Find out which photo accessories should be on your Christmas list this year. Richard Sibley rounds up the 10 best products we have reviewed in Testbench during 2012

Philips PicoPix PPX2480 pocket projectorPhilips PicoPix PPX2480 pocket projector

Around £270

Measuring just 105x105x31.5mm and weighing 270g, the Picopix PPX2480 portable projector offers a great way to share images. It produces bright, punchy colours, making it ideal for showing off work to small numbers of people. The projector uses an LED light source to save power, but maintains a good contrast ratio of 1,000:1. Although the 854×480-pixel resolution may not be the highest available, in very low light it is possible to project images up to 3m in size.

There are direct inputs available for Mini USB, HDMI (which enables live view camera output) and an SD memory card socket. Other adapters and leads are also included.

Tested: AP 24 March
Rating: 4 stars

Nik Software SnapseedNik Software Snapseed

£2.99 Available for iOS (Android coming soon)

Snapseed is one of the most powerful mobile photo-editing apps we have seen, bringing localised adjustments to images taken on a mobile phone or tablet. Using much of the same technology found in Nik’s excellent Colour Efex desktop software, Snapseed can really transform a standard mobile-phone image.

With colour adjustments, sharpening, black & white filter effects, borders and a huge range of other image-editing tools, Snapseed is a must for the mobile-phone photographer.

Tested: AP 7 July
Rating: 5 stars

Fotospeed Platinum Baryta inkjet paperFotospeed Platinum Baryta inkjet paper

£22.99 (20 x A4 sheets)

Fotospeed’s Platinum Baryta paper is one of the few baryta papers on the market that contains a layer of barium sulphate underneath the ink-receiving layer, so it is as close to a traditional photographic paper as you are likely to get.

It has a weight of 300gsm, and has the familiar smell of traditional darkroom paper. With a subtle gloss finish, the surface of the paper limits reflections and resists fingermarks well, while its slightly off-white colour produces a subtle warm tone. The resulting prints are excellent, with a great tonal range, deep blacks and fine details.

Tested: AP 25 August
Rating: 5 stars

Sony CLM-V55 LCD monitorSony CLM-V55 LCD monitor

Around £398

Sony’s 5in CLM-V55 screen has an 800×480-pixel resolution and is compatible with any camera that has an HDMI port.

The screen comes with both Sony and standard hotshoe–mount adapters, and although primarily designed for a larger view when shooting video footage, it is also useful for photographers by offering an even larger view when composing images.

The bright screen is protected from unwanted glare and reflections thanks to a built-in hood that also protects the screen when not in use. A useful ‘peaking’ feature in the monitor can also help to preview focus, which should prove very useful for macro photographers.

Tested: AP 11 February
Rating: 4 stars

Benro C1182T Flat Traveller 2 tripod kitBenro C1182T Flat Traveller 2 tripod kit

Around £400

With waterproof rubber locks on its legs and the option to use it as a monopod, the Benro C1182T Flat Traveller 2 is a versatile travel tripod. Its lightweight carbon-fibre legs have a maximum height of 166.5cm, but what is most unusual is that the legs sit parallel with each other when folded, making it flat. This potentially makes it easier to transport and store the tripod when not in use.

We found that the carbon-fibre legs and BO ball head easily supported a Nikon D800 with 24-70mm f/2.8 lens, and Benro claims that the tripod can support a weight of up to 8kg. Overall, this is a good lightweight travel tripod.

Tested: AP 14 July
Rating: 4 stars

SRB Griturn ND FaderSRB Griturn ND Fader

From £29.95


By using two polarising filters, the SRB Griturn ND Fader becomes an adjustable ND filter with a light-reduction range of 2-8EV. The filter is available in nine different sizes, ranging from 46-77mm.

If you want to try your hand at long-exposure shots of skies or water, or you simply want to use large apertures in bright light, then at just £29.95 the ND Fader is very competitively priced.

Tested: AP 27 October
Rating: 4 stars

Vanguard BBH-200 ball headVanguard BBH-200 ball head

Around £170

The stripped-down design of the Vanguard BBH-200 ball head is light and compact, and uses an Arca-Swiss-type quick-release-plate system. It has a maximum load capacity of 20kg and weighs just 530g.

However, the standout feature of the head is the Rapid Level System, which, when activated, allows the head to be positioned at a precise 0° or 90° angle quickly and accurately. When combined with the vertical and horizontal bubble levels in the head, the Rapid Level System means there is no excuse for not having a straight and well-supported camera.

Tested: AP 25 February
Rating: 5 stars

Kata Revolver-8 PL backpack

Around £230

The Kata Revolver-8 PL backpack has a unique revolving wheel in the centre of its main compartment. The centre of the wheel is divided into six sections that allow different cameras and lenses to be stored securely.

Opening the side of the back provides access to this compartment, and turning the wheel means that all the equipment is accessible. It is a very neat solution that should save a lot of time digging around in a bag hunting for the right lens.

Tested: AP 1 September
Rating: 4 stars

ioShutter shutter-release cableioShutter shutter-release cable

Around £60

Available for Nikon, Canon, Hasselblad, Pentax and Samsung, the ioShutter shutter-release cable turns Apple iPads, iPods or iPhones into a remote release for your camera. Simply download the free app and you can then use the on-screen button to trigger the camera via the cable.

The app also allows you to set a timed release, and acts as an intervalometer for shooting a time-lapse sequence, or sets a time for a bulb exposure. The app and device allow the camera to be triggered by sound or even by movement of an iPhone or iPad. A useful tool for Apple devotees.

Tested: AP 30 June
Rating: 4 stars

Olympus 15mm f/8 Olympus 15mm f/8 Body Cap Lens

Around £70

At just 9mm thick, the Olympus 15mm f/8 Body Cap lens is a superb companion for Olympus Pen E-PM2 and E-PL5 cameras, or any of their predecessors.

The tiny lens can be left on the camera, acting as a body cap, but with only a 30cm or infinity focus setting and a fixed f/8 aperture, the lens is quickly ready for shooting should an opportunity present itself. Although lacking a little sharpness at its edges, it is good in the centre, and at only £60 is a must buy for micro four thirds users.

Tested: AP 3 November
Rating: 5 stars