development, distributions and marketing.  If you know someone who has always wanted to make a film, but they were baffled by the business side of the business, then a paid tuition for Filmschool On Demand will be a priceless gift.  Right now you can get a coupon for 40% off FSOD. When placing your order, use the code: ikan.

Magazine Subscriptions

Although print media isn’t as relevent as it was ten years ago, trade magazines are still a great way to stay up to date with industry.  Subscriptions to ICG, American Cinematographer, POST, HD Video Pro or Digital Photo Pro, The Hollywood Reporter or The Daily Variety will all be a most welcomed gift.

iPhone Apps

Is there anything the iPhone can’t do..?  If you’re not aware, there have been production applications available for the iphone for well over a year.   You can find them all at itunes.  Here are just some of the proffesional applications to choose from.

  • Pro Prompter Software: For iPhone or iPod touch Price $9.99
  • The Cinemek Hitchcock: For iPhone and iPod Touch:  $19.99is a mobile storyboard and pre-visualization composer designed for Directors, DPs or anyone who wants to visualize their story.
  • LlamaSlate: This wonderful app gives a clap or beep to mark the beginning or end of a take.  I can also input the quality of each take and then go back in the edit and check what I thought at the time.
  • Screenplay: is a $2.99 app for the iPhone, and has all the basic functionality of Final Draft: It offers formatting, scene elements, auto-complete character names, pagination and scene re-ordering.
  • f/8 DoF Calculator: f/8 comes with presets for more than 800 camera models from Canon, Casio, Epson, Fujifilm, HP, Kodak, Konica, Kyocera, Leica, Minolta, Nikon, Olympus, Panasonic, Pentax, Ricoh, Samsung, Sigma, and Sony.

Training Videos

Training videos are great gifts provided you choose a subject in the person’s area of interest.  Also, don’t make the mistake of buying someone a video for beginners if they are an expert and vice versa.  Here are some great training DVDs.  Google search the titles for information on where to buy.

  • Learn Canon 5D Mark II Cinematography by Philip Bloom.  If you shoot video then you don’t want to miss out on this opportunity to learn from one of the pioneers of D-SLR cinematography.
  • Learn 2 shoot Great Video On Your Canon 7D by Philip Bloom.  This DVD takes you through all aspects of shooting video with the Canon 7D in video mode.
  • First Light Video Introduction to Editing with Final Cut Pro Training DVD. This DVD is designed to teach editors how to work in Apple’s Final Cut Pro editing suite. The training outlines the basics of editing.

Gift Certificates

If you’re still at a loss, you can get a gift card from a store that specializes in camera gear.

  • B&H Video Gift Cards range from $30 to $200.
  • Filmtools gift certificates range in price from $20 to 1000.
  • Adorama sells gift certificates for however much you want.  Some include free shipping.



    HD camcorders gave us the freedom to shoot without the expense of film and development cost. The drawback was the inability to achieve shallow depth of field. With a fixed lens HD camcorder, everything is in focus down to the smallest detail. In the late 90s, filmmakers using HD video, were forced to use tricks such as lighting in layers with the subject lit the brightest.

   Without these creative but limited solutions, the audience can become distracted by a pretty extra in background or billboard that is part of the set. The result: your scene loses its impact due to lack of control over the image. The advent of the DOF or 35mm adapter gave us the ability to achieve a shallow depth of field giving you more artistic control of the image. For those who don’t know, the device works like a telecine using the macro focus of the camcorder to capture the image on a ground glass screen. The glass is spun using a miniature motor.

   The shear weight of these devices and their components can be in excess of 20 pounds. This paved the way for an entire industry of camera support systems to redistribute the weight of the device, the lens, the follow focus and the HD monitor, which is critical to ensure clear, sharp focus.

   Enter the 1080P Full Frame DSLR The Canon 5D and now the 7D have only been on the scene for a short while, and now video shooters everywhere are ditching their EX1s, HVX200s and even their XHA1s for the affordable full frame DSLR. Indeed, many fortunes have been made by those manufacturers of the 35mm adapter, but I’m afraid it’s all over now. Prices are falling, and it’s no secret why.

   You can buy a Sony EX1 for $6.5k with a Letus Ultimate for $4k, totaling more than $10k without support railings, lenses or an HD monitor. Those accessories could easily jack up the price another $10k depending what you get.

   However, I can buy a 5D Mark II and a good lens with an ikan monitor for under $5k. If you’re still convinced you have to have a traditional video camera with a 35mm adapter, but your on a budget, you can buy the Panasonic DVX100 for $2.7k and get a Redrock Micro M2 Encore DOP Adapter and support system for $2k bringing you in just under $5k with no lens or monitor.

   On the other hand, you can go to B&H and get a 7D with a lens for under $2k. That leaves some extra cash to get the V5600 from ikan for $630, and then you’re ready to shoot for under $3k. Final Analysis The Canon 5D Mark II ushered in a new era of video production that has left Sony, Panasonic, JVC and even Canon’s Video division standing on the sidelines to make way for the multitudes who are literally grabbing them from stores before they can be shelved.

   In the meantime, the DOF Adapters are not moving, and the prices are dropping. Some are 50% cheaper then they were just six months ago. How low will the prices go in the coming months? Who knows. One thing is certain; the full frame DSLR revolution has rendered the 35mm adapter irrelevant and obsolete. The question isn’t, “Will they stop manufacturing,” but “When.”