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Excellent Accessories for Photographers

Got the Camera, Got the lens, Now What?

By Allan Weitz

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You-know-who already has his or her dream camera, along with that fancy-shmancy zoom lens everybody is kvelling about. So now the holidays are rolling into town and you don't have the faintest idea what to get for your favorite photo buffs. Fear not! Uncle Al's got some noteworthy gift suggestions guaranteed to tickle the fancy of all of those photo-nuts in your life.

The Epson P-5000 is the latest update of its very successful series of digital storage/editing devices. While the storage capacity remains the same as the P-4000, a respectable 80GB, the new model features an enhanced 4" screen (up from 3.8") that supports Adobe RGB color (16.7-million colors!). Other improvements include faster image rendering speeds (about 500% faster), faster download speeds (about 250% faster), and the ability to zoom in on RAW files for editing and focus checking on the fly. The Epson P-5000 also supports video files (DivX, MPEG 1/2, MPEG4, WMV9, H.264, and Motion JPEG) as well as audio files (MP3, AAC, and WMA), which can be tapped into via the inclusion of a headphone jack.


The Epson P-5000

For really serious dust removal, take a look at the exotically-named Arctic Butterfly Travel Kit from Visible Dust. Consisting of a battery-powered Artic Butterfly 724 Rotary Sensor Brush, Orange-series swabs, and genuine VDust Solution, this kit will remove the most stubborn bitty-buggers from your camera sensor. Arctic Butterfly Travel Kits are available for full-sized sensors, as well as 1.3x, and 1.5/1.6x sensors for a spotless $143.95.


The Artic Butterfly Travel Kit from Visible Dust


Say bye-bye to your card reader! If you are currently using a digital camera or other device that utilizes SD memory cards you should definitely consider Sandisk's 2GB Ultra II SD Plus USB Flash Drive. This little number differs from other SD cards in that it contains a fold-away USB 2.0 connector, which enables you to transfer data on the fly at write speeds of up to 9MB/sec and read speeds of up to 10MB/sec.
Who needs a reader!

For easier LCD viewing under bright light, Hoodman has introduced the Hoodman Professional LCD Screen Loupe, a viewing magnifier that allows you to eyeball your camera's LCD for critical focus-checking under the brightest of lighting conditions. The Hoodman HoodLoupe Pro is rubber-coated to prevent surface scratches and has an adjustable (+/-3x) diopter for those of us with less-than-perfect vision.

Even though image stabilization technology has found its way into the simplest of digicams, there are times you need a shoulder to lean on... or a tree branch, or a fence, and you don't always feel like schlepping along a tripod. For these occasions a simple table-pod can save the day. The first stop on our table-pod tour are Joby Gorillapods. Visually speaking, Gorillapods look like they stepped out of the bar scene in ‘Star Wars', and are available in three sizes; the Gorillapod Mini-Tripod/Grip (for smaller digicams), the Gorillapod SLR (cameras up to 1.75lbs), and the Gorillapod SLR-Zoom (cameras up to 6.6lbs). The smaller of the two come complete with a ballhead and quick-release plate, while the larger model (SLR-Zoom) comes with a 1/4" screw (w/ 3/8" adapter included) for the ballhead of your choice.

Joby Gorillapods

If you seek a table-pod for real heavy loads, you must check out the Novoflex BasicBall Hybrid Tabletop Tripod, a very spiffy table-pod that can support up to 55lbs. Designed for use under less-than-level working conditions, the Novoflex BasicBall can be configured for use at 3 different leg heights - 2.4, 5.7, or 8.3" - or up to 13" with the optional extension leg set. A 1/4" male thread accepts a number of ball or tilt-heads., and the entire unit breaks down for easy storage when not in use.

The Novoflex BasicBall Hybrid Tabletop Tripod gets down


Good News! Not every cool gift has to cost a cool fortune. If you doubt that statement, check out the Giotto Rocket Air Blower, which is available in three sizes, and the Q-Ball Air Blower. Suspiciously similar in appearance to 1950's-vintage Soviet spacecraft, their campy styling is guaranteed to crack smiles and maybe even a few raised eyebrows at the holiday party. Giggles aside, the Giotto Rocket Air Blowers are quite good at removing stray dust particles that inevitably land on your camera sensor, and they're small and light enough to stow away in your camera bag.

Note: If you own a Lensbaby you should buy all three Rocket Blowers because they look sooooo cool lined up together - sort of like a miniature Space Museum.


Giotto Rocket Air Blowers - the final frontier


Gepe Safe Extreme Watertight Cases
are great if you want to pick up colorful (and reasonably priced) gifts for a long list of friends. Sealed to keep out the harshest of environments, their colorful plastic cases make them easy find when you leave them lying around somewhere other than under your nose.

Keep Your Memory Cards Safe and Dry

If nailing the proper white balance at the point of capture is a priority in your life you owe it to yourself to take a peek at the ExpoDisc from expoimaging. Available in a number of filter sizes (58 to 82mm and 4x4") as well as in a choice of Neutral or Warmtone, the ExpoDisc allows you to critically establish the proper White Balance regardless of the ambient light source, and with little effort on your part. Sure you can diddle with the color balance in Photoshop, but doesn't it make sense to capture ‘clean' colors from the get-go?

Tired of soiling your slacks trying to photograph salamanders on toadstools? Or maybe you're tired of performing a high-wire act every time you need to focus your camera when it's mounted on a copy stand. For these and other rubber-neck occasions we strongly suggest you take a look at the Hoodman H-Rav Professional Right-Angle Viewfinder for DSLRs. Designed to fit most (D)SLRs, the Hoodman H-Rav should greatly reduce your dry-cleaning bills as well as reduce the risk of falling off stepladders.

Avoid strains with the Hoodman H-Ray Professional Right-Angle Viewfinder

 

OK. So your light meter can take incident or reflected readings, under flash or ambient lighting, in 1/10th-stop increments, down to an angle of 1-degree, in the studio or on location, rain or shine, wirelessly, etc, etc, etc. But can it profile the sensor in your camera? Ooooooh - gotcha! Sekonic's L-758DR takes metering technology to the next level by enabling you to nail the precise white and black-point characteristics of up to three separate cameras for deadly-accurate exposures. And yes, it also can take incident or reflected readings, under flash or ambient lighting, in 1/10th-stop increments, down to an angle of 1-degree, in the studio or on location, rain or shine, wirelessly, etc, etc, etc. We'll have more to say about this truly cool meter in an upcoming Newsletter.

Since life goes on all around us it's always a good idea to have a pan head capable of catching the action no matter where it happens to be happening. If your current tripod/ballhead offers less than stellar panning abilities, have a look at the Novoflex Universal Panorama Plate, a handy little number that, when mounted between you current tripod and pan/ball head, enables you to shoot precision 360-degree pan-shots. A built-in bubble level and clearly marked orientation points make panorama shooting a simple task.

Taking in the world around you

So now that you're armed to the teeth with everything necessary to take killer pictures, all that's missing is a killer monitor capable of displaying your image files in all their glory. In a word, go Eizo. While there are more than a few very capable monitors out there, Eizo ColorEdge-series LCDs blow the competition away thanks in part to true 10-bit hardware calibration, which renders your images with mind-bending clarity and startling depth of tone. In side-by-side comparisons to everybody elses' 8-bit LCDs , Eizo wins hands-down.

Eizo ColorEdge-series LCDs

B&H carries a selection of Eizo ColorEdge-series LCDs, including widescreen models, ranging from the entry-level Eizo ColorEdge CG-19 to the top-of-the-line Eizo ColorEdge CG221 WideScreen. All Eizo ColorEdge LCDs come with a 5-year factory warranty and are worth every nickel.

Still not sure? Try these related gift categories:

- Digital Photography

- SLR Digital Cameras
- Point & Shoot Digital Cameras
- Memory Cards & Card Readers
- Digital Camera Binoculars & Scopes
- Lenses & Lens Accessories
- Bags and Cases (by Type)
- Tripods & Support

- Printers & Accessories
- Flash Drives & Storage Devices
- Digital Picture Frames

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