Product Reviews » Protect You Equipment: f-stop Reviews OP/TECH Accessories
When I attended the most recent PDN PhotoPlus Conference in NYC, I noticed the unique nature of OP/TECH USA products and accessories. They all seemed very innovative and convenient, created for both pro and amateur, which I found appealing. Check them out at OP/TECH USA.
Let’s continue the discussion I started last month on camera safety—that is, how do we protect and keep safe our cameras, lenses, etc.? When I invest in a safety product, I want to be assured that it does the job it was designed to do, as proficiently as possible, and for as long as possible. In my last article about camera handling, I showed you some ways to protect and stabilize your camera. Let’s take a further look at some useful products to protect your camera and other tools.
Camera bodies are convenient pieces of technology to capture and hold images. But 'The Glass Is The Thing!' Light must pass through the lens (or glass), and, as we are ultimately capturing light, maintaining the quality of this glass is paramount. Lens caps are the first line of defense against damage. The extremely low cost ($10+/-) of lens caps is well worth the protection they offer. They can save a lens from an unwanted bang into a tree or telephone pole; or they can keep out water, sand and dust. Get lens caps on all your lense —front and back!
OP/TECH makes a handy rear lens-cap, which is double-sided, so that you can have it on one lens, and switch it to another easily, without juggling two caps. They also have a unique soft front lens cap. It is very light and made of rubberized weatherproof foam. It easily slips on and off the front element of the lens in a split-second, while protecting it from a bump, sand, rain, etc. The one I have is conveniently pliable enough to fit the three main zoom lenses that I use, right over the lens shade.
The second line of defense for your glass is the lens shade. Inexpensive ($15+/-) front lens shades provide a buffer that can save a major investment. Why spend $200+ on a lens, only to have it bang into a hard object and get cracked and ruined? The lens shade will provide a little more safety; it will also help prevent glare that can yield hazy imagery and unwanted spotting. The humble lens shade does double duty, protecting the lens as well as helping capture a better photo.
The third line of defense to protect your glass is the filter. The extremely affordable ($15+/-) screw-on filter can save you hundreds of dollars to replace a chipped front element. Typical filters are the UV (Ultraviolet) or Skylight filters. Each will help protect the delicate glass element of the lens itself. Secondarily, filters produce a warming effect and reduction of haze which will help make better pictures.
Camera bodies are a little harder to protect. First make sure you have the camera well secured to your body. Most new cameras come with a neck strap as standard equipment. Follow the instructions and attach it correctly. I have seen many a strap poorly connected to the camera because someone did not follow the instructions to install properly. Always use it. I also like the sling strap that holds the camera around one shoulder and allows it to comfortably fall to my side. This seems to take some weight off the neck—which for me is a huge plus.
Another option is the wrist strap. They can be very useful when you are roving and using the camera frequently. OP/TECH has a system that allows all three types of straps to be interchanged with a loop system. Check it out; I am pleased with the early tests of this so far. I like the way the sling works when I need the camera around my neck more, but with less stress on the back. Then with a quick click, I can exchange it for the conventional neck strap or wrist strap. I am going to say it again—always use a strap!
Belt pouches can be a convenient way to carry a second lens and key accessories, like extra batteries, flash cards, a lens multiplier, etc. In order to travel light, I prefer the belt pouch, as usually two good zooms—one on camera and one in the waist pouch—will do an awful lot for me. I have what I need and my neck bears little weight. Pouches come in many sizes and styles, and I prefer ones that clip onto my belt or belt loop.
OP/TECH has some nice innovations for soft, light carrying pouches, some of which can be attached to the camera strap. These are useful for holding extra AA batteries, extra camera battery-pack and flash cards, providing a consistent place for these mission-critical elements to reside. I always know exactly where my extra camera battery pack is; I always know where to look for the extra set of AA’s for my flash; I always know where to get a new flash card and where to put the exposed card. While protection is an important consideration, we are also looking to reduce variables. This is key in photography. One way of doing this is to be consistent so that everything has its place, and you can quickly and easily locate needed elements.
I have never really liked the old hard-leather camera cases. They were awkward, heavy and cumbersome to put on and off. I have recently tested and become a fan of the new generation of soft-foam camera coverings. OP/TECH makes a handy, light, soft-foam cover that can be put on or taken off with the snap of a button. It is long enough on the front dimension to allow me to have a wide or medium zoom with lens shade fit easily--very useful in the rain, on the beach, etc.
I will never forget several years ago, I was just getting used to my new DSLRs. I was in Boston on assignment and the weather was rainy and gray. I was so used to my regular SLRs, which never even hesitated in the rain, that when my new DSLR stalled in the rain, I did not know what to make of it. It never dawned on me that rain was an issue. I have come to learn that rain is a great concern for DSLRs. They just stop working when wet.
|Rainsleeves are a lightweight, inexpensive 'must-have' for shooting in foul weather.
So when shooting in the rain, protect the camera under your raincoat or umbrella. Only take it out when you need to make a shot, and do not allow rain to continually pour down on it. Another approach when you must shoot in the rain or wet weather is a protective raincoat of sorts. Take a look at OP/TECH’s rainsleeve, which can be used when shooting hand-held or on a tripod.
By taking a few precaution and utilizing some protective equipment, you can ensure that your camera and accessories stay in good working order for years to come. I am impressed with the creativity and quality of the OP/TECH products, and I think you will be too.
Follow the light…f-stop