Here at Nerdophiles our favorite season is always convention season! We’re hobbyists who have turned our passions into some amazing opportunities, including attending plenty of conventions as press. Through trial and error over the years, we’ve discovered some of our favorite gear and what works and what doesn’t.
We’ve put together this gift guide for anyone looking to build up their own amateur press gear. Whether you’re adding it to your own list or shopping for your giftee, there’s something everyone needs on this list! It’s not all-encompassing, but it’s a start for anyone who wants to seriously cover events as a member of the press.
Between taking photos for social media, livetweeting panels, that quick selfie with the celebrity you’re interviewing (we’ve all done it!), phones are the lifeline of conventions and a dead battery is asking for disaster.
We’ve been using Anker portable chargers for years and it’s our favorite brand to recommend. There are plenty of options available for gifting – from the compact pocket chargers to the heavy-duty multi-chargers.
Think about how many cords your giftee might be carrying around: phone charger, camera charger, laptop charger, external battery adapter cord, and more. A great gift for press attendees, but also for anyone who happens to have a million cords (like we all do), is a cable organizer board with crisscrossing elastic to keep all of your cords organized and secure. The board is our favorite because it is compact and keeps essentials organized without taking up too much space.
Sometimes, it’s nice and relaxing to get away from everything in the midst of a con. Sometimes, you desperately need to check your audio to make sure it sounds alright. Whatever the reason, it’s usually a good idea for a press attendee to have headphones with them.
Big, noise-cancelling headphones are great for tuning out the rest of the world when you need to concentrate and more than once I’ve been happy to have mine on a flight home while I worked on transcribing. However, smaller earbuds are easier to cart around for more immediate use. Our suggestion is to see which type of headphones your giftee has now and invest in the opposite for them – that way they don’t have to choose!
One more consideration to take into account is whether your giftee is clinging to their headphone jack or moving into the bluetooth world of wireless headphones. Some headphones do both and we’ve never tried out bluetooth during a crowded convention, so your mileage may vary there.
Microphones & Audio Recorders
For anyone who might find themselves doing one-on-one interviews, there are two pretty easy options. I started out recording interviews on my phone with no extra equipment, but if you want to up your giftee’s interview game, get them a lapel microphone for much better audio. It’s a minor tweak that majorly affects transcribing or posted audio for the better.
If your giftee can’t give up any precious phone space to record things, pick up an audio recorder so that they can continue tweeting away while recording. We’ve used a simple one like this for years now and it’s made life so much easier, especially when consulting the phone for questions. For bonus points, find one that has a built-in USB plug to avoid giving your giftee extra cords to carry around. Nothing’s easier than plugging simply into a laptop to download audio.
Cameras & Accessories
Dependent on what your giftee plans to do with the camera, their needs could vary from a small, compact digital camera to a larger DSLR. Something that can works as a point-and-shoot as well as a camcorder serves a dual purpose and lessens the amount of gear your giftee might need to carry around. We recommend looking at vlogging cameras if you don’t want to spend too much on a DSLR, which can get pricey quickly.
But maybe your giftee already has their dream camera! In that case, it’s time to look at what kind of accessories they’re missing and fill in those gaps for them!
Don’t let your giftee be that person at the press roundtables propping up their camera with a soda bottle, coffee cup, or notebook (we’ve seen it all), get them a tripod for their camera! Depending on how all-purpose your giftee needs their tripod to be, there are large free-standing ones and tabletop tripods. GorillaPods are popular and can be used in multiple ways outside of press roundtables, but can also be a bit pricey when it comes to picking out the right one. We use an UltraPod that has been serving us well for years.
For crowded press rooms or loud rooms in general, you can also find your giftee a microphone that either plugs into your camera and can be set on the table or attaches to your camera for better audio when recording videos. Trust us, it makes a world of difference when you can adjust the audio and ensure your interview is heard over the noise.
Likewise, if your giftee is great with their DSLR camera and it has lenses that you can switch out, consider getting them a new lens. A telephoto lens that can take pictures from far away is perfect for panel shots no matter where you sit in the room. Or consider a wide-shot or fish-eye lens to take some unique shots while at the convention.
Of course, if they already have all of this gear, then there are the staples that every press attendee always needs: SD Cards for extra storage and batteries for extra juice. There is never enough power to keep all of your electronics running at conventions and there’s always more videos or photos to shoot, meaning there’s always a need for more storage. Or you can top it all off with a new camera bag. That way, your giftee will think of you every time they safely carry their press essentials around a convention!
Laptops & Tablets
Okay, maybe we’re projecting a bit here, but if you want to be the best gift-giver you can be (with the disposable income to match), none of us would ever say no to a new laptop. We’re partial to Macbooks because of how they integrate to the rest of our tech (iPads, iPhones, you get the idea) and iMovie is pretty easy and intuitive when it comes to editing videos.
For the giftees who want to get press coverage out on the day of the event or even during panels, press rooms, and more, consider a tablet or one of the smaller laptops that is easy to lug around. With a brand new battery life and (hopefully) a wi-fi signal, nothing can keep your giftee from being at the front of the convention news cycle.