Bumping your photography game takes time, hard work, and a deep devotion to the art and craft of capturing images that speak to the human condition and move people’s souls. But it also takes cool gear! We found five pieces that will help you become the next great photographic artiste — or at least make you really good at time lapses.
Syrp Genie Mini
This smart little hockey puck is a photographer’s fantasy — a portable, easy-to-use motion control device that will generate smooth panning movements while your camera films or captures sequences of still images. You can connect to it via an app to control the device’s speed and range of motion, and a cable connection controls shutter speed and timing during time lapses. It’s compatible with everything from GoPros and smartphones up through professional DSLRs.
Sigma Art Lenses
Lens manufacturer Sigma is gaining incredible status for their Art Lens line. This sublimely crafted series of fast lenses — from 20mm, 35mm and 50mm f/1.4’s to the new 135mm f/1.8, along with many others — are capable of producing stunningly crisp images and luscious bokeh, the background de-focusing that helps images pop so brilliantly. You can choose Canon, Nikon, or Sigma mounts, or with an adapter, use them with your Sony mirrorless or DSLR.
Alpine Labs Pulse Camera Remote
This lightweight, wireless Bluetooth camera remote sits on your camera’s flash hot-shoe and lets you control a wide range of camera functions from the safety of your smartphone. You can adjust the shutter speed, ISO, and aperture, capture your images, and check thumbnails of your shots remotely. This is great for when you want to position your camera in a remote location, when you can’t easily see operate the camera due to its tricky positioning, or when you just don’t need to be standing next to the camera for hours. It lets you do time lapses easily and even progressively adjust your ISO and shutter speed as the lighting conditions change. Best of all: Its connection is fast and seamless, which helps when you’re on the go or in a hurry.
Westcott 301 Photo Basics 40-Inch 5-in-1 Reflector
No matter what anyone tells you, you can’t spend your whole life shooting in natural light. It’s just too limiting. Learning to use a flash well takes a bit of practice, but there’s an easy, eminently affordable intermediary step, too: a reflector. Use this 40-inch disk, which collapses smartly to one-third of its size for storage, to bounce light onto your subject from windows, ambient light, or the sun itself. There are multiple surfaces for different effects, but 40 inches is the size sweet spot, small enough to be portable but big enough when expanded to help light, say, a car or a small group of people. Don’t have a stand to mount it or a buddy to hold it? Get smart: Use a 10-second timer then jump in there yourself with the reflector, aiming it just right before your camera fires.
Impact Air Cushioned Heavy Duty Light Stand
We said we’d take your photography to the next level, and we meant it. Though this is technically a light stand, it can also be easily used as a long-neck tripod by simply attaching a head to the top. What you then have — for only $69 — is a 13-foot camera platform. Why would you want that? Because photography is all about perspective. Too many photos shot at eye level becomes rote, and getting down low represents only half of your options. Placing your camera up high — in nature, cityscapes, sporting events, concerts, wherever — doubles your alternative options to eye-level shooting. Of course, you can’t see through the camera at that height, so you’ll have to experiment with camera angles and use a timer or time-lapse option to have the camera fire automatically. Or just pick up the Pulse (above) for full remote-control capability.