Summertime Accessories Equal Fun & Profit

Summertime Accessories Equal Fun & Profit


We all know that selling accessories and adding them to big-ticket sales is a great way of offsetting the relatively low profit margins on cameras—and for combating the intense competitive pressure from big-box stores. Yes, it’s the conventional wisdom that has been dinned into our ears for decades, but it happens to be good advice for the following reasons: 1. Camera specialty stores are in a much better position to demonstrate and sell accessories because of their superior knowledge base and the relationships they’ve established with customers. 2. On a percentage basis, photo accessories almost always have a higher percentage profit margin than cameras, and you may generate more profit in actual dollars by selling a $100 accessory than a $600 camera.

In other words, promoting traditional items like camera bags, belt packs, travel tripods, flash units, brackets, filters, lens cleaning kits and the other less conventional accessories detailed here is a great way to generate consumer interest in taking pictures while perking up your summertime sales.

When customers drop into your store during this season of vacations and outdoor activities of all kinds, ask them about their picture-taking plans and suggest something specific that will enhance that shooting experience. If they’re in the market for a new point-and-shoot camera, a longer zoom for a DSLR or just a high-capacity high-speed memory card to capture action in HD video, add a suitable accessory to the mix. Your customers will appreciate your thoughtfulness and will be more likely to return to purchase those coveted big-ticket items when the time comes.

We’ve compiled a list of tried-and-true items in the summertime accessory segment, as well as some innovative ones for your consideration. While the specific items covered here are a good start, we hope they’ll get you thinking creatively about this entire multifaceted and varied category.

     2013 Summer Accessory Roundup
Zing Designs Large SLR Cover. This universal, wraparound neoprene cover resembles a “soft” DSLR. It stretches over the lens and body of most consumer DSLRs, secures without buckles, zippers or snaps, and fits a range of lenses (up to four inches) and camera bodies. The bottom attaches to the body using a camera strap (not included) via keeper loops sewn into the cover. The top is secured to the bottom with thumb-release clips and swings out of the way while shooting. Zing’s patented latch system secures the cover snugly, providing maximum protection with minimal bulk (it weighs a mere 5 oz). Easily stowed in a jacket, its heavy-duty neoprene construction provides an excellent combination of cushioning protection and weather resistance. $34.99.

Sunpak PF20XD Flash.
Distributed by ToCAD America, this popular, powerful compact flash unit can be used as a conventional shoe-mount flash or can be triggered via its built-in slave with cameras lacking a hot shoe. It has a guide number of 66 in feet and a built-in wide-angle diffuser said to cover wide angles down to 24mm. Other features include: an auto mode with three f/stops; manual mode with five settings; and an effective range of 2.3–23 feet. It comes with a flash bracket and is powered by two AA alkaline, NiMH or NiCd batteries. $43.95.

Samigon Pop-Up Photo Studio. This portable dome studio is just the thing for photographing flowers, insects and small-to-moderate-size nature subjects in the field, as well as collectibles or eBay items. The dome tent quickly folds into an easy-to-carry pouch and includes two-sided gray/white backgrounds to enhance shooting flexibility. The large-size model CSA 617 measures 29.5×29.5×25 inches in the open position; $32.95. The medium-size model CSA 615 retails for $28.95.

Davis & Sanford Vista Traverse Travel Tripod.
This ultra-portable tripod fulfills its mission by folding to 12 inches by pivoting its legs back 180º, over the easy-glide center post, to fit into any camera bag. Weighing only 2.6 pounds, including its dual-control ball head with calibrated base and Arca-Swiss compatible quick release, it extends to 53 inches and has a carrying capacity of 10 pounds. It’s perfect for consumer DSLRs, CSCs and P&S cameras, providing sturdy 23mm-diameter five-section legs with freezeproof rubberized twist locks, three-position independent leg-angle adjustments, foam-cushioned insulators and rubberized tips. It’s constructed of an aluminum alloy with a durable black anodized finish. $134.99, with carrying bag.

DeluxGear Lens Guard. An impact-absorbing lens cap, distributed by OmegaBrandess, it works like the bumper of a car to protect expensive lenses from mishaps, and it’s a lot more effective than a conventional lens cap. It has a tough, waterproof santoprene outer cover and a thick cushiony neoprene interior lined with smooth Spandex to prevent scratches. It comes with a built-in tether (larger sizes have straps) in seven sizes, from S (6–7cm) to giant (190.5–20.5cm). $18.99 to $69.99, depending on size.

LensPen SensorKlear Loupe.
When users clean a DSLR or CSC sensor using the LensPen SensorKlear kit, they can see what they’re cleaning while doing it, making sensor cleaning simple, fast and effective. The kit includes three easy-to-use tools: the SensorKlear Loupe, Hurricane Blower and SensorKlear II pen. The SensorKlear Loupe features eight LEDs lights that provide visibility when inspecting the sensor: remove the camera lens, place the Loupe on the aperture ring, turn on the light and inspect the sensor. If the sensor is dirty, the Hurricane Blower is used to remove dry dust. If sticky dust remains, the angled tip of the SensorKlear II pen inserted through the access window on the side of the Loupe safely removes the sticky dust. The whole process takes just 30 seconds. $99.

Sunpak Action Video Grip 1000AVG. This cleverly designed compact action grip enhances the comfort and stability of shooting HD video with a DSLR, especially when moving the camera to follow action subjects. It can be seamlessly moved from ground level to overhead to capture smooth action from virtually any angle and has a comfortable 135º surface neoprene grip for extended shooting. Its oversize 1.6×5.25-inch platform accommodates a variety of cameras, and it has outrigger stabilization rails, nonslip feet and three strap mounts. It supports cameras up to 4.4 pounds while weighing only 0.7 pound. Its fore-and-aft adjustable mount is compatible with standard LED lights, microphones or video monitors. $29.95.

Tiffen Variable Neutral Density (VND) Filter. The perfect summertime filter, it lets photographers shoot at wide apertures on bright sunny days and capture gorgeous pictorial effects. This VND filter adds another control to the camera—a continuously variable ring that lets users control the amount of light coming though the lens. By turning the filter’s milled front ring, they reduce the exposure from two stops (ND 0.6) to four stops (ND 2.4), or anything in between. A dotted reference scale makes it easy to return to previously used settings. Although it uses polarization to achieve variable ND control, it is not a polarizing filter. However, it is beautifully made, turns smoothly and precisely, and is manufactured using Tiffen’s ColorCore technology to seal in the filter material, ensuring absolute uniformity in production. $129.95 (52mm) to $232.95 (82mm).

Kata Pro-Light FlyBy Shoulder Bag. Kata’s Pro-Light FlyBy is a low-profile, onboard camera organizer with integrated wheels. Distributed by Manfrotto, it provides videographers hard-case protection with the advantages of a soft case: light and modular with pockets and storage options. The Pro-Light Resource-64 shoulder bag fits an HD DSLR kitted with video gear and accessories. It has a full-front opening and a double-decker design that lets users arrange gear hierarchically. The top compartment fits an HD DSLR rigged for video shooting, while underneath is a storage area with modular Aeriform dividers to store lenses and accessories. The padded back compartment holds a 15-inch laptop or a matt box. $249.99.

Lensbaby Spark Selective Focus Lens. The perfect entry into the Lensbaby system, the Spark is geared toward young photo enthusiasts looking for a creative “spark.” Available for Canon and Nikon DSLRs, the Spark lets photographers capture creative images in-camera that have a sweet spot of focus surrounded by artistic blur. The manual focus lens provides a tactile shooting experience; photographers squeeze to focus and tilt to move the sweet spot of focus around the image. The lightweight lens has a unique 50mm selective focus multicoated glass doublet optic, which features an f/5.6 fixed aperture. The Spark is compatible with the Lensbaby Optic Swap system and all 37mm threaded accessory lenses. $80.

Steadicam Curve. Considering the growing popularity of diminutive HD action cams, we thought we’d include the brand-new Steadicam Curve compact camera stabilizer for GoPro Heroes. Based on the same technology as the award-winning pro Steadicam systems used in Hollywood, the Curve handheld stabilizer lets users capture smooth, shake-free videos. Available in four colors, the Curve’s built-in mount works with the GoPro Hero, Hero2 and Hero3 videocams. It features a fine-tune adjustment knob for precise balance; a lightweight, durable aluminum frame; and the ability to fold up and lock to provide compact storage and portability, or for use as a GoPro handgrip. Pricing TBA.

Samigon Bottle-Top Pod. Just the thing for those spur of the moment summer shots when there’s no tripod handy, this cute little gizmo turns almost any water bottle into an impromptu stabilization platform. Users simply screw the adapter onto any convenient water, soda or beer bottle (it fits those with 28.5–30.5mm diameters) and screw the other end into a camera’s ¼x20 tripod socket. The unit’s ball head lets users angle the camera to compose the shot, and it’s also great for self-timer self-portraits. $9.95.