Summer is upon us—the season for vacations, travel, hiking, water sports, beach parties, long active days outdoors and lots of picture taking! Published stats on picture taking invariably show that the number of pictures taken worldwide peak during the summer months, exceeding even the winter holiday season.
To help maximize your customers’ picture-taking opportunities and their summertime shooting satisfaction, steering them to targeted photographic accessories is a wise strategy. Plus, it can strengthen your customer relationships. Selling accessories and adding them to big-ticket camera and lens sales is also a great way to offset the relatively low profit margins on cameras. On a percentage basis, photo accessories almost always have a higher profit margin than cameras. It’s even possible to generate more profit in actual dollars by selling a $100 accessory than a $600 camera!
Accessories can also combat the intense competitive pressure from big-box stores, since camera specialty stores are in a much better position to demonstrate and sell accessories by leveraging their superior knowledge base.
In other words, actively promoting items like protective gear, belt packs, travel tripods, flash units, brackets, filters, lens cleaning kits and the other more summertime-specific accessories detailed here is a great way to generate consumer interest in taking pictures and perk up sales.
When casually dressed folks drop into your store, ask them about upcoming family vacations or other outings and their picture-taking plans. Then you can suggest something specific that will enhance their shooting experience. If they’re in the market for a new point-and-shoot camera, a longer zoom for their DSLR or just a high-capacity, high-speed memory card to capture sports action or HD video, add a suitable accessory to the mix. Your customers will appreciate your thoughtfulness and will be much more likely to return to purchase those coveted big-ticket items when the time comes.
We’ve compiled a list of tried-and-true summertime accessories and some innovative ones for your consideration. While the specific products covered here are definitely a good start, we hope they’ll get you thinking creatively about this multifaceted, varied category. Indeed, one of the surest signs that your business model is on the right track is vibrant, robust accessory sales!
PIXO C4 Universal Quick Charger. This handy device is a great travel companion for recharging a camera, smartphone, iPad or batteries. It can charge up to four AA or AAA NiMH or NiCd batteries and 3.4–4.2 volt plus 6.8–8.4 volt Li-Ion/Li-Po battery packs. It has two USB ports to charge smartphones, including the iPhone as well as the iPod and iPad via Micro-USB and Mini-USB cables. Two devices can be charged simultaneously via USB ports that have an output of 5 volts and 2000 mA. The German-engineered device provides a battery activator function to revive deeply discharged Li-Ion batteries, silver-plated 3D-Flex contacts to assure correct battery positioning, and one red and three green LEDs to display charging status. $59.95. argraph.com
Sunpak PF20XD Flash. It may seem counterintuitive, but an add-on flash is a great accessory to use in bright light and at the beach to provide fill-flash and tame harsh shadows and excessive contrast. This powerful “universal” compact flash unit can be used as a conventional shoe-mount flash or can be triggered via its built-in slave for 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: 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 AAA alkaline, NiMH or NiCd batteries. $45.95. sunpak.com
Tiffen Variable Neutral Density Filter. It’s the perfect summertime filter because it lets users shoot at wide apertures and/or slow shutter speeds on bright, sunny days and capture gorgeous pictorial effects. In effect, this VND filter adds another control to the camera—a continuously variable ring that allows users to control the amount of light coming though the lens. By turning the filter’s milled front ring, they can reduce the exposure from two stops (ND 0.6) to eight (ND 2.4), or anything in between. A dotted reference scale makes it easy to return to previously used settings. Although it employs polarization to achieve variable ND control, it is not a polarizing filter. The filter is beautifully made, turns smoothly and precisely, and is manufactured using Tiffen’s ColorCore technology to seal in the filter material for absolute uniformity in production. $129.95 (52mm) to $232.95 (82mm). tiffen.com
Manfrotto 294 Monopod. This carbon fiber monopod is a great accessory for travelers, hikers and shooters on the go. The solid, lightweight, four-section device extends to an eye-level 59.45 inches, folds to a portable 19.29 inches, has an impressive maximum load capacity of 11.02 pounds and weighs in at a mere 1.1 pounds. Model MM294A4 (there are three in the series) provides a stable support platform with minimal vibration thanks to next-generation carbon tubing with optimized fiber angles. Durable tension-adjusting, aluminum, flip-lock leg locks can be tightened to suit users preferences and to obviate the effects of wear and aging. It includes a handy wrist strap and accommodates 1/4-inch x 20 and 3/8-inch x 16 thread sizes. The monopod screws directly into the camera’s tripod-mounting socket or can be fitted with an optional head, such as the Manfrotto 234RC monopod ($44.88) tilt head with quick release. $62. manfrotto.us
Kaiser Waterproof WaveCase. This ingenious underwater case will accommodate a wide variety of compact point-and-shoot digital cameras measuring up to 2.2×4.2×1 inches in size with a maximum lens extension of 1.5 inches. It allows underwater shooting to a depth of 13 feet—perfect for snorkeling or taking pictures in the pool. It also protects the camera against dirt, sand and dust, as well as against knocks and shocks. It’s made of crystal-clear polycarbonate with a scratch-resistant coating on the lens side, and its two half shells snap together at eight fixing points. The WaveCase comes with a hard-foam frame and seven foam cutouts to fit different size cameras. $27.95. hpmarketingcorp.com
Steadicam Solo Stabilizer & Monopod. This amazing three-axis, gimbaled camera stabilization device will not only allow users to shoot smooth, professional-looking HD or 4K video with DSLR rigs weighing up to a hefty 10 pounds, it’s also an effective monopod for shooting critically sharp videos and stills with any camera. Its four sections extend telescopically to shoulder height for near-eye-level viewing, and it folds to a compact 25 inches for easy stowage and transport. The all-metal Solo has an ergonomic foam gimbal handle and post control grips. A quick-release mounting plate and a set of counterweights are included, allowing out-of-the-box use. It can also be used in combination with an optional Steadicam arm and vest set. $499. steadicam.com
BRNO dri+Cap. Here’s just the thing for preventing fungus, etc., from attacking lenses in humid summer environments. Consisting of a dehumidifying body cap and a dehumidifying rear lens cap, each unit has a pack of color-changing silica gel in a special non-shedding pouch contained in a silicon-O-ring-sealed compartment. When on the camera or lens, the silica gel pack absorbs any moisture inside the equipment to prevent fungus or corrosion due to excess humidity. dri+Caps are available in Nikon or Canon mounts and come with eight vacuum-sealed packs of color-changing silica gel. $44.99. brnollc.com
Giotto’s CL 1001 Lens Cleaning Kit. A terrific travel accessory for those “Oh no!” moments, the kit comes complete with a multi optical cleaning solution for all glass and plastic surfaces, a microfiber cloth, a retractable brush, 10 cotton swabs with paper shafts and a small Giotto’s Rocket Blaster blower made from natural rubber. This German-designed blower has a unique inlet valve design that prevents it from blowing back dust, making it suitable for cleaning delicate sensors. Giottos makes a wide range of cleaning kits, which come in handy display cases. CL 1001, $10.95. giottos.com
Vista Attaras 4M Grounder Tripod/Monopod. A versatile travel tripod is a must-have accessory for anyone on the go during the summer, and here’s one perfect example. The lightweight, aluminum Attaras 4M with a black, anodized finish features a quick-release BQ11 ball head; three-position, 26.5mm independent leg adjustments; adjustable, four-section flip-type snap leg locks; and an “easy-glide” center post that converts into a full-size 60-inch monopod! The tripod gets down to 22 inches for grounder shots; the monopod down to 12 inches. Other features include: nonslip rubber feet; foam-cushioned insulated legs for cold weather operation; and an included padded bag. The Attaras 4M has an impressive maximum height of 68 inches, weighs 4.6 pounds and can support cameras up to 11 pounds. $114.99. tiffen.com
Gepe Card Safe Extreme. Protecting precious image files while traveling is a top priority, and here’s a cool gadget that does just that. The watertight case is designed to store memory cards, including CompactFlash, SmartMedia, Memory Stick, MMC or SD cards, in specifically configured slots that hold them tightly and protect them against humidity, dust and electrostatic charges. The safe is divided into four separate compartments and uses special insert materials to prevent cards from being erased or damaged. A viewing window lets users see where each card is stored when the box is closed, and the case can be snapped opened and closed when wearing gloves. The 3.9x1x3-inch case is made of shock-resistant polycarbonate with an antistatic interior. It is tested and certified to the European IPX7 standard. $18.99 in onyx gray; $23.99 in red or neon green; $24.99 in ice blue. gepe.com
Sirui 3T-35 Tabletop Tripod. This sturdy ultracompact, portable tabletop tripod fits easily into a camera bag or jacket pocket. It’s made of forged, aircraft-grade, aluminum alloy, and it can hold digital and video cameras weighing 8.8 pounds. A two-section center column extends to 13.5 inches. The tripod’s legs fold down for extra reach when shooting over a crowd and fold up to provide an ergonomic grip for normal shooting. A robust ball head comes with a quick-release plate, and if the center column is removed, the device can be mounted directly on the support legs for low-angle shooting and excellent stability. When the two-section center column isn’t needed, users can swap it out with the included short center column for even greater compactness. The Sirui 3T-35 is slated to be on sale in June or early July for less than $100. argraph.com
Zing Designs Camera Pouch. This attractive, waterproof neoprene bag is just the thing for the beach or boat. Designed to accommodate a large variety of point-and-shoot digital camera models, it has a pull-tight top for extra weatherproofing, comes with a removable neck strap, and can be attached to a belt using its built-in belt loop. Its front flap closes with a hook-and-loop fastener. The camera pouches come in a variety of sizes and colors. $12.99–$22.99. tiffen.com