Bodies, lenses, strobes – these are the typical arsenal of most photographers. But with the aid of e-commerce and some creative thinking, today’s photo gear has reached new heights. Such advances have brought us everything from the utterly groundbreaking (Google Glass, Lytro’s light-field camera) to the insanely quirky (see below). Presenting 10 eccentric photo accessories that will transform the way you shoot and think about photography.
Lensbaby ($80 – $730)
Building up an extensive glass collection can take a toll on your wallet. But we understand, the allure of new lenses is too much to resist. Before you spend thousands on your next lens, it’s worth checking out Lensbaby. The Portland-based company’s line of artistic lenses begins at $80. For the unfamiliar, these lenses, compatible with a number of SLR and mirrorless cameras, feature an interchangeable optic system. The optics, which produce effects from soft focus to fisheye, range in price from $40 to $300. By nature, Lensbaby photos are a bit soft around the edges and generally require you to manually adjust focus and aperture. Yet, with the ability to get a tilt-shift-esque look for only $300, this is definitely a game changer.
iPhone SLR lens adapter ($250)
Two summers ago, Photojojo debuted an iPhone mount for SLR lenses. The $249 accessory from an unknown manufacturer in Hong Kong quickly sold out two days after it was listed on the e-retailer’s store. The mount is actually an iPhone case (4/4S/5) with an adapter for Canon and Nikon SLR lenses. Armed with it, you no longer have to rely on filters for stunning images, but can instead play with your existing glass and its optical zoom, focal lengths, and effects.
Cinetics ($130 – $930)
The GorillaPod is an amazing tripod to have handy when you don’t want to lug around your giant Manfrotto legs. Cinetics decided to attach three skateboard wheels to the end of these flexible legs, essentially creating a GorillaPod dolly. Ease-of-use wasn’t always smooth sailing, so the Austin-based company has reiterated it several times over and now has a robust line of accessories for your GorillaPod (yes, accessories for your accessory!). These include CineSquid, which secures your camera to surfaces using suction cups; CineVise, which uses clamps; and CineMoco, a motor-controlled track system.
DSLR Wheel of Filters ($40)
Swap out that neutral density filter for something more creative. Another quirky offering from Photojojo, the DSLR Wheel of Filters is a pair of Holga filters with nine color effects and nine prisms (including a kaleidoscope!). Simply rotate the wheel to switch between the funky toy-camera stylings.
Pen Camcorder 4G ($50)
All spies love their gadgets. For super-stealth, top-secret missions, there’s the Pen Camcorder 4G from the Spy Museum Store. As expected, the pen writes like a ballpoint, but hidden within is a teeny camera capable of shooting 1280 x 960 photos and 640 x 480 videos – not quite HD but definitely enough resolution to gather evidence. Another handy feature: It also doubles as a 4GB flash drive.
A Kickstarter success story, Swivl is your very own robotic cameraman. When you mount your iPhone on top of this motorized device, you can shoot video hands free, with Swivl automatically panning horizontally and vertically. Building on its crowdfunding success, the company again turned to Kickstarter for initial financing to build a larger, more powerful version to support SLRs and iPads. It’s expected to land in the fall.
Lightscoop Deluxe ($40)
When lighting is off, shooting can lead to frustration and disappointment. This is especially the case when you’re shooting indoors. Recently undergoing a diet, the slimmed down Lightscoop Deluxe is a nifty little gadget that is almost effortless to use yet makes a world of difference with indoor photos. When mounted in front of an SLR or mirrorless camera’s pop-up flash, the reflective surface bounces the harsh direct light to the ceiling, diffusing it into soft, gentle illumination for more gorgeous photos.
Liquid Image ($100 – $200)
When people want footage of their amazing adventures, they turn to the likes of GoPro. Yet the extra gear to help capture that footage isn’t always convenient. Liquid Image has a line of masks and goggles that integrate HD cameras so you can shoot hands-free underwater or in the air. Its line of SCUBA masks are especially remarkable because they can go down under up to 40 meters – that’s 131 feet for us Yanks.
Kogeto Dot ($50)
Sure, your phone can stitch together panoramas, but can it take panoramic video? Didn’t think so (at least not yet). For that, you’ll have to turn to the Kogeto Dot , which affixes a panoramic optic on top of the iPhone camera to shoot 360-degree interactive video with a special app.
Hüfa Cap Clip ($10)
The easiest item to lose while on the field is the lens cap. When not in use, it could end up anywhere: one of your multitude of pockets, the bottom of your camera bag, or left behind at the scene. Hüfa solves this problem with a simple cap clip ($10) that secures your lens cap to a camera bag or strap. No more dismantling your bag to search for a small piece of plastic. While the umlaut makes it sound German, the company is based in Hawaii.