When someone wants to take beautiful photographs, he probably buys a DSLR with a kit lens at the begning. Since he’s a novice, he doesn’t understand all jargons written in the spec sheet, and so he makes a decision based on marketing categories defined by manufacturers such as “Professional Grade” and “Consumer Grade.” As he gains knowledge on photography gradually, he realises he needs a wide aperture single-focal length lens. Then, he continues to things he never imagined that he would need such as flash units, tripods, L-plates, Arca-swiss compatible ball heads and so on. Do you know what he wants when he eventually becomes a pro level photographer? Quality gloves and a quick draw strap. No doubt about it.
Nikon recently released Photographer’s Gloves. I’ve used them for a month and find them quite useful. It is not available on the U.S. store yet. The price is ¥11,880 in Japan and £82.99 in the U.K. (including tax). I bet you can guess based on these prices how much it will be when the product hits the U.S. market.
The product consists of the inner and outer gloves. If the temperature is above -3°C (26ºF), the inner gloves keep your hands warm enough and the outer gloves are not necessary. The inner gloves are touch-screen compatible. It is an important feature as your hands are at risk of frostbite when using a smartphone at a temperature below the freezing point. The inner gloves provides enough dexterity to operate DSLRs. I could turn ON/OFF the AF and VR switches on lenses and open the cover of the battery holder with no struggle.
The outer gloves are three-fingered lobster mittens. Mittens are better for keeping warmth but lack in dexterity. Lobster mittens’ independent index finger provides better dexterity than two-fingered mittens while having better thermal performance than five-fingered gloves. The outer gloves have slits so that you can put out your thumb and index finger. You can turn the dials and press the shutter button without putting out your fingers. Just put them out when you need more dexterity, for example, when pressing small buttons and changing the battery.
The design allows you to put out only the tips of your thumb and index finger. Since you only need the tips of the fingers, this design helps minimise loss of thermal performance. There are outer gloves with slits in the market. But, as far as I know, there’s no outer gloves/mittens with slits that have better thermal performance than this product.
You can prevent snow from coming in using the wrist belts and gauntlet quick draws. In winter mountains, you should never let snow enter the inside your gloves. Once your gloves are wet, you can’t use them till they become dry again. If you don’t have spare gloves in such a case, you are likely to get frostbite. Be sure to tighten up your gloves when shooting in snow.
When shooting in a cold environment for a long period, your fingertips and tiptoes are at risk of frostbite. To avoid it, of course, you can directly warm up them. But it is also effective to warm up your wrists and ankles to facilitate the flow of blood. The long gauntlet with the quickdraw keeps your wrists warm. Nikon certainly knows where it’s at.
You might think the price is a little too high. Check out the price of the Black Diamond Soloist Finger, which apparently has similar thermal performance. Considering the fact that the Nikon Photographer’s Gloves include touch-screen compatible inner gloves and warm outer gloves with slits that let your put out your thumbs and index finger, the product is very good value for money. I’d recommend this product not only to Nikonians but also to all photographers. As far as I know, there is no other quality glove aimed at photographers who shoot in a very cold environment.
Since it is actually an excellent product, this review raved about the gloves. But there is a request I’d like to make to Nikon. I want outer gloves made of a water-resistant and breathable material such as Gore-tex and OutDry, so that I can shoot in snow at ease.
I use a water-repellent spray for leather products so that they don’t get wet easily when shooting in snow. If you plan to use the gloves in heavy snow, I’d suggest you to get gore-tex over mitts that are big enough to accommodate the outer gloves.
Your fingertips and tiptoes are the most vulnerable areas to frostbite. In the worst case scenario, you would have to take off them. Get good gloves and shoes to protect them.
My review on the Quick Draw Strap is coming soon.