I am always thinking about some new piece of gear to add to my bag, and despite having a wonderful bag of gear there is almost always some new piece of glass or an entire camera system on my wish list. Most of the time, I save up money throughout the year to buy the bigger purchases, so there is usually some smaller “fun” piece of camera gear on my wish list. Having a fun gift to capture and save those holiday memories is the best part of finding a camera under the tree!

This year is no different… these are my holiday must-haves:

A Starter Lens (Nikon version): Nikon Nikkor 50mm F/1.8 G AF-S

A Fun Macro Lens (Nikon version): Nikon Nikkor 105mm F/2.8 D Micro

What I Really Want: Nikon Nikkor 16-35mm F/4 G ED AF-S VR

A Fun Film Camera: Rollei 35 40mm f/3.5 Tessar Camera

A Gift to Give: Fujifilm X100T Digital Camera

I love having a camera around my neck at every opportunity during the holidays. The cat digging through the pile of torn up wrapping paper, grandma’s hands whipping up all kinds of tasty treats in the kitchen, the magical bokeh of those holiday lights glimmering in the background. These are some of my most favorite things to photograph and so many other great photos can appear, even when we’re just sitting around our home.

Throughout the year, I am most typically a nature and landscape photographer. I spend a lot of time with my wife traveling or going to National Parks, as often as we can manage. A good set of prime lenses work well for my style, and I don’t often find myself “needing” anything. That doesn’t eliminate the “want” list that I keep running in my mind.

While I mostly shoot with prime, fixed lenses, I did find myself lacking a long reaching lens to catch wild animals and to get close up on the scenes around me. That led me to add a long zoom to my bag, which would be a perfect gift for just about any traveling photographer I could think of. I chose the Nikon 28-300mm from KEH, because the lens is perfect for almost every place and time! Perfect for taking one lens / camera and being able to take care nearly every shot.

I’d recommend a solid prime lens for anyone who is a rookie or an experienced photographer. The 50mm is an easy start, since it is a great length and typically comes are a very affordable price. Beyond the 50mm, a 35mm and an 85mm would round out a very nice kit. I personally love the Nikon 105mm Micro (macro) lens. Talk about a fun lens… macro is special!

Since I have a pretty well set kit, I have found myself wanting more wide lenses – something better to capture night skies and shooting stars, and even to just get a different perspective of my pet at home.

A “point and shoot” camera is an easy gift to put under the tree. Film cameras are mostly affordable, and fun to start shooting with in the middle of the holiday excitement. (Just don’t forget to throw in a roll of film, too!) A couple of years ago, I had my eye on a half frame plastic camera, and it was around $20… one of my favorite stocking stuffers, ever! The gear doesn’t always have to be a fancy or expensive to be fun and exciting.

My wife is also a photographer, so she’s always in mind when I am thinking of camera goodies to wrap up as a gift. For instance, I know she’s a little jealous of my Fuji X100T.

The holidays always seem to spark some creativity in my mind that is fresh and bright at this time of year! Maybe it’s the bright colored decorations that pop up all around, or the twinkling lights on so many trees. I don’t live in an area where it snows, or  really gets cold even, but this time of year brings back all kinds of memories of snowy mornings and cozy evenings in a warm house with the cold locked outside. It’s a happy and festive time, filled with gatherings of friends and families, and so many fun things to photograph!