A col­lec­tion of the best fun-yet-func­tional prod­ucts out there for pho­tog­ra­phers

Digital Photograper - - Contents -

A roundup of prod­ucts for pho­tog­ra­phers to con­sider

ROTOLIGHT NEO 2 3-LIGHT KIT AND TRANS­MIT­TER BUN­DLE A three-head kit bun­dle that com­bines con­stant light­ing and HSS ca­pa­bil­ity

£1,125 / $1,600

Rotolight’s Neo 2 is a con­stant LED light with a trick up its sleeve, be­cause it can also be used as a flash.

What’s more, it has no re­cy­cling time and can op­er­ate in high-speed sync (HSS) mode to sync with an HSSen­abled cam­era at shut­ter speeds up to 1/8,000 sec.

Rotolight has built a Sky­port re­ceiver into the Neo 2 so it can be trig­gered wire­lessly, and this bun­dle in­cludes an Elinchrom Sky­port trans­mit­ter (avail­able for Canon, Nikon, Sony and Olym­pus/Pana­sonic with Fu­ji­film com­ing soon). The re­ceiver will work with other trans­mit­ters but un­like with the Elinchrom unit, you won’t be able to use it to make re­mote ad­just­ments to bright­ness and colour tem­per­a­ture.

The Neo 2 can be pur­chased by it­self for £250/$400, but this kit com­prises three heads with power adap­tors and stands with ball heads, a pack of Rotolight coloured fil­ters, three hot­shoe mounts, your choice of Elinchrom Sky­port trans­mit­ter and a hard roller case. It adds up to a con­ve­nient pack­age that’s easy to trans­port.

Thanks to its bi­colour de­sign the Neo 2 has a colour range of 3,150-6,300K with peak out­put at 4,110K when both types of LED are at max­i­mum level. In con­tin­u­ous mode the max­i­mum out­put is 2,000 lux at 0.9m (3ft), while in flash mode with mains power and the same dis­tance it can pump out enough power to en­able f8 to be used at ISO 200. That’s equivalent to a Guide Num­ber of 24 at ISO 200. Con­se­quently, the Neo 2 is not re­ally the unit to use for blast­ing out strong sun­shine, but it’s nev­er­the­less a very use­ful de­vice, es­pe­cially in HSS mode as it doesn’t lose its power.

Us­ing the Neo 2 for con­tin­u­ous light couldn’t be eas­ier. Con­nect the power, turn it on and use the left knob to ad­just bright­ness and the right one to ad­just colour tem­per­a­ture. Find­ing and set­ting some of the more advanced fea­tures can be a bit frus­trat­ing at the start, but it doesn’t take long to get to grips with it.



£88 / $100

A teleprompter gives scripted vlogs or videos a more pro­fes­sional ap­pear­ance, be­cause you’re able to look di­rectly into the cam­era while read­ing the script. In the past, teleprompters were gen­er­ally bulky and ex­pen­sive, but smart­phone apps and the use of DSLRs and mir­ror­less cam­eras have shrunk both the size and cost.

The Par­rot Teleprompter is de­signed for use with smart­phones of up to 5.5 inches height or smaller, and comes sup­plied with nine adap­tor rings (4982mm) to al­low it to be mounted to most com­monly used cam­era lenses. Its plas­tic con­struc­tion doesn’t ooze qual­ity or dura­bil­ity, but at least the weight is kept down and it grips a phone like the iPhone 7 well.

Par­rot’s free app en­ables you to display your script on your phone and con­trol its font size and scrolling speed. It’s best used with the re­mote con­trol which is sold separately in the UK.


£85 / $100

Mi­croSD cards are in­cred­i­bly use­ful for ex­pand­ing smart­phone stor­age or al­low­ing you to cap­ture images and video with ac­tion cams and drones. Help­fully, the SanDisk Ul­tra UHS-1 comes with an SD card adap­tor, so you can also use it in a wide range of other cam­eras.

Ac­cord­ing to SanDisk, the Ul­tra microSDXC UHS-I is a Class 10 card with read speeds of up to 95MB/s, and it’s de­signed for Full HD and still im­age record­ing. We found it achieved read speeds close to that fig­ure with large files, while the write speeds av­er­aged around a healthy 50MB/s, in­di­cat­ing that while it’s not ideal, it should also be able to cope with 4K video record­ing – which it did for us.

With a ca­pac­ity of 256GB it has space to store a huge num­ber of images, over 6,000 RAW and JPG files (12,000+ files) from the

24MP Canon EOS M50 for in­stance.

“Its sleek de­sign and metal­lic fin­ish makes the

PNY Type-C SD 3.1 stand out from the card

reader crowd”


£27 / $20

Its sleek de­sign and metal­lic fin­ish makes the PNY Type-C SD 3.1 card reader/USB adap­tor stand out from the card reader crowd, while its USB-C con­nec­tion makes it us­able with some of the lat­est smart­phones and tablets as well as lap­tops like the 12-inch MacBook. At the op­po­site end from the male USB-C con­nec­tion is a USB-A port, which means it’s pos­si­ble to con­nect USB drives, prin­ters and the like to your USB-C de­vice.

Two card slots en­able an SD or mi­croSD card to be con­nected to a USB-C de­vice. While an SD card slips in fairly smoothly, a little wig­gle is re­quired to get a mi­croSD card in and out of its slot. Nev­er­the­less, both slots work well with a va­ri­ety of cards and images ren­der very quickly when brows­ing them in Adobe Bridge on a 2017 MacBook.


£49 / $64

If your DSLR’s aut­o­fo­cus sys­tem is out of tune with your lenses, you’ll never get the best re­sults from it. The Datacolor SpyderLENSCAL helps solve

this prob­lem us­ing the cam­era’s AF ad­just­ment sys­tem to en­sure that fo­cus

al­ways falls where you ex­pect. A screw thread al­lows the LENSCAL to be mounted on a tri­pod, but it can also be rested on a level sur­face with the help of a spirit level. Then once your cam­era

is cor­rectly aligned, you just need to fo­cus the lens us­ing the AF sys­tem with the cen­tre point over the AF tar­get. The ruled side sec­tion en­ables you to check if your cam­era’s AF sys­tem is ac­cu­rate,

and if not read off the de­gree and di­rec­tion of the ad­just­ment re­quired. The Datacolor SpyderLENSCAL folds flat for stor­age and of­fers a de­gree of pre­ci­sion that’s hard to achieve with DIY

cal­i­bra­tion tar­gets.

HUAWEI P20 PRO Three Le­ica cam­eras and ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence give this smart­phone some se­ri­ous clout

£800 / $1,090 (AP­PROX)

While the Huawei P20 Pro has cutting-edge com­mu­ni­ca­tion tech­nol­ogy, it’s the fact that it’s the first smart­phone to fea­ture a triple cam­era sys­tem that caught our at­ten­tion. And sig­nif­i­cantly, those cam­eras have been de­vel­oped in part­ner­ship with Le­ica.

The high­est-res­o­lu­tion cam­era amongst the three has a 40MP 1/1.73-inch colour sen­sor be­hind an f1.8 wide-an­gle lens. In ad­di­tion, there’s a 1/4.4-inch 8MP f2.4 tele­photo cam­era and a 20MP 1/2.78-inch f1.6 mono­chrome cam­era. Al­though that adds up to 68MP, the high­est res­o­lu­tion you can shoot at is 40MP, with 10MP be­ing the de­fault out­put.

While drop­ping to 10MP might sound like a sac­ri­fice, Huawei’s Light Fu­sion tech­nol­ogy uses in­for­ma­tion from all three sen­sors to boost im­age qual­ity and keep noise lev­els down. Even if you opt to shoot 40MP images, the cam­era will de­fault to 10MP when any of the sub­ject shoot­ing modes are used.

Ar­ti­fi­cial In­tel­li­gence (AI) has also been put to use in the P20 Pro, en­abling it to un­der­stand what it’s pho­tograph­ing and to use suit­able set­tings. You can see this in ac­tion when you’re shoot­ing, as the screen will display an icon de­pict­ing what the cam­era be­lieves the sub­ject to be. We’ve yet to see it get it wrong, with sub­jects such as dogs, cats, food, nat­u­ral colours, close-up, night shots, text and green­ery fea­tur­ing.

Hav­ing three cam­eras en­ables a hy­brid zoom with the op­ti­cal el­e­ment be­ing equivalent to 27-80mm. An­other ben­e­fit is the Aper­ture mode, which en­ables the back­ground and/or fore­ground in an im­age to be blurred more than would nor­mally be pos­si­ble with a small sen­sor. This is trig­gered au­to­mat­i­cally in Por­trait mode, but you can ad­just the point of fo­cus and de­gree of blur post-cap­ture in images shot in Aper­ture mode. It works very well, with little sign of arte­facts around the sub­ject.

Pho­tog­ra­phers may be at­tracted by the abil­ity to shoot RAW files, but do­ing so rules out us­ing some of the P20 Pro’s clever fea­tures, in­clud­ing Aper­ture mode.

LeftEX­TRA AC­CES­SORIESRotolight of­fers ac­ces­sories for the Neo 2 in­clud­ing barn boors, a range of fil­ters and a soft­box kitLeftBAT­TERY POWERThe Neo 2 can be pow­ered by six AA lithium or NiMH bat­ter­ies, but this re­duces the max flash power

InsetSU­PER STA­BLEThere’s an AI-as­sisted sta­bil­i­sa­tion sys­tem built in to the P20 Pro which en­ables im­pres­sively long ex­po­sures to be made hand­held. We shot ex­po­sures at night that were sev­eral sec­onds long and they are per­fectly sharpRightVIDEO OP­TIONSWhile you can shoot 4K (3,840 x 2,160) video, you have to drop to 2,160 x 1,080 (18:9) if you want sta­bilised footage. 720p footage can be shot at up to 960fps for su­per-slow mo­tion play­back

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