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Photo Gadgets, Gizmos & Gifties Galore… Oh My!

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Compiled by Diane Berkenfeld

In the last month or so we’ve seen so many cool new gadgets, gizmos tech and non-tech items that will appeal to any photographer—we knew we just had to share it all with our fellow photographers. Its enough to make a an adult want to beg Santa to deliver them all. Not wanting to wait till we can post full reviews, we’ve decided to whet your appetites with some information on each of these cool new items. Read on for more…

Finally, a photo vest for women.

For the Ladies

Pro photographer Marla Holden has created a product that makes me wonder why no one ever designed one before, but that’s ok, because Marla finally did. What product am I talking about? Foto Fashionista, the very first photographer’s vest designed just for women. Designed to fit a woman’s body, yet offer pockets to hold a variety of photo items, the Foto Fashionista vests come in a variety of casual designs. A more formal looking vest will be added to the line next year. Check them out at www.fotofashionista.com.

Products to Aid You in Carrying Your Camera Comfortably

The Spider Holster clips onto your belt.

New in the gadget arena is the Spider Holster, camera holster. Picture this, a secure plate connects to the bottom of the camera via the tripod screw threads and then is slipped in and out of the Spider Holster itself, which can either be slipped onto a regular belt or the durable belt the company offers. Once connected, the camera can’t slip out until the photographer takes it in his/her hands to shoot. By keeping the camera secure at the hip, you aren’t putting strain on your shoulders or neck. And, using the company’s belt, you can attach two holsters to carry two bodies, one at each hip. Most tripod quick release plates will attach to the bottom of the Spider Holster’s plate for use on a tripod during a wedding or other job that requires you to use a tripod or monopod. I’ve just begun using it myself and am very impressed. Check out the website at www.spiderholster.com to see exactly how it works.

The HoldSLR hooks on a belt and lets you slip your camera inside. A camera cover protects it outdoors.

It seems that when it rains, it pours. First there was only the camera strap, now there are multiple options for carrying a camera in a more ergonomic and comfortable way. The HoldSLR is a new product that uses a wire frame and removable boot and camera body cover, great for use outdoors. The frame is made from compressed steel wire that has a vinyl coating over it. A camera’s lens simply slips into the frame, which hangs off your belt. It can accommodate large lenses, with an opening of 3.75-inches. Gravity secures the camera in the HoldSLR, and the water resistant boot is collapsible to accommodate different size and length lenses. See the actual product for yourself at www.holdslr.com.

Sun Sniper lets you comfortably carry your camera.

The new Sun-Sniper Sniper-Strap “Steel” is a camera strap that features a steel wire insert, making it virtually impossible for thieves to cut the strap to steal the camera off your back. The strap was designed by a photographer, and is worn across the chest, with the camera hanging upside down, ergonomically, at your rear, instead of hanging off your shoulder and bumping into walls, or other objects. California Sunbounce is distributing the new Sun-Sniper strap exclusively in the U.S. Go to the website at www.sunbounce.com for more details.

Rock Steady Camera Stabilizers

SteadePod lets you stabilize a camera or camcorder when there's no room for a tripod or monopod.

Yet another new gadget we saw at PhotoPlus Expo is the SteadePod. Designed to steady a camera without the use of a tripod, it is a small gadget that consumers or advanced amateurs can use with a digital P&S, DSLR, or camcorder. The SteadePod, about the size of a tape measure, screws to a camera or camcorder as you would a tripod. A stainless steel cable extends from the SteadePod and is anchored by a footpad and with a slight amount of tension placed in the cable the photographer’s camera or camcorder is steadied. A ratchet and locking mechanism allows positioning of the camera for a steady picture nearly anywhere between 6” to 6’. It swivels smoothly, allowing for panning and tilting of the camera/camcorder. To see exactly what it looks like, go to the website www.steadepod.com.

Delkin's Fat Gecko uses 2 suction cups to adhere a camera to most any surface.

Delkin’s Fat Gecko Camera Mount was introduced earlier this year, but it is such a cool device that when we saw it again at PhotoPlus recently we decided to include it here. The Fat Gecko has dual suction cups that allow you to mount a camera securely to any smooth, flat, non-porous surface. It uses a regular 1/4 x 20 tripod mounting screw to attach to a camera or camcorder. That means you can use it to mount a camera to a car, boat, plane, or other moving vehicle. Check out the website www.fat-gecko.com that showcases user footage, both stills and video captured using the Fat-Gecko and its sibling models—the Fat Gecko Mini Camera Mount, with a single suction cup; and the Fat Gecko Bike Camera Mount designed to attach cameras and camcorders to the center handlebars of a bicycle.

Joby Ballhead.

Joby, the company that first introduced the flexible mini tripods that can wrap around practically anything updated its entire line earlier this year. In addition to updating the line, Joby added the Gorillapod SLR-Zoom Ball Head for use with the Gorillapod SLR-Zoom. The ball head offers a full 360-degree pan and 90-degree tilt. It can hold up to 6.6 pounds of camera weight features a quick-release bubble level clip and is equipped with a standard 1/4-inch adapter. For more information go to the website at www.joby.com.

Cutest New Lensbaby [Optics]

Lensbaby—the cool manual, selective focus lens system developed a few years back by professional photographer Craig Strong—has added two new optics to the Lensbaby system: the Soft Focus optic and the Fisheye optic. Because of the selective focus capability of the lens, the Lensbaby lets you embark on a wonderful new direction in creative photography. If you don’t know what a Lensbaby is, you don’t know what wonderfully creative photography you’re missing out on. Go to www.lensbaby.com right now and check it out!

Lensbaby Fisheye Optic.

The Lensbaby Composer is the ultimate in Lensbabies. The Composer lets users easily control the selective focus movements. And, when you’ve got the lens in the exact position you want it, the Composer holds the focus where you’ve set it. If you’ve only experienced a Lensbaby via the Original Lensbaby or Lensbaby 2.0, check out the Lensbaby 3G, revamped and going by the moniker Lensbaby Control Freak, or the Composer. Both of these models let you lock the lens in place so you can easily take more than one frame of a scene and get repeatable results. (The Muse is the optic swappable version reminiscent of the Original Lensbaby design.) The optics are the really cool part of the Lensbaby lenses. There are six different optics and each alter the way that images are captured.

Lensbaby Soft Focus Optic.

The optics include the single glass, double glass, plastic, Pinhole/Zoneplate—and the newest optics—the fisheye and soft focus. Each of the optics feature a 50mm focal length, but the fisheye optic has a 12mm focal length. The fisheye optic has a 160 degree angle of view and creates photos that are circular in nature. One of the cool things about the fisheye optic is that it offers a focus range from 1-inch away from the lens, all the way to infinity. The new Soft Focus lens gives you that dreamy effect you were used to when shooting film (back in the day).

Blazing Fast Media Cards

Speed and capacity of media cards are ever increasing, along with the ability of newer DSLRs to utilize the speed of these cards. Lexar recently added the Lexar Professional 600x CompactFlash cards to its line. These cards are fast, and are available in 8GB, 16GB and 32GB capacities. The 600x CF cards, when used with a UDMA 6 enabled device [read: DSLR], write speeds of 90MB/s are guaranteed. Pair the cards with the new Lexar Professional ExpressCard CF Reader for 80MB/s read speeds. The new cards are ideal for use with cameras like the Canon EOS 7D, Canon EOS 5D Mark II, Nikon D3x or D300S. All Lexar Professional media cards come with a free downloadable copy of Image Rescue 4, the latest version of the company’s image recovery software. Go to www.lexar.com for more details.

A few months back, SanDisk introduced the SanDisk Extreme Pro CompactFlash cards with capacities of 16GB, 32GB, and 64GB that have read/write speeds of up to 90MB/s (600x). These UDMA-6 cards are designed for use with the latest DSLRs on the market. The SanDisk Extreme Pro ExpressCard Adapter is optimized to take advantage of the new card’s read speed, up to 90MB/s read speed. The company also introduced new SanDisk Extreme CF cards at 60MB/s read/write speeds (400x) in 8GB, 16GB, and 32GB capacities. Check out www.sandisk.com for more information.

Lock Your Data in a Locker+

Kingston DataTraveler Locker+

Kingston Digital just launched the DataTraveler Locker+ USB flash drive. The DataTraveler Locker+ was designed for the consumer/prosumer or small business that wants to be able to secure their mobile data. The DataTraveler Locker+ features 256-bit hardware-based AES encryption. What this means is that you’ll need a password  to access the data, once you’ve set up this USB drive. Try incorrectly 10 times in a row and the drive locks down and reformats, wiping the data. Kingston is shipping these drives in capacities up to 32GB. The company also offers the DataTraveler Locker, which lets you set up a partitionable area for public sharing as well as an encrypted zone. Kingston also offers the DataTraveler Vault Privacy Edition for enterprise and government customers. The DataTraveler Locker+ is compatible with Mac and Windows-based PCs. Go to www.kingston.com for more information.

And Now For Something Really Different

Light Sculpture.

Want to offer your clients something really different? Shapeways is an online marketplace that allows creatives with various levels of 3D modeling skills—from none to very experienced—affordable access to the latest 3D printing technologies and the ability to create custom-made giftware in a variety of materials. Don’t worry if you’re not skilled at 3D modeling, there are plenty of artists selling their 3D designs through Shapeways Shops. There are a wide range of 3D items available, made from different plastics or stainless steel, from holiday ornaments to personalized cufflinks and jewelry to home décor, but the item of real interest to us is the Photoshaper. The Photoshaper creates a depth-layered 3D picture, based on the contrast of the picture. The Photoshaper accepts JPG, PNG and GIF files. The size of the output is 3.5”x5.11” and can be output either horizontal or vertical orientation. Check out the website at www.shapeways.com.

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