Wherever there’s the best there’s got to be the worst. Recently, we took a look at the 10 most exciting camera accessories. Now, it’s time to visit the other side of the spectrum. The following are some of the most obsolete, dysfunctional and offbeat camera accessories available on the shelf (either of a regular or antique store). With strong leanings towards the so-bad-its-good category, your camera surely won’t miss any of the following.
A notorious remnant of the disposable era (referring to the period in 1970’s and 80’s photography), the flashcube will forever live in infamy thanks to its tacky appearance and limited functionality. The way this sci-fi crystal-looking item worked was as basic as the appearance suggests. Each of the four edges functioned as a disposable flash. Once the bulb was out, the cube had to be turned to the next bulb. After all four bulbs had gone out, the cube was ready for the bin. However, in defence of this little tool, it must be acknowledged that at times there was simply no other affordable option.
Gary Fong Lightsphere
Apparently, one of the first signs of a sub-par camera gadget is an odd appearance. Now, Gary Fong Lightsphere (a type of light diffuser) is not that bad in itself, and, if used properly, it can actually slightly improve the lighting in your photos. However, this insignificant upgrade is also its main weakness. The marginal change this odd-looking piece provides is simply not worth the price that was asked. Described as a simple hunk of rubber that functions exactly like a simple hunk of rubber would, it’s a product that’s truly obsolete in an age when iPhone’s portrait mode generates studio-quality lighting with a single finger tap.
Canon EOS Elan Barcode Reader
There’s a certain class of questionable tech gadgets that seem to be invented to fulfill such a minor, secondary or completely unnecessary function that it somewhat unintentionally makes matters more confusing for the user. The Canon EOS Elan Barcode Reader is a perfect example of this. A masterpiece of awkward photo gadgetry, the barcode reader came together with a special booklet called EOS Photo Files.
The material contained 23 professional photos with barcodes right next to them. Using the scanner and the IR sensor on the side of the camera, the user could configure the settings automatically, as the barcode reader would communicate them to the camera. Did it make the photo look exactly like it did in the booklet? At times, it did. However, that’s only if the user carried the book with the barcodes with him/her at all times. Also, the codes didn’t scan too well when exposed to sunlight.
The fact that numerous tourist locations and venues have actually banned this piece of photo accessory speaks for itself. Unlike other items on the list, this tool that seems to stretch our narcissistic leanings a few inches more is still actively used by millions of people around the world. With that said, it definitely has its practical perks, and it may have more to do with the bad connotations than the actual product itself.
Remember what we said about odd designs? With an aesthetic that’s reminiscent of an 18th-century buccaneer spyglass, the Petzval Lens introduced the concept of too vintage for its own good. Now, for truth’s sake, we have to address the fact that the Petzval Lens is, in fact, a photo gadget from a bygone century, or a picture-perfect replica of the original, to be more precise. In this respect, it’s actually an excellent piece of craft with some significant optical capabilities. The issue is that the aesthetic simply does not organically complement or enhance the modern camera design, coming off as a weird fusion of looks that were popular more than a hundred years apart. Maybe it’s just a matter of taste.
iPhone SLR Lens Mount
Now, what’s the purpose of turning something that’s appreciated for its convenient size first and foremost into a bulky, extremely unhandy crossover between mobile and conventional photo devices? The iPhone Lens Mount does exactly that without much of a good reason. Besides the incredibly awkward handling of this combination, there’s also very little point purely from the technical perspective. No matter how capable your lens is, the image will always be fed through the iPhone’s image sensor and the default lens of the phone. To put it simply, there’s no need for mimicking DSLR photo techniques since there are so many unique strengths for the iPhone to emphasize.
Now, as you already noticed, there are not as many flaws as there are things to look up to. In its long history, photography has truly managed to escape many unfortunate turns. Except for a couple of questionable tech and design choices (Canon Disk and Floppy Disk Cameras, Zenit Photosniper), there really hasn’t been that much of mention-worthy hiccups during the last 50+ years of photography. As long as the image is fine, it really doesn’t matter what accessory was employed in its making!