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|| News Item: Posted 2004-12-16

Sports Shooter's (Late) Holiday Gift Guide
By Robert Hanashiro, Sports Shooter

Photo by Robert Hanashiro / Sports Shooter

Photo by Robert Hanashiro / Sports Shooter

Lightware Flash Media Wallet A8200
Ho Ho Ho!

It's just 10 days before Christmas and what do you get the photographer who has everything (or nothing)?

So here is a list cool gift ideas from Sports Shooter's resident gadget geek on what to get that special someone for the Holidays.

Now that flash memory cards have come do dramatically in price we all have tons of compact flash cards … but where to put them? Are you still using one of those crappy freebees that Lexar or Nikon or Canon gave out at some event you attended? Well, as my dad always told me: You get what you pay for! Paul Peregrine and the innovative people at Lightware have designed a new card wallet that tops our list of cool things to get for the Holidays. The Lightware Flash Media Wallet A8200 is a tri-fold wallet that will hold up to 8 compact flash cards. One of the major complaints about cards wallets I have been using up until now is that the cards could slip out of the little pockets. But not with the new Lightware wallet. The pockets are actually made of strips of wide elastic so you can shake, throw or bounce that wallet around and the cards stay put. Another very ingenious thing Paul has done is construct the outside out of clear plastic so you can see immediately how many cards you have seated in the wallet. You can also tell if the cards have been shot by organizing the way you put them in the wallet: front side facing the clear plastic for shot; back side facing the plastic for unshot. Also, the way you turn the cards in the pocket can let you know immediately whether a card has been shot or not. You can also turn the cards in the elastic pocket so you can immediately see if they are shot … vertically so they show over the top of the elastic for not shot (and easy to grab); horizontally so they are hidden for shot. Very, very cool! The wallet measures a scant 4 1/4 inches by 4 1/4 inches when folded and come in several colors. For more info check with Lightware via their web site:

It's basketball season (just in time because I am SICK of hearing about the BSC mess … "Cal got screwed, Cal got screwed, Cal got screwed!") and what better way to save a photographer's back and … butt … than with a Versa-Flex Basketball Chair. Larry Nolan from Versa-Flex has taken the idea of the "TV chair" we all bought at Target in the early-90's and put it on steroids … beefing up the padding for the seat and making the frame out of heavy-duty steel. After bending the frame on my "TV chair" enough times to snap it, I went with the camping chair we all ran out to by from REI, Sports Chalet, et al. While these style chairs were popular because they were light weight and you could fold them up and use them to put around your 400mm for extra padding in shipping, they never really gave your back enough support and you butt enough … comfort. The Versa-Flex basketball chair frame comes apart at two points making it easy to store.

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Sure E Series E2c earphones
I love my iPod (and original 5 gig model!) but I've always been a little less than satisfied with the sound I get with the ear buds that Apple bundles with it. They are uncomfortable, the sound is crappy … but when you wear them everyone knows immediately you're cool because they show you're listening to an iPod. But for great sound I have found the Sure E Series earphones can't be beat. The 1 - ounce Sure E series all have ear pieces that have a comfortable fit that help block out the outside sound. The bass and drums comes through with a rumble that you don't get out of lesser ear buds, a fatal flaw in most. So if you're listening to Sly & the Family Stone or Aerosmith, you really get that beat that will keep you're feet moving or fingers snapping. The E2c is around $99 and if you want to spend a little more the $179 E3c has even better sound and you can order a custom ear mold for even better sound isolation. The E series earphones come with a very cool carry case that protects them and keeps you from tangle up the cord. You can spend a lot more money for higher end earphones (like the Etymotic Research's professional level ER4s) but for the money, the Sure E series is a sure bet.

And speaking of iPods, I know those impulsive buyers Misters Seale, Mar and Tanwaki all ran out to get the cool Altec Lancing inMotion portable speakers for their iPods, but after doing a bunch of sound comparison, I have found the new JBL On Stage speakers while bigger than the inMotion speakers have much better sound. The donut shaped On Stage has a docking bay or an iPod and is compatible with all models. Listening to the On Stage speakers in my office and a hotel room, I found the volume more than adequate and the sound quality, especially in the lower ranges superior to anything else I have sampled in the sub-$200 price range. The one advantage the inMotion speakers have over the JBLs is they are portable and run off of batteries. But for sound quality alone, the On Stage is a great addition to your iPod accessories.

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Do you have a friend or colleague that has been jones'ing to make photos that have that tilt - shift look but don't the money to buy (or fortitude to learn how to us) a large format camera? Well the Lensbaby might be the perfect gift. A simple idea: a lens on one end of a flexible rubber tube and a camera mount on the other and viola! … you have that large format tilt-shift look (well almost) on your 35mm-based camera. What the Lensbaby does is allow you by bending the lens, change the plane of focus, creating what the designer calls a "sweet spot" of focus. This is a fun little lens, easy to use and with tons of different creative uses … perfect for food and fashion illustrations and portraits. (But don't ask Robert Beck or his sidekick Kojo about their take on the Lensbaby! These guys are traditionalists.) Simple and easy to use, you just attach the lens to your camera, use your left hand to push-pull to focus and bend to create the tilt-shift. Since the Lensbaby has no aperture, exposure is controlled by the shutter speed and by change small disks with difference size openings. The Lensbaby is available in all of the major camera mounts and can be ordered directly from the company or from sponsors Samy's Camera and Penn Camera.

"Power we must have more power!" While not flued by Dylithium Crystals (or designed by Star Trek's "Scotty", the XtremePower 20 is a lightweight rechargeable battery system that will keep your digital cameras, flash, laptop computer, PDA and even your cellphone. The XtremePower 20 has two ports so you can supply power to a camera and your flash with one battery. What I love most about the Xtreme is the slim design which makes it much easier to fit in your camera bag, fanny pack or photo vest than other battery packs. The Xtreme, because it can be used for so many gadgets, has an auto-sensing feature in its cables so it knows how much voltage must be supplied for a particular device. So there is no fumbling with charts or switches to throw to get the correct voltage. The Xtreme20 weighs in at just 1.3 pounds and for that photographer on the go, especially in this digital age you need power.

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Scottevest SolarSev
So do you have a friend like I do … someone who has EVERYTHING (like Ron Taniwaki)? Well I bet they can't plug their cellphone, PDA, MP3 player, GameBoy or other USB gizmo into their JACKET and recharge them! The Scottevest SolarSev is a jacket with a built-in solar panel that will enable the wear to re-charge just about any USB device. The jacket features a rechargeable battery that can be connected to a removable solar panel so once this battery is charged up, you don't have to walk around looking like someone from another planet … unless you want to. The Scottevest jackets are stylish, well designed with tons of pockets and places to put gear, your ID, airline tickets, gadgets and now you can buy a model that will charge up your cellphone!


- Are you like me and hate carrying around all of those cord we have to these days? Apple's THIN firewire cable is very cool, it's easy to roll up and does not take up a ton of room in my do-dad bag like the regular thick, round firewire cables. I have a couple of the 19-inch cables that take up no room at all.

- And speaking of saving space on the work area or desk top, how about replacing that large, old compact flash reader with a TINY Lexar firewire reader or better yet, get speedy data transfer via your laptop's internal card reader using a Delkin 32-bit card bus adapter and forget about an external reader altogether (an yes, they are Mac - compatible!).

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- What photographer doesn't carry some gaffer tape with them? Not just any gaffer tape … how about yellow? Or hot pink? Or how about 4 - inch wide gaffer tape! I know, I know what kind of person gives a friend or loved one GAFFER TAPE for the Holidays? A photographer, that's who!

- Do you have a student of someone putting together their portfolio you want to get a cool gift for? John Kaplan's wonderful "Photo Portfolio Success" book is just the thing. In this day and age of changing technology, just what is the most appropriate format for your portfolio? And most importantly … how do I actually put it together? On-line? Digital? Slides? Kaplan, a former Pulitzer winner and now a professor at the University of Florida cover all of that and more in this book that is filled with examples, how-to's and advice for those trying to put together their life's work.

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