Gear Up: May’s Coolest Photo Gadgets and Gizmos

May 8, 2014

By Libby Peterson

Designing, Making and Shipping Instagram Photo Albums

Uploading photos to Instagram is a quick and easy way to share work with the world, but what happens afterward? So many photographs live in Instagram cyberspace but are hardly seen or enjoyed again. BooksTo.Me strives to change that by making social media tangible. 

With its monthly plan, BooksTo.Me automatically designs, produces and ships albums of your last month’s Instagram photos to your door in an eco-friendly 8 x 8-inch album. The quarterly plan grants customers one book every three months, though regardless of the plan, BooksTo.Me requires at least 20 photos to make an album; any less and the makers will send 5 x 5-inch prints of your shots, while photo sets exceeding 20 will grant more album pages (more than 200 photos in the monthly plan and 320 in the quarterly plan will mean a second album). 

Of course, this begs the question: What if you don’t want all of your last month’s photos printed? By hashtagging #noBTM on a given image, BooksTo.Me will disregard it and move on to the ones you want printed. The first album can be expected to arrive within a week, and every subsequent album should arrive on the same day of every month.

Prices: Monthly plan, $24 per month (and $19.95 for a second album); Quarterly plan, $44 every three months (and $39.95 for a second album)

Interfit’s New EX200Ti Flash Kit

Photography lighting and accessories company Interfit Photographic Ltd. expanded its group of EXTi flash kits with the release of the EX200Ti, a 200 w/s version that joins the EX400Ti. Perfect for photographers working in small studios (and with small budgets), this flash kit is available both as a two-head kit and as a single head that is comparable with the EX400Ti.

In addition to the two EX200Ti heads, the two-head kit comes with two air-cushioned light stands, two 24-inch softboxes, the Dynamic Ti Trigger, power cables, a sync cable, a carrying bag and an instructional DVD. With a built-in radio receiver compatible with Interfit’s Dynamic Ti Trigger, the EX200Ti also has a 1/1-1/16 flash variation, a 32-foot sync distance, a 2-second recycle time at full power, 5700-degree color temperature and an EX mount. 

Interfit says the EX200Ti is especially suited for students and entry-level photographers, though any professional is sure to get some good usage out of this flash kit.

Price: Single-head kit, $273.99; Two-head kit, $549

Pogoplug: Unlimited Data Storage For an Affordable Price

When the people at Pogoplug built up their data centers, storage solutions and cost structure six years ago, they presented an ambitious mission: to offer unlimited data storage for an unbeatable price. Today, that mission hasn’t changed, says Pogoplug’s chief product officer Jed Putterman. “We didn’t want to even talk about gigabytes and megabytes, because it means nothing to the average person,” he says. With Pogoplug, users need not prioritize their data, which can be accessed from any computer, laptop, tablet or mobile device. And this service does more than simply store data; it allows users to share it, directly from Pogoplug.

Now with eight data centers around the world, the company is constantly trying to improve itself, says Putterman. Having listened to user feedback, Pogoplug is looking to add a sophisticated photo and video editing and manipulation feature that will be usable before sharing work. But regardless of these add-on features, the people at Pogoplug vow to keep their core mission at the forefront: protecting people’s data safe. “We’re here to stay,” says Putterman, “and we want people to feel safe and know that what they put up on Pogoplug will stay there, too.”

Price: $49.95 per year

A New Neutral Gray

White balance filters company ClearWhite has updated its neutral gray card, making it more durable and upgrading the size to 4 x 6 inches. Most ideally used for difficult lighting situations on the scene and in the studio, ClearWhite promises the neutral gray card and its other white balance filters will render the most consistently clean, color-correct images, regardless of the time of day or file format.

In addition to the 4 x 6 gray card, the company offers a 4 x 4 white balance filter for all lenses measuring up to 95mm as well as a 5 x 5 filter for any lenses larger than 95mm. The gray card and white balance filters also come with a soft fabric bag for storage that comes with a neck strap, a Velcro enclosure and a comprehensive manual for filter usage. All filters are texture-free, allowing for film and digital camera users to accurately calibrate their Zone Systems.

Price: $49.95 (4 x 4 filter and 4 x 6 gray card); $79.95 (5 x 5 filter and 4 x 6 gray card)

A Hot Totty Belt

Totty Belt, the design company that makes practical tool belts for any design professional—from florists and tailors to event producers and interior designers—has expanded its repertoire with the latest DIGI belt, a product made especially for photographers and videographers. 

This heavy-duty black canvas belt, which debuted at WPPI this year, can hold up to 60 pounds. An envelope flap can hold 12 SD and CF cards as well as battery packs, a cell phone and any other valuables. The belt straps snugly holster lenses, allowing photographers to venture out on assignments with multiple lenses on hand. A sleek 6-inch back pocket can house smaller essentials such as keys, cash and credit cards. Totty claims the black color will never fade, even after it’s washed, and additional sizing information can be found on the company’s website.

Price: $119

Simply Decorable: Photo-Inspired Home Decor

Albums and canvases aren’t the only ways to display photos anymore; unveiled at this year’s WPPI is Simply Decorable, a line of customizable home décor items from the online printing company Simply Color Lab. Whether given as a wedding gift, used to display portfolio images in a photographer’s studio or baby and family photos in a nursery, the Simply Decorable line offers a variety of ways to print and present work. The Wood Design Cubes offer five sides (the bottom is open for storage) for printing, while the Wood Coffee and Side Tables give the photo or collage of images printed on top a warm, textured look and feel. Photos can also be printed onto Simply Decorable’s Canvas Benches, with the fabric wrapped over the top of the bench, and the legs come in either black or white.

Prices: Wood Design Cube, $125 (14 inches), $155 (16 inches) and $185 (20 inches); Wood Side Table, $150 with 16-inch legs, $175 with 24-inch legs; Wood Coffee Table, $215; Canvas Bench, $229 with tapered legs, $239 with traditional legs