Whether you're photographing landscapes or wildlife, there are many ways to make your photographic life simpler. The latest technical advancements have led manufacturers to produce gadgets that help inspire your creative edge while easing unanticipated difficulties. Here's Outdoor Photographer's compilation of 20 of these exceptional items.
Metz 28CS-2 Digital Flash
Add a small, easily triggered flash that works wirelessly from any compact digital camera or digital SLR. The Metz 28CS-2 Digital Flash has a built-in slave that's triggered by any digital camera flash. An intelligent unit that remembers the way your camera works with it, the Metz digital flash also can be smartly controlled by the exposure compensation on the unit. Sync to your on-camera flash and easily add depth to your close-ups with back- or side lighting. It can be exposure-controlled by certain Metz units as well. List Price: $184; Estimated Street Price: $129.95.
Seagate 5GB Pocket Hard Drive
Transfer and store photos and files using Seagate's 5 GB Pocket Hard Drive. The drive fits in the palm of your hand and can be carried easily in a pocket. A built-in USB cable is retractable to limit tangling, and the round shell has shock absorbers to protect your data. Estimated Street Price: $140.
Music can be the best company on a long journey to your favorite destination. Now accessing hundreds of tunes is easier and more affordable with Apple's iPod Shuffle. The Shuffle is available in 512 MB and 1 GB storage capacities, the latter allowing up to 240 songs to be downloaded and played for up to 15 hours. Ultra-lightweight and compact, it's a perfect travel companion. Estimated Street Price: $99 (512 MB); $149 (1 GB).
Today's compact digital cameras can be taken to new depths with relatively inexpensive, yet safe underwater housings. Each camera company sells housings designed to fit its specific cameras. All models are typically made of durable polycarbonate, with safety locks and anti-corrosion hardware; some housings can reach depths of about 130 feet. Price Range: $80 to $300-plus, depending on the camera (contact your camera manufacturer).
SeaLife 960D Digital Flash
Underwater photographers understand the problem built-in camera flashes have with floating particles that reflect light and cause white spots to appear on images. SeaLife's new 960D Digital Flash has a rubberized arm for easy aiming so you can direct the light at an angle, eliminating the direct lighting of debris. A flash link optical cable lets you directly connect to your camera and a variable output allows you to control exposure. Estimated Street Price: $300.
Bushnell Prowler Night Vision 26-2024W Monocular
Getting the perfect shot is only a fraction of the outdoor photography experience. The Bushnell Prowler Night Vision Monocular helps to expand your enjoyment into the night. See animals and how they live in the dark. View the landscape in a completely different way. The small size fits in the palm of your hand and is 100-percent waterproof. An infrared illuminator enhances viewing, even in dark shadows, and a rubberized grip makes it easy to handle. Estimated Street Price: $270.
Magellan eXplorist 600 GPS
With its rugged impact- and water-resistant armor, the Magellan eXplorist 600GPS is ideal for all weather conditions. Its 2.3-inch, full-color LCD screen features zoom capabilities so you easily can find your way. The unit has a built-in barometer, altimeter and thermometer to give you advance weather conditions. Weighing less than four ounces, this model has a USB port and built-in SD card reader/writer to provide unlimited storage of old trekking routes. Estimated Street Price: $450.
Samsung SC-X105L Sports Camcorder
A cool handheld camcorder, Samsung's SC-X105L Sports Camcorder features an extra sports cam module that can be mounted on an arm, a helmet, a bike or any other stable surface to offer hands-free recording. An electronic image-stabilizing function compensates for slight shaking, and the built-in 512 MB memory can be expanded by using the Memory Stick Pro slot. The camcorder's rugged rubber exterior is water-resistant, and its compact design fits in a pocket. Estimated Street Price: $600.
The 3.8-inch LCD screen of the Epson P-2000 is sharp and vivid, making it easy to view images in the field. The 40 GB portable device downloads files to and from CF and SD cards, reassuring the safety of your work. Weighing only a pound, the viewer fits in your palm, and is a perfect travel companion when shooting digitally. It can print directly to select Epson printers. Estimated Street Price: $499.
B+W Redhancing Filter
Autumn colors and the rocks of natural treasures like the Grand Canyon pop when this filter is placed on your lens. B+W's Redhancing filter boosts the color saturation of reds, oranges and earth tones like rust and brown, and it can be used to intensify the reds in objects such as lipstick and cherries. Estimated Street Price: 49mm ($32); 77mm ($95).
Suunto X9 GPS Wrist-Top Computer
More than a watch, Suunto's X9 GPS wrist-top computer includes an altimeter, a barometer, a compass and a thermometer. The compact GPS system gives you the ability to plan routes at home on your computer and save them into the watch to access later. Special areas that you happen upon while hiking can be relocated by saving and storing the coordinates. To avoid getting lost, you can mark a home position and simply hit "find home" to get the route and distance back. The watch keeps track of your speed and comes with a rechargeable battery. Estimated Street Price: $700.
The great thing about the PocketWizard Plus is that it eliminates the need for a sync cord. You literally can place your strobe or camera as far as 1,600 feet away and trigger it reliably. The wireless system has radio signals that deliver a unique code, enabling the transmitter and receiver to work even when placed out of view from one another. Estimated Street Price: $350.
Sekonic L-558R DualMaster Light Meter
Accurately spot-meter specific areas of your overall image with the new Sekonic L-558R DualMaster light meter. The meter has the first built-in radio transmitter module, compatible with all PocketWizard digital radios, providing wireless triggering and measuring of flash units. Weighing only 9.5 ounces, the meter is compact, with a rugged, all-weather housing, making it a useful outdoor shooting tool. Estimated Street Price: $500.
The Lensbaby offers a unique way of creatively playing with focus. By bending the bellows of the lens, you can change what parts of your image are sharp and blurred. The second version of the unique original now has a larger aperture range of ƒ/2.0 to ƒ/8.0. The inexpensive lens is a great gadget for creative inspiration and can be mounted on many types of cameras. Estimated Street Price: $150.
Swarovski 8x20 Pocket Binoculars
Small and lightweight, the Swarovski 8x20 Pocket Binoculars are watertight and submersible. Their minimal size makes carrying them in a jacket pocket easy, and the lens coating ensures sharp, brilliant viewing. The binoculars sport an 8x magnification and a full 345-foot field of view at 1,000 yards. Optional clip-on polarizing filters are available to further enhance the performance of the optics and cut down on reflected light. List Price: $520.
Singh-Ray Vari-ND Filter
As versatile as a full set of standard neutral-density filters, the Singh-Ray Vari-ND filter is smaller, lighter and easier to carry than multiple filters, and can limit light from two to eight stops. Simply rotate the outer rings to change density, and the filter allows long exposures for achieving blurred motion while still preserving color and sharpness. Estimated Street Price: $340.
Canon 10x30 IS Binoculars
Canon has incorporated its Image Stabilizer technology into sturdy, light and compact water-resistant binoculars. The 10x30 IS Binoculars have a magnification of 10x and steady your viewing while scanning the landscape. Canon spectra multi-coating on the lens gives images more contrast, and the rubber outer coating makes it easy to hold while protecting the optics. Estimated Street Price: $429.
Manfrotto Telephoto Lens Support (cat no. 3420)
Manfrotto has an adjustable lens support for medium telephoto lenses and zooms that don't have tripod mounts. Larger lenses tend to pull the camera forward without something to hold it in place. This support's bracket can adapt different length and diameter sizes by adjusting the Tilt Head (#3229), which is included. List Price: $86.
Novoflex Castel-Cross MCFocusing Rack
Great for close-ups, the Novoflex Castel-Cross MC Focusing Rack allows highly sensitive and smooth adjustments to your camera in the X and Y positions; it ensures spot-on positioning, stability and accuracy for all camera types. Weighing only two pounds, the rack is lightweight and easy to pack. It's to be used with the Novoflex MiniConnect quick-release adapter. List Price: $587; optional single-focusing Castel XL Rack—$397.
Brunton SolarPort 4.4
Recharge your camera batteries, GPS system, cell phone and more with the environmentally friendly Brunton Solarport 4.4. The polycrystalline solar panels harness the power of the sun immediately when exposed to sunlight, allowing you to plug in your device for direct charging. The unit comes with a battery charger and will power up to four AA or AAA batteries as fast as a wall outlet. Capable of USB connectivity, the SolarPort has a vehicle DC outlet built into the hinge. List Price: $119.
| B+W (Schneider Optics)
| Manfrotto (Bogen Imaging)
| Metz (BogenImaging)
| Novoflex (HP Marketing Corp.)
| PocketWizard (MAC Group)
| Sekonic (MAC Group)
| Swarovski Optik