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|| News Item: Posted 2007-08-20

Photographer's Toy Box: Coats, Hoodies, Wraps and Snoots
By Robert Hanashiro, Sports Shooter

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(One in an occasional series on new or cool equipment of interest to photographers.)

Like most photographers I love gadgets and gizmos so I am always on the look out for gear that will make my life easier and most importantly, when I show other photographers they say "Wow, that's really cool."

My long-suffering wife will mutter "Hey Ralph" when I start to tell her or my daughter about some new toy I've seen or want to buy.

"Ralph" refers to a photographer at a local paper in Fresno who always showed up at games with some new toy to show us young, punks. I remember one incident at a high school football game where "Ralph" showed up with these clear plastic tubes that held 4 rolls of 35mm film, telling us that "real pros want to be able to quickly see if film has been shot or not.

Of course 15 minutes later my buddy Barry and I spotted several rolls of film on the grass next to the yellow end cap for the plastic tube. And yes, I could see right away that the film had been shot. I guess it really work.

I was checking out the "LensCoat" (, neoprene covers for various lenses that prevent those annoying bumps, dings and nicks we all get on our gear.

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Hoodie Lens Cap
The LensCoat comes in both Canon white and Nikon black and for those outdoor/nature shooters (and Gene Blevins) camouflage.

(For Canon photographers suffering through Nikon- withdrawals there are black versions of the LensCoat for Canon lenses. No more using the Robert Beck flat-black spray paint job on your Canon lenses!)

I've looked at various paints and Sharpees to "touch up" the nicks on my 400 2.8 and 7-200 zoom. Parts managers at the auto dealerships where I live scratch their heads when I present my Canon 70-200 asking if they have any touchup paints that might match the color of the lens.

"It's amazing how much the resale value of a lens will drop with a few nicks and scratches regardless of the quality of the glass," says LensCoat's Scott Elowitz, "Another big benefit of the LensCoat is that it makes the lens more comfortable to hold in cold and hot temperatures as the neoprene acts as a thermal barrier. As well as it keeps the rain mostly off the lens."

But while I was looking though the LensCoat website, I found a VERY COOL item that I had been looking to buy or even make for myself.

Having been on the road for nearly two weeks hauling around 3 - 600mm lenses plus a 400mm 2.8 and a 300mm 2.8 I was constantly fumbling around with those over-sized (and expensive) "lens caps".

LensCoat's new Hoodie Lens Caps come in X- Small (lens hoods from 2.75" to 3.25" in diameter), Small (fits lens hoods from 3.25" to 3.75" in diameter), Medium (lens hoods from 3.75" to 4.25" in diameter); Large (fits lens hoods from 4.25" to 4.75" in diameter) X-Large (fits lens hoods from 4.75" to 5.25" in diameter), XX-Large (fits lens hoods from 5.5" to 6.25" in diameter and XXX-Large (fits lens hoods from 7" to 7.75" in diameter).

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The David Honl Pro Camera & Lens Wrap
I was hoping that I could find a Tupperware lid that I could use as a lens cap for my long glass. But at $12.99 - $17.99 the Hoodie Lens Caps are not only easy to use but also inexpensive.

The Hoodie doesn't just cover the front of your lens, but also has a "rigid plastic" protection disk that protects lenses while transporting to and from assignments and especially during shipping.

"Photographers might be familiar with a product by Optech called the Hood Hat. Ours is similar but has the added benefit of a re-enforced front element protection disc that is removable," said Scott.

Another cool piece of gear I discover the other day is a set of light modifiers to use with your speedlites.

David Honl is a working photojournalist and makes a line of very good equipment wraps. The David Honl Pro Camera & Lens Wrap range from 20x20 ($24.99) to 12 x 12 ($12.99) and are wonderful accessories to wrap cameras, flashes, lenses and converters to protect them from the rigors of every day use and transport.

I have several different brands of equipment wraps (like Domke and Gara-Gear) but I found the Pro Camera & Lens Wraps better in staying in place and protecting my gear. (The Domke Wrap is way too thin.)

But while looking for the Camera & Lens Wrap I discovered that David has branched out into selling a line of light modifiers for shoe-mount speedlites.

While I am an admitted "Big Light Guy" (2 Dyna-Lite M1000 packs, 4 strobe heads, 3-grids and a beauty dish!) --- David's small gobo and snoots make even "Big Light Bert" think of the possibilities these little beauties could do.

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The David Honl Universal Speed Snoot
These cool tools are a great replacement for the painted toilet paper tubes and the gaffer tape-wrapped cardboard I've used for my Canon speedlites. Being able to CONTROL the light is the important part of shooting portraits and that is why I am a "Big Light Guy"… there are tools readily available for me to do that with my Dyna-Lites.

Also, going into the office of a Fortune 500 CEO or the Four Seasons Hotel to photograph Sophia Loren, a toilet paper tube on my strobe probably doesn't instill a lot of confidence in my subject … or rather, my subject's publicist!

These tools are not only well designed and well made … they also look really cool!

After checking out the Universal Speed Snoot, 5" Shorty and the Speed Gobo / Flag / Barndoor / Bounce Card has me rethinking how that maybe I should have another alter ego: "Small Flash Bert".

(Robert Hanashiro is a staff photographer with USA TODAY and founder of the Sports Shooter Newsletter. He is an admitted gear and camera bag freak.)

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