The Essentials

In the season of giving, check out our collection of inexpensive, but incredibly useful photo accessories for outdoor photographers

This Article Features Photo Zoom

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.

The Essentials

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.

The Essentials

The Essentials

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.

Garmin eTrex.

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.

The Essentials

The Essentials

Camera Armor.

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.

The Essentials

The Essentials

Tiffen Polarizers.

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.

The Essentials

This Article Features Photo Zoom

The Essentials

Lexar Professional UDMA FireWire 800 CF Reader.

Now that you have an extra memory card, you need a memory card reader. A distinct advantage to using a card reader is that you avoid using your camera’s connections, which are notoriously susceptible to wear and tear. Mainly, though, the faster you can get your images off your card and archived, the faster you can get back out and shoot. A FireWire 800 interface provides exceptionally fast file transfers, and Lexar’s Professional UDMA FireWire 800 CF Reader offers transfer rates of up to 100 MBps, twice as fast as traditional FireWire 400 (which is already pretty fast). The reader also has a stackable design for combining up to four readers in the same desk space, providing concurrent downloading from more than one card at a time. It’s available at a list price of $79. Contact: Lexar Media, (800) 789-9418, www.lexar.com

B+W Redhancer 491 Enhancing Filter.

There’s no better way to enhance your photography while you’re out in the field than through the use of optical filters. Available in entire spectrums of colors, densities and sizes, you can produce effects that will bring out the colors in a landscape scene and turn it into a work of art. B+W’s Redhancer 491 line of enhancing filters uses didymium glass construction to emphasize the reddish components of orange, near red or brown colors. Images, especially with content such as fall foliage, will seem like they’re bursting with color. The list price for the B+W Redhancer 491 Enhancing Filter begins at $79 (price depends on lens diameter and type). Contact: B+W (Schneider Optics), (800) 645-7239, www.schneideroptics.com.

The Essentials

The Essentials

Ergorest MultiTripod.

Even with modern technologies like optical image stabilization, there’s no better way to ensure sharp shooting than to use a tripod. The Ergorest MultiTripod provides balance for situations in which a normal tripod can’t. Designed for compact functionality, the MultiTripod is specially built to attach to a car door, ideal for shooting through the windows of a vehicle when on safaris or out on the back roads. It also functions as a shoulder and chest support, with a finger pattern constructed for a firm grip when attached to heavy telephoto lenses. The stand is useful for macro photography of flowers and insects, as well, providing low-to-the-ground positioning that you can’t always get with typical tripods. The MultiTripod can also be used for table mounting, flash and lighting support, and even video or sound recording with reversible ¼- to 3/8-inch threads.The Ergorest MultiTripod is available for an estimated street price of $79. Contact: Ergorest (HP Marketing Corp.), (800) 735-4373, www.hpmarketingcorp.com.

Hoodman HoodLoupe Professional.

If you don’t have the advantage of having a laptop with you, sometimes the pictures reviewed on your LCD may look better in the sun than they actually are. To get the best perspective of what you just shot, Hoodman has a great LCD viewer, the HoodLoupe Professional, which lets you get a clear view on your LCD screen. It eliminates all glare when you hold it up to the LCD and can work on screens up to 2.75 inches. The HoodLoupe Professional can be strapped around your neck for comfort; and for those of you with diopter adjustments like those on your D-SLR, it sets to +3 to -3 diopters. The best part is, it’s only $69. Contact: Hoodman, (800) 818-3946, www.hoodmanusa.com.

The Essentials

The Essentials

Petzl TACTIKKA Plus 4 LED Headlamp.

There are a variety of reasons that a flashlight is important in nature photography. For one, it always helps to see where you’re going, especially when you want to be out for the magic hours of sunrise and sunset. You can capture some great shots during these times, but you run the risk of stumbling around before and after daylight. Another reason is simply to see your equipment and the settings on your camera when there isn’t enough light. Of course, a flashlight means one hand is busy when you usually need both. Petzl takes this problem, literally, out of your hands. The TACTIKKA Plus 4 LED Headlamp uses LED technology for lightweight illumination that fits comfortably to a headband. Positioned just above your eyes, the beam of light will point wherever you’re looking. The TACTIKKA Plus offers up to 150 hours of illumination. There are three lighting levels, and a pull-down red filter makes the light more night-friendly for easier acclimation of your eyes to the darkness. The TACTIKKA Plus is available at an estimated street price of $43, and most other Petzl headlamps are also available for well under $100. Contact: Petzl, (801) 926-1500, www.petzl.com.

VisibleDust Arctic Butterfly 724 Sensor Brush.

It’s important to shoot right from the start. One of the ways to do this is to clean the dust on your camera’s delicate sensor. Dark spots or blotches will form on your images, especially noticeable in the bright areas of an image, like skies or clouds. The VisibleDust Arctic Butterfly 724 Sensor Brush does this by removing debris from your sensor through a positive electric charge on the bristles of the brush. The head then uses a rotor to spin itself rapidly releasing picked up dust and dirt and simultaneously recharging the head. The sensor brush is travel-friendly, unlike air canisters, and uses replaceable AAA batteries. It’s available at a list price of $94, and VisibleDust also offers a range of sensor-cleaning tools and kits to meet your individual needs. Contact: VisibleDust, (877) 999-9404, www.visibledust.com.

The Essentials

The Essentials

Leatherman Charge ALX.

Traveling light is essential in outdoor photography, but so is the ability to perform quick fixes on the fly. Leatherman has solved this problem by manufacturing an entire toolbox of tools as a single instrument that will fit snugly in your pocket. The Charge ALX provides all of the basics, including pliers, knives, saw, screwdrivers and more. The included cutting hook will tear through difficult materials like aluminum, leather and nylon. The aerospace aluminum handles feature an ergonomic, rounded grip for comfort and strength, and the entire system folds down to a compact four-inch tool. Sometimes the best tool for improving your photography is a tool itself. The Charge ALX is available at an estimated street price of just under $100. Contact: Leatherman, (800) 847-8665, www.leatherman.com.

Hama Camera Spirit Level.

Leveling your camera for a perfect panoramic or landscape shot isn’t an exact science, but with Hama’s Camera Spirit Level, it can be. By easily attaching it to the hot-shoe on your D-SLR, the Camera Spirit Level acts as a leveler on two separate axes, vertically and horizontally, allowing you to line up the perfect horizon shot or stitch together a panorama using your tripod. So whether it’s a single frame or multiples, it doesn’t hurt to use this little device when trying to make perfect perspectives. Gain the accuracy you want for your photos without wasting time when the sun is about to set, hook it up, level it out and get what you want with this great-priced item for only $19. Contact: Hama, www.hama.co.uk.

The Essentials

2 Comments

    I was interested in the Ergorest Multi Tripod. Interestingly it is not for sale anywhere. B&H has even discontinued it! Any idea where I can get one?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Main Menu
×