Monday, December 1, 2003

10 useful stocking stuffers under $100 for your favorite photographer


By David Gewirtz

As I'm sure you well know, photography isn't an inexpensive hobby. Yes, you can get away with an inexpensive camera, but if you want anything that'll work well, you're still talking about a gift in the hundreds of dollars.

But what if you want to control your costs? Are there good, useful gifts for under $100? You guessed it, there are. Otherwise we probably wouldn't have named this article "10 useful stocking stuffers under $100 for your favorite photographer," now would we?

Our goal in collecting this list was to make sure each item was actually useful, not a novelty throw-away item. As a result, we've got some great software, accessories, and even a scanner and a printer.

Let's kick off the list with two rather useful tools from Adobe, makers of Photoshop.

1. Adobe Photoshop Elements 2.0

Photoshop Elements is something like an entry-level Photoshop. While it's missing some very useful features for photographers (like channels), Elements shares some of the amazing utility available in Photoshop. While there are other low-cost image editing programs out there, at under $100, Photoshop Elements is a must-buy for any photographer who doesn't already own Photoshop. Although this program has many great features, one we really like is the Quick Fix feature, which will do some very nice adjustments to your image with a few simple clicks.

Although Photoshop Elements lists for $99, we found it for as low as $58 on PriceWatch (at, a price-comparison service. Of course, be careful when you buy any product online. Be sure to check out the merchant carefully.

2. Adobe Photoshop Album

Adobe calls this the "fast and easy way for active picture takers to share a lifetime of photos." Smooth integration with Photoshop Elements makes it easy to add extra enhancements to your digital photos. At first glance, we were somewhat underwhelmed with this application. It's basically an image library. If all you want to do is catalog the images you've downloaded off the Web, Photoshop Album isn't for you.

Where Photoshop Album really shines, though, is in managing all of the digital images you capture with your digital camera. Unlike film, you can't go thumbing through slides or negatives to look for an image. You need a way to keep and represent all those "rolls of digital film." Photoshop Album is an ideal tool for this purpose. At $49 list, it's also a pretty good deal.

3. Your First Digital Camera audio workshop

OK, I have to admit, this is my product. But it's really quite good and I'm (I think) justifiably proud of it. If you're thinking about getting a digital camera, want to know how one works, want to know what all the terms mean, and want to really understand the "system" that is a digital camera, this workshop is great.