Photographer's New Friends
Few things are as satisfying as finding a simple gizmo that makes your photographic life easier, more productive, or both. We rounded up an assortment of cool photo-related accessories that provide truly useful utility, are well-made, and are worth consideration by any serious shooter, no matter what your skill level.
When shooting at f1.8 or wider, your depth of field is so shallow that even a slight mis-focus can wreck your image. Many new cameras now include an "autofocus fine tuning" or "autofocus microadjustment" feature that lets you calibrate your camera's autofocus mechanism for particular lenses, correcting for any mis-alignment. LensAlign is a calibration system that takes advantage of these features to ensure that your lenses are focusing as accurately as possible. The LensAlign rig attaches to your tripod and includes test targets that you focus on to determine how much fine tuning is necessary. It also includes a mechanism for ensuring that your camera is properly oriented in relation to the calibration targets.
Black Rapid R-Strap
There are camera straps, and then there are camera slings. A camera sling has a special sliding bracket that you attach to your camera. The advantage of a sling is that you never have to take it off. Instead, you can leave it at your hip when it’s not in use, or quickly slide it up the strap when it's time to take a shot. The Black Rapid R-Strap is a sturdy camera sling that has a padded shoulder strap, a small pocket for carrying extra flash media, and a metal mount that screws into your camera's tripod socket. You can easily detach the camera if you need freer access.
When you shoot numerous pictures in multiple locations, remembering exactly where a particular photo was taken can be tricky. Fortunately, you can get your Nikon SLR to remember for you with the addition of Unleashed, a very small module that attaches to your Nikon D200, D300, D300s, D700, D2X, D2Xs, D2Hs, D3, D3X, D3s or Fuji S5 Pro. Unleashed communicates wirelessly with your Bluetooth-packing GPS receiver, and automatically embeds location data into every image you shoot. No extra processing in your camera and your images will all be geotagged in real-time.
Gigtube Wireless Viewfinder
There are times--nature shooting, sports shooting, espionage--when you don't want your subject to see you shooting, or when you can't see your camera's viewfinder. While wireless shutter releases are easy to come by, the trick is knowing when to trip the shutter. With the new Gigtube Wireless Viewfinder you can clamp the Gigtube transmitter to your camera's hot shoe, sit up to 300-feet away, and see exactly what your camera is seeing on a 3.5" LCD screen. The Gigtube is compatible with a wide assortment of Canon and Nikon SLRs, as well as many Olympus Four Thirds, and Micro Four Thirds cameras.
The SteadePod is great for those times when you don't want to hassle with carrying a tripod or monopod, or when you need to steady your camera (or camcorder) but don't have a lot of room. The SteadePod is a small gizmo that attaches to your camera's tripod mount, and has a sturdy cable that extends from its base. Pull out the cable, stomp your foot on it, pull your camera straight up, and you'll have an instant amount of stabilization. The SteadePod is no substitute for a full tripod, but it's a great addition for times when you're not able to carry a heavier device.
Flipbac Angle Viewer
Whether it's for shooting macro shots or holding your camera up over your head, having an LCD screen that can tilt and pivot can be very useful. The Flipbac Angle Viewer adds this capability to cameras with a 3-inch LCD display. Essentially a mirror on a pivoting mount, you attach the Flipbac to your camera's LCD screen. Closed, the Flipbac serves as a screen protector. When you're ready to shoot, flip out the mirror for an angled view of your camera's LCD. Though your image is reversed, it will still provide a good enough view for macro work, or for those portrait shots where you'd rather not have a camera between you and your subject.
VholdR ContourHD Helmet Camera
The ContourHD is a new helmet camera option. Like other helmet cams, it offers a variety of mounts, and a self-contained, sturdy build that will allow it to take a beating and keep on shooting. But the ContourHD adds an extra feature: it records full 720P HD video, with sound. The Contour HD 1080P records 1080P HD video, and is especially compelling for people who want the ability to capture still images while engaged in death-defying activity. With 1080P, you can pull nice detailed still images from your videos.