A collection of the best fun-yet-functional products out there for photographers
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.
SANDISK ULTRA MICROSDXC UHS-I 256GB CARD
£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
PNY TYPE-C SD 3.1 CARD READER/ USB ADAPTOR
£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
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.
Rotolight offers accessories for the Neo 2 including barn boors, a range of filters and a softbox kit
The Neo 2 can be powered by six AA lithium or NiMH batteries, but this reduces the max flash power
There’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 sharp
While 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