All photographers and filmmakers have accessories and doohickies in their bags to help them with their pursuits. And now that we’ve covered cameras, lenses, lights, bags, tripods, sliders & gimbals out of the way, it’s time to crack on with those in today’s final 2019 DIYP Gift Guide. Here are some of the things we find absolutely invaluable in our work and some of the new tools and toys that have come out this year.
With the array of cameras on the market these days, not-so-great camera profiles built into software and quite a few photographers actually shooting multiple brands, keeping consistency between them all can be something of a challenge. X-Rite’s ColorChecker Passport Photo 2 replaces the original CCPP in their lineup as the defacto standard tool for profiling your camera. It easily slips into any bag or even your pocket for use in the studio or on location and helps to ensure you get consistent colours every time, no matter what you shoot.
Viltrox wired remote & intervalometer – $19 (Amazon)
A lot of people prefer to go wireless these days for triggering their cameras, especially with the number of cameras today that have built-in WiFi and smartphone apps. But sometimes you just can’t beat a wired remote, especially one with a built-in intervalometer. If you’re shooting a long timelapse sequence, the last thing you want is for your trigger and camera to lose connection or for your batteries to run out, especially if you leave a camera shooting overnight while you sleep. I’ve been using the Viltrox intervalometer this year for much of my timelapse, it’s never let me down and they take standard 2.5mm cables that you can buy for just about any camera out there.
You can never really have enough memory cards, and with as inexpensive as they’ve become, can you really afford to not have several of these in your bag? Cards die. It doesn’t happen often, and when it does it’s mostly through neglect or user error, but they do die. If you’re in the middle of a client session and your only card dies, what do you do? Ideally, you’ll be shooting to dual card slots so you can calmly keep on shooting, safe in the knowledge you haven’t lost anything, but you’ll still want a couple of spares handy.
The PolarPro Peter McKinnon Edition 0.6-1.5 (2-5 stop) Variable ND Filter is one of the best variable NDs I’ve had the opportunity to use. It produces a nice clean colour that doesn’t noticeably shift as you change exposure and hard limit stops prevent the dreaded “X” phenomenon often seen with cheaper variable ND filters. If you’re a vlogger or filmmaker, it’s an invaluable tool to have in your bag that will last you a lifetime. They also come in 6-9 stop flavour (B&H) but I find the 2-5 stop to be the most useful for many filmmaking uses.
While we’re on the subject of filters, this one might be better suited to photographers. This is the Haida M10 Filter Kit, and it’s a square filter holder for holding 100x100mm square filters. But it also supports drop-in filters, too and is supplied with a drop-in circular polarizer that can be rotated and adjusted independently of the holder itself. They also offer a range of other filters to replace the drop-in including straight NDs as well as ND+PL filters. The easy on/off mechanism makes it a breeze to use out in the wilderness for shooting landscapes, and the drop-in filters can be very useful to quickly swap one filter out for another.
Feelworld F6 Plus monitor – $229 (Amazon)
Over the past couple of years as I’ve started to use more on-camera monitors, they’ve become as invaluable to me for photography as they are to video, especially for things like product photography, landscapes and macro. They allow you to see a better overall view of your scene, and a touchscreen monitor like the Feelworld F6 Plus allows you to zoom right into the details much easier than the camera’s LCD alone can offer. The F6 Plus also offers an 8v power output, allowing you to power your camera externally, which can fantastic for those long days and nights shooting timelapse.
It used to be that reliable wireless HDMI transmission would cost you thousands. But as technology has progressed, the size and cost of such devices has reduced quite dramatically. The Hollyland Mars 400S takes an SDI or HDMI signal which it can then broadcast up to a massive 400ft range (although in my own tests, it’s been further and we have a full review coming soon) and then fed back into an SDI or HDMI monitor. While the implications for video users are quite obvious, they can be very handy for monitoring remote cameras for photography, too, for subjects such as wildlife or track-side shooting sports.
The ZenBook Pro Duo is a unique beast amongst laptops, ideally suited to creative tasks like photography and video editing. It’s an Intel Core i7-9750H-powered laptop with 16GB RAM, and a somewhat special feature. The main display is a 15.6″ 4K (3840 x 2160) multi-touch OLED screen which offers 100% DCI-P3 and 133% sRGB coverage, powered by an Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060 GPU with 6GB GDDR6 RAM. But it also contains a second 3840 x 1080 resolution display above the keyboard which extends the Windows desktop. This affords you a lot of screen space for arranging your tools just how you wish while maximising the main screen area for working with your photos or video footage.
If you ever do any kind of live streaming with multiple cameras or have been thinking about it, then the Blackmagic Atem Mini is a fantastic tool for you. It allows you to easily switch between up to four different HDMI video sources at the push of a button while keeping your audio consistent between them. You can also integrate wireless cameras into the mix using something like the Hollyland Mars 400S shown above.
Loupedeck Creative Tool (CT) – $549 (B&H)
The Loupedeck Creative Tool (Loupedeck CT) is the newest product from the Finnish company, Loupedeck. After the success of the self-titled original Loupedeck, they went onto the Loupedeck+ which added more software compatibility and a better build quality. Now, they’ve stepped things up several notches with the new Loupedeck CT. It, too, supports a number of different applications with more support coming in the future. But this one also incorporates displays for real-time feedback, and it’s a whole heck of a lot smaller than Loupedeck’s previous products, too, making it ideal for travel photographers and filmmakers working on the go.
There have been so many cool toys come out over the last year that it’s impossible to list them all, but these are some of our favourites we’ve seen come out during 2019 and a few we use regularly ourselves in our regular photography and video projects.
This completes our 2019 DIYP Gift Guide series. We hope you’ve found yourself or a loved one some nice new toys. If you missed our previous guides on cameras, lenses, lighting, bags, tripods, sliders & gimbals, don’t forget to check them out.
What’s been your favourite photography or video accessory, gadget or doohicky?