Most photographers are gearheads. That’s not saying that we don’t hold the final image to be paramount, but if you ask most passionate photographers about their gear, they’ll talk until they’re blue in the face. Gadgets, gizmos, geegaws, whatever you call the things that fill up your camera bag, they’re essential to your creative process, and they’re very personal. One person’s perfect camera bag is another person’s gear albatross. When we look for the winners in the Accessories category we pick items that, in the piles of the gear that come out each year, stand apart. Sometimes utilitarian, sometimes superfluous, these tools make photography not only easier but more fun as well.
Tamrac G ELITE G32
Even if the Tamrac story weren’t an interesting one—the company was acquired by Gura Gear in 2015 and the newly merged company kept the Tamrac brand—we’d still like the new G32. Unassuming and a bit clandestine, the fabric and design on the G32 make it look like Just Another Backpack, downplaying the value of the contents inside. The bag can hold a 15” MacBook Pro, plus a DSLR, lenses, and gear. The soft padded straps make it comfortable on long day hikes, and the interior and exterior pockets allow you to stash a ton of gear inside.
BEST BAG FOR THE DRONE USER
Think Tank Photo Helipak Drone Bag
We love all the bags from Think Tank Photo, but we can’t live without their Helipak bags designed to carry drones safely. The Helipak comes in two versions, one for the DJI Phantom and one for the DJI Inspire. Internal inserts are shaped to cradle these expensive flyers carefully and to carry all the power cords, cables, remotes and extra propellers that are essential on a long drone shoot.
BEST MESSENGER-STYLE BAG
Peak Design Everyday Messenger 13
Peak Design turned to crowdfunding to produce their original messenger bag, the Everyday Messenger 15, and the response was overwhelming. The bags are beautiful and functional, with touches like magnetic clasps for the top flap, easily configurable dividers, a wide “seatbelt-style” shoulder strap and a stabilizing waist belt. We could go on and on about the features, but we’ll just recommend you go out and buy one. The new 13-inch model has all the features of the original but in a more compact, urban package.
BEST ADVANCES IN STORAGE MEDIA
XQD And CFast Cards
After decades of pushing the limits of SD and CompactFlash cards, the standards body behind camera storage has turned to newer technologies with more storage potential and vastly faster speeds. The result is two new formats, XQD and CFast, which unfortunately are both vying to become the winners in a standards war that resembles VHS vs. Beta and Blu-ray vs. HD DVD. We don’t care which one eventually dominates in the end; right now we’re glad to see the bottlenecks caused by slow memory cards disappear with these new technologies.
BEST USB-C DRIVE
G-Technology G-DRIVE mobile USB-C
Apple’s MacBook was the first computer to feature only a USB-C port, and this new USB standard has had a rocky start, due in part to a lack of native USB-C accessories. There’s no denying the speed and convenience of USB-C, and someday all drives will come with a USB-C port. Until then, we rely on the G-DRIVE when we’re out in the field. The 1 TB drive is big enough to handle any on-location backups, and the speed can’t be beat.
BEST MOBILE STORAGE AND CLOUD DEVICE
WD My Passport Wireless Pro
The WD My Passport Wireless Pro is a hard product to categorize. It’s part hard drive, part computer, part cloud storage system. Users access the device wirelessly and then it becomes a dedicated fileserver. The drive can log onto public or private WiFi on its own and pass that connection to the mobile device, allowing you to use the Internet and the drive at the same time. The brains inside the drive allow it to connect to a variety of cloud- based services like Adobe’s Creative Cloud and Dropbox. A built-in media server can even stream movies or TV shows to any connected user, and the built-in SD reader and USB ports can be used to automatically start an import, with files automatically streaming to the cloud as it ingests.
BEST WIRELESS TRIGGER SYSTEM
PocketWizard Plus IV Transceiver
The PocketWizard brand is legendary. Now in its fourth generation, the PocketWizard is the tool for wireless triggering of strobes, flash systems, and cameras. Smaller than the previous models and fitted with a pass-through hot shoe, the Plus IV allows photographers to shoot TTL metering even when using strobes. The transceiver can control multiple devices and groups right from a simple panel—no need to walk around and turn strobes on and off. It’s even possible to use the PocketWizard to create a remote camera trigger and remote lighting solution so a primary camera can trigger a remote camera and a lighting setup at the same time. If you need to cover a large space or a venue with interference, you can use multiple PocketWizards as repeaters for complete coverage.
BEST CARD READER
Lexar Professional Workflow HR1
Lexar has always made our favorite card readers, and their Workflow HR1 takes our favorite readers and puts them into a tower capable of ingesting up to four different cards from four interchangeable bays. Available in either USB 3 or Thunderbolt versions, the tower has slots that accept plug-in readers in any of the current formats—including XQD and CFast—and allow for multiple cards to be imported at the same time.
BEST COLOR MANAGEMENT TOOL
It boggles our mind how many photographers fail to calibrate and profile their monitors. No one would stand for a lens that created inaccurate colors, but plenty of shooters work on monitors where the colors of the photograph displayed on the screen don’t match the colors captured by the camera. The Spyder5PRO is the best solution for the color management problems faced by so many photographers. An integrated room light sensor lets you know if your workroom light is too bright for accurate image review, and the “before and after” view allows you to see how your photos looked like before calibration and the way they’re supposed to look.
EIZO ColorEdge CS2420 And CG2420
The pair of monitors in the ColorEdge lineup offers two slightly different solutions for the discerning photographer. Both have built-in calibration tools, accurate color reproduction, factory-calibrated color curves, wide viewing angles and edge-to-edge color accuracy. The CS2420 is the more affordable of the two, for enthusiasts and others who need precision but don’t need to meet demanding prepress standards. The CG model has a professional-level set of profiling tools and can display nearly the entire AdobeRGB color space. This 10-bit display can reproduce more than a billion colors.
BEST PORTABLE BATTERY SOLUTION
GoalZero Venture 30 Recharger
There are a lot of external batteries on the market, and all of them will recharge your phone, tablet or camera. We like the GoalZero Venture because it’s waterproof, works with the company’s solar panels, has dual 2.4A USB ports and packs an incredible 7800 mAh of power into a teeny body. The unit is especially useful for mirrorless and action cam shooters, as most of these systems allow for recharging by connecting a USB cable to power. Combined with the optional solar panels, the Venture 30 makes your photography truly green.