Creativity is something we should all nurture whenever possible. Gifts which help foster and encourage creativity are what we will be suggesting over the next couple of days.
It should be to no one’s surprise that the gear from Lensbaby are at the top of our recommendations list:
- Composer Pro: for those ready to step out of their comfort zone
- Edge 80 Optics: a great accessory for someone who already owns a Lensbaby
- Wide Angle, Soft Focus: Other creative Lensbaby Optics
- Spark: Perfect for someone intriqued by Lensbaby possibilities
- Lensbaby books: see what is possible, learn how they did it
Why are we so stoked about Lensbaby? The biggest reason is their new Edge 80 and Sweet 35 Optics. Both lenses have the 12-blade adjustable aperture. We have enjoyed using the Lensbaby in the studio, but found that changing the aperture discs while in the field was not convenient. The two new optics (Edge80, Sweet35) changes all of that. They are so easy to use that we were amazed at our success the first time out with them (NYC, World’s End).
To carry the new Lensbabies, we would recommend nothing else but bags from Kata. While their larger bags are great for DSLR with a zoom lens (TBL-300, MiniBee, Owl), for the smaller Lensbaby/DSLR combo, we would suggest one of the following Kata options:
- Kata LPS-116: Compact bag for both camera and tablet
- Kata LPS-216: Perfect for a D90 body, a Lensbaby, and some optics
- Kata 3N1-22: If you also really want to bring along an 18-300mm Nikkor
Like the large Kata units, these more compact, new-for-2012, Kata bags have lots of padded storage, adjustible compartments, and quick access pockets for all sorts of camera gear. However, these new bags are tailored to carry and protect tablets rather than laptops. Once again, Kata is at the front of the wave, as they were among the first to recognize that a number of photographers would be swapping their laptops for iPads and so adapted their new offerings in anticipation. We know we have since April 2010.
Nikon released the Nikkor 18-300 DX zoom in July. After shooting extensively with one for the past five months (FirstLook, FirstShots, FirstUse), we can say this new Nikkor zoom will replace a bag full of lenses. While a zoom will never be as sharp as individual prime lenses, we have no regrets trading off a little sharpness for the huge return of convenience and versatility. This is the one present we would buy for ourselves if we hadn’t already bought one of the first off of Nikon’s production line.
Need a cover to protect the gear when the weather turns? The Kata’s E-702 Rain Sleeve has it covered. The E-702 slips on quickly so one can keep on shooting. It also provides excellent protection in dusty or sandy environments. We keep one in the camera bag at all times.
Another thing that is in our camera bag is a pair of binoculars. Our binocular of choice is the Brunton ECHO 10×32. The Brunton has served us extremely well over the years. Emerald Fire multi-coating, waterproof and fog-proof, the ECHO is perfect for mid- to long-distance viewing.
We have personal in-use experiences with all of the gear in today’s guide and can recommend them without reservation. While the right gear will let you get the shot, sometimes that will just get you half-way there. Come back tomorrow to see what we have to help the creative types on your list to complete their vision.