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There are some cool photography accessories that you might find useful on the Way. Some of these will depend on which Camino Camera you choose, of course, so I will sort them accordingly.
For All Cameras
No matter what you bring with you for capturing pictures and video, there are two things I’d recommend: extra batteries and a remote control. I won’t go into a whole big thing here as the options for these items vary considerably with the devices they go to but here are a couple considerations.
Be mindful of how your batteries charge. Do they charge in the device? Can they be charged externally? What are their connections to power sources? Can they charge directly from a power bank? Assume you’ll often be charging at night in a crowded albergue – do you want to be fighting for outlets or waking up in the middle of the night to swap out batteries? If the answer is “No,” then just plan ahead. Basically, make sure all your rechargeable devices will work with your power setup.
If you want to get really good selfies, you might want to consider a tripod (see below) and a remote. There are many Bluetooth-compatible devices that can turn phones into remote controls, or vice versa. Also, check to see if your camera has an app available for remote control.
OK on to camera-specific add-ons.
For Phone Cameras
The KONA Submariner Waterproof Phone Case not only protects your phone, it allows you to continue using screen and button functions while inside the bag. Although it will not offer the same protection as a waterproof phone shell, it is lightweight and inexpensive (running about $12).
If you’re going “phone alone” for your photography, you might consider giving it a lens boost. At the very least, I’d try to find a telephoto lens to extend the phone’s zoom capabilities (because we all know how much digital zoom sucks), and a wide angle so you can do selfies that are not just of your head.
There are also Fisheye lenses which create those cool circular shots skaters like to use, Macro lenses for extreme closeups, silly filter-lenses like Starbursts and Kaleidoscopes, and more useful filter-lenses like the “CPL” which is a Polarizing filter for your phone (I explain these below under Full Size Camera).
The WAULNPEKQ (I have absolutely NO idea how to pronounce that) 7-in-1 lens collection is one of the highest rated on Amazon. For only $18, the set includes:
- 120° Wide Angle
- 198° Fisheye
- 2X Telephoto
A similarly rated and priced set that boasts higher quality and less frivolity comes from SHUTTERMOON:
- 198° Fisheye
- 15X Macro
- 0.63X Wide Angle
- 2x Telephoto
For me, I’d want a more serious zoom lens in my collection. If you agree, then the AIKEGLOBAL (where do they get these names???) 4-in-1 lens collection might be the set for you. The Engrish alone makes this a worthwhile product to consider, and at under $30 it seems like a decent set:
- 14X Telephoto
- 198° Fisheye (“which attracts you into the stunning and fantastic world”!)
- 120° Wide Angle (“better experience for selfile”!)
- 20X Macro (“help you capture lots of detail of the scenery and animal”!)
If you want all of the above only with more conservative telephoto lenses (2x and 8x), there’s the OMITIUM (seriously with the names…) set for $20. You might also consider the Vorally, or the Wiilkac, or the . . . oh freakin c’mon . . . Erligpowht.
I give up.
There are hundreds of these multi-lens kits available online. Now, I am sure they’re pretty low quality, but hey – you’re already committed to shooting through a 2mm wide piece of plastic on to a sensor the size of your pinky nail, so it’s a bit late for photo snobbery. However, if you want to go for higher quality, Pixter, Xenvo, Moment, and Aukey come highly rated although they tend to lack the collection options.
For Phone & Pocket Cameras
Whether using a small pocket camera or your phone, having somewhere to put it while taking group shots or selfies will help a lot. The XENVO SquidGrip Tripod is a great accessory to a smaller camera or phone.
It is a short (about 12″) tripod with an optional ball head and phone attachment. The legs are super flexible so they can be tied on to practically anything or even wrapped around themselves to make a sturdy “selfie stick” / monopod good for high-angle shots or smoother video.
It only runs about $30 which is a steal, especially compared to the popular Joby Gorillapod which runs between $40-$80 and lacks the add-ons. At about 20 oz. with all the attachments, it’s not too hard on the back either.
Shaky video is the worst. No matter how good your video looks on the phone screen, when it gets blown up to the size of a 5′ wide TV, every little bounce will be jarring. While a gimbal can be useful for any camera device, I think they are more important for phones without built-in image stabilizers.
Gimbals are basically a very advanced image stabilizers, but they can do much more. Not only do they give otherwise shaky handheld video that smooth cinematic feel, they can also track your face so that it remains centered and in focus, do time-lapse photography, remote control your camera, and some even recharge your phone on the fly. There are too many variables to consider in this brief post, but I will point you to some highly rated models to get you started. (DISCLAIMER: I don’t use a gimbal. These suggestions are based on reviews I read when I was phone vlogging and in the market for one.)
- DJI is huge in the gimbal world, and their Osmo Mobile 2 3-Axis Handheld Gimbal is very nice. Besides a lot of shooting features, it only weighs 1 pound (most are double that) and it has a 15 hour battery life. This piece costs about $140.
- Zhiyun is another big name in the gimbal industry. Their Smooth-Q 3-Axis Handheld Gimbal is tough (and heavy – over 2 pounds) with a 14 hour battery life. It runs about $120.
- Hohem makes the Smartphone Gimbal 3-Axis Handheld Stabilizer – a gimbal that is both lightweight (11 oz.) and inexpensive ($90).
One last note: Make sure the gimbal you choose will work with your device – they are not universal!
For Full Size Cameras
PULUZ Capture Camera Clip is a quick release clip that will hold a full size camera. It can produce a lot nicer ride for your camera than a strap because it doesn’t bounce around or weigh down your neck or shoulders. Instead, you can attach it to solid points of your clothing (belt) or pack (straps) and have it ready to go when needed.
The clip is pretty basic and easy to set up. It comes with a set of extension screws in case you want to attach it to a padded strap, and that’s about it. The connection plate fits most ARCA-type and Manfrotto RC2 tripod heads. If you have a tripod that the plate does not fit into, do not worry! The clip itself has a built-in tripod mount, so you do not have to remove the plate or switch it out with the one that comes with your tripod.
There is one significant downside to this carry system. The price you pay for this kind of quick access and stability is that the camera remains exposed so there is no protection from sun, wet weather, dust storms, etc.
The PULUZ sells for $26 which is amazing considering that it’s nearest competition is Peak Design’s Capture at $70 (and it does not, as near as I can tell, have the built-in tripod mount!).
Waterproof Holster Case
When it comes to camera protection, the MIGGO Agua Quick-draw Storm-proof Holster is a camera bag in a class all by itself.
First, it’s 100% waterproof (“splashproof” – not designed for underwater, although some have successfully tried it). This is quite impressive for a soft shell case! Weather is an issue anytime you’re outside, but especially if you’re outside all day every day for several weeks. If you don’t have a waterproof (or at least “resistant”) camera, weather protection may be a necessity.
Second, its unique design makes it fairly drop proof without simply adding heavy padding (the camera is held in an inner liner). To this is added a backup defense: a short strap attached to the camera so that if the camera is dropped, it will remain suspended by the bag.
Third, it is versatile – the straps utilize modular clips for a number of different carry methods. Although it is set up as a shoulder carry, I managed to rig mine to sit on my waist (you know, like a holster).
One benefit for cameras with full-sized lenses are the use of filters. Besides a protective (“UV” or “skylight”) filter, the first filter one should acquire is a polarizing filter. While many filter effects can be added in post-edit, it’s practically impossible to fake polarization.
A polarizing filter cuts down the number of angles light can use to enter the lens. Doing so accomplishes several things. First, it can eliminate reflections from water, glass, and other surfaces. This makes for incredible depth shots in water (instead of turning water into a mirror) and allows clear shooting through windows. Second, it beautifully darkens blue skies and increases contrast with clouds.
The only downside to polarizing filters is that they darken shots up by a couple stops. This is no big deal with today’s cameras, but you might want to remove it if you get into low light shooting situations.
I am still undecided about how I will record my Camino. However, I want to be wise and not assume I will get a second chance to do so. Thus, whatever Camino Camera I choose, I will want to max out its capabilities while I walk. The above gear can help do that.