2019 Photography ‘Living in the Real World’ Picks

Are you ready for the next installment of our Staff Picks Wish List Extravaganza? We got such great feedback on our last issue that we’re rolling out the next. We’re calling this one ‘Living in the Real World’ and we’re keeping the budget to $500(ish) or less.

On a side note, we apologize for the faulty link on the lens pen in our Stocking Stuffer edition. Here’s the real link. And really…. everybody should have one.


If you made a list of lenses that bring the fun, you’d be hard pressed not to include a Lensbaby. Fair warning, visiting their website might be a bit of a rabbit hole. Both Annette , Michelle and I have a Lensbaby on our wishlist this year. The Twist 60 is my choice because of the swirly bokeh it creates, but Michelle has her eye on the Composer Pro with Sweet 50. I’m not sure which one Annette would like best but if she’s like me, any of them would do! There are far too many delicious options to spell out here. Lenses range from around $200 to $500.

You light up my life

Next on Josh’s “Ode to a Drone” Christmas list is this Lume Cube light kit. In his very own words….” Who doesn’t want to add stuff onto their drone? Why do I need this? I’m not entirely sure I’ve thought through that question yet, but I’ll be looking for a project that I can use this. Until that point, I’ll call this ummm, a safety measure?” And let’s be honest here – it would make his drone (or yours) look REALLY cool. At $189, it’s well under our budget and snazzy looking to boot.

A helping hand

Erica would love to see this SpiderPro Hand strap under her tree this year.  It’s a great alternative to a traditional shoulder strap and, when fitted correctly, allows you to relax your grip and still hang on to your camera.  It retails at ~$70.  

It’s in the bag

One thing photographers love is camera bags. Michelle’s got two bags on her list from Kelly Moore this year. Kelly Moore is known for quality products and functional, but pretty design. The Weekender (shown) is a full grain leather satchel style bag. Michelle’s other pick is The Tourist – a full grain leather backpack style. Kelly Moore bags retail from around $150 up to $400+. Pro Tip – they’re having a pretty big sale right now, so hop on over and get some early shopping done! Erica has her eye on this sling style bag from Promaster, too, so you can see that bags are super popular with most of us girls here at SPS. Hey, they’re the purses of the camera world, right?


Annette and I also both have a speedlite (flash) on our wish lists.  The Godox brand has great reviews.  You’ll want to look for one that can be used both on and off camera.  Buying one with a built in receiver will save you having to buy a separate one if you decide you want to get your flash off your camera.  Kyle wrote a blog post a long while ago about how to use a flash properly to avoid the red eyed ‘super flashy’ look.  If you think flash isn’t for you – give it a read!  Pro tip – make sure the one you buy (or ask for) is the right model for your camera brand and model.  

Magnetic personality

Michelle is looking to trick out her on camera flash.  A great diffuser really does make your on camera flash a million times more useful and this set not only does its job diffusing, but it’s based on super handy magnetic components that you can easily change around.  This Magmod kit retails around $190.  If you’re not interested in the whole kit, you can buy components separately and Annette has the grip and the magsphere on her wishlist.  

That’s nifty

Josh changed teams this year and now that he’s a Sony guy (along with most of the rest of the SPS staff), he’s looking to build up his lens stash again. Where better to go than to the trusty of all trusties? The much loved Nifty Fifty. This lens is like The Little Engine that Could and if you’re still shooting with just a kit lens, the increased aperture range on a Nifty Fifty will give you so much more ability to get that fabulous blurry background (bokeh). Canon and Nikon have 1.8 versions, too, for our Team Canon and Team Nikon friends. All versions come in well under our $500 budget, even if you upgrade to a 1.4

If you didn’t flip last time…

If having a double lens changer wasn’t nerdy (or cool) enough for you, how about a TRIPLE lens system?  The TriLens really is cool, but it totally blew the stocking stuffer budget out of the water at $169, so we decided to feature both.  In Josh’s words (because we really couldn’t state it any better) “It’s from Sweden (so you know it’s amazing) allowing you to switch glass on the fly and becoming the gunslinging photog crossover you never knew you wanted to be.”  If you find yourself carrying three lenses fairly frequently, this would really make your life easier.  

We hope you enjoyed this edition of the 2019 Staff Wish List. We’ll make sure you have our ‘only in our dreams’ edition in your hands early next week well in advance of Black Friday.

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