Seven Inexpensive Gadgets for your DSLR
You can easily extend the capabilities of your DSLR camera with some of the inexpensive gadgets described below. These are usually available for a variety of brands and formats, do not take up much space in your camera bag and, most of all, are relatively cheap. Search on Amazon or E-bay for great deals on both genuine and generic products. Although the following gadgets are specifically for Nikon cameras, they are usually available for other brands such as Canon, Sony, Panasonic, Pentax and Olympus.
Nikon infrared controller is a simple remote controller that lets you trigger your camera’s shutter from a distance. It operates on one 3V battery, is extremely light and almost indestructible. This controller is especially useful for self-portraits, sequence photography and in situations where you want to avoid contact with your camera in order to reduce shake. There is a variety of such inexpensive controllers on the market including both Nikon genuine products as well as generic ones.
Hot-shoe bubble level is an extremely useful gadget for landscape, panoramic and handheld photography if your camera doesn’t have an artificial horizon. Again, there is a number of versatile bubble levels on the market, ranging from simple 1 or 2 level to more complicated 3 level indicators.
Viewfinder rubber eyepiece is a simple gadget that can be mounted on your camera’s viewfinder in order to block any outside light that may interfere with the exposure and make composing more difficult. It is especially useful on a sunny day and in Macro photography where you need to have a clear view through the viewfinder. Note that all professional video cameras are equipped with a rubber eyepiece. Again, these are available in a variety of shapes and forms, can be rotated and mounted on any standard 22mm viewfinder.
Nikon SG-3 IR Panel for Built-in flash is a Nikon product that will block all the visible light when using the build-in flash in commander mode in order to trigger a speedlight remotely. Note that when using your built-in flash in commander mode, even after selecting the flash not to fire, it will always produce some visible light in order to trigger the speedlight. This may spoil the exposure or simply blind the people you are capturing. The SG-3 panel will block the visible light completely and the Infrared film inside will only pass through the signal to trigger the speedlight. The panel is extremely light and mounts on your camera’s hot shoe.
TTL off-camera flash cord lets you use your speedlight in off-camera mode in order to mount it on a bracket, stand, tripod, gorilapod or simply hold in your hand. The cord exchanges all the information between the camera and speedlight and lets you control all the settings as if the strobe was mounted on the camera. There is a variety of TTL cords available on the market including genuine Nikon and generic products in different lengths.
The timer remote shutter cord lets you trigger your camera’s shutter from a distance, without any contact with your camera to avoid shake. There is plenty of these available for virtually any model, including generic as well as brand names. Some of them have a simple shutter release button and others are also equipped with a timer for time-lapse and astrophotography.
A softbox is basically a kind of diffuser that helps to reduce shadows and manipulate the light to achieve different results. Softboxes are mostly used in studio photography, but there is also a range of portable ones used in outdoor photography. Pictured above is a portable softbox you can use with your speedlight while taking portraits or photographing smaller objects. They are extremely cheap, easy to assemble and do just the job. Obviously, taking the size into consideration, you shouldn’t expect excellent studio results, however, a portable speedlight softbox can be an ideal solution for smaller projects.
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