Digital Imaging Accessories

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A Survey of Sliding Straps
by Mike Pasini
We used three sliding straps and one interesting alternative for a few weeks to see if the differences between them have any practical consequences. If that isn't tipping our hand, read our survey for the details.
The Great Battery Shootout!
by Dave Etchells
Right after the camera itself, and having a large enough flash card, batteries are probably the most important element of your digicam "kit". In the AA-powered world, there's been a flood of different makes and models of NiMH rechargeables hit the market in the last year, with wildly varying claims of performance. I've been tinkering with battery testing as a background task for the last year, and have finally gathered all the data together into a massive "battery shootout." The results are interesting, to say the least, with some batteries rated at lower mAh capacities performing better than others with higher mAh ratings.
Cotton Carrier Vest & Holster
by Mike Pasini
"The Cotton Carrier holds one or two cameras of any size and lens combination comfortably and securely," the company emailed us, "alleviating all of the pain and discomfort created by traditional neck strap systems." We had our doubts, but gave it a shot. Surprise! The vest was like having an invisible assistant to hold your camera and the holster made carrying two cameras effortless. Read our review for the whole story.
CRU-DataPort ToughTech Duo
by Mike Pasini
Tired of burning CDs? Those DVDs filling up just as fast? Weary of stacking up external USB drives? Looking for a portable, affordable storage solution that even has some data protection built in? We've found one for you. Read our review for the whole story.
Custom SLR M-Plate
by Mike Pasini
Prefer to strap your camera to its tripod socket rather than an eyelet? What do you do when you want to attach it to a tripod? Custom SLR has the answer. The $74.95 M-Plate attaches a C-Loop and strap while mounting the camera to any tripod or holster attachment. The M-Plate actually mounts directly to Arca-Swiss or Manfrotto RC2 quick release but you can screw any other quick release into it. Read our review for the whole story.
Datacolor Spyder4 Elite
by Mike Pasini
The big story with Datacolor's Spyder4 is its significantly improved accuracy. But Datacolor has also made an effort to extend its software's reach to devices other than you computer monitor. And these days, you look at your images on all sorts of screens: desktop monitor, laptop, netbook, HDTV, projector, tablet, smartphone. The Spyder4 can handle them all. Read our review for the whole story.
Datacolor SpyderPrint
by Mike Pasini
Can a spectrocolorimeter build good printer profiles? It can. But it was quite an adventure. We tested a Spyder3Print, since renamed SpyderPrint. Read our review for the all the details.
Datacolor SpyderCube
by Mike Pasini
The SpyderCube goes beyond a simply gray card to provide references in any image for absolute black, spectral highlights and everything in between. That can be a big help when you edit your image, whether you're at the controls of a Raw image editor or just trying to tweak a JPEG. Read our review for the all the details.
Everything's Aluminum These Days -- Even Photo Prints!
by Mike Pasini
Curiosity got the better of us. Sure, we thought, putting an image on an aluminum panel would be nifty. But would that dye sub novelty fade away in a few years? And how much is this going to cost? And who do you hang a metal print anyway? We answer almost all of these questions in our review.
Eye-Fi WiFi SD Card
by Mike Pasini (September 2008)
Since our review of the Eye-Fi in the Feb. 29 issue of the newsletter, the company has been busy adding value to the small SD memory card that can transmit its contents wirelessly to your computer and over 20 photo sharing sites. Read our review for the whole story!
GE/Sanyo Eneloop AA Rechargable Batteries
by Mike Pasini
The NiMH rechargeable AA battery is still a favorite for entry-level and long zoom digicams, both. But it's always suffered from a rather poor shelf life. Until recently. We picked up a set of four GE/Sanyo Eneloops on our next trip to the mall and gave them a try. Read our report for the whole story.
i-gotU GPS Device
by Mike Pasini
What's in a name? The i-gotU GPS device is tiny and affordable but the software only runs under Windows (and, yes, you need the software). We took a couple of hikes with it, using the tracking log to add GPS data to images from several capture devices. That's the beauty of a detached device. You can share the data. Read the review for the whole story.
LensAlign MkII
by Mike Pasini
The LensAlign MkII is a complete redesign of our favorite microfocusing tool for adjusting autofocus on your dSLR. Using new pecision manufacturing techniques, the lightweight design is easily assembled or taken apart for flat storage. Read our LensAlign MkII review for all the details!
Long Ruler Kit for LensAlign MkII
by Mike Pasini
Michael Tapes Design has released a compact Long Ruler Kit for his LensAlign MkII that eclipses the older LensAlign Pro design with its own two-piece long ruler. Read our LensAlign MkII review for all the details!
Lensbaby Composer
by Mike Pasini (September 2008)
Lensbaby has completely redesigned its selective focus lens system, adding a new dimension to it with an interchangeable optical system called the Lensbaby Optic Swap system. There are four swappable optics including a 50mm multi-coated optical glass doublet like the Lensbaby 2.0 and 3G, a 50mm uncoated optical glass singlet like the original Lensbaby, a 50mm plastic singlet that simulates a Holga and a pinhole/zone plate optic with an f/177 pinhole and an f/19 zone plate opening. Read our review for the full story.
Lensbaby Fisheye & Soft Focus Optics
by Mike Pasini (October 2009)
Lensbaby has expanded its Optic Swap system with two intriguing new additions. While they aren't identical twins, the Fisheye optic and Soft Focus optic will change the perspective of anyone who adopts them. The company offered us the chance to babysit the new brood for a couple of weeks before they made their debut at PhotoPlus Expo. And we had a ball. Read our review for the full story.
Lensbaby Composer With Tilt Transformer
by Mike Pasini (September 2010)
With the announcement of its new Lensbaby Composer with Tilt Transformer, Lensbaby brings its unique special effects lenses to mirrorless cameras. The first mount available is for Micro Four Thirds cameras but Lensbaby promised a version for Sony NEX mirrorless cameras as well. We try the combination out with an Olympus E-PL1 and an assortment of Nikkors in addition to the Composer that makes the Optic Swap system available. Read our review for the full story.
Lensbaby Sweet 35
by Mike Pasini (March 2011)
We had the new Lensbaby Sweet 35 here for two days and took some indoor and outdoor shots with both Canon and Nikon dSLRs. That was all it took to renew our admiration for the Optic Swap system. Read our review for the full story.
Lensbaby Edge 80
by Mike Pasini (February 2012)
While the new Lensbaby Edge 80 resembles the recently released Sweet 35, it's a completely different optical experience. And we're not just talking about the focal length, which happens to be ideal for portraiture. First, the Edge 80 is a flat field optic. Second, it includes macro focusing as close as 17 inches. Read our review for sample shots and a full description.
Lensbaby Composer Pro
by Mike Pasini (April 2011)
The Composer Pro represents a significant refinement in the original Composer design with a metal ball for the tilt mechanism and refined focusing. We took it for a spin in Berkeley and turned at least one head. Read our review for the full story.
Lensbaby Spark
by Mike Pasini (September 2012)
Over the years, Lensbaby has evolved its selective focusing system from a one-piece optic into the modular Optic Swap system. The new Spark updates an old design (the Lensbaby 2.0) with the newer technology (Optic Swap system), providing an Optic Swap-compatible housing with a fixed aperture, multi-coated glass doublet. And it's just $80. Read our review for the whole story.
Macsense Geomet'r
by Mike Pasini
The $145 Geomet'r GPS receiver taps into the built-in GPS support of the Nikon D200, D300, D2Hs, D3xs, D3 and the Fujifilm S5 Pro to add GPS Exif tags to your images as you shoot. It's like have a built-in GPS receiver in your camera (no post processing). And note that price, significantly less than most GPS units. Read our review for the whole story!
Maha/PowerEx C-204W
by Dave Etchells
Longtime readers of this site will know that my favorite charger for NiMH AA cells has been the Maha C-204F for some years now. I liked its charging capabilities, and its provision for discharge-conditioning batteries, something that I consider essential in a general-purpose NiMH charger. Maha has just recently updated the C-204 design, calling the new model the C-204W. The new unit has a number of improvements, including an internal international power supply, which means that it needs no "wall wart" transformer (better portability), and can be used pretty much anywhere in the world that has AC power. All in all, a very nice little charger, and my new favorite for AA cells.
Maha/PowerEx C-401FS
by Dave Etchells
Maha has now developed the C401FS as an extension to the 204. The new 401FS sports four completely independent charging "channels" (basically four individual battery chargers in a single housing), so it can optimize the charge for each battery individually. This insures the best possible performance of your battery packs, and guard against cell damage due to mismatched cells. The 401FS also has a fast/slow charge switch on it, so you can choose whether you want a fast (yet safe) ~100 minute charge, or a slow (and super-gentle) ~5-8 hour one. If you're looking for a very capable little charger for your AA or AAA NiMH (or NiCd) cells, check out the C401FS!
Maha C-801D Battery Charger
by Dave Etchells
Maha Energy, the makers of my long-time favorite NiMH AA cell charger (the Maha C-204W) has come out with a new model, capable of charging or conditioning up to 8 cells at a time, with a separate charging circuit dedicated to each cell. The new charger works for both AA and AAA cells, and either NiMH or NiCd battery types, and sports both rapid- and soft-charging modes. If you have a lot of AA batteries to manage, the Maha C801D could be just the ticket! Read all about it in my Maha C801D review.
Pantone hueyPRO
by Mike Pasini
Pantone has an inexpensive solution to monitor profiling called the huey (a playful extension of the word "hue"). And they've recently bulked up the software with the new hueyPRO. We took the hueyPRO for a spin this week. Read our review for the full story.
Pandigital PanTouch Photo Frames
by Mike Pasini
The PanTouch series of frames features one big advance over previous Pandigital frames: a patent-pending touch sensor that is sensitive enough to work behind multiple surfaces. Read our review for the full story.
Pandigital Photo Frames
by Mike Pasini
Pandigital has managed to build a full-featured digital frame (card reader, 128-MB storage and a bright display) while keeping costs surprisingly low. And you can find their frames at many retail outlets, too. How good are they? Read our review for the full story.
Photoflex Digital Lighting Kit
by Mike Pasini
In photography, lighting is half the battle. (Some would say most of the battle!) Newsletter Editor Mike Pasini took a look at a nifty little lighting kit from Photoflex, and liked what he saw...
Photoflex First Studio Product Kit
by Mike Pasini
Photoflex has recently introduced its LiteIgloo kit, a nylon tent in three sizes, and bundled the medium-sized one with a couple of lights and stands to make up the $249.95 First Studio Product Kit. We give it a test drive and report our findings.
SanDisk Combo SD Card/USB Pen Drive
Some very interesting things can fly under a reviewer's radar. SanDisk's Secure Digital card with a split personality is one of them. This combo SD card/USB pen drive been around for a year and half, but it isn't entirely obvious how to use it. We reveal all in our review.
Think Tank Photo Pixel Sunscreen
by Mike Pasini
What do you do when you've got to use your laptop outdoors and the sky is too bright to see the screen? Think Tank Photo's solution is the Pixel Sunscreen. And the company has just redesigned it, packing enough features into this 1.2 pound wonder that we just had to review it.
by Mike Pasini (November 2012)
We've always missed a simple mechanical cable release on our electronic cameras. But no more. With Triggertrap we not only get a cable release, we also get some brains to perform magic with that old Shutter button. Read our review for the whole story.
Ultimate Light Box
by Mike Pasini
At PMA in Las Vegas this year, we stumbled on what looked like a Sto-fen designed by NASA. It uses a custom black adapter that slips on your flash head and a particularly attractive diffuser that snapped on to that. But it doesn't stop there, much to our delight. It's actually a system of diffuser accessories that can turn your flash into a soft box, too. We like systems. And we like soft boxes. So we asked Harbor Digital Design to send us its Pro Pack Plus for our Nikon SB-800. Read our review to see how we liked it.
Unibind PhotoBook Creator
by Mike Pasini (August 2009)
Wondering what to do with all your vacation pictures? Bind them, that's what. The PhotoBook Creator by Unibind lets you make your own hardback books at home -- with no compromises. Read our review for the whole story!
Verbatim Store 'n' Go USB Drive
by Mike Pasini (August 2009)
Now that Verbatim has a version of its Store 'n' Go thumb drive for both Windows and Mac OS X, we thought we'd take a look. To our surprise, the ability to set any part of the 8GB of storage aside in a private (undetectable) partition turned out to be very useful. Not only was setup easy, but using the drive was easy, too. It isn't cheap but if you need the security feature (and who doesn't these days) to protect proprietary data (like your images), it's a bargain compared with other options (which we cover). Read our review for the whole story.
Western Digital MyBook Studio II Hard Drive
by Dave Etchells (04/02/08)
Like any other "stuff," image and movie files always seem to expand to fill all available hard drive space. Western Digital may have an answer though: They've updated their popular MyBook line of hard drives with the new MyBook Studio II models. With maximum capacities of 1 and 2 Terabytes (that's a million megabytes) and an option for RAID 1 mirroring for increased reliability, these huge drives could be the just the ticket for space-constrained photographers. We took a look at one of the new drives, found it fast, quiet, cool-running, and able to connect to just about any (Mac or Windows) computer system. Check out our Western Digital MyBook Studio II review for all the details!
WiebeTech UltraDock
by Mike Pasini (April 2012)
Why not just buy bare drives and one dock you can plug them into when you need to access your photo archives? Wouldn't that make a lot more sense than buying a bunch of external drives? Read our review for the answer? Read our review for the answer.
WhiBal White Balance Reference
by Mike Pasini
White balance is one of those rarely discussed issues in digital imaging that deserves a full airing. Your camera is always guessing at it when you set its White Balance mode to Auto. And many sources of artificial light just don't neatly fall into the incandescent or fluorescent categories. But there's a simple (and affordable solution) called the WhiBal. It's a plastic card that is certified to be neutral and light enough for a camera sensor to make sense of. Read our review to see how to guarantee your images will have accurate color.
X-Rite ColorMunki Photo
by Mike Pasini
X-Rite's ColorMunki Photo can not only profile your monitors (compensating for ambient light) but it can build ICC profiles for printer/paper/ink combinations and profile projectors. And that's not all. Read our extensive review, which includes three galleries of images, to get the whole story.
Belkin USB Adapter with Kodak Picture Upload Technology
by Mike Pasini
When a few guys in a lab at Kodak came up with an automatic way to transfer image files to a computer, hardly anybody was watching. But we were. And this month, Belkin is offering that automatic file transfer solution (called Kodak Picture Upload Technology) with a USB adapter for $50. Read our report to find out what the product does and why it matters.
ColorVision Spyder2PRO
by Mike Pasini
ColorVision's Spyder 2 Pro product is the one that we eventually settled on for in-house use here at Imaging Resource. It consistently did a good job calibrating the monitors we tried it with, seemed less prone to getting lost in the weeds with difficult-to-calibrate monitors, and also provides a good capability for matching multiple monitors to a common standard. No product is ever perfect, but we found the Spyder2PRO to be better than most and it offers a flexibility found in few other monitor calibration solutions. Read our review for the all the details.
Datacolor Spyder3 Elite
by Mike Pasini
We've always used Datacolor Spyders for monitor calibration, but we never really liked them. Until the Sypder3, that is. The newest Spyder fits a large sensor in a smaller package and can recalibrate twice as fast as it can calibrate. We never complained about our older Spyders but we never reviewed them either. Each one had some issue that seemed to require duct tape to resolve. But not the Spyder3. Datacolor seems to have gotten it right this time. Read our review for the all the details.
Digipower DPS-9000
by Dave Etchells
What makes this unit unusual is its packaging (it screws onto the tripod mount of your camera), and also the wide range of cameras it can power. Digipower lists nearly 200 models on the compatibility chart, including no fewer than five different adapter cables to fit them all. The DPS-9000 is no slouch when it comes to power capacity either. I don't have a formal test for external power packs, but it managed to power a Nikon Coolpix 5700 in its worst-case power drain mode (capture mode with the rear panel LCD lit) for nearly four hours! All in all, one of the nicest external power packs I've seen.
Harbortronics DigiSnap 1000
by Dave Etchells
The DigiSnap is a wired remote, or electric shutter release that can be used as a trigger for a single picture or for time lapse photography. Check it out!
Iomega Clik!
by Dave Etchells
Infinite photo storage for digicam owners on the road! The Clik! is a slick gadget that lets you offload images from your memory cards to small removable disks. We found that the Clik! drive had a huge impact on our picture-taking! Check it out!
Klikk Camera Stand
by Mike Pasini
For a long time, we've been addicted to a genre of gadget we have to call tripod substitutes. It's a healthy addiction. You come home with sharp shots. But we have to say we've never used a tripod substitute as unobtrusive and yet as useful as the Klikk camera stand. You don't even have to be shooting to find it useful, we found. Read our review to see just what makes it stand out.
Kodak Smart Picture Frame
by Dave Etchells
When we first saw Kodak's Smart Picture Frame, we thought "Oh yawn, another $350 photo gadget." The more we dug into the product though, and played with it, the more we realized that this is a really cool product! Read our review!
LensAlign Lite
by Mike Pasini
The LensAlign Pro is a focusing target with three planes that you can mount to a tripod. The LensAlign Lite model uses just two planes and requires assembly (which also means it can be taken apart and stored flat). Both models are designed to make it very easy to align your camera's sensor plane parallel to the upright focusing targets and to indicate, on a ruler, the amount of back or front focusing your camera/lens combination suffers. But after using the LensAlign Lite for a few days, we had to wonder if it wasn't really Version 2 of the device. Read our LensAlign Lite review to find out why!
LensAlign Pro
by Mike Pasini
Michael Tapes has been at it again. The inventor of camera aids like the WhiBal white balance card has devised a clever way to take advantage of the microfocusing feature of some Canon, Nikon and Sony dSLRs. He calls it the LensAlign. We call it pretty sharp. See our LensAlign Pro review for the whole story.
LensAlign Long Ruler Kit [original design for Pro]
by Mike Pasini
The LensAlign Long Ruler Kit solves the problem of adjusting back or front focusing for long focal length lenses. Drop the assembled long ruler onto the LensAlign Pro just as you would the base ruler and you have a 47-inch scale to measure front and back focusing on long lenses at smaller apertures. Read our LensAlign Long Ruler Kit review for the details.
Lensbaby 2.0
by Mike Pasini
It may be a gadget lens, but it's a lot of fun. And if you think about it, isn't this the way we actually see things. Read our review for the whole story!
Lensbaby 3G
by Mike Pasini
We only had two complaints about the Lensbaby 2.0. But the Lensbabay 3G takes care of both of them, making this fun lens even easier to use. Read our review for the whole story!
Maha/PowerEx "PowerBank" External Batteries
by Dave Etchells
Maha's two-model PowerBank line is marketed under the PowerEx brand name. These units are available in both NiMH and Li-Ion flavors, pack a pretty powerful punch, fit most cameras on the market, have a handy "gas gauge" LED readout, and can be charged on the go from a cigarette lighter. Read the review for all the details, these gadgets look like winners!
Maha/PowerEx C-204F
by Dave Etchells
The C-204 is cheap, versatile, and actually does about the best job of packing a full charge into NiMH AAs of anything we've come across. Read the review if you must, but if your camera uses AA batteries and you don't get one of these, you'll have only yourself to blame for half-dead batteries that quit way before they should. Just go buy one and thank us later. ;-)
Maha/PowerEx C-2000
by Dave Etchells
This unit not only charges the usual digicam AA cells, but handles a wide range of camcorder battery packs as well, regardless of battery chemistry. (It charges NiMH, NiCd, and LiIon packs.) We found that it really needs to be used with a trickle charger to top-off NiMH cells for maximum capacity, but used in that mode, it offers a very gentle charging solution. (The batteries stay fairly cool.) If you have both a AA-using digicam and a camcorder in the house, the C2000 would make a great do-everything choice. Slick product, a real jack-of-all-trades charger at an attractive price!
Malibu Scope
by Mike Pasini
Somewhere between the 10x magnification of a long zoom and a 60x entry-level telescope is the spotting scope. Designed for terrestrial viewing, you can easily mount a camera to it, making it a tempting accessory. The affordable Malibu scope includes a carrying case (because it's small enough to go with you, like a large zucchini), tabletop tripod and a camera adapter. Read our report.
Minds@Work Digital Wallet
by Dave Etchells
Run out of space often on your memory card? The Digital Wallet has 6 gigabytes of portable storage space, all right at your hand. It even works on both PCs and Macs. Definitely worth reading our review!
Nikon Coolpix Converter Lenses
by Mike Pasini
The Nikon Coolpix 880, 900, 900s, 950, 990, and 995 models enjoy not only an excellent internal zoom lens but an extensive line of optional lenses. These lenses range from a fish-eye to a 3x teleconverter. Check it out!
Sony Cyber-shot Station CSS-HD1
by Mike Pasini
The Cyber-shot Station CSS-HD1 isn't Sony's first dock, but it's the first one to offer component output to high definition television so you can enjoy your images in all their glory. We popped a T100 on it and ran a few slides shows and movies on both an HDTV and little 13-inch standard set. Read our review to see what it looked like (there's a movie of the HDTV slide show).
Wacom's Intuos2 Graphics Tablet
by Mike Pasini
Wacom recently reinvented its popular pressure-sensitive graphics tablet, revealing the Intuos2 at Seybold San Francisco in September. We've had a chance to get intimately acquainted with the 6x8 tablet and tell all in an expanded illustrated version of our earlier newsletter review. Read our review for more details!
Zenon MagneFlashCT Midi Pro
by Mike Pasini
Taking product shots without special equipment can be challenging. You have to somehow diffuse your light source and balance it with reflectors, at least. Zenon's Peter Louden has developed a unique solution with some compelling advantages. The Zenon copy table uses three light panels based on his MagneFlash technology. By using powerful strobes whose light is diffused over a large panel, the copy table lets you hand-hold your camera and shoot at high shutter speeds, capturing the shine on metal objects. Read our report.
Zenon MagneFlash 57Plus
by Mike Pasini
Our disdain for the flash units built into every digicam (and proliferating like a virus into some dSLRS even) is so strong that we think of them as inherently defective. So when newsletter subscriber Bill Stocks put us on to Peter Louden's Zenon MagneFlash, we begged for one to review. Peter sent us a review unit and we've been playing with it for weeks now. Read our report.