13 Photography Gadgets We Didn’t Need


The world of photography is awash with gear and accessories for an eager public. But not every invention is worthy of merit as seen by this glorious collection of “WTF were they thinking?”.

1. 41MP Camera Smart Watch


They say smart watches are the next big thing. They say the smart watch will beam text messages, monitor my health, and tell me the time simultaneously. They say I will undoubtedly need a 41MP camera on said watch. I say only time will tell.

Better choice: Casio Calculator Watch. Retro cred with a real calculator!

2. iPhone External Flash


While it’s true that the iPhone flash isn’t very powerful, what we really didn’t need was a huge, retro-inspired external flash. Fortunately, this Kickstarter project was never funded.

Better choice: Nokia 1020′s Xenon flash. Now that’s a bright idea!

3. Sony Lens Camera


This camera hasn’t even been announced yet, but I’m telling you, the reason why camera phone photography is so popular is because you always have it with you. What I don’t always have is a huge contraption that adds 5x’s the thickness. That’s like saying phone-based payment systems will take off when we add a small block of iron to our phones.

Better choice: Sony RX100B. Same size! Better photos.

4. Hasseblad Lunar and Stellar


Whatever Hasselblad was smoking when they came up with this idea should be banned by NATO and the EU, and turned into an critically acclaimed AMC TV show.

Better choice: Sony Alpha NEX-7. The same camera without the wooden accent.

5. Leica M Monochrom


It must be that the more you spend on luxury items, the more you gain a psychotic attachment to them. Witness the Leica M Monochrom, an $8,000 digital camera that only shoots black and white. Advocates say the tonal range capture is so different than a typical RGB sensor, but if that’s the case, why do they include a copy of Silver Efex in every box?

Better choice: Tri-X.

6. Tiffen Smoothee


There are few things that I hate more than shaky videos uploaded to Facebook of my friends’ kids. But I can’t fathom anyone casually carrying a steadicam rig for their iPhone to fix that. Let’s leave the anti-shake to software unless we’re making a feature film.

Better choice: A steady hand.

7. 8x Telephoto Lens for Your iPhone


Digital zoom sucks. But so does the notion of attaching a lens to your phone to get a little closer to the action. If you really need to get the shot, get a dedicated camera with a zoom.

Better choice: Move your lazy butt closer to the subject.

8. Petzval Lens


Optics is a highly technical business, which is why lens manufacturers are constantly refining their designs and producing sharper lens with less distortion. But I have a better idea, let’s make a bunch of lenses with a 175 year old design, and tell people that it has nice bokeh! Sucka!

Better choice: Zeiss 55mm f/1.4.

9. Necktie Camera Strap


I love cameras. And I love ties. Let’s combine them for two great tastes in one!

Better choice: The strap that came with your camera.

10. Digital Camera Swim Mask


Underwater photography is complicated and your results will probably suck without proper equipment. This $99 combo probably sucks as both a camera and a mask.

Better choice: Leave the camera on the beach and enjoy your snorkeling trip.

11. AC Adapter Hidden Camera


I just knew Skymall wouldn’t let me down. I don’t know about you, but my electrical outlets are about 3 inches off the ground. So even if I needed to spy on someone, I’m not sure this gadget would get me the goods.

Better choice: NSA Prism or the Yeti.

12. Star Filters


It’s unclear how this masterful piece of optical engineering survived the 80s, which is about the time that I owned one. Suffice it to say, unlike 80s fashion, the star filter probably won’t be making a comeback into the world of photography anytime soon. But hey, Cokin Filters, you go with your bad self.

Better choice: The classic sunset/firework/night light shot, without the freaky overdone rays.

13. Nikon/Canon Lens Mugs


Truth be told, we’re a little bitter because we had this idea two years before they were mass produced. We could’ve been contenders! But why confuse your aging brain and giving you even the chance of accidentally pouring hot coffee on your expensive lens?

Better choice: Leica lens mug. Aw come on, these are cool!

About the author: Allen Murabayashi is the Chairman and Co-founder of PhotoShelter. Allen is a graduate of Yale University, and flosses daily. This article originally appeared here.

  • bmassao

    I definitely second #3. And I also can add that I carry my compact almost everywhere, and if this is smaller than my current compact camera, it’s a win for me.

  • Shutter Me Timbers

    Likely the Zeiss lens is a better lens than every lens in existence but for only $300 I’ll take the cool bokeh of the new Petzval….I’m sure the Zeiss will cost many times more than that and I don’t know about you but I can’t afford that kind of hardware.

  • Shutter Me Timbers

    Only $300 if you can get on the kickstarter and only $400 for the brass finish in retail.

  • Shutter Me Timbers

    Filters are so lame….trying to re-create bokeh with filters is even lamer.

  • Olivier Duong

    No. No. No. Every photographer worth their salt NEEDS a lens mug :)


    I had to check to make sure I wasn’t on Fstoppers…
    Reads just like one of there high quality… gems.

  • mikemike9

    Passive-aggressive waffle.

  • Piotrek Ziolkowski

    Scuba mask with a camera – I know a Scuba Diving instructor who uses one of these to shoot his students during OWD courses. Students like it.

  • Lee Young

    Petzval lens mug sounds nice

  • TedCrunch

    I like all of them and I’m going to buy them all and become a pro.

  • bob cooley

    There is a famously apocryphal quote by Bill Gates about no one ever needing more than 640k, but it has been constantly debunked.

    But I agree w/ Davor – this is a silly list.

  • Zos Xavius

    I don’t care what you say. The coffee tastes better in the nikon mug! Simple fact.

  • Snappingsam

    I’m afraid you’ve just shown a total lack of understanding of the subject by your post – almost as much as the orginal writer.

    Many optical effects cannot be easily recreated as a photoshop filter – and if you have used manual focus lenses in the past you’ll adapt easily. As for using a waterhouse stop, I’ve used an Imagon lens on Hasselblads (the reason I added a FC2000 was so I could use that lens easily) and with an adaptor now on my D3. I love the look, but was one of the very early buyers of the Petzval as I understood quickly what it can do… and will add it to the 105DC lens and the slection of fancy soft focus filters I have sourced over the past 35 years.

  • snappingsam

    I was lucky enough to take some shots years back with a Kodak 760m – which was exactly the same idea – a mono version of the Kodak Nikon F5 digital – and the files were amazing – and a couple of stops faster since no filters in the way. Again like in many of the items in this list, proof that the author doesn’t understand the subject in any depth

  • Michael Toye

    Looks like I’m late to the “Author doesn’t know what he’s on abut/Author is a troll” party.

  • Tyler Magee

    Petzval Lens is a pretty cool buy haha I think I need it :p

  • Spongebob Nopants

    Well duh. I wasn’t trying to show off my tek knowledge. I was trying to be funny.
    And that you use a hassleblad shows you do commercial or studio photography, where changing f/stop and focus on the fly isn’t an issue. But this lens is made to be seen in public and be a conversation piece as much as or more than a tool. Otherwise why make it out of shiney shiney brass? Is plastic more expensive than brass?

  • Spongebob Nopants

    Everyone does say the flavor has more range.
    But I just haven’t seen that in the descriptions of the flavor I’ve seen online.

  • Daniel Cely

    pff, just bragging around about your knowledge and what you have… I only meant to be funny. it is not practical to me. if it is for you, well congrats, you already bought it, let’s hope it wont let you down.

  • jerseyguy

    A nice exposure of the author’s own prejudices and there it ends

  • Sheela

    Sony Smart Lenses are in Top Selling Camera List, Kindly Remove it, otherwise it will show your mind status about the innovative products ….

  • Davor Pavlic

    No, back when computers were only making their first steps somebody said that we will never need more than several MB of memory. Or something like that.

  • Garry McElwee

    My fave is the steady phone. At least someone is making some money on this junk.