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Tuesday, February 26, 2013

In Focus: April 2013

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Sigma's DP-series digital cameras feature compact size and a built-in prime lens designed specifically for the camera and sensor. Each features the same 46-megapixel (three stacked 15.3-megapixel layers) Foveon X3 Direct Image Sensor found in the Sigma SD1 Merrill DSLR. The latest to join the series is the DP3 Merrill, which has a dedicated 50mm ƒ/2.8 lens (equivalent to a 75mm lens on a 35mm or full-frame digital SLR). The DP1 and DP2 feature 19mm ƒ/2.8 and 30mm ƒ/2.8 lenses, respectively—thus, the DP1 Merrill for wide-angle work, the DP2 Merrill for normal view and now the DP3 Merrill for short telephoto work, all with the same Foveon X3 high-res APS-C sensor. Estimated Street Price: TBA. Contact: Sigma, (800) 896-6858, www.sigmaphoto.com.

With the trend to high-megapixel DSLRs, quick shooting rates and full HD video in still cameras, the need for faster memory cards is greater than ever. Lexar has introduced two new solutions. The 1100x XQD card comes in 32 GB and 64 GB capacities, with a read transfer rate of 168 MB/s. For cameras that take high-speed SD cards, the 256 GB Professional 600x SDXC UHS-I card is a Class 10 unit that has a read transfer rate of 90 MB/s. Both cards are suited to RAW sequence shooting and long 1080p full HD video clips. There's also a new XQD USB 3.0 Reader that can keep up with the cards. Estimated Street Price: $299 (32 GB 1100x XQD); $579 (64 GB 1100x XQD); $999 (256 GB 600x SDXC); $44 (XQD USB 3.0 Reader). Contact: Lexar, (800) 789-9418, www.lexar.com.

Olympus has announced the M.Zuiko ED 75-300mm ƒ/3.8-6.7 II super telephoto zoom for Micro Four Thirds System cameras. Due to the MFT sensor's smaller dimensions, the 75-300mm frames like a 150-600mm supertele on a full-frame DSLR, yet measures just 2.7x4.6 inches and weighs a mere 14.9 ounces. Based on the original M.Zuiko ED 75-300mm, the new lens features a new ZERO (Zuiko Extra-Low Refraction Optical) coating for better performance in backlighting and was redesigned to match the popular OM-D E-M5 flagship Olympus MFT model. It can focus down to 35.1 inches at 75mm and 58.5 inches at all other focal lengths, contains 18 elements in 13 groups (including one SED, 2 ED and 3 HHR special elements) and takes 55mm filters. Estimated Street Price: $549. Contact: Olympus, (888) 553-4448, www.getolympus.com.

Everyone has seen the dramatic extreme sports videos taken with GoPro HERO cameras, but these tiny, high-resolution video cameras are useful for so much more. The new GoPro HERO3 cameras are 30% smaller and 25% lighter than the HERO2 models. The White Edition has the same shooting specs as the original HD HERO (1080p30, 960p30 and 720p60 video, 5 MP still in 3 fps bursts), and it has built-in WiFi. The Silver Edition has the same shooting specs as the HERO2 (1080p30, 960p48 and 720p60 video, 11 MP stills in 10 fps bursts) and built-in Wi-Fi. The Black Edition is the most advanced of the new models, able to shoot 1080p60, 720p120, 1440p48, 4Kp15, 2.7Kp30 and WVGA at 240 fps, as well as 12 MP stills in 30 fps bursts. The HERO3 cameras can be mounted on a person or other supports in limitless ways. They record sound and come with a couple of mounts and a protective housing that can go underwater (good to 197 feet). Estimated Street Price: $199 (White Edition); $299 (Silver Edition); $399 (Black Edition). Contact: GoPro, (888) 600-4659, www.gopro.com.

Style-conscious outdoor photographers will want to check out the new camera straps and bags from Capturing Couture. They're really unique. The company offers more than 50 adjustable camera straps, from one to two inches wide, combining fashionable designs (many featuring a Native American design) with durable materials, velvet lining and functional hardware. The camera bag line features tapestry patterns and intricate prints, a variety of pockets and fully-lined interiors with cushioned padding to keep gear safe. There are also velvet-lined wristlet straps for compact cameras with quick-release capability. Estimated Street Price: $25-$59 (straps); $179-$199 (bags); $25 (wristlets). Contact: Capturing Couture, (949) 858-8598, www.capturingcouture.com.

Pentax has introduced its 15th generation of "adventure-cams" for harsh outdoor conditions, the WG-3 and WG-3 GPS (the latter can record latitude, longitude, elevation or depth underwater and heading along with the image). Featuring a 16-megapixel back-illuminated 1/2.3-inch CMOS sensor, the stylish cameras are waterproof to a depth of 45 feet, shockproof to drops from 6.6 feet, coldproof down to 14°F and can withstand 220 pounds per square foot of crushing pressure. The 25-100mm (35mm-camera equivalent) zoom focuses down to 0.39 inches in Digital Micro Mode, and six LED lights surrounding the lens provide shadowless illumination. There's a built-in flash unit, built-in sensor-shift image stabilization, 3.0-inch, 460K-dot LCD monitor and textured grip with colored accents. The cameras measure 4.9x2.5x1.3 inches; the WG-3 weighs 7.4 ounces, and the WG-3 GPS weighs 7.7 ounces. Estimated Street Price: $299 (WG-3); $349 (WG-3 GPS). Contact: Pentax, (800) 877-0155, www.pentaximaging.com.


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