My top (10) secret photography gear - 2018 edition
I'm always on the lookout for photography gear that will make me productive, efficient, effective, and ergonomic. Doing photography can be taxing on the body from shooting with heavy gear, to editing hours and hours. There must be a better way is what I always say to myself, so I seek out the better way from going to Fry's and browsing the ads and aisles, to reading gear blog, to just doing Google and Amazon searches.
We all use the standard tools like Photomechanic, Photoshop, Canon, Nikon, Sony, and Fuji DSLRs, so I won't discuss these standard tools. Instead I'll discuss the tools that people don't normally use (at least I don't think). Note that some of these links will use my affiliate info which will contribute to my kids' college fund. :)
tl;dr: The ergonomic way to cull
Why: Paired with Photomechanic, the Logitech Gamepad F310 (I'm a Logitech fan btw) puts less strain on the hands and arms. Gamepads are meant to be ergonomic and are meant for gaming for hours and hours. Culling through thousands of photos can get very tiring. Logitech also has a wireless version, but I've found it to be flaky.
tl;dr: Comfort while sitting that doubles as a chair you can actually nap on.
Why: after hours of editing, I find myself slouching over the keyboard or leaning back at the chair without any support. The nice thing about gaming chairs and this one in particular is that it has a headrest, as well as a footrest. The chair also leans back to 135 degrees so if you put a keyboard and monitor just over you, you can essentially work while leaning backwards instead of leaning and slouching forwards. If you get a little tired while working, it's comfortable enough that you can close your eyes and take a nap on your chair. Some gaming chairs I've seen even go 180 degrees. Unfortunately I already bought this one but would like to hear your experience with any other gaming chair.
tl;dr: roll your stand instead of carry it
Why: I try to have a strong light like the with me on photo shoots in case I want an editorial look to my photos, or to have the flexibility for powerful lighting in case I'm shooting in bright daylight, or need to have a fast way of shooting with flash without it overheating to quickly. The flash I use is the Godox AD600 mounted on a Cheetah Stand 12 with casters. The set of casters I actually use are the ones made by Alien Bees, but they don't make that version anymore. The do have a newer version however.
tl;dr: Save some keystrokes and record on the fly
Why: I often find myself doing a combination of actions in Photoshop. Sometimes I have to look for each action in the dozens I have. The gaming keyboard allows you to record keystrokes on the fly and then save them to a particular key. So, I'll have actions mapped to a particular key sequence, then I'll record that key sequence on the gaming keyboard, so now all I have to do is press that key. Other things you can save as a sequence are canned emails that you write over and over to clients like reminders.
tl;dr: Easy access to your gear. Fits lots of stuff. Top and front loading. Piggy back mode
Why: Well, ok -- bags are kinda standard, but where has this bag been all my life? This has to be my most favorite camera bag ever. It allows me to have quick access to two camera bodies from the top, so I don't have to carry two bodies all the time. It's also front loading so you can have access to other lenses or accessories underneath the cameras. I also put my reflector inside the front, as well as a laptop when I need it for a shoot. Another feature that is great is called "piggy back" mode. If you have so much gear that you need to bring another bag, you can have the Airport Navigator piggy back to your other bag. Essentially when both bags are standing, both bags are on the floor. But when you decide to pull the main bag, it lifts the Airport Navigator off the ground. See this picture.
tl;dr: automatic lens calibration software
Why: I bought those ruler thingies, but I was never sure if did it right. The software will calibrate the lens and give you a recommended micro adjustment per lens/camera combo. It does take 30 min per lens though, and you'll need to multiply that per camera you have.
tl;dr: uses less space than a light stand
Why: Lightstands take up space and people can trip over them. To minimize those two issues, I have 4 micro arms that I bring so I can light up a room if needed with speedlights. These are costly at $129, and there are cheaper ones on Amazon for $11, but they're just not as good.
Cost: $129 each
tl;dr: auto switch between computers
Why: If you have multiple computers and switch back and forth sometimes, get this system. This allows you to have up to 3 computers controlled by one mouse and one keyboard. In the olden dates, there used to be a physical switch that allowed you to toggle called a KVM. This allows you to go to the edge of the screen and then it will automatically switch to the next computer.
Cost: $29 (keyboard), $55 (mouse)
tl;dr: an ergonomic way to view content on your tablet or tablet pc
Why: always looking down at your screen causes fatigue on the neck. Holding it up with your own arms only lasts at most a few minutes. I've used this arm a couple of ways: 1) culling while I'm laying back on a reclining chair, and 2) watching content like creative live (as well as movies) while laying flat on my back on the couch or in bed.
tl;dr: Know who's emailing you quickly
Why: Knowing who's emailing you helps validate if this is a scam email or not. In your Gmail, their Linkedin profile will pop up.
tl;dr: change lenses in a flash
Why: I've been always clumsy at changing lenses the traditional way. This makes it easy to do it without putting any gear down nor needing an assistant. I did drop my lens once because I didn't have it secure, so make sure to lock your lens on when changing.
tl;dr: help protect your gear
Why: I personally have known a handful of people who has had their gear stolen from their homes. While alarms do not prevent theft, they do deter. It will also make you aware if there's been a break in. A bad scenario that can happen is that you get home and the criminal is in your house. Best part is you don't have to subscribe to a $30/mo security service. It will send you a push message that the alarm has been tripped.
Cost: $279 for a starter kit.