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Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Holiday Buyer's Guide

A look at some of the gear that’s available for the nature photographer on your gift list

This Article Features Photo Zoom

Litepanels MiniPlus
Flash is one of the least considered tools in the nature photographer’s camera bag, and yet it can be one of the most useful items in the field. Having the ability to add a little extra light to illuminate the foreground or to boost the colors in a macro image can transform a mediocre photograph into a dramatic shot destined for a frame on your wall. In addition to the flash units made by the camera manufacturers, you can get a great one made by a number of other companies. Depending upon your budget, there are a lot of options.

The Nissin Di866 is available for Canon and Nikon D-SLRs. Nissin claims a GN (guide number) of 198, and the unit can be adjusted for zoom and bounce, you can set the power ratios, and it features wireless TTL. The Sunpak PF30X is available for Canon or Nikon D-SLRs. Sunpak lists a GN of 100. The flash has a 90º bounce range and autofocus assist for low-light shooting. TheMetz Mecablitz 48 AF-1 claims a GN of 158 and is available for all major D-SLR brands. The head tilts and swivels, and auto-zooms for coverage from 18mm to 105mm (35mm format).

Sunpak PF30X

Metz Mecablitz 48 AF-1

Nissin Di866

Quantum Qflash 5d-R

Lumi Quest Bounce Kit

Gary Fong Origami Diffuser

Quantum Qflash units are well known for their high power output. The Qflash 5d-R supports wired or wireless control and features 150 watt-second output. Quantum offers a number of accessories, including auxiliary batteries, light modifiers and wireless interfaces for major camera brands.

Honi Photo Snoot
If the nature photographer on your list is experimenting with flash lighting, an ideal gift would be modifiers to help him or her get the most control out of the flash. Honl Photo makes a number of tools like grids, bounce cards and snoots. You’ll be amazed at how creative you can get with flash when you add these tools to your kit. LumiQuest is another company with a broad selection of flash modifiers like bounce kits, softboxes and snoots. Gary Fong also makes a line of diffusers; their Origami Fold Flat Diffusers are built to withstand rugged use in the field, and they can be augmented by adding various accessories like chrome or amber flaps and a gel kit. Because most flash modifiers are small and fold up to be quite flat, they’re easily added to the camera bag.

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