SLR SYSTEM If you’re looking to boost the quality of your landscape and nature images by stepping up to an SLR, Pentax delivers a complete entry-level system with a camera body, lens, flash and an affordable price tag. The 10.2-megapixel K2000 features the smc Pentax DA L 18-55mm ƒ/3.5-5.6 AL lens, Shake Reduction technology and an integrated Dust Removal system. A 2.7-inch LCD with wide-angle viewing, a burst speed of up to 3.2 fps and a 16-segment metering system round out the key specs. Also included is the Pentax AF200FG Autoflash. Estimated Street Price: $699. Contact: Pentax, (800) 877-0155, www.pentaximaging.com.
MICRO SHOOTER The Panasonic LUMIX DMC-G1 is the first of the Micro Four Thirds interchangeable lens cameras. Four Thirds basically means that the internal mirror structure, which defines D-SLRs, is eliminated in cameras of this standard, significantly reducing their size. Weighing in at just 1.28 pounds, the 12.1-megapixel G1 comes with the LUMIX G Vario 14-45mm ƒ/3.5-5.6 ASPH/MEGA O.I.S. lens. A full-time electronic Live View finder, as opposed to a traditional optical viewfinder, also keeps the camera compact. A 3-inch, flip-out LCD can swivel 180 degrees horizontally and 270 degrees vertically for high- and low-angle shots. List Price: $799. Contact: Panasonic, (800) 211-PANA, www.panasonic.com.
PHOTOSHOP POWER Simplicity and ease of use make Adobe Photoshop CS4 a much friendlier program for photographers to work with images. For example, you now can smoothly zoom and pan to any area of an image, even close in on individual pixels, with the new Pixel Grid. Using tabs, it’s easier to work with multiple open files. In the Adjustments panel, you can access every tool you need for changing color and tone. For Lightroom users, you can select multiple photos in that program and automatically open them in CS4 for further editing. When you’re done, they can be exported easily back to Lightroom. Estimated Street Price: $699. Contact: Adobe, (800) 833-6687, www.adobe.com.
FAST 50s A pair of ultrafast 50mm prime lenses from Nikon and Sigma will help you capture tack-sharp images in low light. The Nikon AF-SNikkor 50mm ƒ/1.4G delivers outstanding light-transmission efficiency, solid color consistency and reduced flare. The Silent Wave Motor allows for fast, accurate and quiet autofocusing. The Sigma 50mm ƒ/1.4 EX DG HSM features an optical design and molded glass aspherical lens elements, which spread light more evenly to the corners of the frame to help correct all types of aberrations. The lens also incorporates Sigma’s Hyper Sonic Motor for quiet, high-speed autofocusing, as well as full-time manual-focus capability. Estimated Street Price: $439 (Nikon); $730 (Sigma). Contact: Nikon, (800) NIKON-US, www.nikonusa.com; Sigma, (800) 896-6858, www.sigmaphoto.com.
FULL-FRAME SONY With a new flagship D-SLR in its camera lineup, Sony debuts the Alpha 900, with a full-frame CMOS sensor that packs on 24.6 megapixels. Add to that Sony’s sensor-shift SteadyShot INSIDE image-stabilization technology, a pair of high-speed BIONZ image processors and a 9-point autofocus system with 10 assist points and center dual-cross autofocus. Other top features include a 5 fps continuous-shooting rate, three-inch LCD, Intelligent Preview function and Advanced Dynamic Range Optimizer. An HDMI port outputs images to a high-definition TV. Estimated Street Price: $2,999. Contact: Sony, (877) 865-SONY, www.sonystyle.com.
ZIP UP Stay warm in the Ultima Jacket from Marmot. Constructed from UpCycle stretch fabric, which is made of organic or recycled materials, the jacket uses Cocona Natural Technology for reliable moisture-wicking performance. Zonal construction makes the jacket ideal for highly aerobic activities, providing complete thermal coverage and excellent range of motion without sacrificing solid windproof and water-resistant protection. Estimated Street Price: $180. Contact: Marmot, (888) 357-3262, www.marmot.com.
SNOW BOOTS Beneath the sleek, sporty shell of the Hi-Tec Multiterra Ultra 200 hikers lies the warmth and waterproof protection of a winter weatherproof boot. Thermo-Dri construction couples the water-blocking power of seam-sealed nubuck leather uppers with the warmth-trapping performance of 200-gram Thinsulate Insulation. Form-fitting hardware gives them the comfort and support of a high-performance hiker. Estimated Street Price: $105. Contact: Hi-Tec, (209) 545-1111, www.hi-tec.com.
SHINE A LIGHT The compact eGear Spotlight is a convenient solution when you’re out camping and need some extra light. The 0.5-watt LED fits into most vehicle cigarette lighters for charging. It takes seven hours to charge and burns for two before needing a recharge. The anodized aluminum light is less than two inches long and weighs 1.6 ounces. Estimated Street Price: $19. Contact: Essential Gear, (800) 582-3861, www.essentialgear.com.
REST UP The Therm-a-Rest ToughSkin Mattress is a rugged, puncture-resistant mattress that offers excellent insulation on snow. The unique design sandwiches the mattress’s air-holding seal between a top layer of open-cell foam and a bottom layer of closed-cell foam, then joins them all with the guaranteed foam-to-fabric bond. Because a bottom layer of closed-cell foam protects the air-holding seal, the mattress is extremely puncture-resistant. Estimated Street Price: $99 to $149. Contact: Therm-a-Rest, (800) 531-9531, www.thermarest.com.
Your Next Digital Darkroom Between the large image files today's new D-SLRs generate and the demands of the latest software tools, your old computer is probably starting to show its age. We have some suggestions when it's time for an upgrade. More »