Dear Santa,

I think I wuz a good MilkyWayPhotographer this year. It’s not necessary to get me a toy, but for the holidays this year, May I pleez have a:

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Kirk’s Wish List

Storage for the Road

When traveling on the road, I always carry a small external hard disk to back up my photos. I download to my laptop, but for extra security, I copy them to the external drive. But hard drives have moving parts and are somewhat fragile. I’ve love to get a portable SSD – like the Samsung T5 Portable SSD – 1TB – USB 3.1 External SSD (MU-PA1T0B/AM) Weighing barely over 50 grams, this thing is small, just over 10mm thick! It’s not going to take up much space in my computer bag. The 1TB size is under $140, with the 2 TB size is $250.

If price were no issue, I’d love a GNARBOX 2.0 SSD (512GB). With a MIL-SPEC design enclosure, it’s water-resistant and rugged. The built-in display and automatic backup mean you don’t need a computer. You can pop this in your back and go! It’s under $600 for 512 GB and nearly $800 for 1 TB, so it’s not inexpensive.

It’s a Wrap!

I discovered Lens Wraps back in the ’90s when I shot 4×5 film. Large format lenses are a bit fragile compared to DSLR and Mirrorless lenses, with a shutter cocking and aperture levers sticking out from the shutter. To protect them in my backpack, I used padded lens wraps. I’ve continued this practice with my digital camera setup. I use a wrap for each lens, several of them Domke F-34M 15-Inch Protective Wraps.

Luxli Cello RGB Light

I have a Luxli Viola adjustable RGB light, and I’d love to get its bigger brother, the Luxli Cello 10″ RGBAW LED Light. It can operate in a white-light mode for color temp lighting, it’s adjustable from 3000K to 10,000K, and has a CRI rating of over 95.

But where Luxli lights shine is in RGB programmable mode. You can select any color from the RGB Wheel with 1° increment, or use Filter Mode to choose between 150 colored gels settings. If that’s not enough, you can control it remotely with Bluetooth. It even has several animated light programs. And with 176 LEDs, it’s bright! At $329, it’s a lot of light with a lot of features!

Big Glass

I’d like to have a longer telephoto lens. I currently have the Sony Sony FE 70-300mm SEL70300G F4.5-5.6 G OSS Lens, which is great for an all-round medium-range telephoto. I’ve used it for bigger and closer wildlife, and out at the racetrack – it’s pretty good for groups of cars. With a list price of US$1275, it’s not super expensive for native glass in this range.

But it’s not a great lens for shooting the Moon. I’d really like one that I can get in close – something like a 600mm lens. On a full-frame camera, the diameter of the Moon covers about 1/4th of the short dimension of the sensor. At this point, the Moon starts to look like it’s a dominant feature in any image! And switching to my APS-C camera, the Moon would be about 1/2 of the frame! At about $2000, the Sony 200-600 SEL200600G would be perfect. I’m going to need a secret Santa to get it!

If I had a Canon, Nikon, or Sigma Mount system, I’d get this, the Sigma 150-600mm 5-6.3 Contemporary DG OS HSM Lens. I’ve heard many great things about this lens, and it’s under $1700, depending on the mount.

A Drone for the Rest of Us

Like most landscape photographers, I’d been lusting after a drone. Most have either been too big, too expensive or have substandard cameras. So, it’s not been too hard to resist the temptation until now. The DJI Mavic Mini just might be the drone that gets me into flying.

Sporting a 12MP 2.7K camera, 30-minute fly time, and weighing less than 250 grams, it will fit into most backpacks without being noticed! And a price of less than $400, I’m hoping this is the thing Santa gets for me!

Aaron M.’s Wish List

Lens Wipes, Lens Wipes, and Lens Wipes

600-pack of ZEISS Pre-Moistened lens wipes

An inexpensive and totally functional gift, I would be entirely happy to have 600-pack of these little wipes.

I don’t generally carry bottles of lens cleaning solution. Nor do I bring many microfiber cloths, just because I always lose them, but I always have 10-15 ZEISS lens wipes hidden in my bag.

They don’t streak, they are mostly lint-free, and I have used them not only for lenses, but also to clean my rear LCD, my viewfinder, the actual glasses that I wear on my face, and have even used them to clean parts of the back window of my truck when I have new stickers to add.

Real Tracking

Sky-Watcher Star Adventurer Pro

As much as I love Pentax’s Astrotracer feature, a recent lens addition in the super-telephoto range means a good equatorial mount is in my future for DSO’s.

When recently trying for a few deep-space objects with my Pentax HD D FA 150-450mm, I found that with Astrotracer, I was getting star trailing at over 5 seconds. For super-telephoto lenses OR ultra-wide lenses, a tracker might be a requirement.

A Second Camera Body

As much as I love my K-1 Mark 1, I may need an upgrade soon, even if it is only in the form of a slightly faster AF system found in the Pentax K-1 Mark 2.

That doesn’t mean I want to sell my K-1 Mk1, but it does mean that one day, I do plan to send it out to get Astro-modified. Astro-modification + Astrotracer = ? I’ll find out someday!

Stanley’s Wish List

Online Computer Backup

Backblaze is a $6 a month online backup, and after a recent calamity involved my PC, I cannot stress an online backup enough. The only downfall is that if you have a lot of information, it will take forever to back up. My first one took about three months. After that, I will run a backup after each shoot, and it will only take a few hours.

Microfiber Towels

Microfiber towels are a must-have, even if you do not shoot when it’s wet or raining. I keep a couple in my camera bag at all times. They are also good for covering the camera in dusty conditions. Even though I am an earth tone guy, I prefer my microfiber towels in orange so I can find them easily.

Hand-Held Radios

Baofeng UV-5R Radio – Baofeng produces a lineup of cheap, hand-held radios. There have been some quality control concerns with these radios in the past. I have two, and the speaker in one does not work. I hook up an external mic, and then I can hear transmissions. These radios are completely programmable. You can program the frequencies of most public safety agencies, along with the National Weather Service’s weather radio frequencies, so that you can get up to date forecasts. Up until recently, the radios could also be programmed with the FRS series of frequencies, so that you could talk to people with the popular family radios. That has changed. They can be programmed manually, or if you download the CHIRP program, you can upload a list of frequencies that are listed by name. A couple of these would be great for small groups who head out.

Tactical Pants

Since discovering the awesomesauce design of BDU (Battle Dress Uniform) pants in the ’80s, I have always been a fan of the design. Loose fit, lots of pockets, and usually well built; this is the type of pant that I have worn most of my adult life. There are numerous options, ranging from those that will rip the first time you squat to those that will last for years.

I have never considered the 5.11 TDU Pants as an option until somewhat recently. I have a fleece jacket from them, but that was it until I decided to try out a pair of TDU pants. So far, I have been very happy with them. The pants come with a self-adjusting tunnel waistband, which automatically puts it on a level higher than any other pants that I have had. This style of pants has always had a double fabric knee. A few years ago, someone decided that this is a perfect setup for kneepads, and 5.11 has continued the trend. Although not needed by landscape photographers, I have been using internal kneepads with these pants shooting football. If you have a 5.11 store nearby, I suggest you try a pair.

Cubes of Light

Lume Cube 2.0 – Look for an upcoming review from me on this product shortly. So far, I am impressed with this light. Improving on previous designs, the company has given us a small light that is controllable via smartphone, can be used as a landscape light, and numerous other external lighting options photographers may need. Use the code MWP10 for a 10% discount on the Lume Cube website.

Your Last Camera Bag?

MindShift BackLight 26L – We still have one bag to give away, the 36L. But the 26L version might just be the camera bag you need. MindShift has a great line of high-quality camera bags that are tailored for the outdoor photographer. If you need a new bag or know someone who does, check this bag out.

Rhonda’s Wish List

Rain and Dust Protection

I have a lot of money tied up in my gear and have learned the hard way about shooting in harsh environments. Two years ago, I was photographing at one of the dry lake beds near Eldorado, Nevada. After just a few hours of shooting, I was horrified to see how much dust got into every nook and crevice of my camera and lens. This past September, I was caught in a downpour of freezing rain and sleet in Iceland. Although I shoot with a weather-sealed body and lenses, I really wish I would have had a good quality rain cover for my setup. The cheap clear drawstring baggie ones just don’t compare to the ThinkTank Emergency Rain Cover.

Gloves for Warm Hands

ProMaster 4-Layer Photo Gloves – “are excellent for photography in cold weather. The 4-layer design is windproof and water-resistant to keep your hands warm. The index finger and thumb tips fold back and are held in place with small magnets. That allows for more tactile experiences with your camera. The index fingertip is made of a touch screen compatible material allowing you to operate a camera touch LCD screen, tablet, or phone easily when it is not folded back. A non-slip coating on the fingers and palm ensures a firm, safe grip on your precious photo gear. Ribbed wrist cuffs keep the wind out and warmth in.”

Reviews show that most gloves run on the small side, so keep that in mind when ordering. If this is your first pair of photography gloves, they come in at an attractive price point of only $39.95.

Another lens… I know… When do you have enough lenses? The easy answer is never… 🙂

Irix Blackstone 15mm f2.4 wide-angle with built-in-chip – I currently have the Rokinon 14mm 2.4 and the Rokinon 24mm 1.4, but I am always searching for a good priced sharp lens. I also will be running 2 camera bodies this year as I venture into tracking, star trails, and time-lapse, so it makes sense to have a couple of different lenses to choose from. I have heard really good things about this lens and would love to see how it measures up.

PS Santa – I love what you got me last year. Thank You!


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kdk 1/13/20