Gaffer tape has gotten many a photographer out of a jam, providing Macgyver-like solutions to photographic, video and theatrical problems both common and otherwise. It's strong but not permanent, and unlike duct tape, doesn't leave a mess. Who wouldn't love this stuff?
While photographers swear by Gaffer tape (and some have even written haiku poetry about it), it is not without its niggling inconveniences. First off, it comes in any color as long as it's black, white, or maybe brown. Second, you've gotta buy at least 25 yards of it at a time—overkill if you do small jobs or need to travel light. Third, it is available in 2- and 1-inch rolls that are around 4-6 inches thick, which means it may be a bit bulky for some camera bags.
2-inches wide, 60 yards long. Too big and heavy if you're traveling light.
One of the most common solutions to the overkill has been to roll a smaller length of the stuff around a pen, pencil, or a film canister. You simply roll out a few feet or yards at a time, stick it in your bag and you're ready to go with a space-saving solution. The downside? You had to spend time doing it and if it didn't come out perfect, the tape would lose some of its stickiness.
The old gaffer-tape-around-the-pencil trick...now made obsolete?
Now along comes Visual Departures with Micro Gaffer—gaffer tape that comes in smaller rolls that more easily fit in a small camera bag. For the price of a single large roll of gaffer tape you get a pack of four 1 inch x 8 yard rolls that measure just over two inches across. The “Classic Colors” pack includes two rolls of black tape, one roll of grey and one white roll. I see this as a clever solution.
Pile o' gaffer tape: You can buy individual rolls of black Micro Gaffer, or in either monochromatic or hyper-colored sets.
Micro Gaffer tape also comes in a “Fluorescent Colors” pack—one roll each of pink, orange, yellow and green. I can see this being useful if you need to color code cables, bags, cameras, etc.
I have used the black tape, conservative guy that I am, several times in the last few weeks, and as always, it never fails me. (By the way, if you, too, are a conservative black-gaffer-tape-only kinda shooter, black Micro Gaffer tape comes in individual rolls for six bucks ZZTG8BK).
Of course, if you need 2-inch wide gaffer tape, you have to use the big rolls (perhaps there will be a 2-inch version of Mini Gaffer in the future). But if your needs are more modest, consider Micro Gaffer as a flexible solution.