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Friday, August 1, 2008

In Focus: August 2008


DO-IT-ALL ZOOM
Take sharp handheld shots with the Tamron AF28-300mm ƒ/3.5-6.3 XR Di VC LD Aspherical (IF) Macro lens. The compact, high-power zoom gives you a four-stop shutter speed advantage by incorporating a highly accurate gyro sensor that detects hand shake. This, combined with a 32-bit RISC CPU, delivers anti-vibration effects that result in blur-free images even when shooting at telephoto range or in low light. The lens covers a 35mm-equivalent focal length of 43-465mm and now features a built-in AF motor for use with Nikon D-SLRs. Estimated Street Price: $599. Contact: Tamron, (631) 858-8400, www.tamron.com.
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EXPEDITION PACK
Carry your gear comfortably in the medium-sized Tamrac Expedition 6x (Model 5586). The foam-padded main compartment contains plenty of adjustable dividers to protect two D-SLRs with attached lenses along with five to six additional lenses, a flash and other accessories. A foam-padded front pocket with a water-resistant zipper holds most 14-inch laptops. Attach your tripod securely to the front of the pack using the QuickClip system. Estimated Street Price: $165. Contact: Tamrac, (800) 662-0717, www.tamrac.com.
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DIVE IN
Take the Olympus EVOLT E-520 safely into the water using the Olympus PT-E05 underwater housing. The durable, polycarbonate construction keeps the water out while also cushioning the camera from knocks and bumps. You can compose images using the 2.7-inch Live View LCD instead of the viewfinder, and optical-fiber connectors allow you to use up to two of the new UFL-2 underwater flash units. Rated to a depth of 130 feet, the housing also features five interchangeable lens ports for use with the following lenses: 14-42mm, 14-45mm, 11-22mm or 14-54mm; 7-14mm; 8mm Fisheye; 35mm; and 50mm Macro. List Price: TBA. Contact: Olympus, (888) 553-4448, www.olympusamerica.com.
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DIGITAL FILTERS
Reproduce up to 1,000 different filter effects with Tiffen’s Dfx Digital Filter Suite. The software simulates the look of popular Tiffen glass filters, specialized lenses, optical lab processes and film grain. Available as a stand-alone application or as a plug-in, the filter suite works with Adobe Photoshop, Elements and now with Apple Aperture 2.1. Both versions can process 8- or 16-bit images and feature more than 90 individual filters and thousands of customizable presets. Estimated Street Price: $199 (stand-alone). Contact: Tiffen, (800) 645-2522, www.tiffen.com.

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PLUG INTO APERTURE
The latest update to Aperture, Apple’s image-workflow software, opened up the program to enhancement plug-ins. Joining the list of compatible apps are the Fisheye-Hemi and Viveza plug-ins from Image Trends and Nik Software, respectively. The Fisheye-Hemi corrects hemispheric fish-eye lens distortion so you can straighten vertical lines without distorting faces and bodies. Viveza allows Aperture users to control light and color by placing Control Points on colors or objects like the sky or grass. Brightness, contrast and color are easy to adjust using sliders. List Price: $29 (Fisheye-Hemi); $249 (Viveza). Contact: Image Trends, (512) 637-7300, www.imagetrendsinc.com; Nik Software, (888) 284-4085, www.niksoftware.com.
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CARRYALL TOOL
The coolest factor of the Buck Knives X-Tract Fin multitool is its one-handed opening and locking ability, helpful when you’re out climbing or involved in other hands-on activities. The gadget includes spring-loaded scissors that can be flicked open, a three-inch steel drop-point blade, a Phillips screwdriver and 3⁄16-inch flathead, and a pair of needle-nose pliers complete with wire cutters. Estimated Street Price: $68. Contact: Buck Knives, (800) 326-2825, www.buckknives.com.
photography gear

OPEN TOES
On your next summer adventure, slip on the lightweight Tilden II multisports sandals from Ahnu. With several features designed to keep your feet comfortable and supported, the sandals include QuiteLight nonmarking rubber outsoles for solid traction, lightweight and compression-molded midsoles for enhanced comfort and shock absorption, and a flexible heel structure that makes the fit more secure. List Price: $80. Contact: Ahnu, (510) 865-3900, www.ahnufootwear.com.
photography gear

HOT SHELL
During those summer storms, stay dry in the Columbia Hot Shot Shell. The lightweight design features the company’s Omni-Tech technology, which consists of microporous membranes that keep water out, yet allow perspiration to escape so you stay dry. The shell and liner can be worn separately or together depending on your needs. Estimated Street Price: $140. Contact: Columbia, (800) 547-8066, www.columbia.com.
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EASY NAVIGATION
Stay on track and find the perfect landscape vantage point using the TrailDrop 2 from Highgear. Clip the compass to your backpack strap and know where you’re going at a glance. The transparent design allows you to lay it over a map and plot your course. A digital thermometer displays temperature readings in degrees Fahrenheit or Celsius. It weighs 1.5 ounces. List Price: $50. Contact: High Gear, www.highgear.com.
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DOUBLE POD
Get dual-action support using the Cullmann 4405 tripod. The removable center column extends to a full-height monopod. When used as a tripod, the column functions regularly by allowing you to make various height and position adjustments to your camera. Black anodized leg segments enhance rigidity while center-column weight hooks increase stability. The tripod has a load capacity of 17 pounds and weighs less than four pounds; height ranges from 20 to 56 inches. List Price: $199. Contact: R.T.S. Inc., (631) 242-6801, www.rtsphoto.com.
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DAY PACK
M-Rock has increased the size of its Glacier bag to fit an SLR with up to a 4.5-inch lens attached. There’s room for an additional lens or photo accessories. Two dividers and a padded U-shaped lens cradle give you options for how to position the camera. With two shoulder straps, you can carry it messenger style or as a backpack. A bonus nylon jacket is included, along with a lens cloth. List Price: $55. Contact: M-Rock, (800) 773-7067, www.m-rock.com.
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STUDENTS ONLY
The North American Nature Photography Association (NANPA) offers scholarships to 10 high-school students to attend its annual summit each year. Students attend programs, participate in field workshops designed for them and receive special instruction from nature photography and publishing pros. If you know any aspiring photographers between the ages of 14 and 18, encourage them to apply to the High School Scholarship program. The deadline is October 5, 2008. The summit is February 15-22, 2009, in Albuquerque, N.M. Contact: NANPA, (303) 422-8527, www.nanpa.org/scholarships.html.
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