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Binoculars For Finding Wildlife
Spotting wildlife through your telephoto lens can be difficult due to its narrow field of view. An 8x42 binocular like the Nikon MONARCH 5 8x42 offers a great balance between magnification and light gathering for wildlife spotting, providing a bright image even in low-light conditions. Featuring Nikon ED (Extra-low Dispersion) glass lenses, they’re fog and waterproof, rubber-coated for enhanced durability, and offer a 6.3-degree field of view, which translates to 330 linear feet at 1,000 yards. List price: $299. Contact: Nikon Sport Optics, nikonsportoptics.com.
One of our must-have accessories, L-plates let you quickly switch your camera between landscape and portrait orientations without needing to adjust your tripod’s head. Really Right Stuff makes a custom L-plate for just about every camera make and model. Compatible with standard 1.5-inch dovetail-style quick-release systems, they’re machined from a solid block of 6061-T6 aluminum and designed to fit each camera model precisely, allowing access to ports on the side of the camera, such as microphone and shutter release terminals. List price: Varies by camera model; $200 as shown for the Sony a9. Contact: Really Right Stuff, reallyrightstuff.com.
Versatile Camera Harness
An alternative to traditional packs for carrying gear in the field, Cotton Carrier’s G3 Camera Harness keeps your camera and accessories close at hand. Three harness configurations are available, allowing you to carry one camera with a long lens, two cameras or a camera and binoculars. Interior and exterior “stash pockets” offer room for items like extra batteries and memory cards, and a rear pocket can accommodate a water bottle. The system includes a Rain Shell for quick protection from sudden showers and is available in gray and camo color options. List price: From $119. Contact: Cotton Carrier, cottoncarrier.com.
View From Above
Get a new perspective on the landscape with the DJI Spark, the company’s most affordable drone and a great option for photographers new to the technology. Its built-in camera and lens system features a 12-megapixel sensor and a 25mm-equivalent lens, and is able to capture stills and 1080p HD video. A mechanical, 2-axis gimbal works in concert with digital stabilization for steady, sharp images and video. The Spark has a flight time of up to 16 minutes per charge and a transmission distance of up to 1.2 miles. List price: $499. Contact: DJI, dji.com.
Custom Holiday Cards
Instead of prepackaged greeting cards, delight your family and friends with a custom card featuring one of your favorite photographs. Bay Photo Press Printed Cards are available in flat and folding styles, or choose Creative Edge Die Cut in unique shapes such as a tree ornament. Twelve paper options and coatings are available, including eco-friendly bamboo and “green” recycled fiber. Envelopes can optionally be imprinted with your return address, and upgrades like foil-lined envelopes are also available for a premium touch. List price varies depending on card features, and volume discounts are available; a single pack of 25 5x7-inch folding cards starts at $37. Contact: Bay Photo, bayphoto.com.
Sleek APS-C Mirrorless Camera
Fujifilm’s X-series mirrorless cameras are popular for their excellent image quality and compact, retro rangefinder styling. The X-Pro2 features Fujifilm’s Advanced Hybrid Viewfinder, which can switch between optical and electronic viewfinders. It’s built around a 24.3-megapixel APS-C sensor with 77 phase-detection AF points covering approximately 40 percent of the image area, improving autofocus performance for moving subjects. The magnesium body incorporates 61 weather-proof seals to protect from dust, water and low-temperature conditions. Estimated street price: $1,499 (body only). Contact: Fujifilm, fujifilmusa.com.
Lens Cleaning Kit
LensPen lens and filter cleaning tools use a carbon compound to safely remove dust and fingerprints from your optics without the need for fluid cleaning solutions. We like them because they’re compact and easy to use. The DSLR Pro Kit includes the Original LensPen for your lenses, the FilterKlear pen for filters and the MicroPro for your camera’s viewfinder, all in a microfiber pouch that is useful, too, for cleaning your camera’s LCD, smartphone screens and more. List price: $34.95. Contact: LensPen, lenspen.com.
360 Degrees In 4K
Add an extra dimension to your next photo adventure with the Ricoh Theta V camera, which can record 360-degree 14-megapixel still images or 4K video at 30 fps, plus interval shooting for creating time-lapse videos. Four microphones are built in to achieve realistic sound, and an optional 3D Microphone is available for even better audio. There’s also an optional Underwater Housing (pictured above, right) that’s waterproof to 30 meters. You can control the Theta V remotely with compatible smartphones. List prices: $429 (Theta V); $269 (TA-1 3D Microphone); $199 (TW-1 Underwater Housing). Contact: Ricoh, theta360.com.
Complete RAW Workflow Software
For Windows users, ACDSee Photo Studio Ultimate 2018 offers a total photo management and processing solution, with a robust suite of tools. Users of Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop will find familiar functionality here, with non-destructive editing capabilities, adjustment layers and sophisticated retouching and lens correction capabilities, plus intelligent image organization options. And it’s a one-time purchase, rather than a subscription. List price: $149. Contact: ACD Systems, acdsee.com.
Create Midday Magic
Harsh midday light doesn’t have to stop you from creating beautiful images. The LEE Filters Super Stopper is a 15-stop glass neutral density filter that allows you to dramatically cut the light reaching your sensor to enable creative techniques such as long exposures to blur moving water or to use larger apertures than would otherwise be possible. It’s available for LEE 100mm, Seven5 and SW-150 filter systems. Estimated street price: $125 (100mm); $85 (Seven5); $175 (SW-150). Contact: LEE Filters, leefilters.com.
Lightweight, Spacious Camera Pack
With room for a pro DSLR with a 70-200mm attached, plus another camera body, several additional lenses, accessories and separate storage for personal items, the Manfrotto Bumblebee-230 has room for everything you’ll need on a photo adventure. The water-repellant bag includes a dedicated, “checkpoint-friendly” sleeve for your laptop, plus side pockets, a waist-level lens pouch to speed lens swaps and a strap system to secure a tripod. A DuoFace sun/rain cover is included for extra protection from the elements. List price: $279. Contact: Manfrotto, manfrotto.us.
Fast, High-Capacity Memory Cards
If you’re using older memory cards with the latest generation of digital cameras, you may not be realizing the full potential of your gear. SanDisk Extreme PRO SD UHS-II cards deliver write speeds up to 260MB per second to accommodate cameras with ultra-fast continuous shooting of stills and 4K video, and read speeds up to 300MB per to accelerate post-production workflow. They’re currently available in 32GB, 64GB and 128GB capacities. List price: $99 (32GB); $149 (64GB); $299 (128GB). Contact: SanDisk, sandisk.com.
Mobile Card Reader
If you own an iPhone or iPad and a camera that uses SD media, the Apple Lightning to SD Card Camera Reader turns your device into an instant field backup solution, allowing you to transfer photos from the card to the iOS Photos app where you can view, edit and share them, and back them up to iCloud automatically when connected to the internet. It supports both RAW and JPEG photos as well as video formats including H.264 and MPEG-4. List price: $29. Contact: Apple, apple.com.
Compact Card Wallet
Keep your memory cards organized with MindShift Gear Card-Again Memory Wallets. They’re available in two versions, one to hold up to six SD cards and one for up to four CompactFlash or QXD cards. The slim design features a durable water-repellant coating, Velcro closure and a loop to attach the wallet o an accessory clip in your camera bag. List price: $14.99. Contact: MindShift Gear, mindshiftgear.com.
Acrylic Display Prints
Showcase a favorite image with WhiteWall’s Photo Print Under Matte Acrylic. Available in numerous size options ranging from 4x4 inches to 66x44 inches plus custom sizes, it laser-exposes photographs on your choice of Fuji Crystal DP II or Ilford Monochrome paper and mounted under a 1/16-inch thick, high-quality, non-reflective acrylic panel. The matte finish prevents glare and reflections, so your image will shine even if the ambient lighting isn’t perfect. Framing options are also available. List price: From $16.90 (4x4-inch). Contact: WhiteWall, whitewall.com.
Fun With HDR
Now available for both Mac and Windows, Macphun Aurora HDR 2018 features all-new tone mapping algorithms to produce more realistic high-dynamic-range images. Like other Macphun products, the interface is easy to use right away for newcomers but offers an impressive toolset of controls for more advanced users. New tools include lens correction, dodge and burn, and a history panel. You can apply the software’s effects to a single photo or, for the best results, combine several bracketed exposures to create an exquisite HDR image. List price: $89 (full version); $49 (upgrade). Contact: Macphun, macphun.com.
Available for Canon, Nikon and Pentax mounts, the Irix 11mm f/4 Blackstone is a rectilinear wide-angle prime that offers an expansive 126-degree angle of view. This manual-focus lens is housed in an aluminum-magnesium alloy body with weather sealing at the focus ring, focus lock ring and lens mount for durability in outdoor use. It can focus as close as 10.8 inches and features an engraved focus scale with UV light reactive paint markings. Estimated street price: $775. Contact: Irix, irixlens.com.
Touch-Free Dust Removal
This is one of those accessories that should be in every outdoor photographer’s bag. Squeeze the Giottos Rocket Blaster to safely blow away dust from lens surfaces and viewfinders. The elongated nozzle makes it easy to direct airflow exactly where it’s needed. We use it for a quick clean check every time we put a lens away, and sometimes frequently during a shoot in dusty, windy conditions. Estimated street price: $12.50. Contact: Giottos (OmegaBrandess), omegabrandess.com.
Achieve Perfect White Balance
Speed up your post-processing workflow by eliminating the need to correct white balance in software with the ExpoDisc 2.0. Great for both stills and video work, it attaches to your lens like a filter and allows you to set a precise custom white balance for the ambient light. It can also be used to meter for an 18-percent incident exposure and to map dust on your sensor in a few simple steps. List price: $49.95. Contact: ExpoDisc, expodisc.com.