Home Buyer's Guide Accessories 2010
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Photographer’s Toolbox

Accessories every photographer should know and use

Labels: Buyers GuideGear

This Article Features Photo Zoom

All that’s really needed to take a solid photograph is a camera and lens. But it’s all of those extra gadgets and tools that really end up boosting your images from good to creative, exciting and dramatic. To get the most out of your photography, make sure you spend as much time choosing the right accessories as you do choosing the big-ticket items.

Optical Filters
While there are some amazingly powerful software filters that can help you dramatically improve your photos in processing, you’re better off thinking of software solutions as a complement—rather than an alternative—to optical filters.

Software can only enhance what was captured; it’s not a substitute for capturing the best image possible in-camera. Some image challenges, like reflections, blown-out highlights and extreme contrast, should be tackled with an optical filter at the time of capture. For example, no software filter can accurately add details in blown-out highlights where no details were captured to begin with.

When shooting outdoors, a polarizer is an indispensable tool for removing glare and enhancing colors. Heliopan’s Circular Polarizers are made from glass supplied by Schott (Carl Zeiss) and set in black anodized brass rings that screw in precisely. The manufacturer’s lineup includes thin circular polarizers that accommodate lenses as wide as 21mm. Estimated Street Price: $119 (52mm).

The Singh-Ray Vari-ND is designed to make long exposures and selective focus easier while providing better close-up flash control. The Vari-ND twists to alternate polarity, stepping light loss all the way from two to eight stops, and everything in between. Estimated Street Price: $340 (77mm ring mount); $390 (wide-angle ring mount).

The HOYA PRO1 D Circular PL Polarizer reduces unwanted reflections from nonmetallic surfaces while allowing colors to appear more saturated with better contrast, so skies are bluer and clouds are whiter. It’s available in sizes from 52mm to 82mm. Estimated Street Price: TBA.

Tiffen Color-Grad filters come in one-, two- and three-stop strengths of neutral gray, as well as shades of blue and orange. You can use them to change a specific color or enhance existing color in a scene. They’re available in both screw-in (ND is two stops) and square versions, and with soft- or hard-edged transitions. Estimated Street Price: From $53.

Kokonor offers three professional-grade, high-definition filters—the Ultra/Q, Super/Q and Hi/Q. All include neutral-density and circular-polarizer options with sizes ranging from 52mm to 77mm. Estimated Street Price: Varies by size and type.

Sunpak makes screw-in graduated filters in sizes from 49mm to 77mm, and they include gray, sepia and wine colors. Estimated Street Price: From $39.


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