Have you ever noticed that camera gear is expensive? When I think about all the I’ve spent on gear in my life, my body starts to shake a little like Ricky Martin on crack. There is also the matter of utility — I don’t use those two strip softboxes sitting under my bed…ever. So in attempt to keep cost and utility in mind, I present to you 10 pieces of gear under $50 that you should own…
Lumiquest Pocket Bounce $20
There are a lot of variations of the flash-diffuser (like the Stofen Omni-Bounce or Gary Fong’s weird light sphere), and depending on the quality of light you desire, you might find something better suited to your taste. For me, this $20 piece of plastic coated cardboard does pretty damn well. It’s diffuse, but still directional, and when I drag my shutter to get a little ambient light going, the pictures look sweet like butter. Sweet butter, that is.
Honl Speed Strap
I love the Lumiquest, but I don’t like the Velcro stickers you have to stick on the flash. So I was really happy to see that David Honl created a little velco strap to go with his set of flash attachments. Ah, no more stickiness on my flash. That should increase the eBay resale value by a couple bucks. And while you’re at it, grab a couple of Honl flash snoots too.
Lenspen makes it, and Nikon OEMs it. I don’t really understand the physics behind this thing, but it sure keeps my lenses clean. Apparently carbon is pretty good at cleaning stuff, so why not stick some on a little microfiber nib and market it for a couple bucks. Add a little condensation from my hot breath, and voila, much better than spray on lens cleaner.
Leatherman Juice C2
The smallest Leatherman model, appropriately called the “Keychain,” doesn’t have pliers, and you need pliers. You need them because things have a tendency to get stuck – little tiny things – that you’re grubby fingers are too big and weak to move. Oh yeah, gotta have a bottle opener for the after shoot brewskie.
Gepe Extreme Card Safe
When you spill that beer on your gear, you’ll be glad that you have the waterproof, floatable Gepe card wallet. Sure you can get one of those soft card wallets, but what’s the point. If you’re gonna be that cavalier about your pictures, just stick it in your pocket.
Giottos Rocket Air Blaster
I don’t know why everyone always says to get the Giotto version, but I listened, and never looked back. Forget sensor brushes and all that jazz, most of the dust on your sensor can be blown off with a stiff puff of air.
Domke Protective Wrap
I never fully understood the allure, but I see tons of photographers who use the Domke wraps to pad and protect their equipment. Maybe that’s why my stuff looks like it’s been beaten to hell…
Rosco Swatch Book
I got my first one at a trade show. Little rectangles of gels that mysteriously fit like a glove over the head of most flashes all bundled together into a swatch book that you can throw into any camera bag. All of a sudden, you can turn that dull white light into something more interesting like Roscolux #01: Light Bastard Amber. And best of all, you can usually get it for free at tradeshows.
SanDisk Extreme III 4GB Compact Flash Card
Storage keeps getting cheaper, and you can never have too many CF cards when you’ve got 9 fps and a heavy finger. Seems like every day, one of the major vendors has a rebate too, so fill up the Card Safe.
Sharpie Mini Permanent Marker
You can never have too many pens. And when you’re out on a job and laying down wires, propping up lights, or scoring a touchdown in Dallas, you probably need a Sharpie to get the job done right.