Monday, October 8, 2007

Buyer's Guide 2008: Digital Camera Accessories

Gear and gadgets to make your photography more productive, rewarding and creative

Optical filters are available in two forms: rectangular (or square) and threaded circular. Rectangular (or square) filters are sheets that are placed in front of the lens of the camera by using a system of brackets. The slide-like organization of this style of filter gives great maneuverability for effect placement. Rectangular filters are larger, more delicate and difficult to travel with, and for these reasons, threaded filters are more ubiquitous.

Threaded filters attach directly to the lens and diameters match the circumference of the lens, although adapter rings are available to stop down filters to smaller sizes. For this reason, you should purchase filters at the diameter of your largest lens and adapt them to your smaller lenses from there.

Both systems offer stacking of filters for a combination of effects and styles. When stacking, be wary of vignetting, a light loss along the corners and borders of an image caused by the edges of the filters. Polarizers should always be added last, as they can distort the effect of other filters.

Always carry extra rechargeable batteries. Bring an extra set for your camera and all your other electronic devices when you go out shooting, just to be safe. For cameras that accept AA batteries, get NiMH rechargeable batteries (at least 2300 mAh) or long-lasting lithium batteries. Both will outperform typical alkaline AAs.

If your camera uses a proprietary battery pack, you can get extras directly from the manufacturer. For many of the more popular camera models though, retailers like Adorama and manufacturers like Ansmann and Maha are good sources for extra batteries for nearly any camera and camcorder out there, and you can usually save some cash going this route. Be sure you buy from a reputable company, though, because faulty batteries can destroy your equipment.

Ansmann also has a power grip for the Canon EOS Rebel XT and XTi and for the Nikon D40 and D80. All have built-in 3600 mAh Li-Ion cells and, depending on the model, can shoot up to 5,000 shots on one charge.

For frequent travelers, campers and those going on safari or overseas, another power option is to go with a portable power supply that can run all of your electronic devices. A rechargeable battery pack like the Universal Power Bank from MFuel has a World Jack that works in more than 120 countries. It can power cameras, cell phones, portable hard drives, camcorders, laptops, photo viewers, GPS units, you name it.




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