Photography is one of those crafts that can span the extremes when it comes to accessories. Technically all you need is a camera to create a photograph. Yes, there is the vision of the photographer that is the driving force, but we are talking about hardware only here. However, there is an abundance of gadgets that extend the abilities of your camera and ultimately expand and push forward your vision.
I will be focusing on gadgets I use as an astrolandscape, time-lapse, and infrared photographer. Although I photograph portraits, flowers, macro, and more, I don’t often use (though probably own) the gadgets photographers that heavily work in those areas do.
Long exposures eat batteries. So does time-lapse. I tend to shoot long exposure time-lapses. Double whammy. Although my cameras are really efficient with battery power, battery life is always on my mind. I used to use a Tether Tools Case Relay unit, which allowed hot-swapping of power banks during a shoot, but it became problematic over time. In cold temperatures, it would shut down out of the blue. The hot-swap unit also stopped charging which rendered the Case Relay dead. I wasn’t happy with the response I received from their support “it’s out of warranty so you need to buy a new one, and no the battery can’t be replaced”. Fail. I am not a fan of items that can’t be fixed, especially in this case, where it simply needed a new rechargeable battery, so I looked for something better and more reliable. At the present time, I am using 2 types. Neither have an internal battery I need to worry about. The first unit is from Germany, made by a time-lapse photographer. I purchased his unit called PB HS QC. This unit allows a power bank swap without interrupting the sequence. You will need to purchase a dummy battery for this if you don’t already have one. Before purchasing a battery for this unit, have a chat first with Hans. He’s very helpful.
The second unit is similar in function, made by Fotga, Power Bank USB Type-C Power Adapter Cable. This doesn’t have the hot-swapping ability as the prior unit. It comes with a dummy battery. The dummy battery goes into the camera and is powered by easily acquired power banks. Here’s one of the units I use with both. Using these units with a minimum of 10,000mAh power bank provides me with enough power to shoot several thousand images in a night without changing the battery (and touching my camera). Keeping the power bank warm in cold conditions prevents the rapid discharge that occurs in frigid temps. Power paranoia resolved.
These units work great on my D850, D780 & Z6. They do not work, however, on my D800 or D500 when switching to live view. These cameras draw a lot of power when switching to live view. It could be the battery but I am not worried too much about it. They are not my drivers for long duration time-lapse.
PB HS QC (below)
Fotga (below) Shown with Nikon EN-EL15 Dummy battery
No Dew For You
Dew. An annoyance to a night photographer. The anathema to a time-lapse photographer. Dew isn’t an issue during the winter months when the air is cold and dry. Come springtime dew starts to weigh on my mind. Although your lens hood does protect the lens somewhat, breezeless nights with a dew point close to the air temperature will quickly create an ever-thickening film of moisture on your lens. Shooting astrolandscape time-lapses requires the use of a dew heater. Simply wiping the dew off the lens isn’t feasible nor good practice. I lost 3 hours of a Milky Way time-lapse thanks to dew. It was a beautiful clear night too. (Insert rant here.)
Folks with a telescope are well versed in dew heaters. Without one of these wrapped around the top of the telescope quickly ends a night of celestial viewing. This applies to camera lenses too. They are simple, inexpensive units that are powered by any power bank with a 5V 2a USB output. They keep your lens clear for hours. Select a narrow type of dew heater, like the one pictured. Wide ones prevent easy access to the focus ring and are overkill. You don’t want to heat the barrel of the lens either. Also, a unit with temperature control is best. ,Move Shoot Move makes a really nice dew heater and I have been recommending it to my students. For $20 (plus the price of an inexpensive power bank like this ,one) you get a dew-free night of photography.
The Mighty Hoodman
This is one gadget that is pretty much attached to my infrared DSLR. Since focus is achieved through live view (my camera is a “universal” focus infrared conversion), it helps me to see the scene during daylight hours to focus. It is also helpful when reviewing images on the LCD for all other cameras. I like this unit because it folds down and has a diopter. Hoodman HoodLoupe . I use rubber bands to keep it in place.
Do you have any favorite gadgets? Or are you a lean and mean photographer, keeping a minimalist approach with your gear?
Let’s hear it in the comments or drop me a line. I’d love to hear about it.
#art #photographer #photo #photography #experience #gear #passion #inspiration
© Silvana Della Camera
Disclosure: I am trying out the ThinkTank, Topaz, and LRT affiliate programs as I use and love their products. I am also trying out Amazon’s affiliate program as they have products I have purchased that I use and recommend. That means if you buy an item from those retailers through a link on my website, I may receive a small percentage of the purchase price as a commission and you get a discount on some of them. However, this doesn’t increase your price! Thank you.