HEX Photography Articles

4 Must-Have Accessories for Shooting Video

4 Must Have Accessories for Shooting Video

Photo by Chris Murray on Unsplash

I’ve been building my camera equipment stockpile for well over a decade now, and I never feel like I have enough equipment for videography. 

Not only is there constantly something new and interesting I want to buy, but I always have new clients that want really specific, niche videos.  

But over the years, I’ve perfected my basic videography equipment set. Here are the things I think a videographer can’t live without. 

Table of Contents:

A Solid, Yet Portable Video Tripod

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Photo by Wendy Wei from Pexels

Tripods are incredibly important to a film shoot. They lend stability to your shots, allow you to pan and tilt your camera with ease, and prevent you from getting so wrapped up in your camera that you can’t direct the shoot. 

But, as we all know, all tripods are not alike.

I prefer my tripods to be on the lighter end of things, which allows me to save weight for more important equipment like my lenses. 

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You’ll also want to look out for a tripod with a fluid head that connects to a bowl (as shown above), which allows for your tripod to bear more weight while keeping your shot level on uneven ground. 

Rubber feet are the most typical feet you’ll see on a tripod, since they allow for a good grip on a variety of surfaces, but if you’re constantly shooting out of doors you may want to purchase spiked feet to keep in your bag too. 

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Ikan’s EK630 Tripod comes with all these features and more for just $170. It’s adjustable from 29” to 65”, comes with a carrying bag, and can support up to 8.8 pounds of equipment. 

It’s the perfect addition to my camera bag, along with my Canon EOS R and my growing collection of RF lenses.

With a small mirrorless system, I don’t need a big, bulky, heavy tripod to support my gear. Instead, the lightweight design with a mid-level spreader to add stability is just what the doctor ordered!

 

Recommended Videography Reading:

 

A Quality Variable ND Filter to Control Exposure 

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When it’s a bright, sunny day outside and you need to get some footage, you usually have to close the aperture way down to control the exposure of your video.

There’s a problem with this strategy, though - the smaller the aperture, the larger the depth of field.

This isn’t a huge crisis, but depending on the type of video you’re shooting, you might want a nice, blurry background that helps separate the subject in the footage.

To keep the aperture nice and wide, and thereby minimize depth of field, you need a variable ND filter.

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The Kenko PL-Fader is an excellent option because it’s inexpensive, yet durably built to last you for years and years of shooting video.

It has two high-transparency polarizing film layers that give you control over how much light passes through the filter and into the lens.

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This is advantageous for controlling aperture, as mentioned above, but it’s also helpful for controlling the shutter speed. Specifically, if you want to slow down the shutter speed, the PL-Fader will help you do that. 

The easy adjustment knob makes changes to the filter’s light-stopping power a breeze, too, so you can concentrate on capturing the best-quality footage and not worry about complicated changes to your filter!

 

Editor's Tip: Get Kenko’s latest updates and access to promos for discounted gear. Click here to sign up.

 

A Durable, Bright Light

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 photo by goir via iStock 

I have this way of ending up in situations either without my lighting, or with a dead light. So, when you’re shopping for your lighting, make sure to choose one that has a long battery life.

You’ll also want to choose a light that you can throw around a bit. I’ve never dropped a camera, but pretty much everything else in my bag I’m really clumsy with. The problem is that most portable lighting feels really cheap. They’re made out of plastic and they break easily.

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To combat this, use a light from an established company, like Litra. They’re a go to for many videographers for a reason.

When you’re shopping around for your lighting, some other helpful features are waterproofing, different types of camera mounts, and warranties. 

I use the Litra Torch LitraPro, which I purchased off of Adorama for $220.

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I use this light, and specifically this company, for its 1-year warranty. Plus, the light is waterproof at up to 90 feet, it creates bright light across an entire room, and it lasts for up to 10 hours on one charge. 

Add to that full spectrum bi-color, Bluetooth compatibility, adjustable color temperature, and the ability to fully dim, and you have the makings of a top-quality light for video work!  

Learn More:

A Cinema Backpack to Carry It All

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There’s no reason for you to buy all of this gear if you don’t have a way to carry it around. I’ve extensively covered different videography bags over the years on PhotographyTalk, and found that, for the price, the Hex Glacier Cinema Backpack is my absolute favorite.  

Importantly, it’s large enough to fit all of my equipment, which is an asset I’ve struggled to find in the past.

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And no matter how much equipment I’m carrying, the backpack is comfortable because of its thick, padded straps that refuse to dig into my shoulders. 

It’s water resistant, has an abundance of pockets and other organization methods, and is completely customizable to your body type, too.

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This bag is beautifully built, impeccably designed, and offers easy access to all your gear for quick lens changes, swapping out batteries, and so forth.

I can tell that this backpack was created by a fellow videographer, and for $240 I wouldn’t recommend anything else.

Learn More:

 



We Recommend


Awesome Camera Accessories for On-the-Go Photographers

Awesome Camera Accessories for On the Go Photographers

  photo bybortnikau via iStock

Whether you’re on the road because you love to travel or you’re doing it out of necessity for work, you want to have camera accessories that can come along with you without being a burden.

Fortunately, recent years have seen awesome camera accessories made available that are small and portable, yet still pack a mighty punch. 

Below, I’ve outlined a few of my favorite on-the-go camera accessories that will make your photography trips much easier.

Table of Contents

The LitraTorch 2.0 is a Must-Have for Travel Photographers 

If you’ve spent any amount of time learning about photography, you know that good light is the key to getting a good photograph.

And while it’s perfectly fine to label oneself as a “natural light photographer,” there are times when natural light just won’t cut it.

But if you need to be highly mobile, the last thing you want to do is carry around light stands, softboxes, diffusers, and all sorts of lighting gear. 

Instead, stay mobile and use the LitraTorch 2.0, an absolutely incredible light that will shock you with its power and quality of illumination.

 

I have this little guy (that’s it in the photo above, just above the lens) and it has been a Godsend as I get more and more into on-location work. 

It has 16 LEDs that put out 800 lumens of light. Considering it’s just 1.5 inches square, that’s an incredible amount of light!

Since it weighs just three ounces, it’s not like you’ll be bogged down with heavy gear, either.

In fact, you can pick up a handful of these things, throw them in your camera bag, and not notice a difference in the weight you’re carrying.

Better still, the LitraTorch 2.0 is adjustable, so you can set it at 100 lumens, 450 lumens, or 800 lumens to suit the situation. 

No matter the light output, this thing has beautiful, crisp, flicker-free light at a color temperature of 5700K. 

With a CRI of 90+ and TLCI of 92, you begin to get a picture of just how superb this little light really is!

Add in durable construction, waterproofness to 60 feet, a magnet for mounting it to metallic surfaces, and two ¼-20 mounts, and you have the makings of the perfect little light.

Learn more about the LitraTorch 2.0

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Save Space With the E-Image MA600 Monopod 

 e image monopod

A means of stabilizing the camera is a must for every photographer, but what you don’t want is a big, bulky, heavy tripod that you have to carry around from one shoot location to the next. 

The E-Image MA600 Monopod is a great solution for on-the-go photographers that simply don’t have room for a traditional tripod.

At just 3.1 pounds, this monopod is lightweight, and with just a single leg, it’s form factor is much smaller than a tripod, thereby giving you more room in your camera bag for other gear.

This monopod can support an astonishing 44 pounds of gear, so whether you have a DSLR, mirrorless camera, or a large video camera, you’ll get all the support you need.

Made of aluminum, the MA600 monopod is strong and durable, yet more budget-friendly than carbon fiber options. 

The flip-lock design of the leg locks makes setup a breeze and quick adjustments easy as well.

There’s a soft foam grip and a strap at the top of the monopod to give you multiple points of securing it while shooting. 

It can extend to nearly 75-inches yet folds down to little more than 25-inches for easy transport. And with a base that spreads 16-inches, this monopod offers superb stability, even if you’re panning to track a subject.

Learn more about the E-Image MA600 Monopod

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Step Up Your Photography Game With a Haida NanoPro Circular Polarizing Filter

When you’re on the move, it’s important to shed weight when you can. 

One of the ways I’ve done that as of late is to ditch my giant filter kit and roll with just one filter - my Haida NanoPro Circular Polarizer. 

Of all my filters, this one is the most invaluable simply because of the many benefits I gain from using it.

travel photography accessories

 photo by DieterMeyrl via iStock 

As all polarizers do, this thing boosts contrast in the sky, minimizes glare off of water and other non-metallic surfaces, and reduces atmospheric haze.

In all these cases, my landscape photos benefit from stronger colors, improved clarity, and gorgeous contrast. 

But not all polarizers are made alike, so it’s important to invest in one that offers the highest-quality results. Haida does just that.

The NanoPro coating on this filter offers a number of benefits, including making cleaning an easier task. That’s because dust, dirt, smudges, and moisture are repelled thanks to ten (yes...ten!) layers of coatings.

What’s more, the NanoPro coating has anti-reflective properties to ensure your photos are as clean and crisp as possible.

With high-quality optical glass, a lightweight 5mm aluminum mount, and side knurling that allows for easier and more precise adjustments, this polarizer is definitely a camera accessory that takes up very little space in your bag, but is worth its weight in gold.

Learn more about the Haida NanoPro Circular Polarizing Filter

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Carry Tons of Gear Without Feeling Weighed Down With the HEX Ranger Sling Bag

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When you’re ready to head to points unknown, you need a camera bag that can fit loads of gear, but that isn’t big and bulky and difficult to carry.

Enter the HEX Ranger DSLR Sling Bag…

I have to say that I was completely blown away by this bag the first time I laid eyes on it when I met the folks behind HEX at their Los Angeles offices.

I’ve been a Peak Design guy for a long time, and if you know Peak Design, you know the quality that they put out.

But, man, HEX has taken it to another level! 

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For starters, it’s a compact bag at just 1.3 pounds and 14.5"L x 7.25"W x 4.75"H, yet I can fit everything from my 10 liter Peak Design Sling Bag into this 8 liter Ranger bag.

Why?

It’s simple - HEX has eliminated all the unused space from this bag, which gives you tons of carrying capacity without the bulk.

But don’t think that because it’s slim and trim that it isn’t loaded with features.

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This bag has collapsible interior dividers that allows you to customize what gear you carry. The dividers can fold up or be removed completely, which allows the bag to lay completely flat. That’ll come in handy on your travels, for sure!

There are pockets galore, too, including a front-access organizer for the small things you need, a faux fur-lined sleeve for your tablet, and tons of velcro stash pockets. There’s even side adjustable load straps and an adjustable bottom carry strap to bring along more gear when you need it!

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Perhaps the best thing about this bag is how it fits.

It’s snug to your body, so it doesn’t knock around as you walk, nor does it pose a threat to slide off and hit someone as you pass by.

It’s super easy to adjust and grab your gear thanks to the YKK zippers with metal pulls. The genuine Cordura material is great looking and durable too.

HEX simply impressed the heck out of me with this bag, which is why it’s my go-to travel bag now!

Learn more about the Hex Ranger DSLR Sling Bag

Learn More:

Save Time Editing With Exposure X5

young asian freelancer woman finishing up with work picture id994011230photo by lechatnoir via iStock

I enjoy editing my photos as much as the next guy, but when I'm on the go, I don't want to be in the hotel room slumped over my computer editing photos for hours on end. Instead, I want to be out exploring and shooting!

Exposure X5 lets me do that thanks to its ability to streamline my workflow when it comes to organizing and editing my photos.

In particular, there are three features (there are many, many more features, by the way) I especially like that make this some of my favorite photography software...

First, I appreciate the fact that Exposure includes hundreds of presets (like the one shown below). This enables me to add looks to my photos with just one click. In many situations, the presets are just what the doctor ordered, but if I need to tweak them, I can do so quickly and easily.

I can also save the presets that I customize and reuse them again in the future. How cool is that?!

exposure portrait preset

Second, Exposure is just dead-easy to use with an intuitive layout that makes editing images a breeze.

If need be, you can customize the workspace to better suit your needs, too. On top of that Photoshop and Lightroom plug-in support is included so you can more seamlessly migrate your images into Exposure.

The third feature I really love about Exposure X5 is that it allows you to quickly transition from editing images to organizing images without having to switch modules.

Speaking of organizing, you can create smart collections of images based on criteria you specify and use keywords for further organization. You can even choose to retain or remove keywords during image export and import keyword sets directly from Lightroom.

In other words, Exposure X5 is simply a well-designed, beautifully thought-out photo editor and management system all bundled into one easy-to-use workspace.

When you're on the go and time is of the essence, you can't ask for more from your imaging software!

Get a free 30-day trial of Exposure X5 to see just how awesome it is.



We Recommend


Best Camera Bags of 2019

best camera bags of 2019

Photo by freemixer via iStock

I'm fortunate to own many different camera bags. I test many, many more each year.

And this year, I think I've had more awesome camera bags in my hands than any year before.

On top of that, the bags that make my best camera bags of 2019 list are more varied in their design than any year before, too.

From slings to backpacks, leather camera bags to duffels, this list has something for everyone.

Best Camera Bags of 2019: Hazard 4® Pillbox™

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The Hazard 4® Pillbox™ Modular Shell pack certainly falls into the impressive category…

To first address the different aesthetic; it’s due to Hazard 4’s legacy users. From special forces recon teams to expedition reporters, these are first designed to endure the world’s harshest jobs and environments. Cameras, accessories and survival gear are protected while patented modularity allows broad mission customization. Thoughtful sizing, organization, ergonomics, and unique functions, with 1000 D Cordura® fabric, YKK zips, and patented hardware result in the tough, futuristic design that now many enthusiasts also choose.

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From a comfort standpoint, the molded back-pad with removable belt is one of the bag’s best features. It’s abrasion resistant without chafing, aerated to ventilate sweat, and conforms to your spine for daylong comfort while padding a <16” MacBook Pro in it’s zip-compartment, that can hang hydration bladders too while the laptop moves to the shell’s other laptop holder!

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In terms of ruggedness, it doesn’t get much better than the lightweight, yet durable molded foam shell and internal 360° moveable gear padding. The shell’s six mounting detents host their patented Hardpoint® system which can be used to attach optional loops, panels, rails, bungees, lights, and other hardware to hold tripods, holsters, helmets, etc. And with military modular webbing (molle) and velcro panels throughout, the pack allows expansion of its functionality by adding i.d. patches and pouches/holsters as needed.

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This bag is also supremely versatile. Carry a laptop, tablet, camera system, and drone in the bottom, with clothes, food and first aid in the shell. Even weapons are retained for those who serve. A large admin organizer keeps your pens, SD cards, and tools neatly organized.

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The professional mil-spec looks make this an eye-catching and unique bag with all the functionality you need to get the hardest field job done in style; like a James Cameron future loadout but in 2019! In three colors from urban to desert, if you want a bag to accommodate lots of gear with carry comfort and patented modularity/security features while looking like a tough, tech trend-setter, this is the one for you.

Learn more about the Hazard4 Pillbox

Best Camera Bags of 2019: The Camera Pack by Nomatic and Peter McKinnon

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Another camera bag that really, really impressed me in 2019 is the Camera Pack by Nomatic and Peter McKinnon.

This pack was specifically designed for people that need to travel with their camera. It's ingenious design helps you organize your personal gear and your photography gear into a single bag.

As you can see below, there's a clothing side and a camera gear side that are separated by an interior panel.

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This beautifully designed "ecosystem" means you can travel with a ton of gear without having to rifle through a disorganized bag to find it.

Except...it isn't a single bag. There's a removable day pack inside (called a Cube Pack), that way you can run and gun when you need to. 

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This backpack can hold up to 42 liters of gear when expanded (35 liters otherwise), so there's no lack of space. And with a full clamshell opening, you can see all the gear you’ve stowed away with ease. 

The moveable interior dividers allow you to customize the space to your specific needs. There’s even a sleeve for your tablet, pockets for your camera accessories, and quick side access for easy retrieval of gear, too.

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For your personal belongings, you can use compression cubes for your clothes, compression straps to keep everything where it should be, and pockets for smaller items to keep things organized.

The Kickstarter goal for this pack was $100,000. It raised nearly $2.3 million. If that doesn't speak to the innovative features and quality of this bag, I don't know what does!

Learn more about the Camera Pack by Nomatic and Peter McKinnon

Best Camera Bags of 2019: Wandrd HEXAD Access Duffle

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This bag by Wandrd is the only duffel-type bag on this list.

And while I'm not usually a duffel bag kind of guy, Wandrd certainly makes the duffel something to consider.

After all, it's beautifully designed, extremely comfortable to carry, and incredibly functional, too.

It’s tough to beat a great camera bag as a gift for the photographer on your list.

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One of the best features is the enormous clamshell opening on the top of the bag. With an unobstructed view, you can see exactly what gear is where, that way you can grab what you need and get the shots you want.

The three organizational compartments help you keep things tidy, which is supremely important when the bag has a carrying capacity of 45 liters of gear!

Fortunately, despite its massive interior space, this bag is lightweight at 4.9 pounds and has a relatively small form factor at 9"H X 14"W X 22"L.

On the outside of the bag, you'll appreciate the weather-resistant materials, the high-quality zippers, the side camera access, and the removable backpack straps and camera protection.

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The exterior also features waterproof Tarpaulin and 1680D Ballistic Nylon with a WR army coating.

In other words, this bag has tons of capacity, huge functionality, and durability for the long-haul.

Learn more about the Wandrd HEXAD Access Duffle

Best Camera Bags of 2019: f-stop Sukha

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One of the first bags to impress me in 2019 was this bad boy, the f-stop Sukha.

This bag holds an astonishing 70 liters of gear, so needless to say this would be an ideal pack for a very long travel photography outing.

The Sukha is waterproof, so even if you encounter some inclement weather, you can rest assured all your gear and other belongings will stay dry.

And even though this is a monstrous bag, you can still easily find what you need.

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That's because f-stop utilizes Internal Camera Units (ICUs) that enable easy organization of a lot of gear.

As you can see above, even though I have the bag full, it's still perfectly tidy and easy to see what's inside.

In addition to that, this pack has a huge amount of padding that keeps your gear safe.

I also appreciate the fact that this bag has expandable zipper pockets on the side in case I need a little more room for gear.

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On the exterior of the bag are reinforced carry straps that let you add even more gear - like your tripod - to the bag.

And even when fully loaded, this bag is surprisingly comfortable to carry. The internal aluminum frame makes the pack nice and rigid while the EVA-padded Jersey laminate shoulder straps and hip belt help soften the load you're carrying.

The f-stop Sukha is just a well-designed and rugged bag that holds an incredible amount of gear.

Learn more about the f-stop Sukha

Best Camera Bags of 2019: Peak Design Everyday Backpack V2

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No best camera bags list would be complete without an entry from Peak Design, which seems to find ways to improve on their already incredible lineup of camera bags year in and year out.

Their Everyday Backpack V2 is certainly one of the best bags I've gotten my hands on this year, with new and improved features that make it more usable than ever.

Peak Design incorporated MagLatch hardware on the top of the bag so you can open it up and access your gear in a flash.

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To expand access further, this pack has two side access panels that are secured by weatherproof UltraZips.

The shell of the bag is comprised of 100-percent recycled 400D weatherproofing so your gear stays nice and dry. There's also a handy tuck-away strap system that enables you to lash gear to the exterior of the bag to expand its carrying capacity.

As impressive as the outside is, the inside of the bag offers lots of goodies.

best camera bags of 2019 peak design

There's dedicated sleeves for up to a 15-inch laptop, numerous internal slip pockets for smaller items, and three configurable FlexFold dividers to help keep your gear organized.

Of course, the FlexFold dividers also help protect your gear by keeping it neatly organized and separated from one another.

The Everyday Bag V2 is available in 20 liter and 30 liter sizes so you can select the right fit for your needs.

Either way, you'll end up with one of the best bags of 2019!

Learn more about the Everyday Backpack V2 20 Liter or 30 Liter versions

Best Camera Bags of 2019: Hazard 4® Freelance™ Sling-Pack

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Rarely do you encounter camera bags described as “tactical,” but in this case, the rank definitely fits the Hazard 4® Freelance™ Photo Sling-Pack.

Hazard 4® designs exceed military specs, so these are trusted by demanding users in the harshest environments - special forces to expedition reporters. Thoughtful sizes, organization, and ergonomics, with 1000 D Cordura® fabric, YKK zips, and patented hardware protect cameras, accessories and survival gear in a futuristic aesthetic that deflects harsh use.

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You can cleverly rotate Freelance™ from back to chest for quick gear access without taking it off. Sized for most mirrorless systems with movable padded dividers to organize lenses and accessories, it’s also made in a Drone Edition with special dividers and “Drone Pilot” patch on its velcro I.D. panel.

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Three exterior pockets fit extra gear. A sweat managing thermo-molded zip back panel cradles 10.5” iPads®. An admin panel organizes pens and SD cards, among other small items. A molded shell fits two Mavic® Pro batteries and has a patented Hard Point® bus for attaching Hazard 4® systems loops and tie-downs or GoPros® via a ¼-20 screw.

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Modular webbing (molle) throughout allows exterior gear expansion. A patented roto-lock buckle prevents drops. Add grab-handles, tripod/compression straps, and more for the makings of one killer camera bag for active photographers!

Learn more about the Hazard 4® Freelance

Best Camera Bags of 2019: Peak Design Travel Backpack

What I like most about the Peak Design Travel Line Backpack 45L is that it has a modular design that allows you to customize the bag to fit your specific needs.

There's a zippered panel that divides the bag into two compartments - one for camera gear and one for personal items.

But if you're in need of tons of gear (or tons of personal items), you can unzip the divider and have one large space for storage.

Don't think that having all that storage space means your stuff will be all jumbled up...

peak design travel backpack

Peak Design has a wide range of optional packing tools that extend the functionality of this bag.

You can get packing cubes for your clothes, a was cube for toiletry items, shoe cubes to keep the dirty bottoms of your shoes contained, and, of course, cubes for your camera gear as well.

Furthermore, there's four mesh zippered pockets on the front of the bag and a host of internal pockets to further your organizational abilities.

Another neat feature is that this bag has rigid sidewalls. Not only does that aid in protecting your gear but it also helps the bag retain its shape, even if it's empty.

When it's full of gear (or when you need to load up), you can do so from the access panel on the back of the bag, the top, or from the side access panels.

I love the weatherproof construction (even the zippers are weatherproof), the abundance of exterior handles for easy grabbing, and the ability to expand from 30 liters to 45 liters. With all that, you have the makings of one of the best camera bags of 2019!

Learn more about the Peak Design Travel Line Backpack

Best Camera Bags of 2019: HEX Ranger DSLR Sling Bag

I don't often use sling bags, but I can tell you that this bad boy has made me a sling bag fan.

One look at the specs on this thing, and you'll understand why I think so highly of it...

What strikes you immediately is the small form factor of the bag.

It weighs only 1.3 pounds and is 14.5"L x 7.25"W x 4.75"H. Though it's rated at 8 liters, I could fit everything from my 10L Peak Design bag into the HEX bag, no problem. There is no wasted space in this thing, so the manner in which it was designed gives you the utmost efficiency of space.

Additionally, this bag hugs your body, so it's a carrying experience unlike any other I've ever had with a sling bag - it stays in place and doesn't bounce around or knock into things as some lesser sling bags tend to do.

The outside of the bag features adjustable load straps and adjustable bottom carry straps, so I can easily add my Peak Design tripod to the bottom of the bag when need be.

There's a front access organizer for small things like batteries or memory cards and a faux fur lined pocket on the front where you can keep your phone. There are multiple stash pockets too.

Inside, one of the best features is the collapsible interior dividers.

The dividers can be folded up or even removed so you can truly customize the bag to suit your needs.

My setup includes a Nikon Z7 with a lens attached, an additional lens, and filters, and there's plenty of room for all of it inside the bag.

The HEX Ranger is just a great looking bag that's well-thought-out and beautifully crafted. If you're in the market for a new sling bag, give this one strong consideration!

Learn more about the HEX Ranger DSLR Sling Bag

Best Camera Bags of 2019: Holdfast Roamographer

One of the best leather bags on the market today is without a doubt the Holdfast Roamographer.

There's a lot of reasons for that, too.

First of all, the Roamographer truly does fit the bill for form and for function.

This bag is stunning to look at, with its handcrafted details and beautiful American Bison leather jumping out at you.

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Even the buckles, straps, handles, and shoulder strap show impeccable design and attention to detail.

Speaking of the straps, you can carry a tripod by lashing them to the bag via the straps, and carrying the bag is a joy considering the strap has a shearling-lined shoulder pad to keep your neck and shoulder as comfortable as possible.

You can even carry a small camera on the Roamographer's shoulder strap so that you don't miss any split-second shots.

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But since I like a utilitarian bag, what impresses me the most about the Roamographer is that it isn't just a pretty face.

Inside, it surprises you with a removable camera insert that's soft and thickly padded to provide your gear the protection it needs. It keeps all your gear nicely organized as well with various sleeves, pockets, and dividers.

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And since the insert is removable, you can use the bag as a weekender full of clothes and personal items when you don't need it to carry your camera gear.

With two large exterior pockets and two interior sleeve pockets, the Roamographer has no lack of storage space. There's even a large and small version for DSLR and mirrorless gear, respectively.

You can carry the Roamographer using Holdfast's excellent Moneymaker Camera Strap for the ultimate in utilitarian function (while looking good too!).

Learn more about the Holdfast Roamographer Bag

Best Camera Bags of 2019: f-stop Dalston Bag

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If you're in need of a smaller bag that doesn't skimp on high-quality materials and versatility, then look no further than the f-stop Dalston. 

This bag was designed with meeting the demands of the urban jungle in mind.

As a capable everyday bag, it not only offers excellent storage space but also has a sleek silhouette that makes it less bulky, which is ideal for photographing in tight spaces.

The bag is easy to access, too, with side-access pockets for quick grab and go.

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But don’t think that the Dalston is just for quick daytime adventures…

At nearly 19 inches tall and 11.4 inches wide, this bag can hold up to 21 liters of gear. That’s plenty of space for extended photoshoots in which a photographer needs lots of space packed into a sleek bag.

Add in weather-sealed zippers, a removable internal organizer for keeping your gear tidy, a Jersey laminate EVA-padded back panel, and Thermoformed EVA shoulder straps for comfort, and you have the makings of a spectacular bag for photographers of all kinds!

Learn more about the f-stop Dalston

 



We Recommend


Mirrorless Camera Accessories You Need Right Now

Mirrorless Camera Accessories You Need Right Now

Photo by Jeff David King on Unsplash

I don’t want to say that the days of the DSLR are done, but I can’t help but wonder how many more years that the likes of Canon, Nikon, Sony, and other major companies will continue to make them.

With so many mirrorless cameras now available, and with Canon and Nikon jumping into the mirrorless deep end as of late, more and more photographers are bound to make the switch to mirrorless. 

The question is, once you go mirrorless, what accessories do you need to complete your kit? 

Here’s a few recommendations that I’ve enjoyed using with my Nikon Z7, Panasonic GH5, and Sony a6400 as of late.

Top Mirrorless Camera Accessories: Haida 77mm NanoPro Multi-coated Circular Polarizer Filter

mirrorless camera accessories haida 1 

I picked up a Zeiss Batis 18mm f/2.8 lens a few months ago for my Sony a6400, and I enjoy using that combination of camera and lens for shooting landscapes.

On the a6400, which is a crop sensor camera, this lens has an effective focal length of 27mm, which isn’t as wide as I’d like for some landscapes, yet it still provides a pleasing view of the subject matter. 

More to the point, this lens is ludicrously sharp, so elements from near to far are rendered in gorgeous detail.

mirrorelss camera accessories haida 2 

Helping matters is my Haida 77mm NanoPro circular polarizing filter.

At just $80, it won’t break the bank, which is a good thing since that Zeiss lens isn’t exactly cheap.

But just because it’s an affordable filter doesn’t mean that it skimps on performance…

Like any quality circular polarizer, this filter helps reduce reflections and glare off of water and non-metallic surfaces while also minimizing atmospheric haze.

On top of that, the filter boosts the contrast in the sky, making the white clouds brighter and the blue atmosphere deeper and more saturated.

mirrorless camera accessories haida 3

And since this filter is made of optical glass, I get excellent clarity, contrast, and color fidelity.

Additionally, Haida has incorporated 10 layers of multi-coatings to minimize reflections, protect the filter, and reduce the need for cleaning because oils and water bead off the surface of the filter.

I appreciate the thin mount on this filter, too - just 5mm thick, it doesn’t cause vignetting when used with a wide-angle lens.

This is just a well constructed and well-designed filter that will help you achieve improved photos with your mirrorless camera. 

Learn more about the Haida 77mm NanoPro circular polarizing filter

Top Mirrorless Camera Accessories: E-Image EK650 Professional Video Tripod

e image ek 650 1 

When I’m out shooting videos with my Panasonic GH5, I need a good, solid tripod to support the camera, and for that, the E-Image EK650 is a great choice.

Not only does this tripod support up to 11 pounds of gear, but it also offers a nice height range of 30.5-66” so I can vary the eye level of the footage I’m shooting.

The fluid head that comes with the tripod has a 75mm bowl and a fixed counterbalance that allows it to support the weight of your gear. There are also independent pan and tilt locks, a quick-release plate, and a removable right-sided pan bar.

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The tripod has twist leg locks that make for easy setup and help prevent accidental disengagement of the lock, as sometimes occurs with flip-lock mechanisms.

To give the tripod more support, there’s a removable mid-level spreader that improves stability as well as removable rubber feet with spikes underneath, which are perfect for uneven or slippery terrain. 

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At around nine pounds, this tripod is lightweight enough to easily carry from one location to the next, too.

This tripod has been a durable, reliable rig addition to my kit and has proven its worth whether I’m filming in the studio, in the city, in the country, and points in between. And at $200, it’s well-priced!

Learn more about the E-Image EK650 Professional Video Tripod

Top Mirrorless Camera Accessories: HEX Ranger Sling Bag

hex brand 1 

Okay, okay, the HEX Ranger Sling Bag is marketed as a DSLR bag, but this thing is so versatile and so well put together that it can certainly be used to carry mirrorless gear like my Nikon Z7. 

What makes this a great mirrorless bag is that it is designed with the utmost attention to detail and use of space.

Where other sling bags are on the bulky side and often don’t fit you all that well, the HEX Ranger fits snugly (but not too snugly!) and stays in place on your bag as you maneuver around.

mirrorless camera accessores hex ranger 2

Shooting with a mirrorless camera is all about taking advantage of its small form factor and light weight, and this bag mirrors that.

It weighs just 1.3 pounds and measures 14.5"L x 7.25"W x 4.75"H. As you can see above, it hugs your body and is totally unobtrusive, yet easily accessible to get your gear.

Speaking of access, this bag has a large top opening to access your gear and tons of pockets for storing your phone, glasses, keys, tablet, memory cards and other items.

hex ranger sling 3

This bag is made of premium, water-resistant Cordura and has genuine YKK zippers with custom metal pulls that offer superior durability and performance.

Inside, the fold-out bottom panel allows the bag to be folded flat for packing while the fleece-lined main compartment offers configurable and removable partitions to keep your gear safe and sound.

HEX simply thought of everything when they designed this bag. And since it can hold eight liters of gear, you can bring your mirrorless camera, a couple of lenses, a tablet, and other accessories, no problem! 

Learn more about the HEX Ranger Sling Bag

Top Mirrorless Camera Accessories: Camera Canopy

camera canopy 1

Try as you might to predict the weather and rely on the weather forecast, at some point you’re going to be out shooting and find yourself in a rain storm that wasn’t expected. 

More to the point, there are many occasions when you might want to go out shooting, only to find that the weather is rainy and dreary. That shouldn’t stop you from going out to take photos, though.

A while back, I picked up a Camera Canopy for my Nikon Z7, and it has been a great addition to my kit for those days when the rain just won’t go away.

camera canopy 2

What’s so clever about the Camera Canopy is that it attaches to the hot-shoe mount of the camera and covers both the camera body and lens from above.

That means that you have unencumbered access to the camera’s buttons and LCD, which is certainly not the case when you use a typical bag-like rain cover. 

What’s more, since the Camera Canopy extends beyond the end of the lens, it protects the lens glass from moisture so you can shoot during a downpour without worrying that water droplets are going to interfere with the shot.

If you’re a landscape photographer with a mirrorless camera, Camera Canopy is a must-have for your kit!

Learn more about the Camera Canopy for Mirrorless Cameras

Top Mirrorless Camera Accessories: Litra Torch LitraPro 

litrapro 1

No matter if you’re taking still photos, videos, working in the studio, or working in the field, having a solid light source is a must. 

But what you don’t want is to lug around big, heavy lighting gear, which is why the Litra Torch LitraPro is my go-to light.

Measuring just 2.8 x 2 x 1.2" and weighing 6 ounces, this little light is ultra-portable and won’t take up hardly any space in your camera bag (that’s it on top of my Sony a6400 below).

But don’t think that because it fits in the palm of your hand that it doesn’t pack a mighty punch…

With 60 LEDs that can pump out 1200 lumens of brightness, this little light punches above its weight class.

Not only that, but the LitraPro is a full-spectrum bi-color light so you can adjust the color temperature (from 3000-6000K) to suit the specific shooting situation.

It puts out good quality light, too, with a CRI of 95.

On top of all that, this light has a 10-hour rechargeable battery, multiple mounting points, Bluetooth, and is waterproof up to 90 feet. 

In other words, it’s a go-anywhere, do-anything light!

Learn more about the Litra Torch LitraPro

Top Mirrorless Camera Accessories: Batteries and Battery Chargers

sony a6400 charger 

Mirrorless cameras don’t offer the same battery performance as their DSLR cousins, so it’s important to have extra juice on your outings. 

For all three of my mirrorless cameras, I have three spare batteries, all of which are fully charged the night before a shoot. 

Likewise, a dual battery charger enables faster charging, that way they’re ready to roll for the next day.

Though batteries and chargers aren’t as sexy as the items outlined earlier, they’re still a necessity!

 



We Recommend


The Best of 2019

best of 2019Photo by Lyndon Stratford via iStock

As we near the end of 2019 (and the decade!), it's a prime time to look back on the year in photography.

It's been a crazy year with so many incredible innovations happening. I say that every year, but every year it's the truth!

When I think about the best photography gear, gadgets, products, and services, I think about things that are functional, easy to use, and innovative.

The list I've compiled below is full of products that tick these boxes...

Each item I've included on my Best of 2019 list is something that I have at the very least thoroughly tested or that I own.

With that said, here's a few items that blew me away in 2019.

Argraph Marumi M100 Filter System

marumi m100 holder

One of the hallmarks of the companies featured on this list is that they have all innovated the photography industry in some way.

For Marumi, their claim to fame isn’t just crafting some of the best filter systems available today, but creating filter systems that streamline your workflow in the field.

Marumi’s Magnetic M100 Filter Holder and their line of magnetic filters are just what the doctor ordered for photographers that are sick of sliding filters in and out of their holders.

The M100 filter holder sports a slim 10mm design with strong magnetic attachments that hold the filter in place. The foam gaskets on the filter holder ensure that there are no light leaks to ruin your photos.

marumi circular polarizer

If using a circular polarizer, it rotates independently in the filter holder and features water and oil-repellent coatings on both sides that minimizes clean up.

The filter also has anti-static-anti-scratch, and anti-reflection properties that ensure you have the ideal shooting experience.

marumi soft ND

The other magnetic filters in Marumi’s lineup have the same features, including their graduated ND filters and solid ND Filters.

The graduated ND filters include hard-edge, soft-edge (as shown above), and reverse grads for photographing landscapes with a definite horizon, a variable horizon, and at sunrise and sunset, respectively.

marumi solid nd

Of course, there are also many different solid ND filters available from 2-stops all the way up to 15-stops.

Like the other Marumi filters mentioned above, these ND filters are made of durable Schott 5270 glass that offers high-definition results.

When photographing landscapes, the quality of light can change from one second to the next. That’s why this magnetic system is so compelling - by reducing the time spent swapping out filters, you can spend more time photographing the beauty before you! 

Ikan E-Image Horizon One 3-Axis Gimbal

best photography products 2019

One of the most pleasant surprises for me this year was just how good the Ikan E-Image Horizon One 3-Axis Gimbal really is.

I use this rig with my Nikon Z7, and it absolutely rocks it in terms of helping me get ultra-smooth, cinematic-looking video.

This gimbal is extremely well built and feels solid and supremely sturdy in your hand.

Granted, my setup doesn't come close to meeting this gimbal's eight-pound load capacity, but I'm sure it could perform just as well if I used a heavier camera and lens package.

top photography products of 2019

The Horizon One has brushless motors that give you ultra-precise stabilization, and with the 12-hour runtime, you can shoot all day long without stopping to recharge the gimbal.

Built into the unit are five operational modes, including my personal favorite, "Dream Follow," which gives you 360-degree spin on the roll axis.

I can't even tell you how many gimbals I've tested and owned over the years - maybe more than a dozen!

And this rig is by far one of the very best.

It's impeccably built, full of features, and easy to use. If that doesn't say "Best of 2019," I don't know what does.

Ikan Onyx Digital Color LED Panel Light 

ikan onyx 1

I know what you're thinking...

How can a light be part of the Best of 2019?

Well, as you know, photography is all about great light, and the Ikan Onyx Digital Color Light definitely delivers on that front.

What I've found so impressive with this light is that it has RGB, white, and amber LEDs. And with five color modes, you can use this thing for just about any kind of photo shoot or video shoot.

In fact, in RGB mode, this light gives you independent control over the red, green, and blue LEDs, which means you can literally create millions of different colors to suit your needs and tastes.

Meanwhile, the amber and white LEDs give photographers the option of recreating daylight or tungsten light with incredible accuracy.

This light even has a CCT mode that offers an adjustable color temperature from 2800K up to 10,000K. You simply don't find that kind of range in most lights!

On top of that, the Onyx has a Hue Shift feature of green and magenta lights, giving you yet another option for exerting pinpoint control over the kind of light you have available to you.

ikan onyx 2

Ikan also stuffed the Onyx with eight special effects - like police lights and candle flames - as well as 33 different gels to give you even further light customization possibilities.

Heck, there's even a built-in 1/2-stop diffuser!

This is one of the best lights I've used this year, and the data backs it up - it has a CRI-TLCI rating of 95, so you know that the light it emits is clean and beautiful.

In my opinion, you just won't find a better light, which is why I've included it in my Best of 2019 list.

Exposure Software

I've been a fan of Exposure Software for a long time, and it just keeps getting better and better with more and more tools available that make editing photos a simpler, more streamlined process.

The latest version of Exposure - Exposure X5 - is brimming with innovative and easy-to-use features.

There's a huge collection of "Looks," which give you the power to change the appearance of the image with a simple click.

You can make selective presets too, that way the edits you want to apply only apply to specific areas of the image.

Exposure has all the basic editing tools you could want as well, including nondestructive layers, linear and radial gradients, a brush tool, overlays, creative focus, and more.

In addition to all that, Exposure is also a complete photo manager.

You can apply camera profiles and presets, migrate collections over from Lightroom, use keywords to manage and organize your images, and review images side-by-side for easy comparison.

Exposure also enables you to create smart collections of photos - just add specific criteria you want for the collection (i.e., rating, color label, flag, camera data, f-stop, and so forth) and Exposure will populate the collection for you.

Nice, right?!

 

One of my favorite features, though, is the 3D color masking tool in Exposure.

Basically, this tool gives you precise control over where an adjustment is applied in the shot. This is thanks to the range of definitions that Exposure uses to define adjustment areas, such as saturation, hue, and luminance.

Because you can target colors of a specific hue, for example, you can apply adjustments to specific areas of the shot, like the sky or to skin tones. You can do all this with just a few clicks, too!

From the intuitive user interface to the powerful editing tools to the suite of support features that help make your workflow smoother, Exposure has everything you need to create your best images. They even offer a free trial to give it a test drive!

Syrp

It's been a great year for Syrp...

They unveiled the Syrp Genie Mini II Linear this time last year to much fanfare.

If you're unfamiliar with this thing, the Genie Mini II Linear is incredibly portable and gives you the option to add motion control to your timelapse and films without lugging around a big, heavy piece of kit.

It can attach to any slider on the market and even cable cam systems up to 328’ in length, so you can quickly and easily upgrade your ability to capture gorgeous timelapses and real-time video.

Additionally, the Genie II Linear is loaded up with features for key-framing, shooting interviews, b-roll and timelapse with future available features including live view, and camera control for ramping exposure, just to name a few. It’s wirelessly controllable as well, via an iOS or Android device.

At the same time, Syrp introduced the Genie II Pan Tilt, which gives you an ultra-portable camera motion control that you can carry in your backpack. 

You can use it with a tripod for ultra-precise pan and tilt motion control, or if you want three-axis, use it in conjunction with the Genie II Linear for the most powerful 3-axis device on the market.

Like the Genie II Linear, the Pan Tilt offers tons of functionality, including timelapse and real-time video capabilities, key-framing, and much more. With multi-row Panoramas, you can capture high resolution ‘gigapixel’ images and shoot Panoramas all controlled from the app itself.

It also has a built-in screen so you don’t have to use the app if you don’t need it and you want to pack light, not to mention a built-in joystick for quick setup and re-positioning from the device itself. Not bad, right?!

After that, Syrp brought us the Tilt Platform, which allows you to get perfectly level, vertical footage.

It couldn't be easier to use, either...

It requires no tools, has angle markings to help you dial in accurate adjustments, and it has a 3/8-16" - 1/4-20" UNC thread adapter in the base to expand its mounting options.

Just use the easy-adjustable knob to change the lever tension to secure your camera, and away you go!

You can position the Tilt Platform up to 180-degrees, it can be used with motion control or manual sliders, and it'll hold up to 13.2 pounds of gear.

syrp

And as if all that isn't enough, Syrp just released a new app feature available through the Syrp Genie II app - stop motion.

This mode allows you to create stop motion videos more precisely (and faster) than ever.

You can set up any desired movement using the app's keyframe editor, and you have complete control over the video's frame rate.

Once you have the motion set up, all you have to do is move the motion controller to each frame and trigger the camera's shutter.

Stop motion videos have never been so easy to make!

Excire 

excire header excire search 1024x576

Excire is an innovative product that I became familiar with last year, and I just have to continue singing its praises. 

For me, there isn’t much that I hate doing more than manually tagging my photos in Lightroom. That’s why there are thousands and thousands of images in my Lightroom catalogs that aren’t tagged at all. 

Until now… 

excire header product en

What’s so great about Excire’s products - Excire Search and Excire Search Pro - is that they utilize artificial intelligence to tag your Lightroom photos for you. 

Yeah...we’re living in the future, my friends! 

Excire Search has 125 common keywords that can be used for tagging your images, so every shot you have of a mountain or a bike or a dog will be organized and easily identified. 

Excire Search can obviously be used to search your images as well. Just use the plugin to find the images in your catalog that meet your criteria!

excire header contact en

Even better, Excire Search Pro offers over 500 keywords for tagging, so you have even more capability to organize and search your photos.

It includes a keyword transfer function, too, which means you can use Excire Search Pro on your existing catalogs. That means no more hunting around for the images you need, even if you have an enormous Lightroom catalog of tens of thousands of images.

In other words, Excire transfers the keywords it extracts to your Lightroom catalog, and then those keywords can be used in Lightroom as if you had manually entered them.

excire header home en

Needless to say, Excire Search is a fantastic tool for beginner and hobbyist photographers, and Excire Search Pro is a great option for serious photographers and professionals.

It's this kind of innovation I looked for when considering my Best of 2019 list!

PolarPro Summit Filters

summit

PolarPro has built a reputation over the years of developing well-built, high-performance products, and their newest filters are no exception.

The Summit filter system was specifically developed for the rough-and-tumble world of landscape photography.

These filters are built to withstand the rigors of shooting outdoors in harsh conditions while at the same time having a design that makes them incredibly easy to use.

polarpro summit 1

On the one hand, the ND and graduated ND filters have aluminum frames that both protect the filter and help minimize fingerprints getting on the filter glass.

So, not only do you get filters that are more durable, but you also won't spend as much time cleaning the filters to get rid of fingerprints. It's a win-win!

On the other hand, the filters and filter housing feature materials that ratchet up the build quality.

polarpro summit 2

For example, the filters are made of fused Quartz glass with 16 layers of coatings that improve color fidelity and clarity while reducing glare.

As another example, the filter frames are made of lightweight aluminum that helps cut weight in your pack while providing you strong durability for years to come.

Add in a user-friendly design, light-sealed slots, filter locks to lock down the filter position, and the ability to rotate the filter system 360 degrees, and you have the makings of the ideal landscape photography filter kit - one of the best of 2019, in fact!!

Wolverine Data F2D Titan

wolverine data 1

What’s so great about the Wolverine Data F2D Titan is that it’s an 8-in-1 rig. 

In addition to working with slides, 8mm movies, and Super 8 movies, the F2D Titan also works with 35mm, 110, 126, 127, and APS film.

It has a 20-megapixel sensor that turns your analog memories into high-definition digital files at up to 5472 x 3648 pixels.

The F2D Titan makes quick work of scanning, too. In just three seconds, the scan is complete thanks to its speed-load adapters that are perfectly sized to each format of slide or negative that you’re scanning.

wolverine data 2 

You can view the results of the scan on the onboard 4.3-inch color LCD. You can even fine-tune the brightness and color balance settings. If you prefer to see your newly digitized photos on a larger screen, simply connect the F2D Titan to a computer or a TV.

Saving the digitized images is a breeze, too. Just use its internal memory or add your own SD/SDHC memory card.

Better still, you don’t need a computer or external monitor or software of any kind, so this unit is totally self-contained. Just have a power source (via an AC outlet or USB) and you can digitize slides, film, and old movies anywhere you like.

If you’ve got a lot of old memories to digitize, there’s isn’t a better or faster way to do so than with this bad boy! It's simply the easiest, most functional film to digital scanner I've ever tested.

RODE Video Mics

top gifts for photographers under 100 rode videomicro

I have several RODE mics, including the tiny shotgun microphone shown above.

The RODE VideoMicro is compact and lightweight, which makes it a perfect pairing for my GoPro.

But don't think that because it's a tiny mic that audio quality is sacrificed. In fact, it has a high-quality cardioid condenser mic capsule so you can get clear, crisp audio.

It's shocking just how good this little guy performs!

Since it's a directional mic, it minimizes sounds from the periphery so your video has focused audio from the subject.

Add to that a thermoplastic suspension structure for minimizing vibrations as you adventure around with your GoPro, and you have the ideal audio companion for the best adventure camera on the market!

For more heavy-duty action, I have a RODE VideoMic Pro.

This shotgun-style mic has a 1/2-inch condenser capsule, which results in ultra-clean audio that's broadcast quality. We're talking about a self-noise level of just 14db!

It has a super-cardioid polar pattern that reduces background noise while ensuring that it captures crisp audio of the source you want to record.

And, unlike lesser microphones, the RODE VideoMic Pro has a Rycote Lyre shock system that creates a buffer between the microphone capsule and electronics and the microphone mount. This, in turn, minimizes the vibrations of the mic and improves the quality of the audio even more.

Add in fantastic sound, easy-to-reach controls, and intuitive operation, and you have the makings of the ideal microphone for filmmaking! 

Camera Canopy

camera canopy 1

I first learned about Camera Canopy last year, and I have to say that over the course of 2019 I've grown to appreciate this unique camera accessory more and more.

Photographers that spend any time outdoors understand that when it rains, it can really put a damper on their ability to get the photos they want. That’s because even weather-sealed gear isn’t completely water-tight.

And trying to manipulate camera controls with a traditional bag-like rain cover for a camera is a huge pain in the rear. That’s why Camera Canopy is a much better alternative.

Camera canopy attaches to a camera via its hot-shoe mount, and then acts like a roof to protect the camera and lens from rain. It even protects the from glass of the lens so there’s no water droplets messing up the shot.

Better still, it’s adjustable for lenses up to 500mm in length.

camera canopy 2

Camera Canopy also has a mirrorless camera version, so now that I've gone totally mirrorless, I can still enjoy the benefits of having my camera and lens protected by a Camera Canopy.

Just like its big brother, this mirrorless version is extremely easy to mount to your camera, simple to adjust for different lens lengths, and still provides you unfettered access to your camera's controls.

It's simply the best wet-weather camera accessory money can buy!

Hex Brand Ranger Sling Bag

hex ranger sling 1

I had an opportunity to head up to Los Angeles a while back and meet the masterminds behind HEX.

It was a fun time looking behind the curtain at their operation, plus I got to bring one of their Ranger Sling bags home to test out.

First impressions are good, to say the least! And that's coming from an admitted bag snob.

hex ranger sling 2

For instance, I check the stitching inside and out to see how well put together it is, and with this bag, it’s very well put together.

It’s part of thoughtful construction and design processes that make this bag one of the very best I've used this year.

One of the things I like most about the bag is the collapsible interior dividers - including the bottom divider. This gives you a bag that can not only be customized to your gear for each photoshoot, but you can also fold up or remove the dividers to allow the bag to be packed totally flat for travel inside another bag. 

Speaking of customizations, this bag has side adjustable load straps and adjustable bottom carry straps so you can carry even more gear when needed.

This bag is also packed full of pockets to help you keep track of your stuff. There’s a front access organizer for small items, a faux fur lined pocket on the front for your phone or a pair of shades, a faux fur lined pocket for your table, and multiple hidden velcro stash pockets. And the bag sits very well when worn. It’s comfortable and easy to access your gear and really hugs your body.

hex ranger sling 3

With genuine Cordura material and YKK zippers with metal pulls, this bag will stand up to use and abuse, too. And since it’s so compact (just 1.3 pounds and 14.5"L x 7.25"W x 4.75"H), you can rock it in the urban jungle without worrying that it’ll be knocking into people as you move from shot to shot.

Something that really stood out to me was that, although the bag is listed at 8 liters, there is no wasted or negative space. In fact, I easily transferred all the gear I would normally carry in my Peak Design 10L Sling into the HEX Ranger Sling. I have to say that I am a big fan of the efficient use of space in this bag and the collapsible potential of the HEX bag certainly gives it a leg up.

With eight liters of storage space, a streamlined design, and looks that don’t quit, this is definitely one of the best products I tested this year! 

TravelSchool.Info

best photography giftsPhoto by anyaberkut via iStock

This entry on my Best of 2019 list is a little different from the rest...

Rather than a camera accessory or some kind of service you use to take better photos, TravelSchool.Info makes it on this list because of its innovative approach to education and furthering your ability to make money.

TravelSchool.Info enables you to learn how to harness the power of affiliate marketing all the while traveling the world. Sounds nice, right?

By teaching you how to create multiple revenue streams from affiliate marketing, TravelSchool enables you to earn active and passive income that frees up your time to pursue things that are more fun than working!

Travel School is a comprehensive training program for starting an independent affiliate marketing business. It will take you step-by-step through the process of building a business that is not only wildly successful in the short-term, but can sustain steady growth for the long-term too.

travel school

Travel School founder Emilian travels the world with his furry friend, Divak, and is eager to share his knowledge and experience with you and help you build a successful affiliate marketing business that will allow you to quit your traditional job and travel the world like you want!

But Travel School isn’t just a step-by-step training program. Instead, it will change your outlook on what it means to work, and at the same time will be a transformational experience that will change their entire life for the better.

With specific, actionable steps, you will learn how to connect with established brands, develop core marketing skills, and activate multiple income streams to realize their dream of living a life full of travel and freedom.

Not only does Travel School aid in leveraging the credibility of amazing companies, but they will also offer weekly private webinars to keep your loved one motivated and on track toward accomplishing their goals.

Additionally, all training sessions are recorded and available at any time, that way if questions come up down the road or a little extra motivation is needed, the lessons can be easily accessed. There are opportunities to learn and collaborate with other students too!

It’s not often that you have the opportunity to learn how to live a life with more freedom, but in this case, Travel School is does just that!

Octopus.Camera OctoPad

octopad 1

I’m a gear head and I buy and test all kinds of stuff - cameras, lenses, tripods, lights...you name it!

But one of the most pleasant surprises I had this year was the Octopus.Camera OctoPad.

I know what you’re thinking...how can a little weighted support system be all that innovative? Trust me when I say that OctoPad certainly is!

octopad

For starters, OctoPad is a much better alternative than suction cup mounts or even mini tripods because it actually stays put.

The weighted anti-slip mat keeps the OctoPad right where you want it, even if it’s on a smooth or uneven surface.

Additionally, OctoPad has a built-in 1/4-20 threaded male bolt for attaching any number of accessories like a microphone or a light. The included ball head also has a 1/4-20 threaded male bolt for accessory attachment.

octopad 3

That means that this little guy is a great option for supporting a compact camera or a smartphone, a GoPro, a microphone, or a light. Plus, it can be used for photo or video work, giving you even more versatility.

It’s easy to use and transport too - there’s a built-in grommet for attaching a lanyard and a cable strap to tuck cables out of the way of your shots.

This is just a well designed product that offers a ton of benefits for photographers and videographers alike. And the best part? It’s priced at just $26.95!

Snaptiles

snap tiles 1

One of the most innovative products I encountered this year is Snaptiles.

These ingenious patented magnetic photo tile system takes all the fuss and muss out of displaying your photos.

If you want to create a mixed tile array, you can do so in a matter of seconds thanks to the easy mounting system that Snaptiles employs.

All you do is attach the mounting bracket to the wall using four adhesive strips. Make sure to press down firmly for 10 seconds so that it holds tight to the wall. You can snap up to 12 photo tiles onto the first anchor tile. If you really want to have some fun push in the 4 included thumbtacks for additional support. You can then snap up to 30 Snaptiles to the anchor! Not a bad tradeoff for 4 small pin holes if you ask me.

snaptiles how they work

Next, you mount the anchor tile to the wall mount by snapping it into place.

Then, you can add any number of additional photo tiles, which connect together using rare earth magnets. And that’s it!

Now instead of having to put nails in the wall to hang additional photos, you can simply order 4 photo tiles from Snaptiles, add them to your array of mixed tiles, and enjoy your favorite photo (along with all your other favorites in the display).

snaptiles how theyre made

These tiles are super lightweight so if they fall they won’t break. They are printed onto a premium SBS Acid-Free paperboard using the same printing technology as high-quality photo books. Likewise, the UV protective lamination ensures that the images don’t lose their color over time.

Snaptiles has a unique ability to let you display your photos in a creative and ever-changing way. When it comes to hanging art and your favorite images, being able to swap them out quickly and easily is a huge bonus.

Best of all, four tiles are just $59 with Free Shipping, so you can enjoy four of your favorite images without breaking the bank.

What’s not to like about that?!

Westcott Rapid Box Octa

westcott top 12 last minute 1

As photographers, we all know the value of good light for creating compelling photos. And when it comes to modifying light to get the precise look you want, Westcott should be your source.

After all, Westcott has been in this business since 1899, so they know exactly what they’re doing.

In fact, Wescott holds 12 patents and has a product line of more than 600 products, so they’re much more than umbrellas and lights - they’re the go-to for all manner of durable, high-end lighting gear.

westcott best of 2019 module 2

It would be impossible to expound upon Westcott’s vast array of products, so I’ll illustrate why they’re included on my list of the Best of 2019 by using their Rapid Box Octas as examples.

I know you’re probably thinking, “Aren’t all softboxes the same?” Well, no, my friend, they aren’t!

Westcott’s Rapid Box Octa, which come in small (26-inch), medium (36-inch), and large (48-inch) versions, are the ideal softbox for modifying speedlites.

westcott best of 2019 module 3

For starters, these things are supremely easy to set up - you can have them ready to go in a matter of seconds, so there’s no long, drawn-out procedure for getting your gear ready for the shoot.

They’re easy to transport as well, given that they are completely collapsible and super lightweight.

But don’t think that because they’re collapsible and easy to set up that they’re somehow not durable. Far from it.

The solid metal framework ensures that these softboxes retain their shape over the course of years and years of repeated use, and the built-in mounting hardware means there’s a snug fit with your speedlite whether it’s a Yonguo, Nikon, or something in between.

In other words, Westcott makes this list of the Best of 2019 not just because they create superb lighting gear, but because they also have a proven track record of innovation when it comes to lighting gear.

Their products are durable and easy to use and show a demonstrated effort by Westcott to think purposefully about design and functionality so you and I have a better user experience.

But don’t take my word for it...see the Rapid Box Octa in action in the video above!



We Recommend


Top 10 Gifts for Photographers Under $100 - 2019 Edition

Top 10 Gifts for Photographers Under 100 2019 Edition 

photo bySolStockvia iStock

While you might think that $100 isn’t much of a budget to buy photography gear for your loved one, think again… 

As the products on this list clearly show, there is no shortage of awesome photography gift possibilities with $100 in your hand!

From software to keep their photos organized to camera bags that are comfortable and functional, this list has a wide variety of ideas to help you check off the photography lovers on your holiday shopping list.

Gifts for Photographers Under $100: CanvasHQ Print

canvashq 2019 gift guide 1 image

If you’re like me, sometimes finding the perfect gift for certain loved ones is a long, drawn-out process that causes tons of stress, and often you still don’t get something that totally blows them away.

I think a lot of photographers fall into this category. We have specific likes, and many of us already have most of what we want or need gear-wise, and what we don’t have is usually too expensive to put on a Christmas wish-list anyway.

But for all those hard-to-shop-for photographers on your 2019 holiday shopping list, I have the perfect solution - a canvas print.

canvashq gift guide 2019 3 image

Think about it… 

A canvas print is a gift that keeps on giving.

Not only can you immortalize one of your favorite images from your favorite photographer, but you also give them a means to showcase their work in a format that’s drop-dead gorgeous.

I have tons of canvases in my home, the vast majority of which are from CanvasHQ.

canvashq gift guide 2019 2 image

Now, I know what you’re thinking - canvas is old school.

Sure, maybe it is, but I’m telling you that these canvas prints from CanvasHQ are mind-bogglingly beautiful. In fact, they go head-to-head with any metal or acrylic print I have in my home.

The attention to detail is just amazing, and the materials they use are top-of-the-line. We’re talking archival-grade canvas, commercial-grade inks that are water and UV resistant, and kiln-dried pine frames to keep everything straight and true.

I love the personality that the canvas texture gives my images. That’s true whether it’s a portrait of my son or a landscape photo.

canvashq gift guide 2019 4 image

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the customer service you get with CanvasHQ.

These guys are committed to getting it right, so if something doesn’t go as planned, you won’t be hung out to dry.

If you have questions, they’ll answer them. If you have a problem, they’ll fix it. If you need assistance with uploading your photo or even picking the best finishes for your canvas, they’ve got your back.

In the video above, I explain why I highly recommend a CanvasHQ canvas print as the ideal gift for the photographer on your holiday shopping list.

Start shopping for your favorite photographer today on CanvasHQ!

Gifts for Photographers Under $100: Holdfast Bolo Strap 

gifts for photographers under 100 holdfast 1

The Holdfast Bolo Strap looks like a million bucks, but in actuality, it’s well under the $100 budget limit ($45 in fact!).

What’s so great about the Bolo Strap is that it’s specifically designed for photographers to use with a small camera, like a point-and-shoot. In that regard, this strap is all about streamlined, off-the-cuff shooting to capture candid moments.

Keep your camera safe and sound around your neck, at-the-ready for taking quick photos.

gifts for photographers under 100 holdfast 2

Additionally, this strap pulls triple duty because it can be used as a wallet chain or as a lanyard for your keys.

That makes this little guy well worth the price tag because that functionality makes it well worth more than its price!

You will need a Camera HoldFast for this to be compatible for use with a tripod, but other than that, this sucker is ready to use right out of the box. 

Learn more about the Holdfast Bolo Strap

Gifts for Photographers Under $100: LitraTorch 2.0

litratorch 2.0 1

I know what you might be thinking - this tiny light is worth $100??

Well, I’ve used the LitraTorch 2.0 for a few months now, and I can tell you it’s worth well more than $100…

Though it weighs just over three ounces, and is about 1.5 inches square, Litra packed 16 LEDs into it, so it has some serious light output! 

In fact, you can adjust the output from 100 to 450 to 800 lumens depending on what you’re doing.

litratorch 2.0 2

Better yet, this little light puts out beautiful light that’s clean and crisp and flicker-free, too. It has a wide 70-degree beam angle to illuminate your subject and offers a color temperature of 5700K - right in the sweet spot of natural-looking light. 

On its low setting, the LitraTorch 2.0 will give you four hours of illumination while you get 35 minutes of light on full power. That’s a 10 percent improvement over the original LitraTorch.

It’s also waterproof up to 60 feet, has a magnet for easily attaching it to metal surfaces, and it’s built like a tank, so it’ll withstand some use and abuse.

This is simply a versatile, go-anywhere, do-anything light!

Learn more about the LitraTorch 2.0

Gifts for Photographers Under $100:Hex Ranger DSLR Sling Bag 

hex ranger sling 1

I recently had an opportunity to head up to Los Angeles and meet the masterminds behind HEX.

Aside from having a great time getting to know the folks responsible for this bag, I also got to see it first-hand (and bring one home with me to test out as well).

First impressions are good, to say the least!

Honestly, I’m a bit of a camera bag snob, so I look for things that others might skim over.

hex ranger sling 2

For instance, I check the stitching inside and out to see how well put together it is, and with this bag, it’s very well put together.

It’s part of thoughtful construction and design processes that also make this bag an excellent choice for a gift for the photographer on your holiday shopping list.

One of the things I like most about the bag is the collapsible interior dividers - including the bottom divider. This gives you a bag that can not only be customized to your gear for each photoshoot, but you can also fold up or remove the dividers to allow the bag to be packed totally flat for travel inside another bag. 

Speaking of customizations, this bag has side adjustable load straps and adjustable bottom carry straps so you can carry even more gear when needed.

This bag is also packed full of pockets to help you keep track of your stuff. There’s a front access organizer for small items, a faux fur lined pocket on the front for your phone or a pair of shades, a faux fur lined pocket for your table, and multiple hidden velcro stash pockets. And the bag sits very well when worn. It’s comfortable and easy to access your gear and really hugs your body.

hex ranger sling 3

With genuine Cordura material and YKK zippers with metal pulls, this bag will stand up to use and abuse, too. And since it’s so compact (just 1.3 pounds and 14.5"L x 7.25"W x 4.75"H), you can rock it in the urban jungle without worrying that it’ll be knocking into people as you move from shot to shot.

Something that really stood out to me was that, although the bag is listed at 8 liters, there is no wasted or negative space. In fact, I easily transferred all the gear I would normally carry in my Peak Design 10L Sling into the HEX Ranger Sling. I have to say that I am a big fan of the efficient use of space in this bag and the collapsible potential of the HEX bag certainly gives it a leg up.

With eight liters of storage space, a streamlined design, and looks that don’t quit, this is definitely a gift for photographers that will put a smile on their face! I have to say that I was skeptical on my drive up there, but, man, HEX definitely impressed! 

Learn more about the Hex Ranger DSLR Sling Bag

Top Gifts for Photographers Under $100: Luminar 3 & 4 Bundle

luminar 3 layout under 100

If the photographer on your list is like me, the last thing they want to do is engage in a laborious process of editing their photos.

While many photographers enjoy the creative process of taking and editing photos, it’s a process that can certainly be streamlined and improved. Doing so allows photographers to be more productive and creative.

Fortunately, the mad scientists at Skylum have made this achievable with Luminar 3 (and the upcoming Luminar 4) to reduce the time spent on editing without reducing the quality and beauty of the final product.

I’ve used Luminar 3 since its release in December 2018, and I can tell you first-hand that Skylum’s claim that you can “transform your photos into masterpieces, in no time” is one-hundred percent true.

That’s because Luminar 3 is one of the most intuitive photo editors you’ll find.

It’s loaded for bear with tons of tools and features, yet, as you can see above, the layout of the editor organizes everything into a format that makes sense and gives you quick access to the things you need.

Additionally, Luminar has advanced features that take the guesswork out of editing and make it a much simpler process.

For example, the Accent AI 2.0 filter allows you to make dozens of adjustments using a single slider, such as fixing detail and exposure, depth and color, tone and much more.

This technology is so advanced (thanks to its “human-aware” technology) that it recognizes people and applies adjustments selectively for results that are more realistic.

luminar 3 sky enhancement under 100

If the photographer you’re shopping for this holiday season specializes in landscapes, they’ll love Luminar 3’s AI Sky Enhancer, which analyzes the photo to detect the sky (no matter how large or small, bright or dark the sky might be) and applies an invisible mask to the sky to enhance it based on its colors, texture, size and more.

And like the Accent AI 2.0 filter, this is all done by manipulating a single slider. It couldn’t get any easier!

Add to that more than 70 professionally crafted looks (with hundreds more available to download) and you have the makings of an editor that your favorite photographer will absolutely love.

Best of all, Skylum is offering Luminar 3, a set of Inspiration Looks, and Luminar 4 in one awesome bundle for $99.

With Luminar 4, photographers will get even more incredible tools to edit their photos, like the AI Skin Enhancer, which uses human-aware technology to locate any skin in the picture (not just the face), smooth it out, and remove blemishes all the while preserving pores, texture, and hair.

Better still, this is done in one click, gives you the ability to adjust its strength, and it works for any age and skin type.

luminar 4 portrait enhancement under 100

Luminar 4 will also introduce the AI Portrait Enhancer, which has 12 tools that allow you to make picture-perfect changes to the face, eyes, and mouth with the utmost precision and control.

Not only that, but presets that you create will automatically adjust to each new photo, that way you can batch edit your images for a lightning-fast workflow.

Luminar 4 has goodies for landscape photographers too.

As you can see in the video above, with the AI Sky Replacement tool, you can automatically change the sky in any photo without making selections or creating masks.

Better still, the AI Sky Replacement tool relights the entire image so the colors and lighting match that of the sky.

These are just a few examples of the exciting new tools coming in Luminar 4, and with this package from Skylum, you can give the gift of Luminar 3, a set of Inspiration Looks, and Luminar 4 for under $100!

Head over to the Skylum website to explore Luminar 3 and Luminar 4 in more detail. You can even download it yourself and try it for 30 days knowing that there is a money-back guarantee! 

Gifts for Photographers Under $100: Snaptiles

snaptiles 1

These are not your ordinary Photo Tiles! One of the challenges with traditional photo tiles is that you need to level and space every single one that you hang up. Then they say that you can mix the tiles around but after a few times the adhesive wears out and they just don’t hold up well.

Not so with Snaptiles…

These 8x8” magnetic photo tiles can be hung on the wall in a matter of seconds! You hang the first time (anchor tile) and level it with the built-in level, then all the other tiles snap onto the first!

snaptiles 2

Just peel the backing off the adhesive strips, place the wall mount where you want it, level it up using the built-in level, and PRESS FIRMLY against all four strips for 10 seconds. That’s it!

You can snap up to 12 photo tiles on one anchor tile and add additional anchor tiles along your wall.. Or you can push in the 4 thumbtacks included for additional support and mount up to 30 tiles onto the first. This way gives you way more options and only puts 4 small pin holes in your wall which let’s you hang 30 prints!

snaptiles 3

Next, you just place the anchor tile on the mount and slide it down to lock in place. Then you can begin to place tiles to the left, right, top, or bottom of the anchor tile, which snap together with magnets. The result? A beautiful array of mixed tiles.

snaptiles 4

You can create all kinds of designs with your tiles, too, so it truly gives you the freedom to display your images in the way you want, and when you want to change up the design or swap out tiles, you can do so quickly and easily while having a blast.

Giving prints to someone for the holidays is a special way to help them look back on fond memories. With Snaptiles, you can do that in a completely new, unique, and fun way with this innovative photo tiles!

Learn more about Snaptiles

Gifts for Photographers Under $100: Photomatix Pro 6

photomatix 1 

Whether the photographer on your shopping list is a newbie or a pro, they will probably tell you that one of the hardest parts of photography is getting the exposure right.

What makes it so complicated to perfect is that there are so many variables involved, one of which is dynamic range.

When dynamic range, or the values of light tones in the shot, is too much, the camera can’t accommodate it. That means that highlights might be blown out or shadows might be too dark.

But by bracketing exposures, merging them together, and using HDR software, photographers can overcome this difficulty.

For less than $100, you can give the gift of gorgeous exposures by putting Photomatix Pro 6 in your loved one’s stocking.

Since 2003, Photomatix has enabled photographers to easily create HDR images.

Over the years, the software has changed and added tons of new features, including built-in presets, dozens of HDR settings, tools like selective ghost removal, and batch processing in Photomatix Pro 6. And that’s just the start!

There’s also multiple HDR styles so no matter if the photos are landscapes, portraits, real estate, or something in between, you can customize how they look with Photomatix.

That’s why HDR software like Photomatix Pro 6 is such a valuable tool for photographers! 

Learn more about Photomatix Pro 6

Gifts for Photographers Under $100: Excire Search Pro

best gifts for photographers under 100 exire 1

Lightroom is a fantastic tool for processing and organizing your images. But as good as it is on its own, it can be made much better.

That’s because many photographers like yours truly just upload photos without taking the time to tag them. And since Lightroom doesn’t do that for you, the photos become a jumbled, hard-to-search mess. That’s where Excire Search Pro comes in… 

Excire Search Pro is a Lightroom plugin that makes tagging photos in Lightroom a breeze.

That’s because it uses AI to identify specific objects and features in your photos. Exire then tags and organizes your photos for you. Not bad, right?!

best gifts for photographers under 100 excire 2

Excire Search Pro has 500 different keywords, so no matter if you’re looking for a photo with a sunset, a little girl, or a boat, it’ll find it for you.

It’ll even identify photos based on certain criteria, like the predominant color in the shot. It even recognizes faces and can categorize images based on gender and age.

best gifts for photographers under 100 exire 3

I’ve used Excire Search Pro for awhile now, and I can tell you firsthand that it has been a Godsend in terms of streamlining my workflow. 

Now instead of taking hours to tag everything myself and even more time trying to find what I need, I let Excire do all the heavy lifting!

Learn more about Excire Search AI Plugin for Lightroom

Gifts for Photographers Under $100: Camera Canopy

camera canopy 1

If you want a unique, yet functional gift for the photographer in your life, the Camera Canopy is an ideal choice. 

Photographers that spend any time outdoors understand that when it rains, it can really put a damper on their ability to get the photos they want. That’s because even weather-sealed gear isn’t completely water-tight.

And trying to manipulate camera controls with a traditional bag-like rain cover for a camera is a huge pain in the rear. That’s why Camera Canopy is a much better alternative.

camera canopy 2

Camera canopy attaches to a camera via its hot-shoe mount, and then acts like a roof to protect the camera and lens from rain. It even protects the from glass of the lens so there’s no water droplets messing up the shot.

Better still, it’s adjustable for lenses up to 500mm in length, and there’s even a smaller version for mirrorless setups (shown above). Add in a 30-day money-back guarantee, and you’ve got the perfect gift for this holiday season!

Learn more about Camera Canopy

Gifts for Photographers Under $100: Kenko Puro Slim Circular Polarizing Filter  

kenko 1

By far, one of the most valuable camera accessories a landscape photographer can have is a circular polarizing filter. 

That’s because in a single filter, you get all of these benefits:

  • Reduced glare off of non-metallic surfaces like water
  • Enhanced contrast in the sky with a deeper blue atmosphere and brighter white clouds
  • Minimize atmospheric haze, so objects far away appear crisper and more defined

But like lenses, not all filters are made alike, so buying a cheap one won't do you any favors.

That doesn't mean that all high-quality filters are expensive - just consider Kenko Puro Slim Circular Polarizing Filters as a prime example.

kenko 2

These Japanese-made filters have an exclusively formulated multi-coating that resists water, dust, and oils. Not only does that mean a cleaner shot, but it also means less damage over time to the filter itself. That’s a great benefit when you’re giving one to a photographer for the holidays!

The filter shown above also has a SLIM ring for mounting to the lens, which has a minimized profile to prevent vignetting, even on wide-angle lenses.

As far as improving your favorite photographer’s ability to get a better shot in short order, it's tough to top what a good polarizer can do! 

Learn more about Kenko Puro Slim Circular Polarizers

Gifts for Photographers Under $100: Pre-Owned Lens From Lensfinder 

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Let’s face it - photography gear can be expensive. Really expensive.

That’s a problem year-round, but when you’re holiday shopping and have tons of gifts to buy, it’s even more difficult to justify getting your loved one the $1,000 lens that they really want.

Fortunately, Lensfinder can help in more ways than one.

On the one hand, you can find great deals on pre-owned camera lenses at Lensfinder. 

That means that you can get a truly top-notch lens for the photographer in your life but do so without busting your budget. It’s a win-win!

On the other hand, if you have some old lenses that you don’t use anymore, you can list them for sale on Lensfinder. When the lens sells, you can use it for holiday spending money for the photographer in your life. 

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Image Credit: xxmmxx via iStock

The best part? You can list your lenses for sale for free. 

There’s only a transaction fee (just 3.99%) when the lens sells (with a maximum fee of $500). If your lens doesn’t sell, there’s no charge at all!

And for peace of mind, the Lensfinder platform has advanced fraud filtering for both buyers and sellers as well as mediation services in the event that there’s a problem.

Payments are made and received via PayPal, so you can rest easy knowing that the transaction is safe and secure.

In other words, Lensfinder is the ideal solution for your holiday shopping needs. Either use it to find a loved one a killer lens or use it to sell old gear to pad your pockets for holiday spending!

Learn more about Lensfinder 

Gifts for Photographers Under $100: RODE VideoMicro 

top gifts for photographers under 100 rode videomicro

This tiny shotgun microphone is perfect for a GoPro.

It's compact and lightweight, but audio quality isn't sacrificed. In fact, it has a high-quality cardioid condenser mic capsule so you can get clear, crisp audio.

And since it's a directional mic, it minimizes sounds from the periphery so your video has focused audio from the subject.

Add to that a thermoplastic suspension structure for minimizing vibrations as you adventure around with your GoPro, and you have the ideal audio companion for the best adventura camera on the market!

If the photographer on your list is an adventurer and utilizes a GoPro, this is the perfect gift idea!

Learn more about the RODE VideoMicro

 



We Recommend


Top 10 Gifts for Photographers Under $250 - 2019 Edition

Top 10 Gifts for Photographers Under 250 2019 Edition

   photo byBaramyou0708 via iStock

When it comes to buying holiday gifts for people, I always try to start early. Like way early, which is why I’m already thinking about gift ideas even though it’s still August as I’m writing this.

Part of the reason why I like to start early is because often you can find deals way ahead of time - like the upcoming Labor Day holiday.

Besides, no one wants to be nervously watching the mail in the days leading up to Christmas, hoping that the last-minute gift you got for a loved one arrives on time.

With all that said, here’s some of my favorite gift ideas for photographers that’ll set you back less than $250.

Gifts for Photographers Under $250: CanvasHQ Print 

If you’re like me, sometimes finding the perfect gift for certain loved ones is a long, drawn-out process that causes tons of stress, and often you still don’t get something that totally blows them away.

I think a lot of photographers fall into this category. We have specific likes, and many of us already have most of what we want or need gear-wise, and what we don’t have is usually too expensive to put on a Christmas wish-list anyway.

But for all those hard-to-shop-for photographers on your 2019 holiday shopping list, I have the perfect solution - a large-format canvas print.

Think about it…

A canvas print is the gift that keeps on giving.

Not only can you immortalize one of your favorite images from your favorite photographer, but you also give them a means to showcase their work in a format that’s drop-dead gorgeous.

I have tons of canvases in my home, the vast majority of which are from CanvasHQ.

Now, I know what you’re thinking - canvas is old school.

Sure, maybe it is, but I’m telling you that these canvas prints from CanvasHQ are mind-bogglingly beautiful. In fact, they go head-to-head with any metal or acrylic print I have in my home.

The attention to detail is just amazing, and the materials they use are top-of-the-line. We’re talking archival-grade canvas, commercial-grade inks that are water and UV resistant, and kiln-dried pine frames to keep everything straight and true.

I love the personality that the canvas texture gives my images. That’s true whether it’s a portrait of my son or a landscape photo.

 I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the customer service you get with CanvasHQ.

These guys are committed to getting it right, so if something doesn’t go as planned, you won’t be hung out to dry.

If you have questions, they’ll answer them. If you have a problem, they’ll fix it. If you need assistance with uploading your photo or even picking the best finishes for your canvas, they’ve got your back. 

In the video above, I explain why I highly recommend a CanvasHQ canvas print as the ideal gift for the photographer on your holiday shopping list.

Start shopping for your favorite photographer today on CanvasHQ!

Gifts for Photographers Under $250: Marumi 100x150mm Magnetic Graduated ND Filter

marumi hard ND

The benefit a graduated ND filter gives your favorite photographer is that it allows them to control the dynamic range in a scene.

That is, with the darkened area on top of the filter, it tones down the brightness of the sky while leaving the foreground untouched, the result of which is a better-exposed image without any blown-out highlights or deep shadows.

The hard edge on the filter above is perfect for landscapes in which there is a definite horizon, like taking a photo looking out at the ocean.

marumi soft ND

But you can also give a soft-edge filter, which has a much more gradual transition from dark to light. This is a better option for landscapes in which the horizon line isn’t very clear.

marumi reverse

There’s even a reverse graduated ND, which is darkest in the middle - an ideal option for taking breathtaking sunrise or sunset photos.

What makes these Marumi 100x150MM Graduated ND filters so special is that they attach to the Marumi M100 filter holder with magnets.

This quick and easy on and off helps streamline the process of using these filters in the field, that way the photographer on your holiday shopping list spends more time actually taking photos and less time messing with their gear.

These filters are made with high-definition Schott B270 glass and have a double-sided coating to ensure minimal reflections. These filters also have anti-static, anti-scratch, water repellant, and oil repellent features.

Available in 2-stop, 3-stop, and 4-stop versions, as well as hard and soft-edge versions, you can give the gift of improved photos this year by giving a Marumi Magnetic Graduated ND!

Learn more about Marumi Magnetic Graduated ND Filters

Gifts for Photographers Under $250: Holdfast Camera Swagg Camera Harness 

top gifts for photographers under 250 camera swagg 2

I’ve been a Holdfast customer for years and years, and I have one of their impeccable MoneyMaker leather dual camera straps. 

But not everyone wants a leather camera strap, and for those folks, the Camera Swagg is the ideal solution.

Offering the same functionality as the leather version, the Camera Swagg dual camera harness enables photographers to carry two cameras right at their fingertips.

top gifts for photographers under 250 camera swagg 1

Made of 100 percent high-grade cotton canvas, this harness is both durable and comfortable. The wide straps sit nicely on your shoulder without digging in, and the harness feels quite light as well.

You’ll find the same reliable stainless steel hardware on the Camera Swagg as you do on leather MoneyMakers. That includes anchored D-rings and safety straps that connect to the camera’s side lug mount, which together ensure you have a rock-solid system for carrying your gear safely.

Add in supreme functionality and a price well below the $250 mark, and you have the makings of the ideal gift for photographers this holiday season!

Learn more about the Camera Swagg Camera Harness

Gifts for Photographers Under $250: LitraTorch LitraPro

gifts for photographers under 250 litrapro 1

Great photos need great light, and fortunately you don’t have to spend an arm and a leg to give the photographer on your list an excellent light source for their photo and video work.

Sure, the LitraTorch LitraPro is a tiny light that weighs just 6 ounces and is 2.75 x 2 x 1.2 inches in size, but that doesn’t mean it can’t put out a great deal of light.

In fact, this little guy has 60 ultra-bright LEDs that put out up to 1200 lumens of light. That’s a lot!

gifts for photographers under 250 litrapro 2 

And it isn’t just the sheer brightness of the light it produces that impresses.

Instead, this light puts out crisp, clear, flicker-free light that any photographer would appreciate. Users can also adjust the color temperature from 3000K to 6000K to customize the light output to the specific needs of each photoshoot.

Add in a 70-degree beam angle, a maximum of 10 hours of operating time, and MIL-SPEC 810 construction that makes it virtually indestructible, and you have a photography gift that will keep on giving for years and years!

Learn more about the LitraTorch LitraPro

Gifts for Photographers Under $250: Luminar 3, Luminar 4, and Aurora HDR Bundle

aurorahdr under 250 1

If you’re looking for a gift that will really impress the photographer in your life, look no further than this bundle of awesomeness from the folks at Skylum.

Not only can you give the gift of Luminar 3 - an incredible, multi-award-winning editor that makes processing images a veritable breeze - but you can also give the gift of the upcoming Luminar 4, which is poised to take photo editing to another level later this year. And on top of that, Skylum throws in their award-winning Aurora HDR software for making quick, beautiful, precise edits to HDR images.

Let’s unpack all that in a little more detail…

Luminar 3 offers cutting-edge tools that speed up the process of editing photos whether the photographer on your shopping list uses a Mac or a PC.

You get tools like the AI Sky Enhancer, which uses artificial intelligence to detect the sky in the photo and automatically enhance it based on its colors and texture.

What’s more, the Sky Enhancer does this whether the area of sky is bright, dark, big, or small, and the adjustments made can be easily manipulated by a single slider.

accent ai 2

Luminar 3 also sports the supercharged Accent AI 2.0 filter, which makes about a dozen adjustments to the image instantly.

Again, this filter is manipulated by a single slider, so changing things like the exposure, color, tone, and other basic elements is done quickly and easily.

As you can see above, the Accent AI 2.0 filter can automatically detect people in the shot and apply its changes in a way that renders beautifully realistic results.

Add in dozens of Looks to give your photos artistic flair, many different filters that can do everything from sharpen the image to add sun rays, and an easy-to-use Library where you can view, sort, and rate your photos, and you begin to see why Luminar 3 is so widely regarded.

But if you think those tools sound amazing, Luminar 4 kicks it up a notch with some exciting new features that will expand post-processing abilities even further.

In the video above, you can see two new tools in action - the AI Skin Enhancer and the Portrait Enhancer.

When you think about what makes editing portraits such a long, drawn out process, it’s all the small manipulations you have to make, like removing blemishes and dark circles, enhancing eyebrows and lips, and whitening teeth.

But in Luminar 4, those detail-oriented processes are handled by AI, and you can fine-tune the results with individual sliders for incredible results.

Luminar 4 also introduces AI Structure and AI Sky Replacement.

As shown above, AI Structure boosts details only where needed using content-aware tools, that way people in the photos aren’t overprocessed but objects like clouds and buildings are beautifully detailed. See what I mean in the video above.

luminar 4 sky enhancer under 250 1

Likewise, AI Sky Replacement gives photographers the power to change the sky in one click. So, if you shot a beautiful landscape, but the sky isn’t all that great, you can easily pick a new sky to give the shot the look and mood you want. Not only that, but Luminar 4 will relight the entire photo to the original image and the new sky match.

The AI Sky Replacement tool also uses intelligent selection algorithms to remove artifacts, hard edges, and halos. And with the ability to fine-tune foreground contrast and brightness, you can create epic landscape shots in short order.

aurora hdr 1 under 250 1

As if all that isn’t enough, this bundle also includes Aurora HDR.

There’s a reason why the top HDR photographers in the world use Aurora HDR…

Its AI-powered Quantum HDR Engine gives you the highest-quality bracket merging with no artifacts, no halos, and no chromatic aberration.

With more than 20 HDR tools, including color toning, dodge and burn, creative LUT mapping, and more, photographers can create flawless HDR images in seconds.

aurora hdr 2 under 250 1

Like Luminar 3 and 4, Aurora HDR has a vast selection of Looks that with one click will take your photos from blah to beautiful. With more than 80 professionally-crafted Looks, you have the power to create top-notch images in a matter of seconds.

Aurora HDR also works magic with single photos, enabling you to bring out beautiful details and dynamic range, even when you don’t have bracketed exposures to work with.

Truly, this is the ultimate holiday gift for any photographer - the power to make fast, beautiful, and precise edits whether the images are portraits, landscapes, architecture or something in between!

See all the possibilities your favorite photographer can explore by visiting the Skylum website. Additionally, you can order the Luminar 3, Luminar 4, and Aurora HDR Bundle, or if Luminar 3 and Luminar 4 is more your style, you can order that bundle instead.  

Gifts for Photographers Under $250: PilotFly AtomCube RX1 RGBCW LED Video Light

pilotfly atomcube 1

Having a high-quality light for photography and videography is a must, and the PilotFly AtomCube certainly delivers on multiple fronts.

For starters, this light is small enough to fit in your pocket, yet offers 1800 lux luminance at 0.5 meters. It’s completely dimmable from 0-100 percent, offers 360-degree full color, and has an adjustable color temperature from 2500-8500K so you can tune the light to your specific needs.

Add in cold white and warm white light, and you have the makings of a light that offers you precise colors and high CRI as well.

You can even mount multiple lights together using a Magic Cube to expand the effect. Nice!

The AtomCube comes with Bluetooth mesh technology that allows you to control up to 255 lights all at once. Whether you’re a portrait photographer, a videographer, or something in between, that kind of flexibility is an enormous asset to have.

Speaking of assets, the color tone and brightness between units is highly consistent, especially when mounting multiple units together. Because the lights are calibrated, you don’t have to worry about inconsistent lighting when you use more than one light at a time.

The AtomCube comes with Bluetooth mesh technology that allows you to control up to 255 lights all at once. Whether you’re a portrait photographer, a videographer, or something in between, that kind of flexibility is an enormous asset to have.

Speaking of assets, the color tone and brightness between units is highly consistent, especially when mounting multiple units together. Because the lights are calibrated, you don’t have to worry about inconsistent lighting when you use more than one light at a time.

No matter if you’re using one AtomCube light or dozens, you can control them with the accompanying app. It’s an incredibly convenient way to control your lighting right at your fingertips, especially when you’re multitasking.

The intuitive interface of the app makes it easy to make precise adjustments. Likewise, you can connect lights, create groups of lights, and control brightness and color temperature, all with a few taps of your phone’s screen.

This light is durable, functional, has available accessories to advance the experience even further, and offers a variety of features that make lighting for photos and videos a breeze. It’s a key light in your pocket! That makes it a great gift for the photographer on your holiday shopping list!

Learn more about the PilotFly AtomCube RX1 RGBCW LED Video Light

Gifts for Photographers Under $250: HEX Ranger Clamshell DSLR Backpack 

best gifts for photographers hex 1 

I met the guys behind HEX just last week, and I have to say that not only was I impressed by their operation in downtown Los Angeles, but I was also impressed with them.

They have a passion for what they do, and it shows in the products they design and create. 

I actually brought a HEX Ranger DSLR Sling Bag home after seeing it firsthand. Talk about a camera bag!

But if the photographer on your list needs to carry more gear than I do, the Ranger Clamshell DSLR backpack is a prime choice.

best gifts for photographers hex 2

With a capacity of 21 liters, this bag can hold a ton of gear - a DSLR with lens attached, a couple more lenses, a laptop, a drone, and accessories, in fact! 

The clamshell design makes it easy to see your gear, retrieve it, and put it away. And with fully customizable inserts, you can make the bag work for you no matter what arrangement of gear you need.

best gifts for photographers hex 3

The all-important comfort factor is off the charts, too. It has ergonomic shoulder straps that hug your shoulders and fit perfectly. The air mesh construction will keep your shoulders and back cool as well. 

Additionally, HEX included a custom molded and foam padded back panel, that way even when you’re carrying a heavy load, you’ll still be comfortable. 

With tripod straps on the bottom, side straps for attaching more gear, a hidden rain cover, a water bottle pocket, and tons of other handy features, this is a bag that the photographer on your list will love, without a doubt 

Learn more about the HEX Ranger Clamshell DSLR Backpack

Gifts for Photographers Under $250: A Pre-Owned Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 Lens

50mm f1.4

Ask just about any photographer what their first lens purchase was, and they'll say a Nifty Fifty. That makes it the ideal gift idea for photographers this holiday season!

There's a lot to love about 50mm lenses, too...

For starters, it's a great focal length for learning all kinds of photography, from landscapes to portraits and everything in between.

That also makes it an incredibly versatile lens.

In fact, put a 50mm lens on your camera, and you can shoot all day long without ever needing a different focal length. They're even great for shooting video!

50mm f1.4 2

You can find 50mm lenses with large apertures, too, like the Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM shown above.

At f/1.4, photographers can more readily shoot in low-light conditions without having to push the ISO too high, which helps reduce digital noise.

Having a large aperture like that is also beneficial for gathering tons of light, that way a faster shutter speed can be used. It's also helpful for blurring the background in portraits to get a more professional-looking shot.

Another benefit of a 50mm lens is that they force you to think more creatively about how you frame up your shots.

That is, since 50mm lenses have a constant focal length of 50mm, there's no zoom to rely on for getting close-up or wider shots. 

By using a 50mm lens and "zooming with your feet," becoming a master of composition can be an easier task because you're forced to physically move further away or closer to the subject.

Of course, the biggest benefit of 50mm lenses is the price. These lenses are well-priced so you can bestow a great little lens with tons of functionality and versatility upon your favorite photographer without busting your budget.

That sounds like a win-win deal to me! 

Learn more about the Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 lens

Best Gifts for Photographers Under $250: Wandrd DUO Daypack

wandrd 1 under 250

Not every photography adventure requires a gigantic bag…

Instead, a daypack works for most of us most of the time, and one of the best upcoming daypacks you can get your hands on is the Wandrd DUO Daypack.

This bag is packed with innovative features that will make the photographer on your holiday shopping list smile from ear to ear.

There’s dual side access panels for quickly and easily grabbing gear and a radical “infinite zip” system allows for access to items in the top or side of the bag, or you can simply unfurl the front panel completely for unfettered access.

wandrd 2 under 250

Speaking of in the bag, this thing is an organizational dream with pockets, pouches, and cubbies for days. 

Photographers can keep their camera body in the Pop Camera Cube, slide a flash into one of the many pockets on the inside back of the bag, and have tons of room left for everything from lenses to flash cards to car keys. There’s even a tablet sleeve and a laptop sleeve that can accommodate most 15-inch laptops.

wandrd 3 under 250

On the outside of the bag, you’ll find a water bottle pocket, quick-access pockets, and four attachment points for Wandrd Accessory Straps, which enables you to carry a tripod on the outside of the bag.

Started on Kickstarter where it raised over $650,000, the DUO daypack is the ideal gift for on-the-go photographers that need a single bag that takes them from work to play and points in between.

Wandrd really has thought of everything with this bag, which is why it would make the perfect holiday gift for the photographer in your life!

Learn more about the Wandrd DUO Daypack

Gifts for Photographers Under $250: EF to E-Mount Lens Adapter

ef to e mount

If the photographer you're shopping for used to be a Canon shooter and now has a Sony camera, you can give them this handy adapter that allows them to use their old EF and EF-S lenses on a Sony E-mount camera, like the a6300, a6400, a6500, a9 or a7, among many others.

This adapter has both autofocus function and aperture control, as well as a handy USB port for firmware updates.

You can switch between phase and contrast autofocus modes, and there's EXIF signal transmitting and IS functionality too.

There's simply no easier and more functional way to pair Canon lenses with a Sony E-mount camera!

Learn more about the EF to E-Mount Lens Adapter 

Gifts for Photographers Under $250: Syrp Genie Mini II 

genie mini ii 1 

I’ve used Syrp’s time-lapse gear for years now, and when they released the Genie Mini II, I was skeptical that it could be much better than the original Genie that I’d been using. I was wrong. 

The updates to the Genie Mini II are mostly under the hood, but they are significant. 

genie mini ii 2

For example, Syrp added the functionality to control two Genie Minis at the same time from a new companion app. That enables photographers to create beautiful pan-tilt motion in their videos at the touch of a button.

Syrp also incorporated keyframing functionalities, so you can set up to 10 keyframes all the while panning at different speeds and in different directions. Nice!

genie mini ii 3

There are other goodies too: a time-lapse compiler that allows you to process video directly on your device and share to social networks; autoexposure ramping to create day-to-night time-lapses; and camera control that allows you to control your camera from your phone.

If you’re shopping for someone that’s at all interested in creating epic videos, this is the gift for them!

Learn more about the Syrp Genie Mini II

Gifts for Photographers Under $250: Aputure AL-MW Mini LED

aputure 1 

The beauty of the Aputure AL-MW is that it offers you superb light in a tiny package.

In fact, that tiny package is about as bulletproof as you can get, too. It’s rugged, well-constructed, and waterproof, so it can go just about anywhere the photographer on your holiday shopping list needs it to go!

But don’t let its small size fool you - this thing puts out some serious light…

aputure 2

With 6000 lux output, this is about all the light you need, and yet it can fit in your pocket. If the photographer you’re shopping for is like me, having highly portable gear is a must.

Beyond that, the Aputure AL-MW has excellent color fidelity and has a rating of 95+ for CRI and TLCI.

Add in a gel holder with CTO and CTB filters, a battery that’ll give you up to 24 hours of runtime, and pre-programmed lighting effects, and you can see why this little light is worth its weight in gold!

Learn more about the Aputure AL-MW

Gifts for Photographers Under $250: Syrp Super Dark Variable ND Filter 

syrp 1

If the photographer on your list loves to shoot long exposures, then a variable ND filter is a perfect gift idea.

Variable ND filters are like having a complete ND filter kit, but in an all-in-one unit.

The Syrp Super Dark Variable ND filter gives photographers between 5 and 10 stops of filtering power so they can get just the right amount of light for their long exposure creations.

syrp 2

This filter is available in tons of popular sizes, too, from 52mm to 82mm, so you can find the precise size your favorite photographer needs. 

And since it’s made of high-quality Japanese glass, the results you get are exceptionally good - clear, precise, and color-neutral, just like it should be when using an ND filter!

Learn more about the Syrp Super Dark Variable ND Filter

 



We Recommend


Top 5 Camera Sling Bags

top 5 camera sling bags

I'm a big fan of sling bags because they fit my run-and-gun style of photography so well.

I like that I can quickly access my gear - much more quickly than with a backpack - and I like having a back that isn't overly huge and obtrusive.

And while some people will say that sling bags fatigue your shoulder, modern sling bags have comfortable shoulder straps that help distribute the weight of the bag over a larger area.

I've used sling bags for years, and some of the very best ones I've found to date are listed below.

HEX Ranger DSLR Sling Bag

I only picked up this bag about three weeks ago, and I can tell you that it's already my favorite sling bag of all time.

That's saying a lot because I've used the Peak Design 10L Everyday Sling Bag for a long time, and it's one of the best bags on the market. That says a lot about HEX given that it's dethroned Peak Design as my favorite sling bag.

One look at the specs on this thing, and you'll understand why I think so highly of it...

What strikes you immediately is the small form factor of the bag.

It weighs only 1.3 pounds and is 14.5"L x 7.25"W x 4.75"H. Though it's rated at 8 liters, I could fit everything from my 10L Peak Design bag into the HEX bag, no problem. There is no wasted space in this thing, so the manner in which it was designed gives you the utmost efficiency of space.

Additionally, this bag hugs your body, so it's a carrying experience unlike any other I've ever had with a sling bag - it stays in place and doesn't bounce around or knock into things as some lesser sling bags tend to do.

The outside of the bag features adjustable load straps and adjustable bottom carry straps, so I can easily add my Peak Design tripod to the bottom of the bag when need be.

There's a front access organizer for small things like batteries or memory cards and a faux fur lined pocket on the front where you can keep your phone. There are multiple stash pockets too.

Inside, one of the best features is the collapsible interior dividers.

The dividers can be folded up or even removed so you can truly customize the bag to suit your needs.

My setup includes a Nikon Z7 with a lens attached, an additional lens, and filters, and there's plenty of room for all of it inside the bag.

The HEX Ranger is just a great looking bag that's well-thought-out and beautifully crafted. If you're in the market for a new sling bag, give this one strong consideration!

Learn more about the HEX Ranger DSLR Sling Bag

Peak Design 10L Everyday Sling Bag

peak design 1

As I noted earlier, this was my go-to sling bag for a long time. It really is a fantastic bag, but the HEX Ranger just outdoes it!

At any rate, I'd still highly recommend this bag because it is impeccably designed and built.

The weatherproof 400D nylon canvas shell keeps things dry while also being a highly durable fabric.

Like the HEX Ranger, this bag also has a low-profile design that keeps it from being obtrusive as you work.

peak design 2

You can easily access your gear via the wide-mouth opening, and if you have small accessories that need to come along for the ride, there's plenty of pockets where you can stash your stuff.

That includes an expandable outer pocket that can accommodate a flash or other small camera accessory.

There's even a side-load option for the main compartment and an external carry system so you can easily carry your tripod.

peak design 3

The best part of this bag, though, are the internal FlexFold dividers.

Inspired by origami, these dividers can be molded into various shapes, including walls, cubbies, and passthroughs, so you get a high level of customization of how the bag works with your gear.

And since they fasten with Velcro, you can take them all out if need be. Heck, the back even folds flat for traveling!

The Everyday Sling is super comfortable, easy to use, and well made. It's definitely deserving of consideration if you want to invest in a new sling bag.

Learn more about the Peak Design 10L Everyday Sling Bag

Timbuk2 Camera Sling Bag

timbuk2 1

Weighing in at just .66 pounds and with a carrying capacity of 7.39 liters, the Timbuk2 Camera Sling Bag is the smallest on this list, making it an ideal choice for mirrorless shooters.

But just because it's small doesn't mean it lacks functionality or features.

In fact, this bag has a modular, scratch-resistant interior that allows you to customize the interior compartment to your specific needs.

The removable camera insert is heavily padded and has two removable dividers as well.

timbuk2 sling bag

To keep your smaller items like memory cards and batteries nicely organized, there's a small mesh zip pocket that gives you an easy view of what's inside.

The cross-body strap is highly adjustable and fits virtually any body shape and size. And with the grab handle, it's easy to pick the bag up off the ground and get underway.

You can get this bag in a number of colors, and there's a lifetime warranty on the bag too!

Learn more about the Timbuk2 Camera Sling Bag

Domke F-2 Shoulder Bag

I know what you're thinking...this is a shoulder bag, not a sling.

But with a nice, highly-adjustable strap, this bad boy can be worn as a sling bag!

The Domke F-2 doesn't sacrifice quality or carrying capacity.

In fact, you can carry two cameras, several lenses up to 300mm in length, a flash, and a tablet.

Inside, there are 12 compartments and pockets to keep things organized.

The compartment insert system is even removable so that you can use the bag to carry things other than photography gear.

The non-slip strap stays put on your shoulder and gives you a comfortable carrying experience.

The durable waxed cotton canvas exterior of this bag will also hold up nicely. Domke even throws in a tin of wax!

Learn more about the Domke D-2 Shoulder Bag

Copper River Bag Company Lewis & Clark Bag

While this leather messenger-style bag isn't technically a sling bag, if lots of space is what you need, you might consider the Copper River Bag Company Lewis & Clark Bag.

The 14-inch version of this bag can hold a great deal of gear, including a 14-inch laptop, a camera body, a lens, and various accessories like a flash.

It's got a wide-mouth compartment that makes it easy to see what's inside and grab what you need quickly.

The interior features two cargo pockets, ideal for small items like your smartphone or keys, as well as a padded and adjustable camera insert that keeps your gear safe and organized.

Outside, the bag is crafted of 100% full grain leather that's water-resistant and ages beautifully over time.

The solid brass hardware with nickel finish is tough as nails, offering you safety and performance for years to come.

These bags are even custom made when you place your order!

Plus, this thing just looks like a million bucks, doesn't it?!

Learn more about the Copper River Bag Company Lewis & Clark Bag

 



We Recommend


Urban Photography Tips

Urban Photography Tips

Photo by Ayo Ogunseinde on Unsplash

I’m always on the lookout for new street photography tips because unless you have the time and money to afford to visit new locations, urban photography can become quite boring. 

But, the best urban photography tips don’t rely on new locations, they teach you how to see your hometown in a new light and how to challenge yourself.

This is a list of all of my favorite urban photography tips that are for budget-conscious street photographers. 

Everything Looks Different From a New Angle

urban photography tips 1

Photo by Dominic Bonilla on Unsplash

This tip is so simple, yet so effective. Every time I set out to shoot street photography from a different angle, I’m shocked at how much I miss every morning on my commute.  

I live in a major city, so most of the wildlife in my hometown live above me, and I rarely ever see them. 

But, the architecture is also easier to see when you’re shooting up instead of down. 

urban photography tips 2

Photo by 13on on Unsplash

You can make your subjects appear more or less important with distance, so why not get a drone or start shooting from your office building?

When you change the angle of your shot, you change your shot completely.

Challenge yourself to look up and down, to seek out different vantage points, and to create images from unique perspectives. Doing so will get you better images, more interesting images, and will help you develop your creative eye. What’s not to like about that?!

 

Recommended Street Photography Books

 

Shoot in Different Weather

street photography tips 3

Photo by Scott Walsh on Unsplash 

This is another surefire way to change the feel of familiar shots; shoot in every weather circumstance. 

When it’s overcast, like in the photo above, your photos will appear moody, surreal or picturesque, depending upon your creative vision. 

Long story short: you don’t want to be afraid to be uncomfortable.  

But, when you’re shooting in wet weather, make sure you have the proper urban photography gear for it.

hex ranger clamshell

My go-to street photography gear pack starts with the Hex Ranger Clamshell Glacier DSLR backpack because it features a hidden rain cover I only use when I need it and is made out of water-resistant ballistic poly, which is the same material my backpacker’s tent is made out of. 

hex ranger clamshell 1

But, the Hex Ranger backpack is otherwise comfortable and revolutionary. It also features an anti-theft zipper clasp, which comes in handy with urban photography. 

And as you can see above, it holds a ton of gear. But even fully loaded, you get a comfortable carrying experience as you explore the urban jungle.

Comfort, security, organization, and good looks - what more could you want from an urban exploration camera bag?!

street photography tips 4

Photo by João Cabral from Pexels 

But shooting in different weather doesn’t solely mean not being afraid to get rained or snowed on, because blue skies can also produce beautiful photos.

Blue skies actually lend better shadows and light rain lends beautiful reflections.  

The most important thing to remember about this street photography tip is to try and capture those rare weather days in your hometown. If you live in Hawaii, capture the February tropical rainstorms, and if you live in London, capture the searing July sun.  

Learn More:

Play With Filters

urban photography gear 5

 photo by Mlenny via iStock 

Using filters in an urban setting can open up all kinds of interesting possibilities. 

Using a circular polarizer, like the Kenko Nyumon polarizer shown below, reduces glare off of windows so the architecture of buildings is prominent instead of blinding glare of the sun.

kenko cpl

Circular polarizers also boost the contrast of the sky, so the atmosphere is a deeper blue while the clouds are a brighter white. That’s not a bad backdrop for photos of urban scenes. 

kenko pl fader

You can also use neutral density filters or a PL Fader like the one shown above to create urban photos that have a beautifully ethereal look. 

You can blur the movement of water or clouds to give the shot indicated movement. Turn the shot into a black and white image, and you have an even more eye-catching effect.

street photography gear 8

 photo by Nick_Pandevonium via iStock 

If you have a strong enough ND filter, you can even extend shutter speeds to lengths that make people invisible. This is handy if you’re photographing a busy tourist spot and you don’t want people to appear in the shot.

Having filters for your camera on urban explorations is just another way to get creative!

 

Editor's Tip: Get Kenko’s latest updates and access to promos for discounted gear. Click here to sign up.

 

Change Your Definition of “Urban Photography”

street photography gear 9

Photo by Simone Hutsch on Unsplash 

Urban photography tips so often rely on the same definition of urban photography. But, urban photography doesn’t always have to include shots of people who aren’t aware their photos are being taken. They also don’t need to be moody, include city buildings as a backdrop, or be cliche in any way.

Urban photography is, in many ways, whatever you make of it. 

And a current push in urban photography is to create abstract photos in a current environment. 

So, the next time you’re doing street photography, try and find those angles nobody else is thinking of. 

Use Black & White

street photography gear 10

Photo by Brett Sayles from Pexels 

Black and white urban photography has been around since before color urban photography, technically.  

But, shooting cityscapes in black and white allow you to see your city in a new light (literally) and give you a whole range of fun things to play around in post-production.

B&W urban photos are moody, impactful and clean when done correctly. But, learning how to shoot in black and white after perfecting color photography is difficult.  

Don’t be afraid to take a lot of photos you’ll never show anyone, but keep taking them. 

Learn More:

 



We Recommend


Ways to Protect Your Camera Gear

Ways to Protect Your Camera Gear

photo by Nirut Punshiri via iStock 

One of the hardest lessons most photographers learn early on in their careers is that you need to protect your camera gear with your life.

Then, you spend the next few decades of your career constantly learning and relearning how to protect your camera gear.

You don’t just need to figure out the best rain protection for cameras, or dust protection for cameras, but you need to learn ways to protect your camera from: toddlers, spilled coffee, thieves, public transportation, other people and yourself.

One of my mentors, a photojournalist, had been in the photography business for 30 years by the time I met him. I immediately asked him how many times he had dropped his camera in those decades. His answer, “none,” astonished me.  

While I’m not as careful as he is, I have learned some tricks of the trade when it comes to keeping both sticky fingerprints and sticky fingers off my camera gear. 

Practice Smart Lens Changes

how to protect your camera gear 

 photo by georgeclerk via iStock 

The first lesson you need in learning how to protect your camera gear is this: change your lens outdoors as little as often.

No, this isn’t practical advice. It also isn’t advice that many photographers follow because at times it is impossible. But, blowing wind means dust, sand particles, and ash can coat the rear element of your lens and get all over the camera’s sensor, too.  

Eventually, this build up will prevent your camera from operating properly and when this happens the ensuing professional cleaning bill will be hefty. 

While many modern manufacturers claim to have built-in dust protection for cameras, it is never guaranteed. With our current technology, it is impossible to promise your sensor will always be free of debris. 

Whenever possible, move inside to change your camera lens. When this isn’t possible, point your back to the direction of the wind. Then, point your camera body down (so as to use gravity to your advantage for helping dust fall out) before switching your lenses. 

This method is by no means perfect, so you’ll want to watch CNET’s video above to learn how to clean your DSLR lenses. 

Invest in a Bag That Offers Protection

Every camera bag is not made the same. And a big part of knowing how to protect your camera gear from the elements is knowing you have a trustworthy bag at your ready. 

A great camera bag needs to be sturdy, waterproof, comfortable and heavily lined. A problem many photographers run into is that most camera bags are one or the other: built for photographers or built for cameras.

I personally believe a well-built sling bag, like HEX’s Ranger sling bag, is both.  

The Ranger is made of genuine Cordura on the outside, which is 100% waterproof, and faux-fur lined pockets on the inside, which prevents your gear from being bumped around as you’re heading to and from your location. 

But, since a sling bag lies across your body, it also provides easy access to your gear when you need it, while keeping your camera close enough to your body to prevent it from getting stolen. 

What’s more, this bag hugs your body (unlike lesser sling bags), so it doesn’t flop around as you move. It’s an excellent carrying experience!

On top of all that, this bag can accommodate eight liters of gear and do so without feeling bulky or unwieldy. There’s even load straps so you can carry your tripod on the bottom of the bag.

Having a comfortable and functional bag like this is of the utmost importance for your workflow. But add in all the protective features, and you have the makings of an ideal bag for on-the-go photographers.

Learn More:

Cover Your Camera and Lens  

There are so many ways to protect your camera from bad weather, but they all require an uncomfortable plastic bag that you have to throw over yourself and your equipment, except for the Camera Canopy. 

The Camera Canopy works by mounting directly to your camera’s hot shoe; it also features multiple layers of hard plastic protection so that even if the rain is coming down especially hard or at an angle, your camera will still be protected.  

There is no better rain protection for cameras available on the market today.

The Camera Canopy comes in two sizes, one for DSLRs and one for your mirrorless. At $87.99 and $59.99, respectively, it’s a steal! 

What’s so great above this device is that you get all the protection you need for your gear but without all the fuss of having to reach into a plastic bag to access the camera controls.

Instead, the Camera Canopy sits above your camera so you can easily change camera settings on the fly and review images on your LCD without issue. 

I’ve tested this thing in rain, wind, and snow, and it has proven to be a valuable protective device for my gear time and time again. It’ll do the same for you, I’m sure!

Keep Your Lens and Camera Clean

dust protection for cameras

 photo by Rawpixel via iStock 

There’s no point in learning how to protect your camera gear if you’re not going to then keep this camera gear in good shape.

Not only will this help you to resell your gear when you’re ready to upgrade, but it will also help you keep your workflow much smoother. 

Ezvid Wiki outlined the best camera cleaning kits earlier this year, but you don’t necessarily need to spend a ton of money on a store bought camera cleaning kit, especially when you can DIY your own for less than $20.

My DIY camera cleaning kit includes:

  • A microfiber cleaning cloth
  • Q-tips
  • Make-up brushes
  • A DIY lens bellows made out of an infant nose-clearing sucker 
  • Eyeglass wipes  

It’s that simple! 

Taking a little bit of time to properly protect your gear will help you be more productive, keep your gear in working order, and will benefit you when it comes time to sell your gear. 

It’s the best of all worlds! 

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Why a Sling Bag is the Perfect Bag for You

why a sling bag is the perfect bag for you

I bring my sling bag with me on all of my day trips, because, let’s be honest, who wants to lug around a full-sized camera bag all the time?

Inexpensive camera sling bags are always better quality than cheap backpacks, because they’re built for photographers. Plus, every time I buy a cheap camera backpack on Amazon it ends up wearing out in the next few months. What a waste.

Sling bags are also easier to wear than other versions of camera bags, so with all that in mind, let’s explore a few reasons why a sling bag is the perfect bag for you.

Editor’s Note: I’ve used the HEX Ranger Sling Bag as an example in this article because it is my sling bag of choice. It’s been incredibly functional, comfortable to carry, and versatile. Get more details about the HEX Ranger!

Sling Bags Offer Versatile Carrying Options 

versatile carrying options 1

The best sling bags allow you to carry all of your different equipment, particularly different types of cameras like mirrorless cameras and DSLRs, when you’re heading out on different shoots. 

When you’re in the market for a sling bag, you’re obviously looking at the pricing of your different options, but ensure you’re also paying attention to the size. The marketing for sling bags should include the overall size of the bag, as well as options you have for additional storage in pockets and cubbies inside and on the outside of the bag.

versatile carrying options 2

Additionally, I usually have my tablet with me because it allows me to do some easy editing on the go. I made sure my sling bag had a dedicated pouch for my tablet.

While some sling bags are marketed for specific cameras, most aren’t and allow you to carry everything you need regardless of the brand. 

Sling Bags Are Easy to Use

sling bags are easy to use

As much as I preach about organization on this site, I’m truly not a very organized person, which is why my sling bag comes in handy. 

The large flaps featured on many sling bags allow me an unobstructed view of all the gear I packed that day.

They are also faster to use than a traditional backpack because you never need to take them off unless you’re packing up all of your gear. You can just spin it around, grab whatever gear you need, and quickly get back to shooting.

sling bags are easy to use 2

The best sling bags are also easy to use because they fit you perfectly. A good sling bad should be contoured to your body in a way that makes you comfortable in even the most crowded spaces. 

This also helps prevent the bag from flopping around all over the place, like clanking against your back or side as you walk. I don’t know about you, but I’m not interested in using a bag like that!

The Best Sling Bags Have a Protective Interior

protective interior

My favorite sling bag, the HEX Ranger sling, has a maximum amount of protection padding. 

This bag is fleece-lined, so you know your expensive equipment won’t suffer from any dings or scratches, plus it comes with a faux-fur lined tablet pocket, so you can rest assured that your tablet is secured in an animal-friendly way.

The creators of this sling bag really thought of everything, because there’s also a faux-fur lined pocket for your phone and/or sunglasses (which is really important in my part of the world). 

One touch of the inside of this sling bag and you’ll want to crawl up inside it and take a nap. It’s seriously that soft! 

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