In photography, we tend to concentrate our efforts and our wallets on the big-ticket items. Cameras and lenses always seem to be at the top of everyone’s wish list, but even as the latest camera or super-zoom can be a welcome addition to your bag, it’s often the little things that can make some of the biggest differences in your photography.
As we rush full speed ahead into this holiday season, check out our list of essential accessories to get some ideas for the photographers in your life or to give your loved ones ideas for the photographer in their life.
Nikon Trailblazer ATB 8x25 Binoculars.
Scoping out your shot from a distance is an added bonus for scenic, wildlife, sports and all other kinds of photography where distance takes precedence. As you, the photographer, are being exposed to the elements, camped out in some cave or canyon looking to find that one great location or even a strange species on a mountaintop, binoculars are the way to scope out the scene. The Nikon Trailblazer ATB 8x25 Binoculars cost only $89, are waterproof and made to avert any foggy circumstances, giving your eyes passage, no matter the scenario. Made with a rubber-armored exterior, the Trailblazer ATB is a great addition to your travel repertoire. Contact: Nikon, (800) NIKON-US, www.nikonusa.com.
Pelican 1080 HardBack Case.
For the best protection for your laptop on the road, choose the Pelican 1080 HardBack case to ensure that nothing gets in that’s not supposed to. Protect it from the crushing blow of an aerial drop, a plunge into a freezing lake or a rapid dust storm in the desert. The Pelican 1080 HardBack keeps your 12.3-inch notebook safe from all hazards with its foam liner and anodized aluminum latch. The unit also has an O-ring seal to keep the water out. Pelican gives this product an unconditional lifetime guarantee, so we suggest you check it out now while it’s only $99. Contact: Pelican, (800) 473-5422, www.pelican.com.
Photoflex MultiDisc 5'n1 Reflector.
Available in a range of materials, reflectors catch light and manipulate its path to produce varying effects, from blocking to diffusing to enhancing. The Photoflex MultiDisc 5'n1 reversible reflector series combines its five most popular surfaces into one package. With a single purchase, you gain a white, silver, gold, soft gold and translucent reflector. Each respectively provides enhanced natural light, increased contrast, heightened warming with a golden sunlight feel, more subtle warming for ideal skin tones and soft diffusion. The flexible steel frame folds so that the reflector stores easily in the included soft case. The series is available in 22, 32 and 42 inches, starting at a street price of $53. A kit is also available that includes a LiteDisc Holder and LiteStand 2218. Contact: Photoflex, (800) 486-2674, www.photoflex.com.
Finding yourself lost in a dense forest, not knowing which way to go, can be a scary ordeal for anybody. This doesn’t have to happen if you have the right tools, and the right tool for this scenario is a global positioning system (GPS) device. Garmin offers the eTrex, a handheld unit for $99 that runs on two AA batteries for 22 hours. The eTrex is small, weighing only 5.3 ounces, is four inches high and two inches wide and comes with great features. It can locate exactly where you are, and after you input a destination, it can lead you there step-by-step. Another cool function is the TrackBack feature that lets you reverse your track log and guides you back to your original starting point. You’ll never get lost, unless you run out of AAs. Contact: Garmin, (800) 800-1020, www.garmin.com.
D-SLRs are an expensive investment and need to be protected by padding, packaging or the like. The solution is the Camera Armor line of silicone protective skin that latches onto your camera while still letting you have full access to your camera’s menus and control buttons. Plus, you can shoot without hassling with a protective bag. The armor is built to withstand all sorts of pressure, from UV rays to severe drops. The camera armor comes in various D-SLR makes: Canon, Fujifilm, Nikon and Sony bodies, so they’re tailored perfectly for your camera. The system includes a shield to protect your LCD, shock absorber points, lens armor and, most importantly, access to full manual control, making this a must-have for the serious outdoor photographer. Not only does it offer you great protection, but the cost is affordable, from $49 to $79, depending on camera make and model. Contact: Camera Armor, (800) 825-1530, www.camerarmor.com.
SanDisk Extreme IV CompactFlash.
There’s nothing worse than deleting shots on a memory card in order to make room. An image that looks okay on a small LCD screen might look fantastic once it has had some room to breathe. So at $79 for two extra gigabytes of storage, consider it cheap insurance to carry along another memory card. SanDisk’s Extreme IV CompactFlash memory cards feature Enhanced Super-Parallel Processing for fast reading and writing of data at speeds of up to 40 MBps. Each card also comes with RescuePRO Deluxe software for recovering images and files. The SanDisk Extreme IV CompactFlash line starts at a list price of $79 for the 2 GB card, with 4 GB and 8 GB capacities at $129 and $249, respectively. Contact: SanDisk, (866) SANDISK, www.sandisk.com.
If there’s one filter that every photographer needs, it’s a polarizer. Polarizers use the properties of light to reduce glare and haze in the atmosphere. Reflections from nonmetallic surfaces like water and glass are also nullified, sometimes almost completely. And, because of the reduction in atmospheric haze, colors often become more saturated, an effect that’s especially noticeable with the deep blues of a sky. Tiffen manufactures a variety of circular and linear polarizers (circular polarizers are less expensive, while linear polarizers are generally more effective), many of which are available for under $100. Some available models combine effects, like warming polarizers, ideal for adding a touch of summery warmth to a scene. Contact: Tiffen, (800) 645-2522, www.tiffen.com.
Bogen Imaging THE pod.
When all you have to set your camera on is a jagged rock, then THE pod from Bogen Imaging will definitely serve its purpose. Easy to carry and a no-brainer to set up, just screw on your large camera to the tripod bracket and you have an instant steady shot—it’s that easy. THE RED pod, shown here, weighs less than a pound, has a diameter of five inches, costs only $17 and is ideal for those occasions when you can’t bring a tripod along, but still want to get a great shot. It’s not a poor man’s tripod, but an adventurer’s answer. Contact: Bogen Imaging, (201) 818-9500, www.bogenimaging.us.