Get your gear together
People who love to shoot photos are the luckiest people in the world. But some photo shoots defy pure luck and require something more—a variation on something basic, like a better strap, or a set of wheels that helps you move your camera for a specialty video, or just something to relieve the strain on your hand while holding your camera. Here are some of the coolest items we found to help you help others see the world through your lens, whether you're taking aim with your smartphone or your DSLR.
Cotton Carrier Hand Strap
Is your camera so heavy that your hand actually feels sore while you're shooting in the field? Cotton Carrier's Hand Strap offers a super-secure, adjustable grip on your DLSR. The heavy-duty Velcro strap lets you tighten or loosen your hand against the camera body, making holding heavy cameras and lenses easier and more comfortable. The Hand Strap attaches to the camera's base with an Arca-Swiss-style plate sporting a standard quarter-inch-by-20 threaded hole. Use that to clamp your camera to a tripod or to attach other plates to the base.
$20, Cotton Carrier
LensPen DSLR Pro Kit
Your camera can act as a magnet for damaging (not to mention, gross-looking) dust and fingerprints on the lens, the filter, the eyepiece—you name it. But help is on the way with the three-piece LensPen DSLR Pro Kit. The LensPen works on full-size DSLR lenses, the MicroPro is ideal for tiny camera eyepieces, and the FilterKlear is great for lens filters. All three do double duty: A retractable brush on one end removes loose dust, while a carbon cleaning tip on the other end scrubs fingerprints and smudges. Everything is bundled into in a microfiber pouch.
Cinch Camera Strap
Your camera came with a strap, right? So what's the problem? Well, some of us want more versatility, flexibility, and adaptability in a strap—not just something to throw around the neck. Comfortable, secure, adjustable, and easy to use, the Cinch lets you carry your camera on one shoulder or across your torso for swift camera maneuvering. The Basic Cinch is $50, or you can get it packaged with the Plate, PodMount, or Membrane Connector for $60—each is tailored to different camera sizes.
$50 to $60, Luma Labs
Brenthaven BX2 Backpack
You love to shoot, but toting your gear? Not so much. Don't reach for that point-and-shoot—just get a comfortable bag. The Brenthaven BX2 Backpack is well padded for drop protection, and a removable divider in the main compartment lets you keep a long 70-200mm lens attached to your DSLR. It's got accessory pockets, a tethered LED light, a stowaway weather cover, and room for a laptop. A side zipper allows quick access to your camera while you’re wearing the bag, and it can even stow your tripod.
$150, Brenthaven BX2
Exceria Pro memory card
For continuously capturing and saving high-res photos and video, the faster the memory card, the better. Toshiba's upcoming Exceria Pro promises write speeds of up to 240MB per second and read speeds of up to 260MB per second. The company aims to have 16GB and 32GB versions on the market by October. No prices are revealed yet, but media reports put the cost of the 32GB version at around $250, with the 16GB card priced at around $150.
Flashpoint Video Shootskate II Dolly
Sometimes you need to be able to move your camera around a confined space, for still and video shoots. Placing your camera just so can be a cumbersome job—and doing so repeatedly for hours is even more so. Kind of makes you wish you had some wheels. The Flashpoint Video Shootskate Dolly lets you mount your camera and roll it smoothly across a tabletop, or on the ground for dynamic low angles. The polyurethane wheels absorb vibration, and the wheel turrets rotate 270 degrees and lock independently for a huge range of rolling motion. The base plate has a quarter-inch-by-20 tripod head mounting screw for attachments. Grip handles on each side give you hands-on mobility.
Tiltpod Articulating Stand for iPhone
Shooting better iPhone photos and video can be as easy as carrying your keys. The Tiltpod articulating stand mounts and tilts your iPhone at multiple angles. The base attaches to your keychain, and works on uneven surfaces. The nickel-plated magnetic ball pivot grips the side of your iPhone and snaps into the base for hands-free photos. The Tiltpod comes with a magnetic base, an iPhone adapter, and a key ring in black or white.
Tiltpod with key ring and case for the iPhone 5 only, $30.
Tiltpod with key ring for the iPhone 4/4S, no case, $15.
Photojojo iPad telephoto lens
You know you shoot with your iPad—at least sometimes. Use the Photojojo lens to add telephoto power to your iPad. The lens has a manual focusing ring for added control over its shallow depth of field. It also adds just a bit of vignetting and a lo-fi look. The iPad mini version has 12X telephoto power, while the lens for the iPad 3 and 4 has 10X telephoto power.
Manfrotto Pixi mini tripod
The Pixi mini tripod will steady your camera in tight places to help keep images sharp, and it doubles as an ergonomic grip for shooting videos. The push-button mechanism lets you position and lock the ball head in a single movement; pushing this button releases the ball joint to move freely so that you can position your subject in the frame. Pixi can be used with a large assortment of digital devices including compact cameras, compact interchangeable-lens cameras, and entry-level DSLRs. It also fits on the Manfrotto KLYP Case for iPhone 4, 4S, and 5.
Luxi is a small diffusion dome that fits over your iPhone's front-facing camera. When attached and used with a light meter app, Luxi helps you determine the best settings for your DSLR or other camera. Your iPhone thus becomes an easy, convenient incident light meter. It measures the amount of light falling on the subject, as opposed to the light reflected by the subject.
$25, Extrasensory Devices