Gift for girlfriend

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by matt_avarell, Dec 18, 2014.

  1. My girlfriend has a Nikon D5300. She loves photography and loves her camera so I was looking to buy an accessory for it. I know nothing about cameras and photography so I was looking for some help and some suggestions?
  2. Without telling us what subject matter your girlfriend likes to photograph, I'd suggest a macro lens or a lens with the ability to focus very close up. In my experience female enthusiast photographers nearly always appreciate the finer details in life and love to capture the textures and shapes of flowers etc.
    Otherwise I'd suggest a decent tripod and ball head if she does not already have one.
  3. Hi Matt. Do you know what lens or lenses she has for the camera? If she only has the 18-55mm lens that is usually sold with the camera, then a 55-200 or 55-300 might be good choices. If she has 2 lenses, maybe an external flash would be useful. One other lens choice might be a 50mm f/1.8G lens. If you are looking for a lower cost alternative to lenses or flashes, something like a nice tripod or an ML-L3 remote are good choices. If you go to, you can find accessories listed for the camera. Good luck.
  4. Thank you for your suggestion.
    She loves nature, taking pictures of pretty scenery etc
    But she also loves taking pictures of people, especially candids.
  5. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    Does she have the 35mm/f1.8 DX AF-S lens yet? If she doesn't have a lot of lenses yet and mainly has those slow kit zooms such as the 18-55mm/f3.5-4.5 AF-S VR, that is a pretty standard lens to own for about $200. Keep in mind that I am talking about the DX version of that lens:
    There is a non-DX (FX) version of the 35mm/f1.8 that costs a lot more.
  6. It may not be the best idea but what about a gift certificate to B&H? That way she gets to pick exactly what she wants....
  7. Not knowing what the max you desire to spend makes it sort of guessing game. I could add to this (game) by suggesting Sigma 70mm lens (that fits Nikon models). It's a well regarded optic, great for portraits and also fine for macro.
  8. Aside from a new lens one of the most useful accessories that many photographers tend to forget is a good flash unit. The D5300 comes with a built-in flash but it has limited use compared to an actual flash unit. A detachable unit also has the advantage to work with the built-in one as a remote unit for more creative effects.
  9. How about the Tamron 60mm f/2?
    I just got one a few months ago and I really like it. Good versatility as a macro and portrait lens. Very nice background blur.
  10. I agree with Shun. the 35mm. /1.8 DX AF-S is a wonderful lens for any and all DX format Nikons. The quality you get for the price is amazing. It spends a lot of time on my d7100.
  11. Another vote for the 35mm f/1.8 DX AFS. Buy it from a place (such as B&H, which someone mentioned) that is good about allowing returns.
  12. Without knowing how much you want to spend, it's pretty hard to give a recommendation. I'd join the 35 f/1.8DX chorus, but it is still $200 - for those of us used to prices for photographic gear, it's a bargain, but it is still quite a bit of money for many. Same goes for flashes.
    The gift certificate is a pretty good idea too, it could also give her the option to add a bit and get something at a higher price point.
  13. +1 to the idea of a gift voucher. Then put on an interested smile as you accompany her round the shop to choose exactly what she wants.
  14. I agree that a voucher makes sense - but if you don't like giving vouchers, and especially if dropping several hundred dollars on a lens isn't what you had in mind, I'd suggest getting a additional SD card or (EN-EL14a) battery. It's always useful to have additional storage space for photos or the ability to shoot for longer. It's admittedly a little dull. If buying cards as a gift, I'd look at the SanDisk "Extreme PRO" SD cards - they are, I believe, the fastest that the D5300 can make use of (there's no point paying for a UHS-II card) and will let her take bursts of photos with the camera without getting in the way. Available in sizes from 16GB (depressingly cheap compared with how much I spent on mine a couple of years ago) to 512GB (expensive). Arguably anything bigger than 64GB is a bit wasteful unless she does a lot of video shooting. (If I were buying a card for myself, I might skimp on a cheaper model, but as a gift you may as well go for a good one.)

    If you want to go down the less practical, more fun route, you might also want to look at something like a Lensbaby Spark (in Nikon mount). It's not really a tool for general photography, but it does allow some interesting creative effects, and it's relatively cheap compared with "real" lenses.

    Other obscure (she probably won't have one) but useful options are things like the Joby Gorillapod (I'd probably suggest a "SLR-Zoom" model, with the BH1 ball head, which is effectively a tripod you can mount on trees, doors, lamp posts, etc. - or a Tamrac Zipshot, which is nothing like as stable as a "real tripod", but vastly more portable - enough so that you don't really have to think about carrying it. (The 406 model is bigger than the 404, and probably more useful.) Both of these are sufficiently different from a "normal" tripod (of which you probably shouldn't buy a cheap one) that they're useful to complement one. I have both (though my Gorillapod is a bigger Focus model), even though I have bigger tripods as well, and they're useful for travel. You might also consider one of the mini beanbag tripods, like "the Pod", which is small enough to fit in a bag but useful for stable shooting (though it doesn't lift the camera in the air like a tripod).

    Another budget thought: consider a collapsible reflector/diffuser - they let you control the light so that shadows are less harsh, skin looks better, you can get rid of shadows under the eyes, plants are more softly-lit, etc. Again, it's useful to have more than one, so it's not such an issue if she's already got one. Even smallish ones are good for small wildlife and flowers, and are easier to carry; the bigger ones are good for portraiture, although admittedly not so much for candids. The 5-in-1 (or similar) types with a sheath that offers additional colours and the ability for the body to work as a diffuser are handy, and not much more expensive. Skimming B&H for prices, a 12" one (for travel) or a 42" one (for portraits) seems to be about $20. They usually fold up to about a third of their diameter, so a 12" one will fit in a large bag or small pocket (4" across) and a 42" one probably needs a backpack or large bag. You can pay more for ones with a handle (from Interfit, Lastolite, etc.) which are a bit easier to use if you're on your own. I'd not look at the huge ones (much bigger than 42") without advice, because they start getting awkward to use. Even the 42" ones are big enough to be a portrait backdrop for head and shoulders - I've used one on a passport before.

    If you're sure she doesn't have one, you might look at a remote shutter release - especially for tripod use; for the D5300, I believe the one you need is the Nikon MC-DC2, which goes for just over $20. That helps you avoid camera shake for natural images, and also lets you put the camera in obscure places for interesting shots (I've used one to fire the shutter while holding the camera over my head at the end of a tripod). And finally... forum experts will hopefully correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't think the D5300 has an integrated digital level to help you keep horizons straight. About $15-20 will get you a little spirit level that you can put in the camera hot shoe, so you can tell if you're holding the camera level. Tiny and reasonably useful.

    Bear in mind that if you're buying in the average high street store, you'll probably pay a lot more for any of these than on the internet. At this point, if you want it for Christmas, you may not have a choice - but I'd research prices a little so you know how much you're getting over-charged. Even supermarkets can charge twice the going rate for memory cards without blinking. Of the items I've listed, probably the Lensbaby and the ZipShot are the most obscure - I'd hope you can find the rest in most half-decent camera shops or even departments of a bigger store. Along with the lenses that people recommended, of course.

    Good luck!
  15. Matt... How can I put this delicately? Heck, just get another girlfriend because as we have all found out the endless journey to keep up with our camera and lens desires is a never ending quest! Ok, just kidding.
    Not knowing your budget I'm just going to throw something out for consideration. For many years, before I could work my way into f/2.8 lens, I used the Nikon 18-200mm do all lens. It's a very under appreciated lens relative to the quality images it produces. B&H Photo can still make Christmas shipping ;-).
    Anyway, good luck... Mike
  16. Mike: I can't speak from personal experience, but most of the discussion I've heard on the 18-200 lens (and similar superzooms) is that they really can't do a 24MP sensor like the D5300's justice. I get the benefits of a superzoom - and I used a 28-200 on my D700 for several years - but just as my 28-200 wasn't really worth using on my D800 (which shows the limits of how sharp the lens is), I would expect an 18-200 to be a great choice on a 6MP body like a D40 but much less so on a 24MP body like the D5300. The compromises outweigh the benefits more often.

    Not to argue, just suggesting that there's at least a discussion to be had about whether an 18-200 is a worthwhile purchase for Matt's girlfriend. I'd steer clear without further research!
  17. "It may not be the best idea but what about a gift certificate to B&H? That way she gets to pick exactly what she wants...."

    With all due respect to everyone else, that is the only appropriate response to this question.

    As I say everytime this question comes up, I strongly recommend against buying photographic gear for other people. The reason is that photographers are extremely personal and extremely picky in their equipment choices. Even if you are a fellow photographer, your choice is not necessarily the same as hers. If you are not a photographer, you don't stand a chance.

    The risk is that you go out and buy what you think is a very nice gift and spend a lot of money and it turns out not to be what she wanted. You've spent a bundle and she is either going to tell you you got the wrong thing, or to avoid hurting your feelings say nothing and then it either sits on the shelf or she uses it but is always frustrated that it's not the "right" thing.

    Only real way to do this is give her the gift card or even cash, or go along with her to the camera store, let her pick while you pick up the bill. (Or you pay a set amount that you agree on and she makes up the difference.)
  18. Best camera accessory is a tripod.
    I suggest a Gitzo carbon fiber, with a Gitzo ball head. Here's a link:
  19. @ Andrew... Ahhh, the value of discussion. You are most likely correct since my usage of the 18-200 was on a D80 and D300. Although I no longer use the 18-200, I'm still using a D700 so the 24MP issue didn't occur to me. Thanks... Mike
  20. Craig: Agreed, with the proviso that some people think of a gift certificate as being like money, but less useful. If it's the thought that counts, an esoteric bit of camera kit might still be appreciated. More so for a cheaper gift. Once you get into the significant money bracket (the definition of that varies, but whatever comes across as "wasting that money is the difference between me being able to buy what I want and not), it's certainly better to let the recipient make the choice. I wouldn't mind receiving something like a Lensbaby myself (I don't have one); I would mind my wife buying me a (very expensive) 200-400 f/4, because that's really not how I'd spend that money.

    Dan: Tripods are very personal things, with different uses for different bits of kit. For all we know the girlfriend is about to buy a 600 f/4, which would overload that $600 tripod. Or she may only have the kit lens for the camera, in which case the model you suggest is possibly overkill. And, of course, she may have a tripod already. Tripods and camera bags are the two bits of camera kit for which I most suggest people go to a shop and try them for themselves, rather than just reading the specs - maybe even more so than camera bodies. That Gitzo would be a lovely gift [other leg sets and heads are available], but I'd consider it well into the "a lot of money that might be spent on something more urgent" category. Of course, it depends whether $600 is easily disposable income to you - it isn't to me, sadly. There's a reason that the ZipShot, Gorillapod and Pod that I suggested are all cheap (actually, along with them being less redundant if she already has a different tripod). YMMV, of course.
  21. Thank you everyone for your opinions and suggestions, I really appreciate it. This forum seems like a very nice community. Gift cards are out of the question though as I see them being less personal. I think I would be willing to spend a couple hundred on a decent lens, i just have no idea which lens she has. I'm really fishing in the dark here lol.
  22. Glad to help (or not!) Matt.

    If you a) have about $200, and b) want a "decent lens" (as opposed to any of my more oddball suggestions, say), let's have a look through the possible lenses in roughly that range according to B&H, in case a store tries to bamboozle you:
    18-55 f/3.5-5.6G
    This is a "kit lens" often sold with a camera - it is quite likely that she already has it if she wanted one. The VR version is more useful, and more expensive.
    50mm f/1.8 AF-D
    A perfectly decent lens, but it won't autofocus on the D5300.
    70-300mm AF f/4-5.6
    I would steer clear of these. The Nikon version won't focus on the D5300; I'm unsure about the Sigma or Tamron, but the optics are likely poor (good 70-300 lenses include the VR version of the Nikon or the VC version of the Tamron, but they cost more).
    55-200mm Nikon
    Often sold as a two-lens kit with a camera - check whether she already has one, but otherwise it's a good option for getting longer reach, good for candids and wildlife. The VR version is significantly more useful, but also about $250.
    Nikon AF-S Nikkor 35mm f/1.8G DX
    This is a very good option, useful for general shooting. It can blur the background effectively for creative shots, and works well in low light. It works perfectly on the D5300. If she doesn't already have a 35mm prime (not zoom) lens, it's very much in the running.
    Sigma 70-300mm OS
    This lens does not appear to review very well. I would steer clear.
    Tamron 18-200 f/3.5-6.3
    Any 18-200mm superzoom is an acquired taste, especially on a high resolution body like the D5300. It's very convenient, but the image quality isn't as good as some simpler designs. I'd not get this without asking.
    Mitakon 85mm f/2
    Manual focus, pretty esoteric. I don't think I'd get one without checking first. I've no idea of the quality.
    Nikon AF-S Nikkor 50mm f/1.8G
    This will autofocus on the D5300, and does much the same job as the 35mm f/1.8, but with a narrower angle of view and a bit more ability to blur the background. Especially on a camera like the D5300, this makes it a good option for candid portraits. Again, if she doesn't have a 50mm prime lens, I'd consider this - the biggest argument against is if she already has something like a 50mm Sigma f/1.4 lens that does the same job (better, but for more money).
    Bower SLY 358N 8mm f/3.5 fish-eye
    Lensbaby 8.5mm f/3.5 circular fish-eye
    Both these are specialised lenses - they're nice to have and rare to own, but give a very specific effect (180 degrees of field of view, with the edges squashed). As a gift of an interesting lens that she's unlikely to own, I'd consider one, but it's unlikely they'd get as much use as the 35mm or 50mm.
    After that we're getting into the $250 bracket (with the AF-S DX VR Zoom-Nikkor 55-200 f/4-5.6G, which is another option if she doesn't have one and you want to spend that much).

    So I think we're back to the early suggestions in this thread - the 35mm f/1.8 DX (which is a "normal" lens - if you print a whole image taken with it and look at it at a normal viewing distance, things will look roughly as they did when you took the shot) and the 50mm f/1.8 AF-S (which on the D5300 is a mild telephoto lens, meaning you can shoot from a bit further away or crop in a bit, which can be better for portraiture - and it blurs the background slightly more than the 35mm, which can also be good). The 35mm is the more general lens, the 50mm is the better specialist.

    Whichever she doesn't already have would be a fine gift. The 50mm is a bit more expensive (just over your $200 budget). Good luck!
  23. How about getting her a flash?
  24. Not hardware, this is just cold stuf that any money can get, but the most valuable gift for a photographer is, imho, photo opportunities. Give her a photo-trip package, safari-landscape-birds, hunter-gatherers, etc managed by good pros. And the good thing is that you will share the gift with her, although most likely you will end up carrying her lens bag, the tripod, etc. And add a self edited photo-book at the end with her 12-24-... best shots.
  25. ahem... i mean... like... ask her?
  26. 1) A gift card for a Craftsy photo class?
    2) Post-processing software? Along with a tutorial book?
    3) A subscription to
    I have or have done all of these, and learned from and enjoyed each very much.
  27. If she has only one lens, I'll bet it's the 18-55.
    A 35mm f1.8DX would complement that nicely, but so would a tele.
    If she's not trying to "go pro", the affordable 55-200 and 55-300 are really good options.
    If it were me, I'd want a decent flash the most. Like this one, the SB-500.
  28. I think it's best to let her choose her camera. I know nobody can pick out the camera for me.
  29. what about a nice bag? jill-e makes some combo purse/photo bags perfect for women shooters.

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