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Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Gear Up For The National Parks

Accessories to help you make the most out of any national parks shooting excursion

This Article Features Photo Zoom

Lally Cap
Camera Straps & Holsters
You’ll need a way to carry your gear, of course. One great way to haul lots of gear with you in the field is by photo backpack (see Gadget Bag: Photo Backpacks in this issue). If you’ll be wandering around all day with a camera strapped around your neck, you’ll want something better than the strap that comes with the camera. Neoprene straps have a little give that greatly reduces the apparent weight of camera and lens for more comfortable carrying. Shoulder straps provide easier shooting access. Here are some good examples.

OP/Tech’s Classic neoprene neckstrap is inexpensive and makes a camera feel a lot lighter. Lowepro’s Voyager C combines breathable neoprene with reinforced nylon webbing. Tamrac’s N-5057 Neoprene Boomerang features an ergonomic design for added comfort. The UPstrap shoulder strap provides quick access and makes it easy to carry a second camera weighing up to four pounds with no worries about it slipping off your shoulder. The Cotton Carrier allows you to carry one or two cameras at the ready, with the weight on your shoulders rather than your neck, a lifesaver when spending a day in the field. HoldSLR provides secure, hands-free yet always ready transport, as does the Camera Holster leather camera case. Kata, Skooba and Zing also make good straps.

Hoodman HoodLoupe
Cleaning Gear
Field use is much tougher on camera gear than indoor use so you should bring some cleaning gear. A powerful bulb air blower removes much dust from cameras and lenses safely. After removing dust with the blower, use a microfiber cloth to clean lenses and another to clean LCD monitors and viewfinder eyepieces.

Each time you change lenses in the field, dust can enter the camera and settle on the image sensor assembly (one good reason to use zoom lenses when possible). Once there, the dust will appear in every shot you make. Many current DSLRs come with built-in sensor-dust removers, which use high-frequency vibrations to shake dust off the sensor assembly. But eventually, even these cameras will start showing sensor dust spots. You can use a bulb blower to remove some of this(follow the instructions in the camera manual). When the dust spots persist, you can send your camera to a repair shop for professional cleaning or use a cleaning kit such as one of the Arctic Butterfly rotating sensor brush kits from VisibleDust (again, carefully following the kit’s instructions; the camera warranty doesn’t cover any damage you do when cleaning the sensor yourself). Sensor cleaning should be done in a dust-free environment (your hotel room’s bathroom or your vehicle in a pinch), not in the field. For more on cleaning, go to www.digitalphotopro.com and search for DPP Solutions: Defeating Dust.

Good cleaning kits are available from Delkin Devices, Dust-Aid, Giottos, Kinetronics, Photographic Solutions and the aforementioned VisibleDust.

Other Useful Items
There are additional items that can make your national park photo visit more enjoyable and productive. A GPS unit can help you find sites and mark them for easy return when the light is better. The HoodLoupe from Hoodman makes it easy to see images and menus on the camera’s LCD monitor in all lighting conditions. And a white-balance aid can help you get perfect white balance in just about any lighting situation—with the Lally Cap and the ExpoImaging Expo Disc, you don’t even need to carry a gray card.


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