Tuesday, June 9, 2009
The Accessories That Matter
Tripods, filters and other handy extras for enhancing your photography
All D-SLR manufacturers and some acces-sory manufacturers such as Ansmann (www.hpmarketingcorp.com) and Flashpoint (www.adorama.com) offer battery grips for midline models and some entry-level models. The grips offer two benefits: additional battery power (more shots in the field and sometimes a quicker shooting rate) and more comfortable shooting, particularly for vertical-format images and long-lens shooting. Pro D-SLRs don’t offer such grips because they’re built into those cameras.
If you’re going to shoot (or just scout subjects and locations) in harsh weather, you’ll want a good jacket that can handle the elements. Gore-Tex® Paclite Shell outerwear (www.gore-tex.com) “breathes” well, yet is wind- and waterproof with minimal weight and pack volume. Unlike many technical fabrics, Gore-Tex® fabrics don’t lose effectiveness with frequent washing. The secret? Each Gore-Tex® pore is 20,000 times smaller than a drop of water, so water can’t get in, yet each pore is also 700 times bigger than a water vapor molecule, so perspiration can get out.
It’s a fact that a tripod can hold a camera steadier than a photographer can. Besides preventing blur because of camera movement, a sturdy tripod will lock in your composition so you can examine it carefully and won’t accidentally change it as you squeeze off the shot. Thus, it will help you produce sharper and better-composed images.
Wooden tripods provide excellent vibration damping and are comfortable to handle in either hot or cold weather, but they’re fairly heavy. Aluminum tripods are relatively inexpensive and sturdy. Tripods made of carbon fiber and other exotic materials cost more, but are light as well as strong. Popular tripod makers include Benbo (www.patersonphotographic.com), Berlebach (www.hpmarketingcorp.com), Cullmann (www.rtsphoto.com), Davis & Sanford (www.tiffen.com), Flashpoint (www.adorama.com), Giottos (www.hpmarketingcorp.com), Gitzo (www.bogenimaging.us), Induro (www.indurogear.com), Manfrotto (www.bogenimaging.us), Novoflex (www.hpmarketingcorp.com), Really Right Stuff (www.reallyrightstuff.com), Slik (www.thkphoto.com) and Vanguard (www.vanguardusa.com).
If you want to mount the camera low, get a tripod that allows it because not all do. Or you can get a mini-tripod such as the Adorama Table Top ripod (www.adorama.com), Joby Gorillapods (www.joby.com), Really Right Stuff Ground-Level Tripod (www.reallyrightstuff.com) or Sunpak FlexPod Pro (www.tocad.com).
A monopod is a great alternative to a tripod, providing more steadiness than handholding the camera (especially when combined with in-lens or in-camera image stabilization), and they’re much easier to cart around. Many tripod manufacturers offer monopods. Monostat (www.monostat.us) offers a particularly effective one with a unique foot stabilizer that allows it to be tilted up to 60 degrees to the horizontal.
A shoulder pod such as the BushHawk (www.bushhawk.com) is great for steadying a long lens when photographing wildlife. You basically hold the unit like a rifle, with two-handed (plus shoulder) support. The unit is useful for close-up work, too. Also pictured from BushHawk is the Talon-Grip, which can be used to clamp a head to an object like a tree branch. Other manufacturers make similar clamping systems as well.
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