Buyer's Guide 2009: Must-Have Accessories

Bags

Camera bags are especially important as they perform two vital functions, protecting your gear from damage and keeping it all organized. Available in a range of sizes, shapes and styles, there’s no perfect bag for everyone, but there’s a perfect bag for you, your equipment and the types of photography you do.

$189 Lowepro’s Flipside Series offers serious security with access to the main compartment possible only from the back. When the backpack is strapped on, only you can get into it. Estimated Street Price: $79 (Flipside 200); $99 (Flipside 300); $189 (Flipside 400 AW).

$108 Tenba Messenger Bags hold a standard D-SLR body, three lenses, a laptop, flash and more. The removable photo insert also allows you to convert it into a general-purpose bag for the office commute. Estimated Street Price: $108 (Small); $114 (Large).

$219 The Tamrac Expedition Series backpacks have a padded front pocket for a laptop in addition to your photo gear, perfect when you’re traveling and limited to one carry-on. A Double Hinge Divider System makes it possible to carry a second D-SLR and lens. Estimated Street Price: Starts at $57.

$140 The Kata SB-902 Reporter Shoulder Bag can carry a lot of hefty camera equipment. This bag can fit one to two D-SLRs and up to three lenses simultaneously, while providing protection to all of your equipment with padding and a reinforced bottom flooring. Estimated Street Price: $140.

$49 Wearable as a sling bag or backpack, the Slinger Bag from Adorama includes a foam-padded camera cradle that fits the most popular D-SLR sizes. There’s room for lenses, a flash and other extras. Estimated Street Price: $49 (Slinger Bag); $54 (Pro Slinger Bag).

Tripods

Although image-stabilization technology has become a standard feature in many cameras and lenses, nothing beats the sturdiness of shooting with a tripod. The benefits are especially clear in certain photographic situations, such as taking a slow exposure to get a motion blur of water, night photography that calls for much longer exposures and shutter speeds, or when you want to increase depth of field by shrinking the aperture to ƒ/16 or more to keep multiple subjects in focus.

Before buying a tripod, handle it! Test things like the ease with which you can quickly adjust height and make vertical or horizontal movements. Make sure it’s light enough that you can carry it for extended periods without fatigue.

$358 The Gitzo Carbon 6x tripods feature an innovative twist locking system and advanced center-column design. Durable and strong, the tripods are constructed with six crossed, multilayer carbon-fiber tubes for greater rigidity. Estimated Street Price: Starts at $358.

$324 Manfrotto’s four-section 190CXPRO4 carbon-fiber tripod features the unique Q90° quick center-column system, which lets you move from vertical to horizontal shooting in seconds without disassembling the column. Estimated Street Price: $324.

$299 An aluminum-magnesium-titanium (AMT) alloy gives the Slik Pro 780 DX its sturdy, lightweight frame. Adjustable leg angle locks allow the tripod to be lowered to 15 inches for low-angle or macro photography. Estimated Street Price: $299.

$270 With adjustable angle leg locks, interchangeable rubber feet and stainless-steel spikes, the Induro Carbon 8x C-Series tripods keep the camera grounded on uneven surfaces and rough terrain. The leg locks are dust- and moisture-resistant. Estimated Street Price: Starts at $270.

$211 Giottos Professional MT 93/83 Tripods are made from carbon fiber, aluminum or lava fiber for a rigid, lightweight body. A multifunction center column allows for quick 360-degree horizontal or 180-degree vertical movements. Estimated Street Price: Starts at $211.

$169 The Adorama Flashpoint F-1128 Carbon Fiber Tripod features rubber double-grip twist locks for fast adjustments and a center column that separates for shots low to the ground. Estimated Street Price: $169.

Optical Filters

While software filters offer some phenomenal effects, there’s still no digital substitute for many optical filters. Shooting with the right optical filter—rather than trying to fix it in Photoshop—usually delivers better results and always saves a lot of time. Filters also serve as cheap insurance by adding extra protection to the delicate optics of expensive lenses.

The fact is that some filters can never be replicated with software filters, since they only can adjust what was captured. This is especially true of polarizers used to control reflections and neutral-density filters for limiting light transmission.

Heliopan’s Circular Polarizer filter helps saturate skies as well as reduce haze and reflections for images with more contrast and vivid colors. Estimated Street Price: Starts at $61.

Singh-Ray’s Mor-Slo 5-stop ND filter adds five stops of density to light transmission for slowing down shutter speeds and opening up depth of field. Estimated Street Price: Starts at $250.

The new Hoya HD Circular Polarizers offer tough, hardened glass with 25-percent higher light transmission than standard polarizing film. An eight-layer multicoating reduces reflections off of the glass surface. Estimated Street Price: Starts at $55.

Tiffen’s line of digital high-transmission (HT) filters is coated with titanium for scratch-resistant durability and features solid anti-reflective and high-transmission properties. Several variations are available, including color-graduated ND filters for adding warmth to sunset and similar effects. Estimated Street Price: Starts at $49.

Batteries
Digital cameras consume a lot more power than other electronic devices, so battery companies have created new products designed for the needs of photographers. Some batteries offer increased life and performance, allowing you more time to shoot, saving money in the long run. There’s no arguing the appeal of rechargeable batteries either. When the power runs out, you don’t have to buy new batteries, and they’re better for the environment.

Energizer’s AA and AAA Ultimate Lithium batteries weigh less than standard alkaline cells, last up to eight times longer in digital cameras than other Energizer types and perform in extreme temperatures from -40 degrees F to 140 degrees F. Estimated Street Price: Starts at $5.

Available in AA or AAA sizes, Duracell’s PowerPix batteries deliver twice as many pictures when compared to standard alkaline batteries. Powered by NiOx technology, they’re designed to release more power to meet the high drain demand of digital cameras. Estimated Street Price: Starts at $3.

The Ansmann Digicharger Vario is a universal charger for battery packs used in cameras, camcorders and mobile phones. The device is compatible with more than 100 battery types, including AA/AAA, NiMH or NiCd batteries, and lithium-ion and lithium-polymer battery packs. Estimated Street Price: $58.

Available in AA or AAA sizes, Maha’s Imedion batteries are rechargeable up to 1,000 times and keep up to 85 percent of their charge after a year of storage. Estimated Street Price: $13.

Media Viewers

Previewing images in the field is the best way to make sure that you don’t leave a scene empty-handed. It’s also a great way to share photos. Media viewers are more comfortable to carry than laptops, easily fitting in camera bags or even your pocket. Besides convenience, some offer sophisticated tools for checking exposure and focus and can provide an easy way of backing up images while you’re still out shooting.

Apple’s WiFi-enabled iPod Touch is a sleek way to carry your image portfolio with finger-controlled touch screens and automatic switching between portrait and landscape view. It syncs easily with your photo library through iTunes. Estimated Street Price: $229 (8 GB); $299 (16 GB); $399 (32 GB).

Scroll through and zoom in on RAW or JPEG images using Epson‘s high-end, high-capacity P-6000 (80 GB) and P-7000 (160 GB) multimedia photo viewers. The four-inch LCD screen delivers images with smooth gradations and color transitions. Estimated Street Price: $599 (P-6000); $799 (P-7000).

The GIGA Vu extreme from JOBO has a built-in memory-card slot for direct importing of photos. The 3.7-inch color LCD lets you review images (even RAW files) at any time. It’s also compatible with MPEG-1, MPEG-2 and MPEG-4 video files. Estimated Street Price: $599 (80 GB); $749 (120 GB); $899 (160 GB).

Memory Cards

While storage capacity continues to grow and data transfer rates keep getting faster, prices are becoming cheaper. That’s good news, considering that digital cameras continue to increase the megapixel count of our files.

With the popular CompactFlash and Secure Digital formats, typical capacities range from 4 GB to 32 GB. Some of the newer cards are UDMA (Ultra Direct Memory Access)-enabled, speeding up data transmission.

Kingston’s 32 GB Elite Pro SDHC is one of the largest cards available in this format. A built-in write-protect switch prevents accidental data loss. Estimated Street Price: $308.

The Lexar Professional UDMA 300x 16 GB CompactFlash card has fast minimum read and write speeds of up to 45 MBps. Estimated Street Price: TBA.

The PNY 16 GB Class 6 Optima Pro SDHC card offers fast read and write speeds; it’s ideal for high-megapixel, point-and-shoot digital cameras and demanding digital camcorders. Estimated Street Price: $79.

SanDisk Extreme IV CompactFlash 16 GB card comes with a lot of storage space and has read and write speeds of 45 MBps. Estimated Street Price: $399.

Unique Extras

These cool gadgets make photography easier and more efficient, and sometimes offer modern solutions to old challenges. They also can expand your creativity and add new dimensions to your photography.

Geotagging is a way of recording the exact time and location of your photos. Carry this handy accessory with you when you shoot, then insert your memory card into the ATP GPS PhotoFinder, and it writes GPS coordinates into each image’s metadata based on the file’s time stamp. Estimated Street Price: $90.

The Data Robotics Drobo is an external storage drive that connects to your computer through FireWire (400 or 800)?or USB 2.0. The device automatically backs up your files and features RAID-like data-redundancy protection on multiple drives. Estimated Street Price:?Starts at $499.

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The ClearWhite white-balance filter from Digital Photography Kits gives you clean, color-balanced images using 4×4-inch square filters that are held in front of the lens and pointed at the main light source when setting your camera’s custom white balance. Estimated Street Price: $49.

Designed for use with the Canon Speedlite 580EX (I & II) and Nikon SB-800 Speedlight, the ExpoImaging Ray Flash turns your flash into a ring light, but costs far less than a dedicated ring-flash unit. It’s fully TTL-compatible, too. Estimated Street Price: $299.

The Manfrotto Modo Pocket is a miniature tripod ideal for those situations when you need to get a stable shot but can’t carry a full-sized tripod. About the size of a thick credit card, this adjustable unit is capable of getting you a blur-free shot practically anywhere. Estimated Street Price: $29.

The UPstrap SLR-Classic makes carrying a D-SLR easy and safe. The strap keeps the camera securely on your shoulder so that even the heaviest camera won’t slip off. Estimated Street Price: $34.

For more intuitive, pressure-sensitive control with Photoshop enhancements, the Wacom Cintiq 12WX Interactive Pen Display merges the power of pen and tablet with a screen, allowing pixel-precise edits. The 12.1-inch LCD features WXGA (1280 x 800) resolution, 24-bit color depth and 170-degree viewing. Estimated Street Price: $999.

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