Neoprene Love

Neoprene LoveOn Christmas Eve one year I arrived at my mom’s house dressed as Santa’s sister, Nikki, and as I prepared my costume beforehand I learned what women know: accessorizing is a bitc… can be very difficult. After you’ve chosen the dress, you then require a suitable shade of lipstick, which in turn is complemented by earrings, a hat if you’re feeling adventurous, a proper handbag, and finally the shoes which complete the overall effect. For my evening attire I kept the theme simple and cheap inexpensive (there would be no encores for this outfit)—red, and more red.

Photographers also face challenges when selecting accessories. Cameras and lenses are nominally the hot topics wherever they gather—it’s fun to discuss advances in lens coatings, or argue over what MTF charts really mean, and when these topics dry up there’s the tired tried-and-true Big Pixels vs. Little Pixels quandary. Accessories? Little things. Boring.

But just as my humorous holiday ensemble would have been a disaster if I’d worn a green hat with that red dress, my life as a photographer wouldn’t run as elegantly without a few unsung (and relatively cheap) items.

At the top of my must-have accessory list is anything made with neoprene. A quick bit of Wikipedia research revealed that this is the DuPont trade name for its brand of polychloroprene, but by any name it’s simply comfortable.

My camera strap, for example, from Op/Tech USA, is barely noticeable by me (others may stare—the straps look sharp and come in several colors, including red). This past week I’ve added an Op/Tech neoprene tripod strap to my lineup (why did I wait so long?). How about strap connectors? Is it swivel, or loop? (And you thought earrings were complicated.) Op/Tech offers an array of these that work like a snap. Hey, I’m on a roll here, and it’s 5 a.m. on a rainy Sunday—but you get my point: little things add up.

Since I’ll soon be headed towards the dusty environments of the Southwestern US, I upgraded my rear lens caps with Op/Tech’s Lens Mount Caps, which provide an enhanced seal against the elements, and I also added B+W UV filters to the front of my lenses. Inside my day pack is a new, nicely padded Kit Cube from Mountainsmith, which transforms the pack into a semi-camera bag (it’s also a perfect fit for the Red Oxx Gator Carry On bag and many other small everyday packs). If I want to put everything inside my Deuter and travel fast, my camera goes into a neoprene Body Bag from Lens Coat—it provides a fine fit and just enough protection against scrapes and scratches without being bulky. And on it goes.

It doesn’t matter which dress (or camera) one wears—the challenge lies in how it’s trimmed. Do it right and your time at the party—wherever it is—will be an unquestionably happy memory.

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