Archive for April 2013

Gadgets:: Hoodman helps you view DSLR’s LCD screen

By GREGG ELLMAN— Twitter.com/greggellman

Hoodman Custom FinderHoodman, a company known for innovative camera accessories, has launched a Custom Finder Kit for Canon and Nikon DSLR cameras.

This accessory is a must-have for anyone owning one of these cameras and who knows how difficult it can be to view the LCD in bright conditions, or to see magnified details of an image or video.

The main feature of the kit is the rubberized H32 HoodLoupe eyecup along with the HoodMAG eyecup, which you put your eye right up to for viewing anything on your LCD (up to 3.2-inches) even in the brightest conditions.

Diopter adjustment (+/-3) is built into the loupe, which is made with German glass optics. All this adds up to an incredibly handy and glare-free way of viewing your camera’s LCD in actual or magnified ratios.

A new innovative lightweight base plate, made of milled black anodized aluminum is included with the kit and mounts in seconds to the bottom of your camera’s tripod hole.

The baseplate needs minor adjustments before attaching it to your camera and Hoodman has posted an easy “how to” video on their site, which I recommend watching before attaching it to your camera.

Once you have the plate mounted and the hood in place, the loupe can be adjusted or even removed with the turn of a knob.

A hex tool, which is needed for making some of the mounting adjustments is included and has a nice hiding place for storage on the plate so it won’t get lost and is easily found when needed.

The bottom of the plate is equipped with additional tripod and ball-head holes, slots for shoulder or sling camera straps and other camera accessories.

Anyone who already owns a HoodLoupe 3.0 or 3.2 can purchase the custom finder base plate separately for mounting them together.

Details: $199.99, www.hoodmanusa.com

LENSPEN HELPS YOU CLEAN DIGITAL CAMERA SENSOR

LensPen SensorKlearDigital camera sensor cleaning is challenging for many and LensPen, a leading sensor cleaning accessory maker, accurately describes the chore as “a tedious, time-consuming and nerve rattling experience.”

The company’s SensorKlear Loupe kit is a perfect way for any digital camera owner to keep the digital sensors clean for crystal clear digital images.

Looking at your cameras sensor without a magnified loupe is virtually useless, but with the kit’s SensorKlear Loupe (6x magnification) you’ll be able to see the unwanted dust.

Just remove the lens, place the loupe in the aperture ring, turn on its built-in light, which consists of eight LEDs, and examine your camera’s sensor.

The loupe is powered by two AAA batteries (included) and is adjustable to fit any camera mount.

When you see the spots you want removed, first try the Hurricane Blower, which will most often remove dry dust.

If you encounter spots referred to as sticky dust, which the blower doesn’t remove, that’s where the SensorKlear II pen comes in.

The liquid-free pen touches the sensor directly through an access window on the side of the loupe so you can see and clean the dust at the same time.

Before using this or any other sensor cleaning kit, make sure you read your camera’s warranty. Often damage done to a sensor during a warranty period will result in the warranty not being honored for sensor repair.

Details: $99.95, www.lenspen.com

KEYBOARD SWITCHES EASILY BETWEEN APPLE DEVICES

Logitech Bluetooth Easy SwitchIf you’re a member of Team Apple with a Mac, iPhone and iPad then the Logitech Bluetooth easy-switch keyboard is a must have.

First off it’s a portable Bluetooth keyboard, which is small enough to tuck into any laptop bag. But what makes it unique is you can instantly and easily switch between the devices.

Just pair it up as you do normally with each device and you can switch from one to the other with the push of a key on the top row. It’s that simple, no need to turn a device off or disconnected the Bluetooth, just press the button.

In addition to how well it works, it’s a great looking device to fit in the Apple family. It’s built with a brushed aluminum body, backlit black keys and recharges with the included USB cable.

There’s also a battery status light on the top to alert you if a charge is needed.

Details: $99.99, www.logitech.com

MIRRORCASE ENABLES SELF-PORTRAITS, CANDID SHOTS

MirrorCaseThe MirrorCase for iPhone’s 4/4S ($49.95) is designed to let you use the phone in a more natural horizontal mode when taking photos.

In addition to acting as a case, it has mirror on the front end just below the power button, which you aim toward your subject.

With the case you can put it down on a flat surface to aim it with more accuracy if you want to jump in the photo.

The case even helps using the phone to take photos when you don’t want it to be so obvious.

A newer version is available for pre-orders for iPads ($79.95) and the iPhone 5 ($59.95) where the mirror rotates out in both landscape and portrait modes. When you’re not taking photos, the mirror folds back into the case.

Details: $49.95, www.mirrorcase.com

Contact Gregg Ellman at greggellman@mac.com. Follow him on Twitter: @greggellman

Gadgets:: Sleeping to music in your ears

By GREGG ELLMAN— Twitter.com/greggellman

Therapy PillowThe Sound Oasis Sleep Therapy Pillow speakers slide into any sized pillow for relaxing sound.

While they are marketed for enhanced therapy or privacy use, I thought they were a great accessory for bedtime TV audio.

The wired stereo speakers ($22.99) are ultra-thin and plug into any device with a 3.5mm connection. Just slide them into your pillow and adjust the volume on the in-line control.

Each speaker is about 1.5-inches round by .5-inch deep and 73-inches long cord with a volume control.

The speakers are also available in the Sound Oasis Sleep Therapy Pillow ($49.99), which has them built-into the 20 x 26-inch pillow.

A cord, with the in-line speaker control, connects to your device from the pillow. The speakers can be removed so the pillow can be cleaned.

www.sound-oasis.com

Spark DigitalBlue Microphones Spark Digital delivers crystal clear audio on Apple iOS and USB (Mac and Windows) devices with basically a plug-and-play setup.

I chose GarageBand as my app, although it’s listed to work with hundreds of apps. With GarageBand running, the microphone was instantly detected and after a few steps it was recording.

The studio-quality microphone weights 1.25 lbs., has LED lights for levels, along with volume controls, microphone muting and gain.

An adjustable desk stand has built-in shockmount and a port to plug in your own headphone for monitoring the audio.

Aside from how well the microphone worked with its simple setup, it’s one of the coolest looking accessories to have.

Whether you’re using it to capture audio for podcasts, instrumental, video or note taking, you’ll be thrilled with the results.

For connections, it includes a long Apple 30-pin connection cable so you’ll need the lightning adapter (not included) for the newer devices. A standard USB cable is included for computer connections, along with a soft storage case, which can hold the mic, stand and accessories.

For sound techies, the Spark Digital has a 20Hz – 20kHz frequency response, an adjustable gain range of 32dB and a 16bit bit rate.

Spark Digital includes a $125 value of both a six-month account to Gobbler, which includes 25 GB of storage for music backup and organization along with a six-month Pro Account from SoundCloud, which lets anyone create, record, promote and share their sounds on the web.

www.bluemic.com  $199.99

SnoozeAlarm clocks for smartphones are a dime a dozen, so at this point there must be something that really catches my attention to give it a second glance.

The Snooze iPhone alarm dock from Distil Union does just that with its functionality and its attractive wood (solid, Maple or Oak) finish.

Using it is simple; just slide your iPhone 5 or 4/4S into the dock, which has tracks cut into it to keep it in place.

Then download the free Snooze alarm clock app and you’re all set.

Your device acts as alarm clock with an easy access snooze button built into the dock, which measures about 2 x 3 x 4.5-inches and has rubber feet on the bottom to keep it in place.

A pass-through slot lets you hook it up to charge overnight with your own USB charging cable and AC wall adapter.

The app lets you set alarms and adjust its brightness with the swipe of your finger.

The slot to slide your phone in is about 1/2-inch wide, so keep that in mind when trying to use the dock with a case on the phone.

www.bitemyapple.co $39.99

Gadgets:: Get wireless control of your DSLR with CamRanger, Apple products

By GREGG ELLMAN— Twitter.com/greggellman

CamRangerThe CamRanger is the wireless device photographers have been waiting a long time for and after one use I can say it was worth the wait.

It plugs into the USB-out port on most of the newer digital SLR cameras from Canon and Nikon to create a Wi-Fi network with Apple iOS (4.0 and up) devices or Mac computers with OSX 10.7 and up. An Android version is in development and is expected out later this spring.

The setup is simple: Just download the free CamRanger app from iTunes and complete a simple registration process (serial number validation). From there it’s pretty amazing how well it works.

Once you’re hooked up and everything is on, the app displays all the camera settings and enables you to change most of them on your handheld device’s LCD.

This includes autofocus, live view, shutter speed, image quality, aperture, ISO, firing the camera itself and reviewing images. The app lets you double tap an image to increase its magnification.

What instantly impressed me was how easy it is to set up compared to a complicated process for similar devices.

On my first day of testing, I connected the CamRanger to my Canon 1DX, which was mounted on a backboard at a college basketball game. Images were shot and edited with my iPad, enabling them to be seen just as the action happened.

The unit can be used while you’re taking photos or you can attach it to a camera to read what’s on the memory card after a day of shooting.

For example, vacation photographers can be out a whole day photographing family fun, and then at night connect the CamRanger to the camera to view, download and email off selected photos; it’s that easy.

The battery looks like a standard cellphone battery and is good for 3 to 6 hours before a USB charge is needed. If you have a portable USB battery, it also works and recharges the CamRanger when connected.

You get a 150-foot range from the device (4-by-2.5-by-.5 inches) and it comes with charging and connection USB cables along with a storage pouch, which can be attached to a camera or strap.

Details: $299, check the site for supported cameras and features; www.camranger.com

KEEP YOUR HEADPHONE CABLE TANGLE-FREE

KlinggThe Klingg cord hold will work with any wired headphone to keep your cable out of the way and tangle free.

There isn’t a lot to it, just a two-piece magnetic system, which you can attach to clothing or just about any surface.

If you attach it to your shirt, the rear part goes inside and the cable-holding end of the magnetic system stays on the outside, which has a slot to run the headphone (not included) cable in.

Details: $19.95, available in many color combinations; www.klingg.com

HERCULES BACKPACK LIVES UP TO ITS MYTHOLOGICAL NAME

Hercules Laptop BackpackYou don’t need to know anything about Greek mythology to figure out that the new Hercules (K7102) backpack from ECBC is all you need for a laptop, tablet and more accessories than you would ever use.

Before you even unzip a pocket, you’ll see the backpack is well made with what they list the material as 1000 denier Kodra, a heavy duty Nylon.

Most people, including me, would more commonly call this a canvas-type material but either way it looks good.

The material has a water-repellent coating and combines with the water-resistant zippers to keep your items weatherproof, which shouldn’t be confused with waterproof.

After your laptop (up to 17-inches) is positioned with the form spacer and a tablet is stored you’ll have to really explore to find all of the compartments since they seem to be hidden and positioned everywhere.

The main compartment can accommodate the big and bulky headphones of today along with power supplies, cords, cables, sunglasses or whatever you want.

Before you fill it up, the backpack measures 18.4-by-12.13-by-7.1 inches and weighs 2.7 pounds. Even after it was filled to capacity, I still was able to fit it under the seat at my feet on a recent flight.

It features an adjustable ergonomically designed shoulder strap system and side pockets for water bottles.

Details: $139.99, available in berry, black, blue, green and linen; www.ec-bc.com

Contact Gregg Ellman at greggellman@mac.com. Follow him on Twitter: @greggellman.