Welcome to the second part of our major accessory round-up, this time focussing on higher price points, and including a wide range of tripods, printers and other essentials.
Essential Film Holder Kit, £90
If you regularly shoot film with the intention of digitising it, or have a load of old slides and negatives that you’d like to copy, this simple but effective film holder might be a godsend. It’s designed to hold 35mm negatives or 120 roll film above a lightbox for copying using a DSLR or mirrorless camera with a macro lens. It makes light work of copying strips of negatives, and is very much faster than using a scanner. A holder for 35mm slides is an optional extra.
Vanguard VEO 2S AM-264TR, £80
This has a different design to most other monopods, with three foldable legs at the base that are designed to provide a tri-stand platform. They’re linked to the four-section aluminium-alloy leg via a ball joint that allows smooth panning and tilting motions. With an extended height of 1,630mm, a folded length of 565mm and a maximum load capacity of 6kg, it’s about as feature-packed as monopods get for under £100.
It even includes a smartphone mount.
Kaiser Slimlite Plano 22x16cm, £91
Lightboxes are essential to film users for examining and digitising negatives and slides, but they can also be used creatively as light sources. LED technology means that they’re no longer the bulky devices of yore, with this example being just 8mm thick. Unlike cheaper devices, it has a built-in rechargeable battery, a daylight-balanced colour temperature of 5000K and a high CRI rating of 95 for accurate colour.
Metz M360 flashgun, £99
If you’re after a great entry-level flash unit, look no further. Weighing just 190g, the M360 is extremely compact and easy to use. But with a guide number of 36 at ISO 100, it’s surprisingly powerful for its size. Features include a power zoom head, a swivelling reflector with an extendable reflector and an integrated wide angle diffuser. Powered by two AA batteries, it’s available in Canon, Fujifilm, Nikon, Sony and Olympus/Panasonic/Leica versions.NiSi NM-180 Macro Focusing Rail, £105
For close-up shooting, macro rails allow you to reposition your camera precisely, without having to move your tripod. The NiSi NM-180 is probably the best you can buy right now, providing super-smooth and precise adjustment through an 11cm range. It’s fully compatible with the Arca Swiss quick-release system, with a camera clamp that can rotate through 360°, and even comes with a set of feet for desktop use.
Fujifilm Instax Mini Link, £110
There’s a lot to be said for making small prints to carry in your wallet or give away, and this is where Fujifilm’s Instax Mini Link excels. Powered by a built-in rechargeable battery, it connects to your smartphone via Bluetooth and is controlled using an attractively designed and intuitive app. It’s small enough to slip into a coat pocket or bag, and most importantly, delivers gorgeous little prints on Instax Mini film, with fine detail and vivid colour.
Formatt Hitech Firecrest 85mm Starter Kit, £119
A decent filter set-up is essential for serious landscape photography. But while 100mm-wide systems are widely recommended, they can be overkill for photographers who don’t use ultra-wideangle lenses. Formatt Hitech’s latest 85mm system offers plenty of high-end features at a more affordable price, including geared adjustment of a polariser from behind the camera. The kit contains all you need to get started, including a 77mm polariser and adapters for lenses with 58mm to 77mm threads.
Vanguard Veo Select 49, £119
If you’re forever trying to choose between a shoulder bag or a backpack for carrying your kit, then this cleverly designed bag might just be the answer. It comes with both a backpack harness and a shoulder strap, and can be switched between the two carrying modes quickly and easily. There’s room for one or two cameras and 3-5 extra lenses inside its spacious interior, along with a separate compartment for a 15in laptop and a tablet. Smaller and cheaper variants are also available, with all models coming in a choice of green or black.
Lowepro PhotoStream RL 150, £139
A roller case is a great option when you need to travel with a large amount of kit. The Lowepro PhotoStream RL 150 features an armoured exterior and a flexible interior to protect your valuable gear in transit. Its streamlined design makes it carry-on compatible and it’s large enough to accommodate one or two DSLRs with a 70-200mm f/2.8 attached, plus up to eight additional lenses. A tripod can also be strapped on the side. The construction and materials are second to none, so it should survive many years of heavy use.
Manfrotto Advanced2 Travel Backpack, £142.99
This versatile backpack can swallow an impressive amount of kit, while providing convenient access on the go thanks to its side-opening design. It’s large enough to accept a full-frame DSLR with a vertical grip and 70-200mm f/2.8 lens attached, along with at least three more lenses. There’s also space in the padded back compartment for a 10in tablet and laptop up to 15in. But the standout feature is a clever full-height side pocket that can hold a compact travel tripod.
WD MyPassport Wireless Pro, £150-£240
This handy device lets you back up your pictures from your camera to its internal hard disc without the need for a computer. Simply pop your SD card into its built-in reader, and press the copy button. A USB 2.0 port means you can also back up Compact Flash, CFexpress or XQD cards using plug-in readers. Its hefty 6400mAH rechargeable battery will last for hours, and it can even be used as a power bank to top up your other devices. It comes in capacities from 1TB to 4TB.
Sirui Traveler Ultralight T-025SK with B-00 Head, £155
This fantastic travel tripod provides impressive stability given its diminutive dimensions. It folds down to just 32cm and weighs less than 1kg, yet extends to 128cm thanks to its five-section carbon fibre legs. The two-section centre column is removable to enable low-level shooting. The superb ball head employs an Arca Swiss-type quick release and enables precise camera positioning. While it’s best suited to mirrorless cameras or smaller DSLRs, it’ll support a surprisingly substantial load.
Nissin i40, £160
A compact flashgun that’s designed for use with mirrorless cameras, the i40 stands out for its high specification, compact size and ease of use. Its auto-zoom head covers a 24-105mm equivalent range, and there’s a 16mm slide-out wide panel. With a powerful output that belies its size, built-in LED video light, and support for advanced functions such as wireless flash control and high-speed sync, it’s available for Canon, Fujifilm, Nikon, Sony and Micro Four Thirds cameras.
Datacolor Spyder X Pro, £99
If you’re a serious photographer who likes to manipulate your images on a computer before printing or sharing them online, then you need to be sure that your monitor is showing colours accurately. Datacolor has designed the Spyder X to calibrate your display faster than ever before, with the whole process taking about two minutes to complete. For the majority of photographers the more affordable Pro package will probably make the most sense.
Benro 3-way Geared Head GD3WH, £179
For photographers who demand precise control of composition, a geared head can be a godsend. Benro’s GD3WH is a relatively lightweight, portable and precise example that incorporates an Arca Swiss-type quick release. Three large control knobs, one for each axis of movement, drive the camera directly in the corresponding direction. With its sturdy magnesium alloy construction, it’s rated for a 6kg load.
Gitzo Adventury 30L, £189
This sizeable backpack can accommodate pro-spec DSLRs and mirrorless cameras with a 70-200mm lens attached and a second body plus up to four lenses. In addition, its expandable roll top provides plenty of space for personal items, while a pair of padded compartments will hold a tablet and 13in laptop. Most importantly it feels comfortable to wear when fully loaded and offers first-class protection for your expensive kit on the move.
Kase Wolverine Magnetic Circular Filters Kits, £220-£395
In a brilliant re-imagining of how filters should work, these kits include circular polarising, 3-stop and 6-stop neutral density filters that snap magnetically onto adapters that screw onto your lens. This considerably speeds up the process of using filters. Kits are available in 77mm and 82mm sizes, with adapter rings available in all sizes from 49mm upwards for £12 each. The Pro kit adds a 10-stop neutral density filter.
Manfrotto 190 Go! MT190GOC4, £224
For photographers in need of a sturdy yet versatile tripod, Manfrotto’s 190 Go is difficult to beat. With 4-section twist-lock carbon fibre legs that can each be set to four different angles, it achieves a maximum height of 147cm while folding down to 45cm, and weighs 1.35kg. But its party trick is a centre column that can be flipped from vertical to horizontal, allowing overhead or low-level shooting.
Epson Expression Photo XP-970, £229
This impressive multifunctional unit provides A3 printing ability while retaining a compact footprint. Along with a conventional USB connection, it can print over Wi-Fi from a laptop, phone or tablet, or directly from an SD card or USB stick, controlled using the excellent 10.9cm colour LCD touchscreen. Other handy features include a 4800 DPI A4 scanner and double-sided document printing. Keen photographers in need of a compact but high-quality all-in-one printer need look no further.
Billingham Hadley Pro 2020, £239
The latest model in an iconic line of British-made satchel-style bags includes some nice updates, including a detachable shoulder strap and a strap on the back that allows it to be slipped over the handle of a suitcase. It’s impeccably constructed from premium materials, including Billingham’s signature waterproof triple-layer canvas, and is available in a variety of colours including a fetching new navy blue and chocolate leather combination. It’s pricey, but will last for decades. Smaller and larger variants are also available.
X-Rite i1Studio, £349 (Calibrite ColorChecker Studio)
This kit enables photographers to adopt a completely colour-managed workflow, from capture through display to print. It allows you to profile the colour characteristics of cameras and scanners when recording images, of monitors and projectors when displaying them, and of printers when outputting your finished work. It works with both Mac and Windows computers, and crucially gives really good results. It’s a great tool for any photographer looking to take complete control over their colour management.
Gitzo GK1555T-82TQD Traveler Tripod Kit, £549
This superb travel tripod features 5-section, dual-angle carbon fibre legs that reverse fold around the head, providing a compact folded length of 35.5cm while extending to a maximum height of 148.5cm. The twist lock legs include O-ring seals to stop sand or grit from getting in, and the rubber feet can be replaced with optional spikes. A short centre column is included for low-angle work, along with a handy carry-strap. It’s superbly made and easily capable of supporting a full-frame DSLR.
Epson FastFoto FF-680W, £549
If you have a box full of prints that you really ought to digitise, this might just be the answer. It takes up little space on a desk but can batch scan up to 30 photos of varying sizes in as little as 30 seconds. It can also crop, rotate and straighten, boost colour and contrast, remove redeye and even scan any handwritten notes on the back. It’s super-simple to use, and can be controlled using either a USB or Wi-Fi connection. It’s a transformative piece of hardware and the more prints you have to digitise, the more of a bargain it becomes
The top 50 photo accessories part one (£7-76)