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Gear & Apps

My Favorite & Most Used Photography Accessories This Year

By Kishore Sawh on December 19th 2015

When it comes to gear, in my experience, photographers are about as adventurous and experimental with what they purchase and use as a die-hard Apple user. Outside of the standards, things can seem a little dicey, and irrespective of the options, photographers tend to stay true-to-course to what they know.

This is, of course, understandable, as our gear tends to be pricey, and the average photographer isn’t exactly dripping in Givenchy. Also, given our sort of analytical nature, we suffer terribly from analysis paralysis, and what this all adds up to mean, is we all tend to buy largely the same things. Most people shoot Canon or Nikon still, and that includes those new to the field, and of those users, they’ll all tend to get the same lenses varying mainly on their particular genre. Again, this is all understandable, but it doesn’t leave room for much excitement or experimentation, but that’s where the smaller things come in; the non-critical pieces.

As we take the last strides towards a new year over here in the west, it’s typically a time for us to pause and reflect and looking at the year, it’s interesting to see my favorite and most used photography related products and figured I’d share with you. In no particular order of importance:

Samsung T1

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I know I said no order of importance, but I lied when it comes to this. I’m putting this first because it is the most surprising piece of kit I procured this year, and probably deserves its own set of travel miles and passport because it literally goes EVERYWHERE with me. It’s so minute in dimensions and weight that it’s of no consequence at all to carry, and it performs absolutely brilliantly.

Anyone using Lightroom on multiple computers understands the need to keep certain catalogues in sync between machines, and the best way to do that is to use an external. So typically I’ll create a catalogue for a shoot and shoot tethered, do some work on it while out on the MacBook Pro, and then RTB to use the larger monitor at home. So I simply keep the catalogue on the external, and even the images which makes for easy saving and transfer. It’s also a benefit if your computer has a standard HDD and not SSD, because loading and processing the images of your current shoot if they’re on this, is much quicker if you tell LR to use the LRCAT file and images on the T1. And it’s just so small, you just don’t mind taking it any and everywhere.

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For every failing Samsung may have had this past year or two, they’ve certainly managed to produce something wonderful with the T1, in either of its 250 GB, 500, or 1TB variants. And with a starting price of just $89 (typically $127 but it’s often on sale), it’s incredible value. You can see my full review on it here, and you can purchase one here.

Retouching Academy’s Beauty Retouch Panel

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In the spirit of full disclosure, I’m currently reviewing this panel. Actually, I’ve had it for a while and am just about ready to put the review together. The first thing I would say, however, is not to let the use of the word ‘beauty’ lull you into thinking that if you’re not shooting high-end beauty, this isn’t for you. That couldn’t be further from the case, and anyone who uses Photoshop in their workflow will get use out of this regardless if you shoot weddings, portraits, or what-have-you.

This was my first year of really using these types of panels, and it is hard to see myself ever doing without. It’s not that the panel does all the work for you because it doesn’t (though it can do a lot), it’s that it reaches into the extremities of this powerful software, and brings all the features you want into one concise place. It can be set-up to help you automate much of the processes that you always use, and it also guides your workflow depending on what you’re doing. Thus, the time and movement it saves you makes the ROI on this one almost immediate. Find it here

Duet App

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Since I’ve downloaded this app not all that long ago, it’s become one of the most used on my iPad and even my iPhone. Simply put, it’s a screen sharing app that turns your iOS device into more screen real estate. Anyone who has used dual or multiple monitors knows that there’s no returning to one afterwards, or it’s at the very least, painful. This is a way to use a screen you likely already have, and make more out of it.

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I’ve used other screen sharing apps which just never work as well, and to some degree, it’s because they’ve been wireless. This is wired, and that lightning cable allows for a lot of fast data transfer, so there’s just not a lick of lag in my experience. It’s breathed more power and life into my iPad, especially since I use this largely when editing in Lightroom, taking advantage of LR’s secondary screen capability. This, I think, is going to really help a lot of people to become more efficient and productive, and it’s only $9.99.

SLR Lounge Lightroom Preset System

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Allow me to begin by saying I do not only have and use the SLRL Preset System, as I have VSCO packs as well as some from Mastin Labs, though out of them all I think I have my one or two favorites from each and the rest get ignored. Each of these is great (though I actually find the VSCO for mobile to be more user-friendly and effective than the desktop version), but where the great divide is between this group is that the SLRL system is just that, a system, and a well conceived one at that. It’s more than just a ‘see what your image looks like if it was shot on this film.”

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While that has a place, it’s not complete, and you generally do some alterations to the image after the preset is applied anyway. The SLRL system helps you do that in a more structured, and therefore predictable, efficient, and replicable way. This is hugely important for long shoots, or weddings, or anything where continuity is a must and number of files are high. My issue with various versions in the past was that I actually like some of the precise film looks, and we didn’t offer them until now, but this current version is just so good that other than Mastin’s Ilford B&W, it’s all I use. You can check it out here and see if it takes your fancy.

DxO One

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I’m going to get some hell for this, but I don’t care. It costs quite a bit for a small iPhone dependent camera, and that just doesn’t sit well with some. However, there’s nothing quite this small and powerful on the market, and it just works.

Shot with DxO ONE

Shot with DxO ONE

Shot with DxO ONE

Shot with DxO ONE

Every time I go out it’s with me now, from walks with the dogs at the beach, to an evening out with friends, and invariably there are moments I want to keep. Typically I’d reach for my phone but this is just so so much better, and though I think something like an RX100 is more versatile and I love mine to death, it’s this I find is always on hand, and that, to me, is worth it. You can get it here and see my full review of it here.

[REWIND: Sony A7II | Proof Size Isn’t Everything & It’s How You Use It]

Spider Holster SpiderPro Handstrap

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If you ever see me out with my camera, and I am wearing a typical round-the-neck strap, that camera is either worth more than my liver, or it’s not mine. Period. I don’t like straps mostly, and I think they get in the way. That said, I do like having some added security, and typically I would just tie my strap around my arm like the remnants of some failed bondage session. But the SpiderPro Handstrap solved that for me.

It’s padded, comfortable, secures to my camera under the tripod plate I have permanently on there with no tax, and it actually makes me feel confident in its security. It’s probably the single piece of equipment I own that’s with me on every shoot. You can find yours here.

*I don’t know if it works well for mirrorless systems, so just a heads up.*

About

Kishore is, among other things, the Editor-In-Chief at SLR Lounge. A photographer and writer based in Miami, he can often be found at dog parks, and airports in London and Toronto. He is also a tremendous fan of flossing and the happiest guy around when the company’s good.

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Tomas Ramoska

    DigitalRev did nice review on DXO One. I was left disappointed dxo looks like not finished product :)

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  2. penelope peralta

    Man, I definitely agree with you on the the Retouching Academy’s Beauty Retouch Panel…it’s not just for beauty photographers. It is such a great tool for anyone who uses photoshop! They currently have it on sale : https://retouchingacademylab.com/beauty-retouch-49-off/

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  3. Paul Nguyen

    Nice suggestions! I was just thinking of getting a Samsung T1 personally so that I can keep my LR catalog externally and edit on the go, rather than just on my desktop, as I am now.

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